Old Town Christian Fellowship
1 Thessalonians 2
OTCF Community Outreach Program
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        Men's Breakfast and Bible Study

        January 14, 2023 - 8:00 AM - 8:00 AM
  • The Stand
  • Goodness Of God
  • God Of Revival
  • Battle Belongs
  • 1 Thessalonians 2

    Good morning Church! We are going to be in 1 Thessalonians 2 this morning. As you can see on our opening slide this morning, our message is titled earning the right to be heard…but as the week went on and I considered more and more of the context of our passage… the title is also...

    1 Thessalonians 2

    What about when things go wrong? Let me clarify a little bit on what I mean by that. I guess I would give two qualifying statements… The first being you’re doing everything right. Meaning you’re not in rebellion against the Lord. Obviously, if you are actively engaged in ongoing sin, the wages of sin is death, so you should expect things to go very wrong. But you’re in a right relationship with the Lord and seeking to please Him with your life. Not perfect in practice, but right in your heart before God.
    Second, you are seeking to do His will. So not, you’re trying to win your fantasy football pool so you can rub it in those schmucks faces that you work with. Or you think you’re supposed to marry the prettiest girl in church,…but she’s already married, has three kids, and a restraining order against you.
    But what about when things go wrong, when you are trying to live a life that honors God…and you’re seeking to do His will and serve Him in a way that will give Him glory and it doesn’t end up looking like you think it should? Then what? Let’s pray...
    Now I began last week trying to give you a little bit of context to this book, and told you that the story that Joe Bailey shared with us about Paul and Silas being in jail happened just before Paul came to Thessalonica. Both Joe and I talked about the people around Paul being able to see that his faith was real when it mattered. But I want to go back a little bit further, and I think it will give us more application to our passage this morning.
    Saul of Tarsus was a highly educated religious teacher in Judaism. When Jesus came and people started saying that He was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, Paul did everything he could to shut them up. He threatened them, began rounding them up, and incarcerating them for blasphemy.
    Long story short, Saul of Tarsus has a life changing, radical encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. I say a radical encounter, but really as my Bible describes it, we all should have a Damascus road experience, where surrendering to Jesus changes everything. It sure did for Saul, his name is changed to Paul, and he becomes and Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there was ever anyone that could say that they were “all in” I think Paul would qualify.
    Paul becomes a missionary, where he travels around and begins to plant churches, telling everyone about Jesus. He has a partner in ministry named Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas strengthen and educate these little churches, they establish elders in each of the churches. Things don’t go perfect however, on this first missionary journey, threats are made against Paul, he gets stoned nearly to death in one place, but people are getting saved and people are following Jesus. Fast forward…the church is growing. Paul now has other guys traveling with him as well and things are looking up. Acts 15:36
    Acts 15:36 NKJV
    36 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.”
    I know this is super hard for us to do, but I want to ask you to really try to put yourself in Paul’s shoes, and think about what he might have been thinking about. How might have Paul, in his mind visualized this as going? What would his expectations have been? I surrendered my life to Jesus, I sacrificed to serve Him, I travelled in areas that opposed me, often at my own expense. Churches were planted, elders established, now it’s time to do a wellness check to encourage, and to see some of the fruit that God has done through us.
    What would your expectations be? How do you think things should go? You are all in serving the Lord and maybe for the first time in you’re life, you really are all in, and you have some expectations on what that should look like. Fast forward a little bit more....before they even leave, Paul and his partner in ministry get into a fight, a disagreement on who should travel with them. And these Godly men can’t work it out, the contention is so great that they actually separate and go their separate ways. How does that make sense?
    So this ministry trip begins with contention, that leads to division, and then Paul gets on with the Lord’s work with difficulty. I don’t know what you’re expectations would be. But, in my rational mind, it seems like the Lord’s work, should bring the Lord’s favor. I mean if you’re doing your own thing, I get it, but this is the Apostle Paul who over and over and over again has shown that he wants the Lord’s will at any cost. And to start, he and another brother (that he knows loves Jesus) see things very differently.
    So Paul takes off to strengthen the churches and they did, and the numbers grew that were being saved. So they decided to go to Asia…but the Bible says, ”they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.” Probably not expecting that, probably didn’t think that was the way that things should go, so what do they do when things go wrong? They keep trying to please the Lord.
    But Acts 16 tells us they they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. I guessing that wasn’t what Paul expected, if it was, he never would have tried to go. This part of the Bible actually gives me some solace, some comfort. Because as much as I desperately seek the Lord, and truly want to do the right thing and please Him with my service, things don’t always work out they way I thought they would or the way I think they should, sometimes things go very wrong. And I can get discourage and quit, or I can keep seeking to please God.
    Wanting to please God, Paul continues to seek God and has a vision in the night where a man from Macedonia appears to him saying, come over here and help us! What do you think Paul’s expectations were at this point? Even if he might be getting a little gun shy, I’m guessing he expected to find a man in Macedonia that he could share the gospel with, or at least help in some way. Seems reasonable doesn’t it? I’m actually not guessing here. The Bible says Paul immediately sought to go to Macedonia concluding that the Lord had called them to preach the gospel to them.
    They take off and go to the prominent city there, Philippi. There’s no temple, so they go down to the river where people pray and there’s no guys there looking for help. There are some women, one of them named Lydia becomes a Christian. If you read on, they have this really strange encounter with a women that is possessed by an evil spirit. Apparently she is given the power to tell the future and the men in the community, abuse her, exploit her, and profit from her. But she won’t stop following Paul around and shouting that Paul and Silas are men of God speaking forth the way of salvation.
    Paul commands this demon to leave her, she is no longer making money for these guys, so they attack Paul and Silas and beat them with rods and throw them in prison. These aren’t guys restricted by Jewish law beating them that can only do 39 lashes, I’m guessing they get beat nearly to death. Paul loves Jesus, he’s serving Jesus, but things go really wrong. What do you do when things go wrong? You keep trying to please God. Can you please God if you get beaten and thrown in prison? I think Paul did.
    I told you about it last week, Joe shared with us about it the week before. Paul and Silas are singing hymns at midnight in jail, an earthquake happens, the doors all open, and they stay, the jailer is in shock. They share Jesus with him, he gets saved, everyone in his household gets saved, and it says he washed their wounds. Have you ever thought about that? How bad were they wounded? How bad would you have to be wounded men to let another man wash your wounds?
    Not to be gross but what were their wounds like? Were they infected at this point? I mean, they didn’t get beaten with rods, jump in the ambulance and go to walk-in care for some pain-meds, antibiotics, and stitches. Fast forward, their wounds are clean, the magistrates authorize their release. Paul says no, you just beat and held a couple of Roman citizens without a trial, we’re not going anywhere. The magistrates come and person and beg them to leave. Not knowing they were Romans at the time, didn’t make it any less of an offense.
    Paul and Silas then go to Thessalonica. Back on track. Ready to do the Lord’s work. I wonder how they thought that was going to go? Days after a beating, several of you know what it’s like a few days after a major injury, you feel worse, not better. They begin to share the gospel and after three Sabbaths of doing exactly what they thought the Lord wanted them to do, they are some are getting saved, but those that oppose them run them out of town. They go to Berea, and their opposers follow them, and run them out of there, they end of in Corinth, where Paul rights this letter to the Thessalonians. Chapter 2 verse 1. 1 Thes 2:1-4
    1 Thessalonians 2:1 NKJV
    1 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.
    Vs. 1, Not in vain. It didn’t look like we thought it would look like, it didn’t go how we thought it would go, but it was not in vain. There is a verse in the book of Isaiah that says, Isa 55:11
    Isaiah 55:11 NKJV
    11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
    Notice there is nothing in that verse that says, ministry will be easy, proclaiming forth the gospel, the good news like the church in Thessalonica did, nothing there that says that will be easy, or even seem like it’s going well. Or a promise that you will get to see the harvest, the fruit of the seed you are planting or watering, as you share the Word of God with others.
    Sometimes you’re going to be run out of town like Paul was, or discarded from your friend group. Does that mean that it is done in vain and God is not working? You have no idea what God is doing! That same person that curses you out, might be up all night replaying those words that you shared with them, or seeing you over and over living out your faith when it really mattered.
    Some of you hung onto a phrase, something someone said, a verse that they shared, and you couldn’t get it out of your head. And at 2 in the morning in a room by yourself surrendered your life to Christ, when no one ever thought that you would. And that word, or deed, or verse from that faithful Christian was not in vain. Christian, you need to know like Paul did, that God is working. God is working even when you can’t see it. God is working even when it doesn’t look like you think it should look like.
    God is working even when you step out in faith and begin serving, but have a disagreement with someone you are ministering with. Or you decide you’re going to do this or that, but the Spirit of God doesn’t let it happen. God is still working. God is still working even when evil opposes you, and there is a roadblock you can’t get past. That has been happening since the beginning of humanity. Cain killed Abel. Why? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
    This is a hard one for some of us. God is still working even when He doesn’t follow our counsel. When His will is different than our will. Do you guys remember Jobs friends? His crazy counselors telling him what he should do? Sometimes we give the same level of counsel to the One who knows all things. And who is working even if He’s not doing it our way. So what do we do then? Paul says...
    1 Thessalonians 2:2–4 NKJV
    2 But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. 3 For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. 4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.
    Verse 2…you guys know
    Verse 3 it didn’t come from us, or we would have quit!
    1 Thessalonians 2:5–6 NKJV
    5 For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.
    I love the example Paul gives here, he says we were like a mother to you and we were like a father to you.
    1 Thessalonians 2:7–8 NKJV
    7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.
    I don’t think there is anything more selfless than a nursing mother,....examples..... and what does she expect in return for it? A dirty diaper.
    1 Thessalonians 2:9–10 NKJV
    9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe;
    Paul didn’t just tell them how to live for Christ, he showed them. He loved them. He served them, and by doing so, he earned the opportunity to be heard by them and the Word was then received. Check out this picture he gives of being like a father in their lives.
    1 Thessalonians 2:11–12 NKJV
    11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
    1 Thessalonians 2:13–16 NKJV
    13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.
    vs.16 wanted them unto themselves first, that the Gentiles would first become Jews.
    1 Thessalonians 2:17–20 NKJV
    17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. 18 Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
    We should be that hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing in each other’s lives. That we would have assurance that our ministering to one another, to our community, is not in vain. That God is working even when we can’t see it. Paul continues this in chapter 3, just going to read three verses here.
    1 Thessalonians 3:1–3 NKJV
    1 Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.
    Love God, serve God, seek to follow the direction of His will, but sometimes things are going to go wrong and look very different than we think they should look. Like Paul we need to be faithful to keep pressing forward. If we come up against opposition, or a road block, we keep pressing forward. We don’t stop ministering where we can be used, just because we can’t yet do what we think we should be doing.
    In Romans 5 Paul says, "...we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." - Romans 5:3-5 NKJV
    So we keep pressing forward.
    That perseverance develops our character, and I believe clarifies our identity in Christ. Both for ourselves, so we know that our service is not in vain, but also in those around us that witness our faith being real when it matters. Our faith being real when we serve them, sacrifice for them, laying down our lives for the Lord in ministering to them, and the response is a dirty diaper. That earns us the right to be heard.
    And when it looks like God isn’t working, or things go wrong, just keep pleasing God. And God will receive your offering, and those around you may not be shaken by the afflictions.
    Grace and Peace
      • Acts 15:36NKJV

      • 1 Thessalonians 2:1NKJV

      • Isaiah 55:11NKJV

      • 1 Thessalonians 2:2–4NKJV

      • 1 Thessalonians 2:5–6NKJV

      • 1 Thessalonians 2:7–8NKJV

      • 1 Thessalonians 2:9–10NKJV

      • 1 Thessalonians 2:11–12NKJV

      • 1 Thessalonians 2:13–16NKJV

      • 1 Thessalonians 2:17–20NKJV

      • 1 Thessalonians 3:1–3NKJV

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