Week Four: "The Returning King"
Ask the family to sit in a circle with you. Start a story by saying, “Once upon a time there was a … ” and let the kid to your right fill in the blank. Each kid will add a sentence to tell the story, and when it gets back to you, end the story. Consider adding an unsatisfying ending, or even just saying “the end,” regardless of the story’s state.
A bad ending can ruin a good story. We’ve been learning about God’s big story about our King, Jesus. Today we will finally hear about God’s perfect ending to this incredible story.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “16
For 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. 17 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.”
If you like books or movies, the ending is always exciting. Like in superhero movies, we always want the hero to beat the villain and win the day. In a lot of ways God’s redemption story alludes to this type of victory. The same King that lived, died, rose again, and is seated on his throne, will return. Why will he return? To take his people to heaven, defeat evil, and make all things new! 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “16 For 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. 17 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.” Christ will come back and we will be going home to heaven where we belong. It’s going to be awesome!!
Not only will Jesus come back to take his people to heaven, He is going to defeat evil forever! Revelation 17:14 says, “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords, and King of kings—and with him will be called, chosen and faithful followers” Even though Jesus defeated sin on the cross, evil still exists. We can see that by looking at the world around us. When Jesus returns, He is going to defeat Satan and all the evil forces for good. They will no longer have influence or power. This is like the climax in a story. Our King Jesus wins, and we get to join in on that victory!
Lastly, Jesus is returning to make all things new. Revelation 21:5 says, “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true”’ Here’s a little game to share what this means.
Toilet Paper Game:
Give each child a full roll of toilet paper (if you want to be conservative with toilet paper, modify to one or two rolls). Instruct the children to unroll the toilet paper as fast as they can. The child to complete the task first wins! When they have unrolled their toilet paper, instruct the children to try to re-roll it. (If you want to be reminded of how we can never make things perfect, use these rolls of toilet paper in your bathrooms all week!)
Were any of you able to re-roll the toilet paper to look just like it did in the beginning? Not a chance! We can try really hard to fix broken things and make everything in the world run properly again. The truth is, we can never make things perfect like they were before sin entered the world. Instead of trying to fix the world and everything in it, Jesus is going to make a new heaven and new earth. No duct tape, super glue, or re-rolling needed! Since evil will be defeated forever, this new heaven and new earth will have no sickness, pain, or death. How awesome is that?!
The truth is we do not know when our King will return. He can come today, or He can come years from now. What we do know is that our King will return, and he will take his people to heaven, defeat evil, and make all things new!
1. Take a moment to talk about some questions that your family might have about Jesus’ return. Does anyone have thoughts or questions about Christ’s return? Talk through the questions and answer to the best of your ability. It is okay to say “I don’t know,” and to pray for wisdom. Do some research, ask a pastor, or ask someone that may know the answer.
2. What excites you the most about Jesus’ return? What makes you nervous about Jesus’ return? Why?
3. Knowing about Jesus’ return, how does that affect your life right now? How can we prepare for something now when we don’t know when it’s going to happen?
In your prayer time each day, ask the Lord to help your family fix their eyes on Jesus and not on earthly circumstances. Ask Him what steps need to be taken to get rid of distractions and to be ready. Also, pray for the Lord to equip your family to be witnesses to people around you that are not ready for Christ’s return. Prayer for opportunities to share the gospel and to share the hope of our Returning King.
Extended Reading: Matthew 25
Jesus was born man, lived a perfect sinless life, died a sinner’s death, resurrected from the dead, and ascended to heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father in glory. He has the authority on heaven and of earth, and we have been reconciled back to the Father through his work on the cross. Jesus has accomplished a lot to save us, but His work is not finished. He will return to rapture His church and to defeat the enemy once and for all. As we look at the Returning King, I pray that we would find hope, and that we would be eager and ready for our Savior return.
12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.
In Christ Alone/Kristian Stanfill
As a kid during the Christmas season, there was always so much anticipation to open the gifts that were under the tree. In this anticipation period, we typically are eager, but also have to exercise some patience. Just like how we have an eagerness to open gifts on Christmas morning, we should have an eagerness for Christ return. If we’re being honest, Jesus’ return is not in the for front of our minds each day. With all the distractions in our current life, it is difficult to focus on our eternal life. The truth is though, when we live in anticipation of Jesus’ return, our perspective of our earthly life changes.
Being in anticipation for Jesus’ return, we have hope for greater things to come. Our current struggles, hurts, and misfortunes seem minimal compared to the glory that is to come. John 14:1-3 says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”. We as Christ-followers have hope that Jesus has prepared a perfect place for us in heaven, and He is going to take us there when He returns. No more pain, no more heart ache, no more sickness, no more death. We get to leave behind the temporary and enjoy the sweetness of eternity. Our King is coming back to take us home!
Although we know Jesus is returning, we do not know when. Mark 13:32 says, 32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care. It means we should be eager and ready. The apostles believed Jesus could return at any moment, and you can sense the eagerness in their writings. 1 Peter 4:7 says, “7 The end of all things is near. Therefore, be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” James wrote in his letter, 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near (James 5:8). The apostle’s warnings affect our current lives. Be ready, be alert, stand firm in your faith, and be patient. These commands help us defend against distractions, and helps us focus on what truly matters in this life. Our current life should be preparing us for the great day of our King’s return. Are you ready?
Take time in guided prayer to contemplate to contemplate and meditate on the reality of our Returning King. My prayer is that you have new and fresh perceptive of the Lord and his presence in your life.
1. Take a moment to meditate on the reality of Jesus’ return. Scriptures are provided to mediate upon.
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
16 For 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. 17 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.
2. What is a distraction in your life that is keeping you from focusing on Jesus daily? Take time to evaluate. What things are causing you to waste time? What things are you so focused on right now that doesn’t really matter in light of eternity? What adjustments need to be made?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
3. If Jesus were to come back right now, would you be ready? Ponder this for a few moments, and honestly answer. What is keeping you from being ready? If you feel like you are ready, how can you help others that aren’t ready?
In your prayer time each day, ask the Lord to help you fix your eyes on Him and not on earthly circumstances. Ask Him what you need to do to get ready for His return. Also, ask the Lord to equip you to be a witness to the people around you that are not ready for Christ’s return. Prayer for opportunities to share the gospel, and to share the hope of our Returning King.
Extended Reading: Matthew 25