Key verse: 1 Thessalonians 1:10
Big idea: Our hope is that the One who was taken from death will take us from wrath.
What is hope? In modern English, it means that we want something to happen. But the biblical Greek word is defined as: "the looking forward to something with some reason for confidence respecting fulfillment." It is not something that we wish will happen, but something that we expect to happen and are looking forward to with excitement. It is in this sense of the word hope that we hope Jesus will come again and rescue us from our sin and the judgment to come. It is something we can expect, because He is no dead idol, but the one who died in our place and rose again on the third day. That is the kind of hope which is transformational.
There is always a temptation to extremes. Perhaps we see faithfulness in this life as so important that we give little or no thought to the return of Jesus and our deliverance from this world. But perhaps we are so obsessed with Heaven that we fail to obey Jesus on Earth. But the Thessalonians apparently overcame that trap, at least when Paul wrote this letter to them. They were living out in faith, love, and hope, because they expected that Jesus would come again and rescue them from the wrath of God against unrighteousness. They could endure when they faced struggles because they knew that there was a champion who had conquered death, ascended to Heaven and would return.
As we read through 1 Thessalonians, we will see the power of hope to transform our lives. We do not serve God out of fear, but out of joy that we are His and He is ours! Jesus is coming and our temptations, our tribulations, and even our triumphs are all given meaning by that hope. There is no need to be beat down and discouraged all the time because our Savior is in Heaven and is coming back to Earth on the greatest rescue mission in history.
Discussion idea: Do you tend to gravitate to the extreme of earthly mindedness or heavenly mindedness? How are they inseparable, when rightly understood?
Prayer focus: Ask God to help you to keep one eye on the work and one on the sky as you serve Him today with joy and hope.
 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 319.