God wants us to be encouraged about the future! This weekend we explore how the early Christians living in Thessalonica were anxious about the end of the world but learned to find hope and take steps to be ready for Jesus’ return—and how we can do the same.
Group Discussion Guide
Debrief as a group about last week. What was the “High” and “Low” from the week so far? How did last week’s application go?
After debriefing the past week, begin your time with prayer.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” John 16:33
Anxiety about the end times is valid. There are so many questions to ask and very few direct answers to them. “What will it look like? Will I see my family again? How will Jesus return?” etc. These are the same questions that Christians have been asking for millennia, and while some things have been revealed, much is up for interpretation. One thing is clear, however: when thinking of the end times, we have hope in Jesus.
This may be one of the more challenging topics for us to accept and apply because we will not be delving into specifics of “What will the end of times look like”. Instead, we will be discussing, “How do we react, no matter what it looks like?”. This might be frustrating because we just want to know what will happen, but the reality is that the Bible tells us much more about how we should orient ourselves during the end times than it tells us exactly how it will happen. Therefore, this should be our focus, no matter how the last times happen. Our hope is in Jesus; we should live with that in mind. God is in control, which should comfort us; we do not need to be afraid or anxious if we are following Jesus’ teachings. The end times should be something we look towards with joyful expectation because we know that Jesus will return.
This leads us to our big idea:
Big Idea for this week
We should be encouraged by the coming of Jesus.
- What have you grown up believing about the end times?
- What importance have you placed on thinking about this topic?
- What fears or anxiety do you have when it comes to what it will look like?
Go around your group and have someone read each of the following verses, then discuss the connected questions.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2
- What are some reasons we could become “shaken or alarmed”, as it states in verse 2, when thinking about the end times?
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
- How have you balanced anxiety and grieving with hope in your life?
- Share a time when you have grieved with hope.
This next passage in Hebrews is speaking to, most likely, Jewish Christians to encourage them to persevere in their faith after the author has spent time detailing how much better their way of life and faith is compared to how it had been before Jesus. As you read this, put yourself in the shoes of the audience.
- Hebrews 10:32-39
- What purpose is there to persevere in your faith? Why does this matter to you?
- How is this passage encouraging to you? Why?
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 presents the idea that Christians are “children of the light” who no longer walk in the “darkness” of their former ways before they were Christians.
- In what ways have you experienced this change from walking in darkness to walking in light? How has this experience changed the longer you have been a follower of Jesus?
Based on the verses we just read, there are a few things that we can do in response. Take a moment to discuss these application questions as a group:
- What is one step you could take this week to “live as children of the day”?
- What would it look like to actively anticipate Jesus’ return?
- How can we take steps to focus our minds and keep calm when looking towards the return of Jesus? How can we help those around us to live this way?
The desire to shut down and fear is understandable when thinking about the end times. Our calling as Christians, however, is to simply continue living as we always do, with the teachings of Jesus at the center of our lives. This week try to make living “as children of the day” a constant effort, remembering that God is the victor over fear and death yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The return of Jesus is something we should look forward to every day while remembering that, until that day, we are to love others around us with calm and sober minds and tell them about who Jesus is.
- Ask for prayer requests and conclude your time with prayer.
Daily Bible Reading
Use the S.O.A.K. method to reflect on the verses below.
Scripture: Read the verses several times out loud.
Observation: As you read the scripture, what do you observe?
Application: What is God wanting you to believe, do or feel based on what you have read?
Kneel: This is a chance to pray about what you have read and learned.
- Day 1: 1 Peter 1:3
- Day 2: Hebrews 11:1
- Day 3: Philippians 3:20
- Day 4: Isaiah 12:1-6
- Day 5: 1 Peter 5:10
- Day 6: 2 Corinthians 13:11