John Winter - Walk in Light - Rochedale I, Australia Convention - 2006

I Thessalonians 5, Paul in writing to the people began by talking of the secnd coming of Christ. "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation."

 

The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night - will come suddenly for them that know not God. It will come as a thief to rob them. God helps us to be prepared for that day when Christ comes a second time - that's something we've been living for. Walk as children of the light, and we'd be manifesting that which is of Christ, as we live our lives here.

 

As we are children of the day and not of the darkness, not asleep as do others, but watch and be sober. Why did Paul write this if he was referring to the Children of God? It would be a sad situation to be in - to sleep while we are children of the day. If some would be in that condition, God wants to awaken us to our responsibility; to realise we should be watching and be sober. Something may come upon us if we sleep and are not aware.

 

"Let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith." Speaks of being prepared – take that which God has provided and be able to stand that which comes against us. Jesus encouraged the Disciples to watch and pray - be those that are watchful. A friend in Scotland who was skipper of a fishing trawler always left the home port with the crew so they would arrive at the fishing grounds at midnight. They are very busy putting the nets out and get in position once the course was plotted. The skipper always took first watch, and he let others go down to the bunks and sleep. There he was - no lights, just the navigator's little light, so he could keep on course. He said, "It's very easy at that time to fall asleep - the noise of the diesel engine and no other lights on." What helped him to keep awake was his responsibility for the lives of other men that were asleep in the trawler. If he went to sleep and something happened and he didn't react quick enough to right the situation of that trawler and to right the situation of their course, there was very little hope of those men coming out alive.

 

It is necessary as children of God to realise our responsibility to others - those journeying along with us, because as we realize this, we'll be those that will watch and be sober, and watch and pray.

 

Verse 14, Paul is showing us what is our responsibility, "Warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men." This is the responsibility that could keep us awake, to help us to watch and pray. As we shoulder our responsibility, we'll be those that will be the help that we should be, so that there wouldn't be those that would lose out in knowing soul's salvation. Maybe not so much as that skipper felt, but we are our brother's keeper, to be the help we should be to others.

 

Verse 16, "Rejoice evermore." That is something that as we do it ourselves, we encourage others to do the same. Rejoice not only at times when things are going well for us, and we are enjoying serving God, but at times when there are difficulties and dark experiences come. It is in those times we know God with us. Matthew 5, "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." Rejoice when times are not good. When evil spoken of us, we endure that and our name is written in the Book of Life.

 

"Pray without ceasing." Abraham prayed for Sodom and Gomorrah - because of the love he had for Lot who was living there. He first prayed if God found 50 righteous within the city, that God would save Sodom.

 

Abraham didn't feel, "Well, I've prayed to God and it's good enough," but he continued to pray. He didn't cease, because of a love for Lot. He reduced the number to 10, and God said, "I'll not destroy the city for 10." One time there were things I really needed to pray for and I prayed once for them, and said, "Well, I've prayed for that." That is not how it should be. Jesus prayed without ceasing all through His life – constantly, and how much more I needed to do so! So God continued to hear my cry, and helped others also.

 

"Give thanks in all things, for this is God's will concerning you." It is easy to give thanks to God when things go well. We sing in that hymn, "We thank thee Lord for weary days, when desert springs were dry." When we prove God being a Father to us in weary days and dark experiences, we can certainly thank God for those experiences. The Children of Israel - we have a record of those people facing dark experiences, but looking back upon them, because of praising God as their helper and strength, they gave thanks for all things for this is God's will for us.

 

Hebrews 13-15, "By Him therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name." That is a sacrifice to give to God - sacrifice of praise to His name, as God brings us through experiences, and we come through those experiences as He wants us to come through. Realising His help, we will continue to give thanks to His name.

 

"Quench not the Spirit." King Saul, after Samuel anointed him, the spirit of God came upon him, and he did something after that which pleased God and pleased the people. But I Samuel 13 says Saul reigned one year, but when he reigned two years he got his army together and chose 3000 men. It was peaceful for the first year of Saul's reign, enjoying being King and appreciating his position, but it would seem that in that time he got lifted up in himself. It was told to us some years ago - "Days of prosperity are dark days - but days of adversity are bright days."

 

When I first heard that, I thought, "Surely not!" But days of prosperity, if we are not careful, they are days taking us away from God. We can become lifted up in ourselves. But in days of adversity, we feel our need of receiving help, and God draws near to us and we draw near to God.

 

Saul, it seemed had bright days of prosperity - if he had kept in touch with Samuel and God, but in that time of waiting for Samuel to come, and he didn't come, Saul saw the Philistines and people beginning to  scatter, so he took things into his own hands. I'm sure that the Spirit would have prompted him to wait, but he felt, "I am king," and was lifted up - "I can do what I want." Quench not the spirit. Be responsive to the prompting of the Spirit.

 

A young sister worker and her older companion went to a Sunday morning meeting, and the younger spoke in the meeting as well as others. When she spoke the older companion felt, "That's not quite right," and felt she should tell her sometime! But the older companion never had opportunity to do that. The next day, Monday, they went to visit some folks, and talked with the wife, then the husband came home and he said to the younger sister, "Thank you for what you said in the Sunday morning meeting." The older companion said later to the young sister, "I felt bad when I heard that man say that. I had despised what you said, but the very thing you said was a help to that man."  Not good to despise prophesy, because what is said could be a help to another.

 

"Prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good." There was a man who lived in a hollow. Big floods went through that country and some of the water rose around his home. He climbed up on the roof, and the floods swept him off the roof. His hand came in contact with a wire and with the other hand he hung on for 18 hours in the dark, till a boat came to rescue him. The rescuers said to him, "You can let go of the wire." The man said, "I can't." The wire was embedded into his hand. They had to operate to take the wire out. He was asked, "That must have been painful holding on?" "Well," he said, "It was at first, but I said to myself, `Let go and drown, or hold on and live.'" We need to hold on to live, as far as God is concerned. Let go and lose our soul's salvation. God wants to encourage us to hold on, no matter what experiences come into our lives.

 

"Abstain from all appearance of evil." Abstain from every form of evil, certainly as the Spirit of God is with you - be even as the Children of Light, and we will be able to recognise every form of evil and abstain from it.

 

Think of the number of times Jesus told the disciples to forgive another, so God will forgive us. Matthew 18, Peter asked Jesus, "How often shall I forgive?" Jesus said, "Seventy times seven - 490 times." Jesus was really saying, "Put no limit on your forgiveness," and that is a good thing. Put no limit on your forgiveness because  God our Father puts no limit on us either. Jesus spoke a parable about a man who was forgiven much, yet he wouldn't forgive another for so little. His master took compassion on him and forgave such a big debt, yet he had no love for his master. He didn't show any love to his fellow servant that owed him so little. Our Father has shown us so much love. How much more we need to show love and compassion to others. As we do this, God our Father will forgive our sin. This matter of forgiving others, Jesus taught, "Be childlike." If we are childlike to forgive others, we can be a help to ourselves and to others.