Monday, October 29, 2018

How Then Shall We Live?

Once decision has been made to follow Christ - how then shall we live?

1 Thess. 4;1 - "typical Pauline" - (1) How to gain access (Gospel)
                                                  (2)  How to live after that  (Lifestyle)
Paul's idea so much different to what the world thinks.

Christianity is more than a religious choice! - "Nominal" Christians.  Gospel doesn't affect their lifestyle Monday - Saturday. Only affects their "Sundays".
1 Thess. 4:1-3 -

(groundwork) = (1) how to live and 2 in order to Please God - not make Him happy, but as He intends, desires, designed - this is how He meant for His creation to live.
(beneficiaries???   = the believer, family, community, society)

1 Thess. 4:1 - Practice this and grow in this
1 Thess. 4:2 - because you know ... (A) the Instructions
                                                       (B)  the Source  (and is not Paul, or Apostles)  Came from God.  Instructions are written by His authority.

1 Thess. 43 - God's will (desire, intent, design...) - "Sanctified"
Ie:  set apart ..(1) Positionally - an act of God - His work, an Act
                      (2)  Practically - a process of living as should - your efforts, a Process

"Sanctified" - set apart unto Him.  God doesn't MAKE us live sanctified.
Are two kinds of decrees that God has - determinate will = this will happen
                                                           - desired will = what I hope, wish to happen

When a person accepts Christ, God sets that person into a right relationship with Him.
However, He does not make that person live like he's sanctified.  That is the person's choice.

But, if believer continues to ignore the Instructions, it calls into question their sincerity!

Paul address 3 (primary) areas:
I.)  Sexual Purity
II.)  Brotherly Love
III.) Community Life

I.  Sexual purity  1 Thess. 4:3-8
   (1) Pagan view - no sexual moral guidelines.  Anything goes.
vs. (2)  Jewish/Christian Stance 
Jews always had the Law, and guidelines.
Current day relevance???  Application???

(note Jewish council - Acts 15)
Paul ..... Avoid sexual immorality according to the Law of Moses
             Learn self-control
             Wrong no one (in this matter) because you wrong another EVEN if consensual!!
Post Christian society today - returning to the Pagan notions.  Consenting adults = pagan view!  (woe to those who call evil good and good evil)

ANSWER = fulfilling sex life ... within marriage  (1 Cor. 7)
Paul adds:  (1) the calling - 1 Thess. 4:7
                 (2)  the warning  - 1 Thess. 4:6 - Gal. 6:7-9
Summary Statement - 1 Thess. 4:8
Compare Prov. 29:18, Isa. 5:20-21, 22-24
People will call you "hater" if you take a stance on Biblical morality.

Lifestyle Matters!!
It affects .......... you
                         those close to you
                         those around you - Community, Society

It affects Christian witness!!  Therefore, affects Eternity!!

Closing Scripture:  Eph. 5:15-17

Monday, October 22, 2018

1st. Thessalonians - A Letter

Who was Paul?  What was he like?  What did he look like?  = common questions

1st. known description from a late 2nd. century work of fiction entitled "The Acts of Paul & Thecla" -
    "A man of middling size, and his hair was scanty, and his legs were a little crooked and his knees were far apart;  he had large eyes and his eyebrows met and his nose was somewhat long!! And he was full of grace and mercy; at one time he seemed like a man and at another time he seemed like an angel."

2 Cor. 10:10 - "his letters are weighty and forceful but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing."

All to say - Paul was a very ordinary man!

On one hand, we can't know (see) his appearance.
However, we can know (see) his heart!!
ie:  his heart for God, the gospel, the people with whom he shared the Good News.

So:  1 Thess. 2:1-3:13 - read as a letter to a people he called "brothers, loved by God" - 1 Thess. 1:4

Today read a large section AS A LETTER!!
Will help us see Paul's person, heart, love for the churches and the people.  Puts light on his teaching.

Also, we see (interwoven) some of the Primary Points of his successful ministry.  (doesn't mean the only points, but does mean important points.)

Some of Paul's Primary Methods
#1.  offer information
#2.  make an appeal
#3.  expect opposition
#4.  offer encouragement
These = part of Paul's ministry ... that we can implement, imitate

Started with:
I.  Offer Information - (example:  Paul's practice - enter synagogue, present Christ)

for us?  "gospel" illustrated by the Bridge Illustration
This = bad news (man separated from God) --> good news (God built bridge to Him) -->  bad news (must cross the bridge or are still separated.)!

1 Thess.2:15-16
alongside gospel of grace ... travels message of judgment!! - this = FULL Gospel.

II.  Make and Appeal - 1 Thess. 2:3 compare to John 14:16 - (appeal as does Holy Spirit)
Evangelism = totally ineffective without the call of God.
(we do our part and trust God to do His part!)

III.  Expect Opposition
Social - 1 Thess. 2:14
Satanic - 1 Thess. 2:18
Note also -- 1 Thess. 3:3-4  (with 2 Tim. 3:12)

Are two applications here:  
(1)  Christian - when you make an appeal ... Expect OPPOSITION!
(2)  Pre-Christian .. when you experience the call..  Expect OPPOSITION!

BUT also remember "warrior psalms"
On one hand, the enemy is greater than me!
But, my ally (Holy Spirit, Christ, God) is greater than the enemy!!!  - 1 John 4:4

IV.  Offer Encouragement
Obviously, the potential, new convert needs Encouragement, so... 1 Thess. 3:2
But is also true ... the seasoned minister needs Encouragement as well!!!   1 Thess. 3:7
"Burden of Ministry" - all can relate, all need encouragement
(application works both ways!!)


You are NOT Paul!  BUT ---- these ministry components are Valid and Effective today!!
  #1.  Offer information
  #2.  Make an appeal
  #3.  Expect opposition  (count the cost)
  #4.  Offer encouragement

My Appeal..... Christians - consider this!!  Pre-Christians -- consider this!!!  World will say this is archaic mythology, BUT when the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart, you know that it is not!!

My Encouragement:
Closing Scripture:  1 Pet. 5:8-11

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Evidence of a New Birth

Last week began I Thessalonians

Background = Paul and Silas, 2nd. missionary journey (Acts 17)

Church start leads to contention & riots leads to night time departure, Timothy's return --> report 1 1/2 years later --> Paul's letter

Begins with commendation- 1 Thess. 1:2-3 - work, labor, endurance
moves to a Bold Statement!!  1 Thess. 1:4


Reasons:  1 Thess. 1:5-10 - we know because you...
      A.  experienced (power of message, presence of God, conviction of Holy Spirit
      B.  welcomed (the message)
      C.  turned (from idols to God)
      D.  imitated (us, the Lord)
      E.  became (models, messengers)

Examples:  Jesus says "by their fruits...."  (Matt. 7:15-16 - false prophets)
                 Paul says "I see evidence of the New Birth" - of your faith, of your growth

NOTE - true conversion is more than choosing a religion, choosing a moral, ethical standard.  When are following Christianity, are accepting a person.

True conversion includes a work of God/Holy Spirit, a change of mind, heart, being, status, focus, affection(s) which result in a change of actions, behavior, lifestyle - a consequence of changed heart and mind, encounter with God.

So, on one hand we can't Know, however, can look, examine, assess the conversion.

Beware of the tendency to examine ONLY OTHERS!!!
1 Cor. 13:15 - are you in the faith??  How are you doing in the faith?

Evidence of the NEW BIRTH 

I.  The Experience - (power, presence of God, conviction of Holy Spirit)
(Experience is not the ONLY measure ..... however, - part of a valid measure)

"conviction" - John 16:8  is more than mind alone, = deep certainty!!
Convict = convince
The experience varies widely , may not be all at once, may creep up.  Nevertheless = personal encounter with God, Christ, Holy Spirit

II.  The Welcome  (the message)
May not be all at once!!  However, begins with openness and ends with embracing, receiving, welcoming

Note:  Counting cost!!  "in spite of severe suffering"
Luke 14:25-33  (reluctant surrender?  - Example:  C S Lewis

III.  The Turning - 1 Thess. 1:9-10  (Biblical word = Repentance)
"from...."  cultural, social, familiar beliefs and lifestyle
"to..." God and His proscribed lifestyle!!

"to serve God" is more than merely worship.  "to wait for His return" - is our Hope!!

IV. The Imitation - (how am I supposed to act?)  Because it IS the experience, it IS the heart!!!
BUT also - subsequent lifestyle!!
On one hand, nobody is perfect - don't always get it right
But, are issues of intentionality, effort, correction, continuity - Christ-like, little Christs

V.  The Becoming - 1 Thess. 1:7-8
become models of the faith
become messengers of the faith
Growth can be slow, can be often interrupted - BUT should be upward!!

(1)  Christians - the message must be proclaimed in order to be heard - Rom. 10>14
      (your assistance int this?)
Shouldn't just live the Christian life, but must be promoting it!

(2)  Pre-Christians - the message must be heard, Christ must be embraced.

Closing Scripture:  Col. 2:6-7

Monday, October 8, 2018

Introduction to 1st. Thessalonians

Begin at Acts 17:1-10

This church is (1) Born amidst turmoil!! 

                      (2)  Sandwiched between turmoil!  Acts 16 - Philippi  (church start - riot - beating - jail)
                                                                           Acts 17:10 and onward - (church start - near riot - hasty departure)

                      (3)  Church born of Divine Prohibition!! Acts 16:6-10  - ended up in Macedonia - uncharted territory.  This is where the church developed in a westward direction - all of the European expansion started here.

Timeline:  (1)  church start at Thessalonica  (AD 51-53??)
then... (2)  Paul sends Timothy back to Thessalonica!  (Timothy not a main figurehead like Paul) - (to teach, instruct, disciple them...)
          (3)  1 1/2 - 2 years later -- Timothy comes to Paul (at Corinth) with a GOOD report of church growth, health at Thessalonica.
So.... (4)  Paul writes a letter to them ... (1st. Thessalonians) - one of the earliest New Testament letters/books  (following James and Galatians)  - Gospels haven't been written yet.

Reasons for writing ... (application to us?)   - the writings (ie:  2000 year old letter to the Thessalonians) are still relevant today - people don't change
#1.  To Encourage - in the face of constant opposition
       (a)  religious pressures - from Jews and pagans
       (b)  social pressures - family and friends; traditions; Thessalonian culture, etc.
       (c)  Spiritual pressures - Rom. 7:21

#2.  To Answer (respond to) charges leveled (in Thessalonica) against Paul's character, ministry motives.
For;US this = question of Paul's authority.  Therefore, a question of Scripture's authority!! - Is very important to us who believe Scripture IS our authority!!

#3.  To correct errors - (notions, theories, ideas) especially concerning the Lord's return! An issue that still plagues the church today!!

#4.  To Instruct in Christian Living - they had NO New Testament!! - just the letter(s) from Paul
      WE need the New Testament they (eventually) received!!  (we're human beings with human character)

#5.  To Exhort Believers - to urge, charge, challenge
may have the necessary information and Still need a push!!  (supports)
Sometimes we know precisely what we need to do just need a shove to do itl

1 Thess. 1:1-3 - Paul commends the new church for their:  WORK   LABOR   ENDURANCE
This is remarkable because Paul - Apostle of Grace!! - Eph. 2:8-9

BUT NOTE!!  1 Thess. 1:3 - work - produced by (your) FAITH
                                              labor - prompted by (your) LOVE - for God, Christ, the church, other people
                                             endurance - inspired by (your) HOPE

Paul is saying:  "I can see your faith! because:
(real) faith will work
(real) love will labor
(real) hope will endure
Compare to James 2:14-18
Note:  Eph. 2:10

By this you can measure your faith!  (ie:  one important measure)

Question?   Am I willing to WORK?  What's that say about my faith.

Question?  Am I willing to LABOR?  What's that say about my LOVE??
Love of God, Christ, Gospel, Church, people

Question?  Am I willing to ENDURE?  What does that say about my HOPE??  Throughout the last 2000 years -- one of the greatest testimonies of the church = willing to persevere in face of OPPOSITION.

Example:  A ____________ church is made of __________ people.

This is not the only way to measure faith, but is excellent tool to do so!!

Closing Scripture:
1 Thess. 5:23-24


Monday, October 1, 2018

The Warrior Psalms

Psm. 144:1 - introduction

David = great warrior!  Fought Goliath, Saul, enemies of Israel, Absalom.
Result = kingdom firmly established for Solomon!!

So.....  "song"  - 2 Sam. 22:1-4, 32-26

David = able warrior
But = Dependent warrior
He credits God for his abilities and victories.
We could say he knew - his Calling
                                      his Abilities
                                      his limits
                                      his Source/Enabler

The Song of 2 Sam. 22 becomes Psalm 18.  - (song of David that needed to be in the Jewish songbook)
So will look at part of that.
Watch how David credits God - with his abilities and victories

Psm. 18:37-50 - always a reference to God giving him these.

These = Warrior Psalms - speak of conflict, battle, war
Any application for us?? - In that day, battle was a very real part of life.   However, David's battle was not always with foreign nations.  (example - Absalom)

On one hand "we battle not against flesh and blood"
However - we do battle

The Christian's primary enemies - (if following Christ and trying to serve Him)
#1.  The World - definition = not creation, not the people of creation
= the ideas, ways, demands, influences, pressures, philosophies that run counter to God's will, way.

Example:  Jesus was not at war with his fellow Jews, but was at war with their thinking!
So - 1 John 2:15-17, Rom. 12:2

#2.  Satan (and his minions) - Eph. 6:10-12

#3. Self -- old man, natural man, sinful man - Rom. 7:15-24

On on hand, our arsenal is important!! - Example:  Paul - {"whole armor" - Eph. 6 - truth, righteousness, readiness, faith (confidence) salvation, the Word, prayer

BUT what the Warrior Psalms emphasize is:  Our Ally, our Enabler.  - Without God we have nothing.

David didn't wait for God to do it, he went into battle himself, trusting that God would be with him.
Some Examples:
Psm. 33:16-18, 35:1-3, 118:6-9, 138:3, 7, 140:6-8, 142:5-6, 143:9, 144:1-2

Any parallel?  Application for us???

#1. Know God's Will - (which - Know His word!!!  (example:  Jesus answering Satan's temptations! - with scripture - 'that's not God's will')

#2.  Make your choice  (God?  or the world, sin, self?)  The world is LOUD.  God speaks with a still, small voice!!
Choice includes:
#3.  Seek God's Assistance - (because the enemy is greater than you)

#4.  Trust He gives it (even if not immediately seen) - Example:  Jesus and the cross

#5.  Stand Firm 
#6.  Press On  
1 Pet. 5:8-10

AND - when you fall?  fail?
#7.  Get up - - we see David's failures - ie.  killing of Uriah
                  --  we also see his heart - David had a heart for God

Closing Scripture = Psm. 91:9-14