2016-07-22 - 1 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ Our Future
Dr. McGee states notes:
“If I were to pick the greatest sermon of Paul, I would actually pick none of these. I would choose instead his life in Thessalonica. His greatest sermon was not in writing or speaking, but in walking. It was not in exposition, but in experience; not in his profession, but in his practice. He took his text from James 2:26, ‘… faith without works is dead …’ and he made his points on the streets of Thessalonica” 2
One of the most exciting things about the Christian life is that we have the opportunity to serve God, and with Him on our side, actually with us on His side, we don't have to be intimidated by anyone. We're the children of the King, the ruler of the Universe.
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” (Psalms 3:3,6).
We can have the same confidence as Paul. Like Paul, our message should be demonstrated by our lives. Many feel we are living in terrible times. But for us, these can be the greatest of days. We are forced to depend on Him for our hope, for there is truly not hope in the world, and we can have the joy and peace that others desire, and therefore are open to the message of the Gospel. There is nowhere to turn by Christ.
We have the life saving message needed by all and we have the opportunity to see it change lives. If people can get worked up selling cleaning products or plastic bowls, just how much more excitement can we feel, offering the opportunity for eternal life? Nothing can stand in our way, as we walk in God's will.
“… if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
… or as Paul himself said,
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Our focus isn't the specific way Paul lived, for the purpose of copying him. But then, how are we to live? In this passage, we can see two issues underling Paul's actions. The first is: His motive is pleasing God, not men. And the second is: He lives his life to help others grow, not for his own benefit.
The Christian life can be joy-filled. What greater blessing, than to be able to serve the infinite God? Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we can focus only on pleasing Him, no longer being overwhelmed by the views of men. Jesus said the following to some of the Jews:
“I do not receive glory from people.” … “I have come in my Father’s name” … “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:41,43-44)
If as we have said, Jesus is our model, then we too desire to please God, and will not concern ourselves with the praise of men. As He said on another occasion,
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).
John wrote regarding the importance of seeing believers walking in the Lord:
“I have no greater joy, than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).
If we don't steal our boss's time as the other employees do, we may earn the disrespect of our fellow employees, but we are pleasing to the Lord.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11)
If men take advantage, we don't have to become litigious, because our desire is to please God, not protect ourselves.
“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
If we have friends that are unbelievers, and that's probably a good idea, we nevertheless won't condone all that their lifestyle conveys, because we desire to please God, not them.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1–2).
To be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.