After preaching this message, I had no less then a dozen individuals and families come up to me and say something like, “your message describes my son/daughter to a tee. They are struggling with only wanting to live for today and don’t have hope for tomorrow.”

One woman came to me and said, “when my daughter was 14, she told me ‘why does it matter mom, we are all going to die anyway.’  She has gone on to have trouble with drugs and is now in prison.” This troubled mom went on to say, “I wish my daughter could hear your sermon.”

I was humbled that several families came to hear my message twice and then took home the audio to give to their kids.  Wow!  That is the kind of response I pray for… when people are touched and inspired to follow Christ and pray for their families to do the same.

Sermon Notes

“Life is shaped by the end you live for. 
You are made in the image of what you desire.” — Thomas Merton

Every athlete knows, success is determined by the goals you set. But… is that true for every aspect of life? [“Die Young” video with Ke$ha]

1. Set Your Sights On Jesus’ 2nd Advent

a. There is hope for those asleep.

1 Thessalonians 4:13–15 (ESV)
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

b. There is anticipation for those alive.

1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 (ESV)

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

c. There is joy in the foreseeable future.

1 Thessalonians 4:18 (ESV)

Therefore encourage one another with these words.

d. There is a place for you.

Revelation 22:1–7 (ESV)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. 6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” 7 “And [Jesus said] behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

2. Live Today for Tomorrow

OPTION #1: If Jesus’ is NOT returning, live only to please yourself. [“Live While Were Young” One Direction Video]

1 Corinthians 15:32 (ESV)

What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

OPTION #2: If Jesus IS returning, live to please God.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 (ESV)

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.

  • WHY? Because pleasing God is the only way experience real satisfaction.

1 Thessalonians 4:1–8 (ESV)

For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

  • WHY? Because pleasing God is the only reason to love.

1 Thessalonians 4:9–12 (ESV)

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

3. The Future Is Full of Hope! Your LIfe Has Meaning!

What future will you chose for yourself?

  • I want my future shaped by Jesus Christ and want to accept him as my Savior.
  • I will dedicate the coming year to reading the Bible daily so I can keep my hope strong.
  • I will commit myself to deeper participation in the worship of my local church so that I can keep my eyes fixed on the coming return of Christ.
  • I would like to join a small group where I can get the friendship and accountability to help me remain faithful to Jesus Christ.
  • I want to be baptized and show the world that I am saved and excited for the Second Advent of Jesus.

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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