The Day of the Lord
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
August 21, 2022
Jesus is coming again!
-see previous message on 1 Thes 4:13-18
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Time and the seasons
-time and era- sequence and events
-Matthew 24:36 We aren’t supposed to know when
The day of the Lord will come vs 2-3
-Day of the Lord- Old Testament- day of wrath, judgment
-Acts 17:31 Jesus is the Lord (in charge of) this day
-This day is when Christ returns to judge the world
-thief in the night- unannounced, unexpectedly
-illust: no thief calls ahead of time to say he is coming!
-Matt 24:43; 2 Peter 3:10
-People saying “Peace and security” will be destroyed
-Destruction of unbelievers is as certain as birth when a woman goes into labor- unavoidable, no second chances
But you are not in the dark vs 4-5
-Paul is talking to followers of Jesus Christ (Christians)
-We will not be surprised when Christ returns
-Christians live in the daylight/light- fully aware
Let us stay awake and be self-controlled vs 6-10
-don’t sleep- don’t ignore the fact that Jesus is coming!
-be self-controlled (stated twice)- remain sober
-we must remain in control of our minds and bodies
How to remain awake and self-controlled
-put on the armor of faith and love
-this is how we stay awake and self-controlled
-our faith must affect every area of our lives!
-Christ-like love must define how we relate to others,
And how we take care of ourselves!
-put on the helmet of the hope of salvation in Christ
-facts must override our feelings!
-trust the facts of faith in Christ
-Christians do not face God’s wrath for their sins
-we obtain salvation because of our faith in Christ
“who died for us” – in our place, confessional truth
-we are saved from God’s wrath/condemnation of sin
-we will dwell personally with Jesus Christ forever
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up
-Christ followers must help one another until Jesus comes again
-encourage one another- cheer each other on to remain alert
-build each other up- we need others to help us when we are
down, when we slip spiritually, when we get discouraged
Wake Up! Trust in Jesus Christ Now!
-you don’t have to be surprised by or afraid of Christ’s return
1 Thessalonians 5, we're continuing a series of messages from this letter that Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit during the pandemic. It seemed as though all kinds of crazy stuff was going on. It was going on. It didn't seem - it was. We all faced major decisions. In the middle of that, was a little bit of an election that took place, and there was all kinds of other decisions that people were making. And just like any other place in the world, our church was no different. We had people that agreed to disagree and hopefully mostly agreeably, and it was just something we had to work through and navigate; who believed this, who believed that, who thought about this, who was trusting this? Sometimes it came down to who was listening to this particular group of news and this group of new. And it just seemed to all collide in the middle of us. We were no different than anywhere else. We had to navigate the waters of disagreeing agreeably.
And I want to say to you that I'm praising God and thanking God that the spirit of Christ prevailed. That all of us arrived eventually at the same conclusion, that God's bigger and more important than anything we agree to disagree on here on earth, amen. And I remember one of the elders said, "Make a decision, you'll be wrong, make it anyway." And we did. And we went through the trails of making decisions and trying to do what was right, but I'm telling you what, there are churches that died in the midst of the pandemic. There are churches that no longer exist. There are churches that are selling off property. There are things that are happening in other places in our city and in our region and in our country where their church, there's a sadness.
And I certainly know that we experienced loss in our church family as well. And we actually had people that when we stopped meeting, it sort of stopped being a habit, and that made me very sad. And then when we came back together and started meeting, it seemed like God replenished with different people and new people. And with the two services, we now are at the point where we did two services to stay apart from one another and to kind of bear the differences agreeably with each other and what was going on and how we did things. And then now it's like, it's by necessity because God has blessed us with more families and more individuals and more opportunities to serve and minister together and walk together in of spirit of Christ. And so by default, this building would not handle one service any longer, and so I thank God for that.
And we'll continue to - again, we're not presuming upon anything. We're just saying God did some positive things. And when I think of all the letters that Paul wrote in the New Testament that God's inspired him to write that we still have for us today to look at; this is one of the most encouraging letters you could read about the church. He continued to say, "You guys are doing this right, I know, but let me remind you to keep doing it, but you're doing, doing it right. Oh, you love one another, I don't need to remind you that. The whole region knows that. You're setting an example for believers all over the place." And I would say we are setting an example by the power of God, by the glory of God, for His credit alone, you all are setting an example.
And Paul is saying that to this church, and so I thought, what a great letter to write, to listen to, and to read and to understand to preach on, but a letter that might be similar in attitude towards that church as I have towards ours. And so, we've continued through that. We're in chapter five today. And last week we talked about the day of the Lord, how Jesus is coming again, and you can go back and listen to that and look at the notes online. Today Paul kind of wraps up his conversation with the church when he is talking about the day of the Lord; the day when Jesus comes again. And we want to talk about that, unpack that just a little bit and ask, are you ready? Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ? Are you ready for it all to be over? Are you ready to answer to God for where you stand with Him in relation to have you put your faith in Jesus, or have you not put your faith in Jesus?
You know, we always hit what we aim for. Well, we work on hitting what we aim for. We more likely hit what we aim for. When we put our eye on the ball, we usually catch it with our mit. When we throw a baseball at a particular spot, we normally hit the spot where our eyes are looking, and our arm follows through with where we're looking. If you're target shooting with bows and arrows or a gun or a rifle; you aim, you look at, you pay attention to the bull's eye. We have darts in the back room, and there are a few places where you can tell where I have not... well, we need to do some drywall speckling. Anyway, it just is what it is. Keep your eyes on the road when you're driving. Don't text and drive.
Have you ever been with somebody, might have been me, "Oh, look at the farmland over there." And your car goes... yeah, thank you, John. I hear that. I hear that grown. And what you're looking at, you go towards. It is a part of life. In your calendar, how do you know where you're going this week? Now, if you're retired, you're laughing at us. "Ha-ha. What calendar? I don't care." But for those of us that still have one and we're working, or we got something going on, we look at the calendar, because we're not going to show up for the appointments we don't remember. We're not going to show up for the appointments we don't look at and make sure we're aiming for on our schedule during the week. And if we aren't careful, we will not do what matters most and what lasts forever if our eye is not on eternity.
Some of you may know this, or may have known a lady named D. Young, and D. Young on December 7th went home to be with the Lord. And yesterday or Friday, we had her graveside service or kind of a home-going, a small crowd of people. She was about 90 years old. I think she was 90 years old, and she knew the Lord. And she knows now what she did that lasted forever and what she did that didn't matter forever. And it's a sobering moment for us to come to a moment of reckoning, to understand that we all someday will face God for our actions. For the Christian, we will face God not to get into heaven, but did what we invest in, in our lives matter for eternity or not? And for the believer it's, I now have to pay for eternity for the sins that Jesus died for and I could have asked His forgiveness for, but I didn't. We need to have our eye on eternity, or we may aimlessly live life in such a way that what we do will not matter in eternity. It will matter, but it will matter in ways that we may not have planned.
1 Thessalonian 5, let me read for us 11 verses, unpack them, and let's see if maybe we can do something about what God tells us this morning before we leave and as we leave. "About the times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you don't need anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. When they say peace and security, then sudden destruction will come upon them like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you brothers and sisters are not in the dark, for this day to surprise you like a thief, for you are all children of light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. So then, let us not sleep like the rest, but let us stay awake and be self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled and put on the armor of faith and love and a helmet of the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing."
I want to add that my intentions of going through this letter was more to talk about the encouragement, but it was to talk about the totality of that encouragement and how to encourage one another. It is not to join the chorus of people that are all talking about end times. We're talking about in times because oh, that happens to be the next chapter that we're talking about. And so, that's kind of want to make sure you're aware of that, that we need to listen to all of what God has to say, and so this happens to be the next in line of what we need to hear. 1 Thessalonian 5, Paul talks about the times and seasons, about the epics or the chronologically and the chiros, the seasons or the way in which things are going to happen; about the sequence of events and the events that actually will happen, I don't need to talk to you about.
Now, did Paul already talk to them about this or did he get wind that somebody had taught them more carefully about the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ? We don't know that for certain, but it seems that Paul is just reemphasizing what they already know. And I would say that in this room; there are people here, we know Jesus is coming again. I'm just reemphasizing what you already know and kind of filling in the gaps a little bit on some things that might be a little fuzzy or you might have possibly forgotten.
We're not here to put a circle on the calendar and say, this is when it's going to happen. We want to listen to Matthew 24:36, where Jesus said, "I's not for you to know the times or days." Acts 1, "The father knows that. I'm not here to tell you. I don't know. It's the father's business when I come again, but you will be my witnesses. You're going to keep on doing what I've asked you to do until it comes. He's coming, I'm coming, but we're not putting it on the calendar." I don't need to write you about this, you already know this, Paul is saying. And I might say the same to this church today.
Verse 2-3nd three, the day of the Lord will come. The day of the Lord will come. This day of the Lord; the Old Testament would talk about this day of the Lord is the day of wrath, the day of judgment, the day of reckoning, the day when all will be made right, and all the wrong will be dealt with. When I walk with victims of deep tragedy in our city and in our community right here in this church family, there is no interest of mine ever to see someone face eternity without Jesus. I just don't want that. In fact, that passage, I look all the time; I'm not really excited about the return of Christ coming like today, as much as I also know there's a lot of people that will miss heaven if He came today, and that grieves me.
I still have loved ones that refuse to trust in Jesus. I want them to know Jesus before Jesus comes again. I am looking forward to Him coming, I embrace the moment He decides to come; I'm not in charge of time, so when He comes, it'll be the right time. And I'm not arguing with God about that. That's not what I mean. I'm just saying that I'm excited to be there, but I'm also excited for there be a waiting period for a few more people to get in and to find the forgiveness and love and to live for Christ in ways that would bless them and bless others and be honorable to God. That's my prayer. But I also am going to say this; there are some wrongs that will be righted that on this side of eternity have never been righted by a jury of 12 or a judge that ought to have been righted. Justice will prevail.
And my eye is not on the judges and juries of our land, although I'm grateful for them. My eye is on the one who will make all things right. And that day of the Lord, for those that don't know Jesus, it ought to be a day of terror and of sadness. But for those who are believers in Him, our whole trust is in what God has been doing, is doing and will do for eternity. The day of the Lord will come. In the New Testament, it is announced in Acts 17, that Jesus is the Lord of the Lord of the day of the Lord. He's the one in charge of that, and He is the one who will judge. He even said in his own teachings as is recorded in scripture, that there'll be a separation of the sheep and the goats; those who trusted in Christ and those who did not trust in Him. There'll be a day of pulling the weeds from the wheat, the wheat and the tears. This is a common conversation that the New Testament fleshes out in the fact that Jesus will be overseeing this moment. And what is this day like? It's like a thief in the night.
Tucker! Ann and Tucker up front here, newly-weds. Not quite, but yeah, it's good. Isn't it awesome to be newly-wed? Isn't it awesome? By the way, I'm coming to your house. I'm free Thursday and I'm going to steal from your house. You have things - I saw your registry. I've been married 29 years, some of our stuff is worn out and I'd like to trade. So I'm not even bringing my stuff to you because you'd have to have a garage sale. I'm just going to take your stuff. Is that okay? I mean, I'm just letting you know I'm coming and I'm going to steal from you. So, I don't know what you're going to do about it, but I'm coming.
Does a thief do that? No. A thief comes when you think not because now Tucker is saying, "I'm going to prepare for this. I'm double locking the door. I'm buying a Doberman." He might buy a gun. I don't know what he's going to do, but I now know that I probably wouldn't... he'd be the last person I would go to. In fact, everybody in the room knows I'm free on Thursday. You're all shoring up your houses now because Tucker knows I'm coming, but Bob doesn't know I'm coming - whatever. Anyway, so a thief doesn't do that. Nor will Jesus say, "Oh, by the way, on Thursday I'll be here." He comes like a thief in the night. In a moment that you think not, it will be a surprise to those that don't know Jesus. It will be unexpected.
"There are people that are saying peace and security. It's okay, don't worry. For centuries He hasn't come back." These same naysayers had cousins and uncles that were saying, Jesus is not the Messiah that was proclaimed in the Old Testament. They had cousins that sat there on the day He was crucified and say, "If he's the savior of the world, why don't you get yourself off that cross?" And they were mocking him. And three days later He rose from the dead. One of the most identifiably provable historical facts in the world history happened. It split time in half AD, BC. It so rules our lives. Even people who don't trust in God are ruled by the rhythm of the fact that Jesus came, died and rose again; even if they don't believe it. And that fact, as fact and true as it was, as true as he ascended into heaven and the angel said he is coming again - He's coming again. He's going to come. And there will be people that will be saying, there's no way.
You can do whatever you want. You can ignore God in his rules. You can do anything. Do what you feel like doing instead of what God says to do, because it's okay, you're safe. You just need to join the right crowd of people so that you won't feel guilty about it. And they will be destroyed, it says. Sudden destruction will come upon them. As certain as birth when a woman goes into labor, he says like a woman in labor pains. We scheduled three of our kids. I mean, God did, but the doctor said we're going to make it kind of happen with drugs and medicine. It was wonderful. I could clear my calendar and I took my vacation days, and I just was relaxing to me.
Now you know how to pray for your pastor's wife that she gets a better husband. But our last one... was our last one? Came like - Jannie decided to come when she wanted to come and I got a phone call, like many of you did. How many got the phone call? I'm in labor. How many of you are like; "Whoa!"? And then suddenly everything changed. You can't stop it. Well, could we like wait till Thursday because I got some appointments today? No. Like, can I go unpack real quick? No. Once that begins, you can't stop it. Paul is saying just like a woman going into labor, you're not going to stop this; there's no second chances. There's no going back and saying, "Oh, B, B, B, wait, wait, wait. I was going to go and follow you Jesus." No, no, no, it's over.
Your opportunity to make a decision is before the day of the Lord, not the day of the Lord. But then Paul says, "But you're not in the dark believers, brothers and sisters." He's talking to the Christian. We're not going to be surprised when Christ returns. We'll be pleasantly... I think I'll be pleasantly surprised. I've been with two or three, maybe four people that were facing imminent death from this world and transition into eternity. And some over the last years or two of their life would just wonder how they could ever have received the grace of God and the forgiveness of their sins; my friend John, was that way. He was so in love with Jesus. I'd show up and he'd just honoring God with his life and praying for people. And he would use that prayer room when he was alive in our great room. There's a side room, it's a prayer room, and he was just praying to God.
And he tried to live his life for God and we'd joke around and stuff, and I'd be like, "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be more spiritual. Thank you, John, for reminding me of that." And yet even he would say, "I can't believe I get to go to heaven to be with Jesus. I'm a sinner. I've sinned. I don't deserve this. Why did you die for me, Jesus?" And he just would weep over that. He said, "How in the world Jesus, would me?" And I'm like, you? If you're struggling to figure it out, what about all of us that aren't as spiritual as you are? And even so, he knew he wasn't in the dark. He knew Jesus was coming again. And I know that when he met Jesus, he was pleasantly surprised to know what he believed in was true. "But you are not in the dark," Paul says. We live in the daylight. We are fully aware, but even as we are fully aware, he reminds us to stay awake and be self-controlled in verse six. "So then let us not sleep like the rest, but let us stay awake and be self-controlled."
There are times when we could oftentimes slow our lives down or do our lives according to the rhythm of the world instead of God's kingdom. Augustine in the first century wrote to the church, this book called City of God. And that city of God talks about the fact that we have a kingdom citizenship. We live in a kingdom of God as a Christian, but we also have a citizenship on earth. And our citizenship on earth ought to be affected by our citizenship in heaven and not the other way around. That how we live our lives, ought to be set to the temple of God and His word, and the power of the Holy Spirit within us; not the temple of the world. It has been said that if you went to New York City right now, and we're deposited there as a tourist, you would start walking faster because it is the fastest walking city in the world.
We went on mission trips there, and a few people can testify that their feet were about worn out when we got done. Amen. Few of you? Yeah, where's that bus and subway? I'm ready to stop walking. Fast-paced - you literally change your gate, your walking pace just by walking into that city. You don't change the city. That city changes you. And that's the way it ought to be for Christian; that our citizenship in heaven ought to change the pace of our life. And how do we do that? Well, Paul gives us some ideas. Don't sleep. Don't ignore the fact that Jesus is coming. Let's keep that in mind and not consume us to the point of like, I'm not... again, we don't know when hasn't come back yet. A few generations have passed obviously, and so still keep your life insurance, still get on that retirement plan. That 401k is going to be more helpful if He doesn't come back than if you thought he came back, let's not worry about it and He doesn't.
I mean, keep your job. Don't give all your furniture away, just live life, do what you're supposed to be doing and be excited when he comes the moment he comes, but let's be self-controlled. He says this twice, be self-controlled, really to remain sober, to remain in control of the way we act and live our lives; to be in control of our minds, our bodies, our attitudes, our actions. And how do we do this? He says, put on the armor, the armor of faith and love. This is in reference; He also talks about this in Ephesians. He fleshes this out a little more carefully in Ephesians talking about the armor, put on the full armor of God. And there are some things about the armor of God that we see that we can extrapolate.
Well, there's the breast plate and there's the different places of our body. And we know that it's a frontal armor. It's not behind us, so we're always moving forward in our life. We're not retreating backwards. We can talk about all that. But Paul doesn't seem to give us a lot of clues about it, and I think it probably not do justice to read too far into the analogies of the particular things he's saying here, but enough to say that we need to put on the armor. That is, our faith must affect every area of our life.
You need to take your faith to work with you. You need to take your faith to school with you. You need to take your faith to your neighborhood. You need to have a confidence in Jesus Christ, wherever you go. You need to have a confidence that you're trusting in him to direct your life, instead of letting the world direct your life. Instead of letting your attitude and actions or your flesh direct your life. Our Christ-like love; we must have the armor of love, unconditional favor of love, defining how we relate to other people and how we take care of ourselves. We need to look in the mirror and say, "I am loved by the Lord. Jesus Christ. I am a new creation in Christ. God loves me. And I should love me too." And I don't mean that in a self-service way, but some people, they don't love themselves. They hate themselves. They see themselves in a mirror the way God does is see them.
And you need to remember, that armor of love says that God loves you. And you must also love who God made in you and God is working a work in you. And then you must express that love in your relationships with other people. It must prevail among your family members. It must prevail in your neighborhood. It must prevail wherever you go; not just on Sunday morning, not just during connection groups, but all the time that you live your life. And put on the helmet of hope. Now, I'm going to go just a moment there. He does mention one particular piece of armor; he uses the word helmet. So I'm going to violate what I just said just a little bit, but this might be me, not the scripture, but let me say it. The helmet of hope; the helmet covers the head, right? And hope is something.... I mean, can you get through something if you have hope that there's a better ending at the end?
There was a study done. I was a psychology major in Ball State, and I was reading about this. All these students would come in, it's probably students that did this, and they had a bucket of ice water. And the goal was that they would put somebody in a chair and they put their bare feet in ice water and say I'd like for you to keep it in the water as long as possible. And they'd time them. Well, the first group they would bring in and they would just let them sit there, and they'd time them - time. And then the next group would come in, and every few moments they'd say, "You're doing okay there?" "Yeah, I'm doing okay there," and they'd time them. And then the next group would come in and put their feet in the water and there'd be people around them. "All right, you got this, come on, let's go a little bit more. Just keep a little bit more." And they would root them on. And there was different varying degrees of encouragement who lasted the longest? The people with hope. The people said, "Oh, we got someone around me encouraging me, get me going here. I'm going to get through this."
They suddenly had a goal in mind. They suddenly knew where they were... "Oh, I'm going to keep doing this." And especially if you said, "You know that last group didn't last very long. I bet you could last longer." Ooh, now I have a goal - and a little competition in there. It's human nature to give up sometimes. Not everybody has an internal hope clock. But if you've got Jesus, you've got hope. Your eyes on eternity; you know that whatever you do lasts forever that lasts forever, and whatever you're doing that doesn't - doesn't, and so you accordingly live your life and you have a hope and our hope must supersede our feelings because there are times when we doubt. There are times when we get down and our feelings betray us. We must trust facts, not feelings. But I feel like this. I feel like that. What does the Bible say? "Well, I don't know what the Bible says. I feel this way." Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Feelings are valid when they validate what the scriptures say and feelings are not valid when they don't. We trust what God says above how we feel.
You will be on a rollercoaster the rest of your life if your goal is to feel God, and to feel right. You will feel right often, maybe. I don't know. You may not. But are you living right according to the facts of scripture? Let your feelings catch up to the facts. Don't feel yourself towards facts because often our feelings will take us to things that are not factual. We trust the facts of faith in Christ who died for us. It's a statement of faith. It is a doctrinal statement. It is a statement that Paul mentions throughout. He doesn't flush it out in this particular passage, but it says He died for us, He died in our place. It is a statement of truth that we put our trust in that we don't have to pay for our sins. They're paid for. We don't have to wonder if we get into heaven. We are in heaven. We have a relationship with God. Our faith is in Jesus Christ, who is our anchor. On the other side of that veil, in Hebrews it talks about, he went through there to the holy of holies and he interceded on us. And he paid that all ultimate price once for all. And we put our faith in hope in that; not only we think are hope or not in what we feel about that.
And then he says, "We may live together with Him." In other words, our fellowship with Jesus will be with Him. And it said earlier in chapter four, that personal time with Him and those who've gone before us, as they're raised up and we are raised up and we join him together, we will never be separated from Jesus Christ. That's our hope. And so therefore Paul says, encourage one another and build one another up. Christ followers must help one another until Jesus comes again.
That that's why I always say - even yesterday I did a graveside service for somebody else; this was on Friday. And we're praying for Tien and her family and Mike for their mother's home-going Memorial tomorrow. And but I said, I said, you know where you find comfort in all this? You find comfort in a faith family. And I told them, non-partial [unclear30:44], one in town. I like one particularly, mine. And I hope you all come, but go somewhere. Be a part of something. You need a faith fellowship. You need people to encourage each other. And so well, we do this in our own home by ourselves. You need other family members. You need other people. Some of the best marriage counseling does not happen in my study. It happens in a small group when other couples get together and say, oh, you do the same. You have the same stuff we go, you have the same problems we have. Parenting gets better when you have other parents around you.
Being a single adult, you got the same struggles I've got; I got the same struggles here. We need one another. We need to encourage each other and build each other up. You can do this. Let's go! Friday night lights has started. And most of the teams, if not all the teams have practiced so hard and they're ready to go. And some of them they're still getting ironing out the details, but they have their plays down pat in their heads and they've got them on their arms and they're running the plays. And last Friday night was a day of reckoning for those teams to say who was more prepared than the others. But before the game, they probably had a pep talk in the locker room and they got around each other. And the coach said, "You're going to do this and we're going to do that." And he reminded him what he told him all season long, so far. And then you'd see some of the teams, if they were really united and he'd see them, the guys would be doing this thing, right.
And they started woohoo, and then all a sudden the stands are going, "Hey, where's my popcorn or whatever?" We're just there to watch a good game, right? And then they're all just Woohoo, and they go, whoa, and they're ready to go, and they break the huddle and they're ready to play the game while they do it together as a team, and they get stronger together. And I know our particular team at the last third quarter, they all come together. This last one, this is the last quarter, and let's all make this happen. It's rally cry, because they're in this together. They're not just a bunch of individuals. We're a team and we need one another. We need to show up for practice, working out each other's, and helping each other, growing our faith.
We need to be with each other on Sundays. We need to be with each other in rhythm during the week and in groups and do what we can. We need to be helping one another. We need me texting one another and helping each other, asking each other how they're doing. I need you to get in my face sometimes and tell me to get over it.
Even I, I'm still growing in my faith. I was going through something really tough. And last week somebody walked into my office and they said, "How you doing?" I says, "I'm having a cruddy week," and I let him have it. No, I told them what was going on. And he just walked with me and he encouraged me. And there were some things I was thinking, he says, "It's going to be fine. This will work out. Oh, that's not going to happen." You know the “what if” game that you lose every time you think it? And he was just there encouraging me. I needed that. So I need that, you need that; we all need that to be encouraged together.
So my final thought this morning is wake up, wake up. There are two kinds of people in this room right now. There's was a timeline on this stage and this meant I put my faith in Jesus Christ. It was my spiritual birthday. I trusted in Jesus as my savior and Lord, I said, Jesus, forgive me for my sins. I believe you died and rose again, come into my life and be in charge of my life. I now want to walk with you. If this is that, then there's people on this side that have not yet done that. They have not yet put their faith in Jesus. They may be close to it. They may be thinking about it. They may want to do it, but they haven't. They may be so far away from God. And that's not the case, but sometimes that's the case where someone says, "I hate Jesus. I want nothing to do with him. I can't stand him. I don't believe in him." There's other people; "Well, I'm courteous. You know, He might be real. And I know people that believe he is, so I'm respectful of that.
And then you got people that are, I want to know more and people that are just within moments of trusting in Jesus, but they're still on this side and the day of the Lord will not be a good day for them. It's a day of wrath. It's a day of reckoning. It's a day of paying for the consequences of not trusting in Jesus. But then there's those that have put their faith in Jesus, and they're on this side of the line. They may be a baby Christian, they may be brand new, they may have just put their faith in Jesus, they may have put their faith in Jesus a while back, and they never really grew a whole lot. And they're still just sort of sucking their thumb spiritually.
But they're on this side of heaven. They're on this side of trusting in Jesus. They've put their faith in Jesus and they, and you and I, and I would put myself in that category - can be confident that he who began good work in you will be faithful to complete it to the day of Christ Jesus. And I know whom I believe, and I'm convinced that he is able to guard what I've entrusted to him for that day. I'm trusting, not in me, but in Him, the one who saved me. And that day of the Lord will be, yes, a surprise, but it will not be a bad surprise. It will be a pleasant surprise. When all is said and done, I will be with Jesus forever.
And those of us that have trusted him are here. So my word to us as believers in Jesus; let's stay awake, let's stay alert. Let's stay sober. Let's stay right. Let's keep moving towards. Let's encourage one another. Let's live in the day and not in the night. And for those that are still living in the darkness, they're still not trusting in Jesus; my prayer this morning is that today would be the day of your salvation. Today you would put your trust in Him. Let's just stand to our feet right now, quietly and reverently as our team comes forward.
I just like to say a prayer out loud this morning. I don't do this all the time, but this morning I'd like to do this. Maybe this would be your prayer that you want to put your faith in Jesus. How do I do that, Pastor? Let me just lead you right now in a private prayer. You just pray to God as I pray with you this morning, just say to God right now, just in your heart of hearts. "Jesus, I know that I have sinned against you." Just tell him that in your heart of hearts, I believe you died on the cross and came back to life three days later. Just tell him that trust in him. Say I trust in what you did for me. Jesus, as best I know how I give you my life to do with as you please. I ask that you forgive me for all of my sins, everything I'm ever done; will you make me clean? Help me, Jesus.
And then just say, "Jesus, whatever you want me to do next, I'm willing to do. I'm trusting in you all the way." I don't know how you pray in your own prayer time with God, and maybe that's the word you've used in the past. But however, just get right with God. Get serious with God. The Bible says that those who confess Jesus openly and publicly are the ones that he will confess before the father. And the ones that refuse to confess Jesus publicly; He has no ability to confess you before the father. Why would you ever declare someone what they have never declared themselves to be? And so this morning, I want to invite you to take a connection card and put on it, "I've put my faith in Jesus. I've trusted in Jesus." Maybe come down and maybe we can talk about that this morning. I could chat with you up here in the front before you leave today.
Go to the back, Jerry, and Becky will be back there just to pray with you and encourage you. If you have questions you say, "Man, I think I want to do this, but I need to know where information." Please, no question is a silly question. The day of the Lord is coming, are you prepared? And if you're prepared, are you staying awake? Lord help us to honor you in whatever way you've called us to move forward in our faith today, in Jesus name.
Thank God For Godly People!
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
June 12, 2022
Introduction to 1 Thessalonians
-Paul, with others, wrote this letter to the Thessalonians
-Thessalonica- 100k people, affluent, peaceful, idol worshippers
-They did not enjoy religious freedom, as we discover today
-Acts 17:1-4 Paul shared the Gospel, several people believed
-Acts 17:5-10 Paul left after three weeks due to a riot against
Him, which he refers to in today’s focus passage
-This church was growing spiritually, highly encouraged Paul!
Who are your spiritual encouragers?
-Christian leaders, friends, family members
Who is thankful for your spiritual walk with Christ?
Paul thanked God for the Thessalonian Christians!
-1 Thes 1:2
-1 Thes 2:13 That is why we constantly thank God…
-refers back to 1:7-10
-and now he continues his complimentary words to them
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
1. Godly People Trust the Bible Vs 13
-they “received the word” as “the Word of God”
-God’s Word was changing them! “works effectively”
What is the Word of God/the Bible?
-John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God.
-Jesus is the living Word, our perfect human example!
-2 Peter 1:21 …no prophecy ever came by the will of man;
instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by
the Holy Spirit.
-God caused people to write exactly what He wanted us to
read, know and obey
-2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is God-breathed (inspired by God)
-Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and effective and
sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as
the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able
to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
-The Bible powerfully changes the core of our being!
-Godly people want to know and obey the Bible
-they compare all other claims of truth against the Bible
-they reject all other claims that contradict the Bible
2. Godly People Set the Example Vs 14
-They “became imitators of God’s churches in Christ Jesus”
-they set an example as a whole community, not individuals
-You and I aren’t examples for churches by ourselves
-United obedience to God’s Word shows the world that Jesus
is building His church!
-The miracle of the local church is that, in spite of our humanity,
she still exists all over the world!
3. Godly People Endure Opposition Vs 15-18
-The Thessalonian Christians were persecuted by their own neighbors and
-John 16:33 I have told you these things so that in me you may
have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be
courageous! I have conquered the world.”
-Jesus suffered, we will suffer! Jesus forgave, we must forgive!
-Real Christians endure opposition and persecution
-Opposition is Satan’s effort to keep people from finding God!
-Vs 16b “wrath has overtaken them at last” God will be their
ultimate judge for stopping people from finding Jesus
-vs 18 this opposition kept Paul from being with them
4. Godly People Desire Eternal Rewards Vs 19-20
-Paul described the Thessalonians as his “crown of boasting”
-Who is following Jesus because of you? New believers will
forever testify that you and I were “witnesses” for Jesus!
Thank God for Godly People!
-who do you thank God for?
-who is thanking God for you?
The apostle Paul wrote this letter, we know now as they may or may not have understood that God's spirit was giving them a special unction and understanding to write what was inspired by God for us to have for all eternity, until Jesus comes. It is our guiding light, our guiding textbook for how to be a local church. There are many, but this is one of the letters that God preserved over time for us. But he wrote this letter specifically when he wrote it, he wrote it to Thessalonians; those who were living in the City of Thessalonica. Thessalonica had about a hundred thousand people, they were affluent, they were peaceful, but they were idle worshipers. They were pantheistic. They were multi-religious.
And in fact, we're going to see here in this passage, it's highlighted the fact that they really didn't enjoy, at least the Christians didn't enjoy religious freedom, like we would understand today. So, maybe many things that we know to be true about - maybe two to three times bigger than this city, but very similar in this metropolitan feel, at least in our way of being that kind of a city. And politically free, there wasn't some - even though Rome was very much in charge of that region and that land and that time, they were the Roman empire; they had relative freedom to govern themselves just like we in Fort Wayne would have that freedom. We will see and we do know that, and they were intolerant of anyone who said, this is the one true way. And of course, that's kind of similar to us today that someone would say, this is absolutely right, this is true, the Bible is true, which means all other faiths are false. You can't logically or mentally say, this is true, and this is true.
And so, the anyone who would say, when you say I am the way, the truth in the life, no one comes to the father except through me, Jesus Christ. There are some in our city and some in our region, some in our country that would say you have no right to believe that, and you have no right to impose that understanding upon our society. And so, we have vestiges of that, but this particular city, there were mobs of people that would riot and actually threaten to physically harm people who said such things. And they did.
We know that the backdrop of this, if you want to do a little history or study or comparison in Acts 17, this is the description of when Paul first went to Thessalonica and shared the gospel, and when several people believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And then we see in Acts 17:5-10 where he left due to the riot against him. And it's, of course, we're referring to that in today's focus passage. But in spite of the opposition, in spite of the persecution, in spite of many people probably losing their positions of prominence and popularity, the gospel flourished and the church was birthed, and not only was born in that city, but it was thriving. It was so thriving that Paul wrote this letter as an encouragement to say, you guys are getting it right and I am so thankful for you. And that's why I have chosen this because I say, I am thankful for my church family, and I'm thankful for what God has and is doing in and through us.
Now, we're always one decision away from chaos. Don't get me wrong, but at the same time, we need to acknowledge and celebrate. And as I had one friend of mine, he's actually in Ecuador right now with one of our local pastors, Bobby Pells in Evansville as a pastor. And Steve Johnson is a pastor at Waynedale Baptist Church, and they're now on a teaching tour through Ecuador from the west coast all the way into the mountains. And I think they're heading over to Coca in the jungle for their final stint of two days of preaching to indigenous and rural preachers. And as they talk about - Bobby will say to me, "I don't celebrate well. I'm always looking to the next; I'm always looking to the next." It's almost like athletes do that. They're all excited about the trophy they received, but they're already thinking about next season how they're at the bottom of the pack one more time. Or they're at target to be knocked off because they're at the top of the pack right now.
And so, sometimes even in Christian circles, we just don't celebrate well the successes that God has given us because for some reason, we think that's prideful to say, I'm so thankful for all the things that have happened well. And if you're becoming prideful, that's a bad thing and you shouldn't do that, but it shouldn't preclude us in fear of being prideful. We need to at least acknowledge, I'm grateful that things are going well. I'm grateful that things have happened in a good way. I acknowledge that everything didn't happen the way we wanted it to, but a few things turned out okay, and God is good. And so, that's why I felt like it was important for us to read through this letter and extrapolate from us some things we can learn and grow from and be encouraged by today.
Now, I have a question asked as we move forward because my title was, "Thank God for Godly People." Who are your spiritual encouragers? You might want to write down a note of someone in your life that's a spiritual encourager. Maybe they're hopefully alive so that you can actually thank them and say something to them. And maybe they've gone home to be with the Lord and you need to thank God for them, and just pause and say, thank you God for that person in my life. I have a picture of someone on my desk that has gone home to be with the Lord that in his own small way was an encouragement to me. Not only was he an encouragement to me personally, but one thing he was encouraging to me about was he finished well.
He continued to fight the good fight, he continued to run the race with endurance, and he made it to the end without any kind of scandal or specific thing that was revealed later about him. Even after his death, there is nothing that has been said or could be said that has been found out that would absolutely cancel his ministry life as a pastor. Not only in our city, but in Portland, Indiana and in Muncie, Indiana and multiple other areas where he served the Lord, mentored young men in the Lord and finished well, the race. There are people like that in my life. I think of Brother Miles Seaborne; his wife just went home to be with the Lord this week. Did you know that? Talking my wife there, but Jeanie and her husband, Miles, were very encouraging to us when I was in seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. And I will be forever grateful for brother miles and what he did in my life.
Brother Horton was a good person in my life. And I remember Mickey, Mickey was just, and I say was just, he was a Sunday School teacher, blue collar worker that just opened up the word of God in my ninth, 10th grade class, Sunday School, each Sunday morning, faithfully teaching us the word of God. And there are things that he shared with me that I even use for illustrations today when I'm teaching the word of God. Just faithfully teaching the word of God to me, and I probably fell asleep occasionally. I probably didn't pay attention all the time. I probably wasn't the best student for him, but God is my witness, I can look back and know that in spite of what I wasn't, he continued to be a faithful witness of the word of God to me. He was a spiritual encourager. Who is that in your life that you can point to? Write that name down, find a moment sometime today or this week to thank God for them and to reach out if they're still alive, and thank them personally?
Who is thankful for your spiritual walk in Christ? Did somebody, if I were to say this to enough people, to a crowd of people that knew you, would they write your name down as a spiritual encourager? Is there someone in your life that you have influenced towards Jesus Christ that they would say I'm grateful for that person and that they would name you as that person? And I say that to say that Paul is talking to this church because he's saying you guys were those kinds of people. I'm thankful for you. You are something that I celebrate an eternity with and for, and that's the kind of people that I want to be. That's the kind of people that I want us to be, and that when people think of people from St Joe Community Church, they think of refreshment - cups of cold water in Jesus name, speaking the truth in love, not just speaking the truth and not just living in love, but speaking the truth in love, the combination, encouraging people in their spiritual walk.
Paul thanked God for Thessalonian Christians. In 1 Thessalonians 1:2, it says, "We always thank God for all of you making mention of you constantly in our prayers." And in the very beginning of our passage this morning, he said, this is why we constantly thank God because when you receive the word of God that you heard from us, you welcome it, not as human a message, but as it truly is the word of God, we thank God for you." And now he continues his complimentary words to them. And so, let me read for us 1 Thessalonian 2:13-20, "This is why Paul is saying, we, his team, constantly thank God, because when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you welcomed it, not as a human message, but as it truly is the word of God, which also works effectively in you, who believe. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God's churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea since you have also suffered the same things from people of your own country, just as they did from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecuted us. They displeased God and are hostile to everyone by keeping us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. As a result, they are constantly filling up their sins to the limit, and wrath has overtaken them at last. But as for us brothers and sisters, after we were forced to leave you for a short time, in person, not in heart, we greatly desired and made every effort to return to see you face to face, so we wanted to come to you. Even I, Paul, time and again, but Satan hindered us. For who is our hope or joy or crown of boasting in the presence of our Lord Jesus that is coming? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy."
Thank God for godly people. Thank God for godly people. They're the kind of people that we want in our lives. They're the kind of people that you want as a pastor to lead. They're the kind of people that as a people of God you want leading you. They're the kind of people you just need around you. You need around a few godly people so that you can endure a bunch of ungodly people, a bunch of ungodliness that works around you. Whenever I was at Ball State, I was in the marching band, and that was quite a Motley crew. And you just kind of knew which bus to not get on if you really wanted to stay away from what you shouldn't be doing.
And I remember my junior and senior year thinking to myself, well, first of all, I was thinking to myself, my girlfriend's in the band, I'm going to go in the band. Of course I am, because free trips to all places and be with my girlfriend. But having said that, I also thought to myself, is there a Christian group of people? Are there some godly students who are in the band that I can actually hang out with so I don't have to continue to endure a bunch of ungodly people and be pretty much a loner when you go on trips? And we went to places like Niagara Falls; we went to see the Buffalo Bills play and we played. At halftime we went down to the Cincinnati Bingos. We went to different road trips as a band, and that was part of the fun is you get free trips to go places and you get to play awesome music with a bunch of people that are really talented, much more talented than I was. But in spite of that, it was just good to be around people who were godly.
And it just invariably worked that each year I would find our group of people, and it was a varying degrees, but for the most part, we all remembered the trip. And we all wanted to enjoy the trip without doing things that were not only a little illegal, but we're definitely self-abasing and things that just would not have put us in a spot where we would've been honoring to God. Now, I'm not going to tell you that I was perfect; don't get me wrong. And I'm not here to tell you that I had it all figured out. I'm just saying that I needed those people around me so that I wouldn't keep doing the things that I in the flesh wanted to do. So, don't sit here and look at this halo guy. Let's look at a guy that was desperate to be around people so that he wouldn't do the bad things, okay. Let's just get that straight.
But here's the kind of people that we thank God for. Godly people in verse 13, it shows trust the Bible. Paul says they receive the word of God - receive the word that they gave them as the word of God, not as a human message. God's word was changing them. It was working effectively, he says in his letter to them. It works effectively in you. You're changing. You're becoming something different because of God's word in your life. Now, what was the word of God for them? It was the Old Testament for the most part, but there was no inspired... this letter was coming to them, but this letter had not yet come to them so they didn't have the inspired word of God. They didn't have, I mean, the inspired New Testament. They didn't have the Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that we have in our Bible. They had the Old Testament; the Old Testament was changing their lives.
How many pastors and leaders ignore the Old Testament in thinking that we aren't Old Testament people, were New Testament people? And yet the church was birthed on the Old Testament, cutting their teeth on the word of God that had already existed and always will exist just as much as the New Testament, but the New Testament was not yet in their hands. As they were studying this word, it changed them. It made them into the person that God wanted them to become. Now, what is the word of God? Well, let's just look at John 1:1 says in the beginning was the word and the word was with Jesus and the word was God. So, the epitome or the actually fullness of the word of God is Jesus Christ, himself. He's the living word. He's the word that he demonstrated the word of God as He walked among us as a human being. He always existed - He always will. He was God. He is God.
1 Peter 1:21 continues to give us some ideas of what the word of God is, "No prophecy ever came by the will of man. Instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." God has caused people to write exactly what He wanted us to read, know and obey. And when you read Paul's letters, it certainly has his personality, his vernacular, his skill at writing. But behind what he's doing is the Holy Spirit that is helping him to perfectly say in his own way of saying it what God wants us to know for all eternity. That would be true for Paul, that would be true for James, and that is true for Peter, and that is true for Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and all those who are part of writing the inspired scriptures or bringing it even at first in an oral tradition in the old Testament.
In 2 Timothy 2:16, it says all scripture is God breathed, which means inspired by God. In Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any double edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." The Bible powerfully changes the core of our being. It's why it's a frightening book to people that don't want to obey God. It's why this book has tried to be banned by so many people and why we have to smuggle it into communist countries, countries that are intolerant of anything other than their own religion of communism and socialism. A country that is fully fueled by humanism; cannot stand the authority of the word of God because it jars them out of their complacency, into a conviction that makes them uncomfortable and in a way in which they would not want to live.
God's word is powerful, that's why we give a Bible to our graduates. That's why we give Bibles to people when they are baptized in our baptismal. That's why we give Bibles to people just because we give Bibles away. We just give them away, left and right. They're on the piano back there. If you want one, take one if you don't have one. If you need an extra one, take one. We'll continue to buy more because the word of God is a powerful and effective tool. It is God's tool for changing our lives for guiding us. Godly people want to know and want to obey the Bible. They compare all other claims of truth against the Bible, and they reject all claims that contradict the Bible. Godly people submit their personal feelings and opinions to the Bible.
So many times today, and I've heard it in speeches, I've heard it in commentaries, what you feel is right. Well, my opinion is what matters, even if it's against what God's opinion is. Well, we've evolved in our understanding of what the Bible says. Nothing will be further from the truth. God's word was, is, and will be. My word will never pass away, Jesus said. We don't change the Bible to fit our feelings and thoughts; we change our feelings and thoughts to fit the Bible. And these Christians, even in the midst of intense persecution, what do you mean you don't believe in all these other gods? What do you mean we're all lost in judgment of a holy God that says that what we're doing is wrong? What do you mean? Can't you just get along everybody else in our city? Can't you just stop preaching Jesus to people around you? That's just wrong for you to impose your belief on somebody. The same way that it might be wrong to impose somebody's beliefs that they can drive down a road to a river where it bridge is out, and they put a warning sign that says, "do not go, road closed, bridge out, danger." Oh, but I don't want to impose my feelings and beliefs on somebody driving their car. I ought to let them just - they need to experience for themselves whether or not the bridge is out.
If you believe something to be true and you staked your eternity on it, you don't have to be dogmatic and rude and cruel and mean, but for the sake of God, could we at least tell people that they're in trouble if they are, if we really believe that in love? But that was intolerant to people in Thessalonica. And these Christians were being persecuted for believing that. But in spite of the intense opposition to their faith, they were thriving. And Paul accredited to the fact that the word of God was actively changing their lives. It wasn't just a personal opinion that flew into town and talked to them. It's not a win some pastor or a preacher coming up here and talking that changes your life. It's the word of God that changes your life. Not only do godly people trust the Bible, godly people set the example. Verse 14; "They became imitators of God's churches in Christ Jesus." They became imitators of God's churches.
Now notice here, it doesn't say you individually became imitators of Jesus Christ by yourselves. It says that they were imitators as a community of the Lord, Jesus Christ. They were an example of what it meant to live a Christian life as a community of people, not just as individual people. Now, individuals I'm sure were powerful in themselves, but it was a community effort, not an individual effort that they said, "Oh, look what you're doing here, look what you're doing here!" It was the collective of their godliness that came together that was a powerful witness that God was at work in their lives.
You and I aren't examples for churches by ourselves. There is a movement it seems for people to have their own little theological libraries and their own little theological ways of doing things. And they're sort of like this own little enclave. Now, I am all for, and I am not against all forms of congregating together. There's large church, there's small church, there's house church, there's all kinds of ways to share the gospel and for people to thrive as a community of faith together, but the key is, a community is more than just yourself. It's a group of people coming together in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. We believe in membership and covenant relationships with one another that this isn't just something we just sort of show up and we're kind of together. No, we're in this together. We walk together in the spirit of Christ.
United obedience to God's word shows the world that Jesus is building His church. And I want to say this, the miracle of the local churches, that in spite of our humanity, she still exists all around the world. In spite of our stupidity, in spite of the fact that we are all hypocrites in recovery – "Hi, I'm Greg, I'm a hypocrite." "Hi Greg." "Yeah, thank you." I think Beth gets it. This is group therapy for me. I need others to know that I am not right. Boy, I said that out loud. My daughter's like, "Yes, he admitted it." I am not perfect. Yes, of course I'm not. You know I'm not; for me to say otherwise, you would laugh. I'm becoming what God wants me to become, and it's through the local church. It's through our collective obedience to the word of God together that we become something to behold for the world to see, to be examples for other believers around the world.
We set the example when we're a godly person that people thank God for. And we thank God for godly people who endure opposition. I've been referring to this throughout the message, but the Thessalonian Christians were persecuted by their own neighbors, their own citizens, their own regional people; their own countrymen. This translation says, people in your own country, your own countrymen; your own country people. It wasn't some outside force that was coming in. It was people that already knew them that they already knew. They may have lost their jobs because they were Christians. They may have been ostracized by family members that were either refusing to agree with them and didn't want anything to do with them or afraid to agree with them because they didn't want to suffer the same intense persecution that was being thrust upon them. They endured the opposition.
Jesus warned of this in John 16:33. He said, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace." You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous. I have conquered the world. I mean, when Jesus came, the perfect example - we aren't, He was, He is; the perfect son of God, who was the perfect word of God was crucified. They couldn't stand perfection when they saw it. They didn't want anything to do with it. So, don't kid yourself to think that when you begin to stand up for what is right that you will not be suffering. You will suffer the same consequences.
It is illegal for a Christian who is a counselor licensed by the State of California to obey the word of God in helping someone get out of their sinful lifestyle. They right now cannot be certified by the State of California. This is happening throughout the States and other places. If someone wants to move out of an ungodly relationship or out of an ungodly tendency, they will lose their license in the State of California. And this is continuing to happen because they don't want the Bible to be the final authority; they want humanity to be the final authority. And the question will be, as this continues to ripple through America, if it doesn't change, if it continues to run unabated; will godly people continue to endure? Will godly people endure? And it will, I think, in many ways, reveal those who are not relationally connected to Jesus Christ, but simply culturally connected to a community of Christ, but not really relationally connected to Jesus as their true Lord and savior, because real Christians endure opposition and persecution.
Now, opposition is Satan's effort to keep people from finding God. It says here, "That by keeping them from speaking to the Gentiles," in other words, there was a persecution that rose out, "so that they may be saved." In other words, Satan is trying his best to hide the truth from people who don't know it, and trying to shroud anything that the Christian community is doing and helping everybody point out all the ways in which we aren't, which we can easily do. There are many ways we aren't because we're not perfect.
One of my officer friends said it will never be perfect because you're all run by humans, and by God's grace, hopefully, under the authority of Jesus who is the Lord of our church and the chief shepherd of our church, but until we are in heaven, the church will not be perfect. And so many people are being hidden or are trying to hide the truth of God through the humanity of the church, instead of the spirit of the church. And Paul says very simply, almost like he just says, "Oh, and by the way, wrath is overtaken them at last." They're going to suffer a great awakening to their error of their ways. And at some point, God will be their ultimate judge for stopping people from finding Jesus. I referred to the idea that the county highway department decides, they say, "I need for you to go and I need for you to put the bridges closed danger signed." And that guy decides, "You know, I don't like my boss. I don't care for the county. I think they're wrong in their attitude about that bridge, and I'm just not going to put the sign up because I don't care. I don't want people to know the bridge is out."
Now, that person would be prosecuted and put in jail for a long time if somebody lost their life because he refused to put the sign up. And I think our society would rightly say he faces or she faces a higher penalty for what they did because they had the authority to do something, and they abused the authority in such a way that it took the lives of people. And I believe this is what Paul is saying, that there are people that are openly opposing the true. They're not just saying live and let live. They're not being tolerant. Its one thing to say I don't believe that, I'm an atheist, but I certainly... you know, you're welcome to believe it if you want to. I'm not going to do anything to stop you because hey, maybe it's true. And you have the right in the freedom of our country to believe what you want to believe so go for it. And here's a Bible, I don't want it anymore because I've rejected it, but you can have my Bible.
I had an atheist give me a Bible one time. She said, "My mom had this and I know you're a religious person and I thought that you might want this." And I wanted to so give it back to her, but I took it and thanks. I still have it, and I still pray for her to come to know Jesus. But these people are openly opposing the gospel so much so that they're trying their best to keep people from finding Jesus. And Paul says, there's a day when the limit of their sin will be so complete that the ultimate judge - they're in trouble. I wouldn't wish that on anybody, but he's just stating a fact.
In the midst of all that godly people, endure opposition. And finally this morning, godly people desire eternal rewards. Now, Paul explained here as a caveat here, he explains that it couldn't be with you, that I was hindered from coming because of this persecution. Some think that maybe Paul knew it was better for them to thrive in their faith as a Christian community without him being there, than for his notoriety or is Christian celebrity or whatever you might say that he was so popular for Christ that it would've been more of a hindrance than a help to the Christian Church for him to show up. But indeed he wanted to come; he sent Timothy instead with this letter.
But then he says, yeah, even though he wanted to come, don't forget who is our hope or joy or crown of boasting in the presence of our Lord Jesus that is coming. Is it not you? And indeed you are our glory and joy. He described Thessalonians as his crown of boasting. And there's a whole Bible study that talks about the crowns. I mean, there's six or seven or five at least. And we talk about that - there's some ways of kind of collecting all of those Bible verses together. And if that is truly the case, I think in Revelation, it says that they cast their crowns at the feet of Jesus in worshiping Him in eternity. Then anything that we receive as a reward is thrown right back at Jesus to say, the only way I was able to do this in the first place was because of what you did through me and gave me the power to do it. Our worship of Jesus is everything that we accomplish. I said that we don't celebrate success very well, but any success that we do celebrate goes right back to the feet of Jesus to say there's no way we could have been successful if it hadn't been for you in the first place. And we put it right back at him. It was all because of Jesus that we were able to do what we did.
And Paul says, "You are shining examples of what I'm going to celebrate for eternity. I'm going to celebrate you. And I wonder if Paul was thinking, we're going to celebrate together, that I can't be with you here temporarily in this earth, but forever we're going to be together at the throne of Jesus worshiping together. And wow, I'm going to say, God, you let me be part of an opportunity and a movement in a city that I just visited for three weeks, and look what happened. People came to know Jesus, and you used me to do that. Wow, God, I'm celebrating forever that these people were rescued from hell to heaven, from death to life, from just living a regular common existence on earth to an existence of purpose and meaning while they lived out their life on this earth, and I'm celebrating."
Who are you going to celebrate when you get to heaven because God used you to help them find and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior? Who is following Jesus because of you? These new believers will testify forever that you and I were witnesses for Jesus Christ. It's only two things that last forever; God's word and people. What are you investing in? How are you leveraging everything you have on this earth in order to leverage and invest in the word of God, which changes your life and people who last forever, either away from God forever or with God forever? What are you doing about it? Godly people desire eternal rewards.
Oh, I'd love to see young people get degrees, get certifications, get a welding certification, get a degree. My best friend growing up, he's got a mechanics. He's a machinist, and then now his daughter is going to go to a college on a full ride. And I can't wait to talk to him in person to say, "Wow, who would've thought a guy that couldn't stand a book." He liked standing on books to get to something else, but not read them, has got a daughter who's a Brainiac that wants to study biology and be a teacher. And he's going to go, "Yeah, I never guessed." And yet he's as smart as anybody else, he's just smart in a different way. But all these accomplishments - but you know what? All those accomplishments are great, but nothing compared the accomplishments of what you do to follow God and to help people find and follow God through whatever gifts, talents, and abilities you've done, and those talents and gifts, and those rewards that you've had that this earth gives us.
I pray that we will live for eternity, not for the finite; that we will think about how we're being an influence and an encouragement to people around us. Not so much thinking about all the people that need to bless me. Thank God for godly people. Who are you thanking God for? Will you let them know that you're grateful for them and who's thanking God for you? You said, well, I don't know who that would be right now. Well, God has given you a moment of time to change. He's given you a moment because the end of your life doesn't have to be where you're headed right now if only you will start making the change that God wants you to make to live for what matters.
Use that connection card and help us know how to pray for you. Maybe it's time to tell the world you're a Christian through baptism. Maybe it's time to take the class and learn what it means to belong to a church family. And we're not here to talk you into anything. We're just here to open up God's word and open up our lives to help you move forward spiritually one step at a time. Let's stand. Let's sing one more time. Let's strike while the iron's hot. Right now is the moment when you know what you must do. Will you make that decision? Will you move forward? Will you take a step of faith? Will you trust us even just a little bit to help you move forward to become the godly person that God wants you to become for His namesake? God help us to each take the step you want us to take to honor you to bless others and to have an eternal destiny that is hopeful, good, pure, perfect, and glorifying to you, in Jesus name I pray, amen.
B: Bible book