Thursday, January 19, 2012

1 Thessalonians 1-5, Acts 17:1-10

Acts 17:1-10 tells of Paul, Silas and Timothy’s visit to Thessalonica where they taught and proved to them Jesus’ death and resurrection, but with opposition they had to leave.  Later Paul heard about the conditions there since he left and wrote this letter to the Thessalonians to encourage them and to teach them more about Christianity.  In his letter he teaches them about Jesus’ second coming and tells them that they should continue working hard until he comes.  Each chapter refers to the return of Christ – 1 Thess. 1:10, 2:19, 3:13, 4:14-16, 5:2, 4, 8, 23. 

I.  1 Thessalonians 1 – Faith That Works

The Thessalonians’ work of faith, labor of love and patience of hope gave the Thessalonians the power to live strong Christian lives.  They became models to other believers.  They turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.  Paul tells them to wait for Jesus to return from heaven.

Effective evangelism = one disciple making another disciple

Principle:
The Holy Spirit empowers a life of faith, love, and hope to make Jesus Christ known.

How is your life making Jesus known to another?
Is your quality of faith and lifestyle a good model for other believers? 
Would you feel good if others became like you?

II.  1 Thessalonians 2 – 3 – Love That Labors

Paul, Silas and Timothy’s work took root and grew there because:
   They spoke as approved men of god and were not trying to please men, but
   God. – 1 Thess. 2:4
   They never used flattery or cover up a mask of greed. – 1 Thess. 2:5
   They did not look for praise from men. – 1 Thess. 2:6
   They were gentle. – 1 Thess. 2:7
   They worked hard so as to not be a burden. – 1 Thess. 2:9
   They dealt with the Thessalonians as a father deals with his children,
   encouraging, comforting and urging them to live lives worthy of God. –
   1 Thess. 2:11-12

When you speak the gospel, how do people know you are doing so out of pure motives?

Paul’s heart was to train the Thessalonians spiritually.  He wanted to meet their God-given potential.  His intense love and concern for those he helped to Christ is evident in chapters 2 and 3:
   He longed to see them. – 1 Thess. 2:17
   He was concerned about their faith and didn’t want them to be unsettled by
   their trials. – Thess. 3:1-5
   He prayed for them day and night. – 1 Thess. 3:10
   He prayed for them saying, “May the Lord make your love increase and
   overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 
   May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in
   the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all
   his holy ones.” – 1 Thess. 3:12-13
   (This is a wonderful prayer to pray for yourself and for others.)

Paul prayed that their faith would increase, that they would build one another up in love, and dwell on the hope of Jesus’ return (knowing He could come at any moment).

Who are you concerned about and long to see?
Who are you praying for?

Principle:
God’s love should prompt Christians to labor on behalf of others in preparation of Christ’s return.

III.  1 Thessalonians 4 -5 – Hope That Endures

Intentionally reach out and encourage some, love someone who is hurting, call someone, send them a note, pray for them.

How are you encouraging someone else to live a life worthy of God?

Paul tells them (and us) how to live in order to please God – They should avoid sexual immorality, learn to control their own bodies in a way that is holy and honorable, and that no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. – 1 Thess. 4:3-6

Sexual immorality does not please God.  It’s outside of God’s will.  Statistics from a recent poll show - 50% of men polled were addicted to pornography and 20% of women polled were addicted to pornography.  Pornography also hurts innocent people.  When we reject God’s instruction, we are rejecting God.

How does this conflict with our present day culture? 
How is your behavior to be different than that of the world?

In 1 Thess. 4:13-18 Paul reminds them there is hope because of the second coming of Jesus.  In verse 13 the word asleep is used to describe Christians who have died and the word awake is used to describe Christians who will be resurrected.  In verse 17 the words caught up is another word used for rapture.  The Lord will come down from heaven with the sound of the trumpet call of God and the dead will rise.  Those of us who are left will be caught up together with the dead and in the clouds and meet Jesus in the air and we will be with the Lord forever!  So the Thessalonians should encourage one another with these words.

God has not appointed us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ and we are to live together with Him. – 1 Thess. 5:9-10

This encourages me, because I will not get what I deserve.  He has saved me from that.  Praise God!  We are destined to face trials as believers.  We need spiritually-sound people around us when we face those trials.

We don’t know when He will return, but we need to be ready. Paul gives them (and us) final instructions:
   They should respect those over them who are in the Lord and hold them in
   highest regard in love because of their work. – 1 Thess. 5:12-13
   They should warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak,
   be patient with everyone, don’t pay backs wrongs, always try to be kind,
   be joyful, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, don’t put out
   the Spirits fire, don’t treat prophecies with contempt, test everything, hold
   on to the good and avoid every kind of evil. – 1 Thess. 5:14-22

We can do these things, because God is the God of peace and He sanctifies us.  He is faithful and He will help us do it. 

How much do you pray? 
Are you thankful in all circumstances?
What instructions is God giving you today? 
Will you be ready when Jesus returns?
How does Christ’s return someday affect your behavior?

Principle:
God is pleased when believers live according to His Word, surrenders to His spirit, and expecting Christ’s return.

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