Intro: 35 years ago Mount St. Helen’s was a beautiful mountain 96 miles south of Seattle, Washington, and 50 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon. Geologist became concerned that all evidence pointed to a major eruption on the mountain and the call to evacuate was issued.
Over TV and radio; over loudspeakers mounted on top of police cars, the announcements were loud to evacuate the area. House to house notification were made and people began to leave the area. One person refused to leave: Harry Truman – not the President.
Harry Randall Truman was a resident of the U.S. state of Washington who lived on Mount St. Helens. He came to brief fame in the months preceding the volcano's 1980 eruption after he stubbornly refused to leave his home despite evacuation orders.
He was the owner and caretaker of Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake, located at the south end of Spirit Lake at the foot of the mountain in the danger zone at the time of the eruption. I know this mountain and it will not kill me.
An ash plume billows from the crater atop Mount St. Helens hours after its eruption began on May 18th, 1980, in Washington State.
On that date, an earthquake struck below the north face of Mount St. Helens in Washington State, triggering the largest landslide in recorded history and a major volcanic eruption that scattered ash across a dozen states. The sudden lateral blast—heard hundreds of miles away—removed 1,300 feet off the top of the volcano, sending shockwaves and pyroclastic flows across the surrounding landscape, flattening forests, melting snow and ice, and generating massive mudflows.
That morning Harry Truman and his 16 cats had just finished breakfast when the eruption took place. Harry along with every living thing near him was dead moments later. A total of 57 people lost their lives in the disaster. The column of ash and gas reached 15 miles into the atmosphere, depositing ash across a dozen states.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10 NKJV
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24: 3-14 NKJV
The church in 2 Thessalonians was confused over the belief of the second coming of Christ. They responded with panic and lawlessness. Some were shaken and alarmed by the things they heard, while others were caught up in rebellion against God. Paul taught the church to respond with faithfulness and preparation. We should respond the same way as we get ready for His return.
"Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure." 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4
How do you get ready for something that you don’t know when it’s going to happen? How do you get ready and stay ready for Christ’s return?
1. Expect PERSECUTION and AFFLICTION
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 2 Thessalonians 1:3
Paul says they were experiencing persecution and affliction. To be a follower of Christ doesn’t mean you are exempt from life’s trials; it can actually bring them. Christians face harassment at school, at work and around the world Christians are persecuted for their faith. Persecution is probably what you think it is… Christians are marginalized from society.
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” John 6:33 MEV
Jesus promised that in this world we would have tribulation. Jesus said if they hated me they will hate you and if they persecuted me they will persecute you. If you aren’t expecting that and prepared for that, you might wane in your faith. But if you know it’s coming, you can be prepared.
2. STAND in FAITH
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged… 2 Thessalonians 1:3a
Paul bragged on the church of Thessalonica for modeling an increasing faith — they kept pressing forward like Paul to know Jesus more deeply and to see their faith grow. Faith is like a muscle, you can feed it and exercise it and see it grow. Think about your service to the Lord. Many work hard for God – other say – I can’t give 2 hours on one Sat a month to help clean the church. I can’t help in the nursery or with the children’s ministry – others can do that. Pastor – stop asking for money – I just can’t give 10% of my money back to God. When will you exercise your faith?
3. GROW in LOVE
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater … 2 Thessalonians 1:3b
We should grow in our love for one another more and more. We need each other. There are many “one another’s” in the Scripture. As the time of Jesus draws near, we will need each other more and more. The writer of Hebrews said gather and encourage each other. As the day of Christ grows closer, you should press in toward your faith family and love others and receive love from them.
Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! Philippians 4:1
So love through acts of kindness…. LOVE IN ACTION.
4. PERSEVERE in HOPE
Brothers and sisters, we want you to know what happens to those who die. We don’t want you to mourn, as other people do. They mourn because they don’t have any hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 NIV
Paul bragged on their perseverance in the midst of the hard times. They persevered because of the hope within them.
True faith is not perfection. True faith will always get back up. You must persevere because that is when the character of Christ is developed in us.
… because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:3
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance… Romans 5:3
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:11
When we pass the test, when we walk through the fire, God says He can reward us and strengthen us. It will all be worth it when Jesus returns.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set