The Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
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But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Ted is an ex-Marine. But I guess once a Marine, always a Marine, huh? You know - halls of Montezuma, shores of Tripoli, and semper fi. Since his days in the Corps, Ted's gone on to become very successful in business, but he keeps getting invited back to talk to Marine recruits to be an inspirational speaker. And in the process, he tells them about a rescuer who came for him in the Marines and saved him - Jesus Christ. And I love what he tells them - "One thing about Marines - we always go back for our own. That's why I'm here today. I'm going back for my own."
Those Marines really listen to Ted, because he's one of their own. That's sort of a law of life, isn't it? We tend to listen to our own kind - maybe when we would listen to no one else. Especially when it comes to the Rescuer my friend tells the Marines about. More and more, people aren't going to listen to some "Christian professional" tell them about Jesus - even though their lives depend on understanding Jesus. It's going to have to be one of their own ... like you.
Jesus understood that approach to rescuing spiritually dying people. He used that approach Himself in our word for today from the Word of God. Jesus has gone into Samaria to reach the Samaritans, and since the Jews and Samaritans basically couldn't stand each other, how is this Jewish rabbi going to reach them? He's going to send one of their own to go back and get her own - even though she is known for her immorality, her relationships with many men, her string of marriages and divorces.
First, she meets Jesus at a well where she discovers who He really is. Then, in John 4, beginning with verse 28, the Bible says: "Leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 'Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?' They came out of the town and made their way toward Him ... Many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the woman's testimony..." Well, they listened to her when she talked about Jesus because she was one of their own.
That's what makes you so eternally important to your coworkers, your fellow-students, your neighbors, your teammates - you're one of them. They'll be more likely to listen to you talking about a personal relationship with Jesus than to any preacher or evangelist or radio guy. Well, you may say, "but I'm not trained; I've got a lot of problems; I don't know enough." Excuse me, but have you thought about the one Jesus sent as His ambassador to the Samaritans?
See, what qualifies you is two things - you've met Jesus, and you're one of them. He has placed you where you are not just to get grades or get paid or get comfy. He's put you there to take some of those people to heaven with you! How are you doing?
The best one to reach a lost farmer is another farmer ... the best one to reach a lost mom is another mom ... for a lost teacher, a teacher ... a lost soccer player, a soccer player ... a lost businessman, a businessman. And so on. But so many die without ever knowing what Jesus could have done for them - die without a chance at heaven - because the Christian close to them never told what they knew. That is a death sentence by silence.
You don't have to tell them about Christianity, about church, about your religion, about a list of Christian beliefs. Just do what the Samaritan woman did - stick to Jesus. She just said, "Come, see a Man!" But don't take them to a well - take them to the Cross and show them how much Jesus loves them. Their best hope of heaven isn't some outreach program or some great speaker. Their best hope is you, because you are already there, in their world. Be a spiritual "Marine." Go back for your own. Don't leave any of them behind. Ron Hutchcraft
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I EAGLE BASE, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Army News Service, May 22, 2002) -- It was raining "cats and dogs," and I was late for physical training. Traffic was backed up at Fort Campbell, Ky., and was moving way too slowly. I was probably going to be late and I was growing more and more impatient.
The pace slowed almost to a standstill as I passed Memorial Grove, the site built to honor the soldiers who died in the Gander airplane crash, the worst r edeployment accident in the history of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Because it was close to Memorial Day, a small American flag had been placed in the ground next to each soldier's memorial plaque.
My concern at the time, however, was getting past the bottleneck, getting out of the rain and getting to PT on time. All of a sudden, infuriatingly, just as the traffic was getting started again, the car in front of me stopped. A soldier, a private of course, jumped out in the pouring rain and ran over toward the grove.
I couldn't believe it! This knucklehead was holding up everyone for who knows what kind of prank. Horns were honking. I waited to see the ____- chewing that I wanted him to get for making me late.
He was getting soaked to the skin. His BDUs were plastered to his frame. I watched as he ran up to one of the memorial plaques, picked up the small American flag that had fallen to the ground in the wind and the rain, and set it upright again. Then, slowly, he came to attention, saluted, ran back to his car, and drove off.
I'll never forget that incident. That soldier, whose name I will never know, taught me more about duty, honor, and respect than a hundred books or a thousand lectures.
That simple salute -- that single act of honoring his fallen brother and his flag -- encapsulated all the Army values in one gesture for me. It said, "I will never forget. I will keep the faith. I will finish the mission. I am an American soldier."
I thank God for examples like that. And on this Memorial Day, I will remember all those who paid the ultimate price for my freedom, and one private, soaked to the skin, who honored them.