Monday, January 28, 2019

Closing Remarks

1 Thess -- ' final instructions' -- Closing Remarks 
ie:  subjects Paul alludes to but doesn't develop 

Examples:  Peace
                  Scripture Reading
All in 1 Thess. 5:23-28

I.  The God of Peace - in light of .... Joshua, Conquest - Matt. 10:34-36,  Rev. 19:11 - judges & makes war

Seems like not the God of peace at all.

Answer:  John 14:27 - "my peace" -
which = (1)  Peace with God  - reconciliation/ Bridge
Note:  this = state of Being, not of feeling  - Matt. 7:21-23

            (2)  Peace of God - Phil. 4:7 - this is not passive indifference, fatalism.
                 = acceptance of situation in light of God's:  sovereignty, love, will, presence, plan, involvement, etc.
So, Phil. 4:12-13
Example:  Hymn #410 - "it is well with my soul" - Peace of God transcends understanding

            (3)  The Peace God will establish  Rev. 21:4

II.  Total Sanctification - 1 Thess. 5:23-24 - sanctification = be set apart unto God
3 areas/levels ... (1)   Positional  Sanctification
                         (2)  Perfect Sanctification - will happen eventually, will be done by God
                         (3)  Practical Sanctification - process of becoming - one of the biggest complaints by non-believers against church people
On one hand, God does it for us - Phil. 1:6
However, it doesn't happen without our cooperation!
            Phil. 2:12-13 - effort, work, discipline
            2 Pet. 1:5 - make every effort
            Heb. 3:12 - see to it  (your job, your effort)

III.  Prayer - 1 Thess. 5:25 - seasoned Apostle requesting prayer????
Because, (1)  believes in Power of prayer - individual, and corporate
               (2) recognizes his need for prayer - Rom. 15:30, Phil. 1:19, Eph. 6:19-20

IV.  Greeting - 1 Thess. 5:26  example:  greeting time - this means more than a pleasant break.
Can = time of ministry, encouragement, bonding

V.  Scripture Reading - 1 Thess. 5:27  (1 letter, many Christians, churches) This was important stuff  -- they didn't have a New Testament.
These words = Accurate, Authoritative  Instructive 
1 Cor. 14:37   1 Tim. 4:13   2 Tim.  3:16-17

Close:  1 Thess. 5:28 -    paraphrase =  "may you continue to experience God's unmerited favor"

Closing Scripture:  Heb. 13:20-21

Monday, January 21, 2019

Final Instructions

Paul = finishing his letter to the Thessalonians.

Brief/simple - 16 in all.

1st. 8 = neighbor related:
Respect your leaders
Warn the idle
Help the weak
Don't retaliate
Live in peace
Encourage the timid
Be patient with everyone
Be kind

The next 8 = God related.
We did 2 last week - 1 Thess. 5:16-18

Today: = the last 5 - also God related.
1 Thess. 5:19-22

(1)  Don't quench the Spirit
(2)  Don't treat prophecies with contempt
(3)  Test everything
(4)  Hold to the good
(5)  Avoid the evil 

#1,  Don't quench the (Holy) Spirit  
Don't put out His fire (working in you), hinder His work (in you), Resist/refuse His request when He wants to work in you..
Example:  Rom. 1:18 - "suppress" - have to exert some pressure to keep it from happening
Contrast with  2 Tim. 1:6 - "fan into flame" - (do your part)

Twofold Application:  (1)  within you (individual)
                                  (2)  within you all (corporate, context - in the Greek is plural)
Example:  Praise song:  "Holy Spirit thou art welcome in this place"

Question:  (obviously) He is welcome to comfort, heal, encourage, strengthen, etc.  BUT, is He welcome to convict?  confront?  correct?  Chastise?

Question:  How to know it = Holy Spirit? - tears, raising hands, vocalizing, etc. not always a correct indication
Answer  we'll come to that.

#2.  Don't treat prophecies with contempt  
Prophecy = (A)  foretelling = proclaiming a new word (new message)
                  (B)  forthtelling = expounding on an already known word.  ie:  preaching, teaching
Context suggests New Testament office and gift  (foretelling/new word(s)

Are 2 schools of thought on this:  one = this ceased with the Apostles,  other end = should be as common today as it was back then.
Middle ground = On one hand, obviously it is not as it was then, However, should be open to God's wisdom.  He can use this if He chooses.  Compare New Testament healings.

How to apply to us:  We will probably never talk to God face to face, eyeball to eyeball.  God most likely will speak to us through a Medium, whatever that may be:  prophet?  Apostle?  Holy Spirit?  Scripture?
Don't treat God's Word(s)/ Message(s) with contempt!!  ie:  when God speaks ....(whatever the medium) don't disregard, discredit, dismiss, treat lightly!!

Question:  How do I know it's from God?? 

#3.  Test Everything  (context = Spiritual claims, movements, etc.)
ie:  don't be naive, gullible, childish, foolish, non-discerning

New Testament is Clear!!  There will be...
          (1)  False ... doctrines, claims, teachers, prophets, *Spirits*
And,  (2)  Counterfeit - which = dangerous look alikes!!!
   2 Cor. 11:13-15,  1 John 4:1, 5

So:  #3.  Test 
       #4.  Hold  to what's good
       #5.  Avoid that which is evil

BUT still leaves question:  How do I know it's Holy Spirit?  true Prophecy?
Answer is not easy - can't measure in a lab, on a calculator 

#1.  Measure suggested truths by established truths. 
Example:  "this board = 72" long"  - how to test that??
      "       = Eve - opportunity to test serpent's claim?
      "       = Bereans - Act. 17:10-11 - on one hand, "received eagerly" however, "examined the Scriptures!"  They were eager to received from God, but didn't accept the message blindly.

Doing this should develop:
(1)  Maturity - Eph. 4:11-15
(2)  Discernment - Heb. 5:11-14 - by constant use have trained themselves
(3)  Wisdom - Matt. 10:16
Additional tests of orthodoxy, tradition, wise individuals, corporate wisdom

Lump these 5 together + paraphrase 

(1)  Don't hinder God's work, word, message - within you, among you (all)

(2)  Don't be naive   (gullible, childish, foolish)

(3)  Test all spiritual claims

(4)  Hold to the good

(5)  Avoid all the evil

So.......... Paul closes this section with   1 Thess. 5:23-24

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Final Instructions

1 Thess. 5:12-22 = last instructions to the Thessalonians.  Brief, simple, short, without much commentary.

16 different ones (by our count)  - last week did 8.

1)  Respect your leaders
2)  Live in Peace
3)  Warn the Idle
4)  Encourage the Timid
5)  Help the Weak - (morally, ethically weak)
6)  Be patient with everyone
7)  Don't Retaliate
8)  Be Kind

Simple stuff to understand, but may be difficult to enact.
When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus' answer was:  "love the Lord, your God with all your heart...., and love your neighbor as yourself.....  On these two hang all the law and the prophets."
All the above listed are "neighbor" related.  Are Basic to Christian behavior.  (identity, witness)  - the way we are called to treat people.
All are in your power to perform.

Now the other 8............

1)  Rejoice Always
2)  Pray Continually
3)  Give Thanks in Everything
4)  Don't Quench the Spirit
5)  Don't Despise God's Word(s)
6)  Test Spiritual Claims
7)  Hold tot eh Good
8)  Avoid all the Evil

- These - still easy to understand, But might require some definition.
- These are more "God-Related" (see quote from Jesus above)
- Still expected Christian behavior
- Still within your power/ability to perform...

Today = 3 of the 8
Begin with #3 because = (1) familiar  (2)  sets pattern

#1.  In everything Give Thanks  
       (A)  Contrast = "in all" with "for all" - Rom. 8:28 - God works in all things,  not necessarily the way we want Him to.
       (B)  Contrast the Act (give thanks) and the Attitude (be thankful) - 50:1
      (C)  note:  This = a spiritual discipline  (may take effort)
      (D)  may be a Christian sacrifice (costly)

#2.  Rejoice Always   joy = gladness (delight0
                         to Rejoice = to express gladness   Luke 10:20   Rev. 19:7
Like thanksgiving,  (A)  contrast the Act and Attitude
  ("be joyful" = 2 times in New Testament.  Rejoice = many times!_
Therefore,             (B)  a Christian discipline - not always easy to do.
                             (C)  a Christian Sacrifice - Heb. 13:15

This does NOT mean "be happy" all the time.  It Does = express your joy amidst your sorrow.
Matt. 5:11-12   2 Cor. 6:3-10 - when doing good, serving Christ, living for Christ

Question:  If can't conjure up gladness??
Answer:  Do what you know is right! = discipline!
                                                        = sacrifice!

#3.  Pray without Ceasing   (continually)
Obviously doesn't mean never off knees, doesn't mean do nothing else.
On one hand = state of presence, communication - (example:  group in a car - don't have to talk constantly to see that the way to communication is there and open)
On the other hand, this is more than an Attitude of Prayer!  It = the ACT of prayer (communication)

Prayer = (1)  making request(s)
also =     (2)  Praise  (To Him)
and =     (3)  Expressing thoughts/feelings (plus and minus) offered as
              (4)  an Option to Worry - Phil. 4:6-7

Prayer = 2 way communication
Question:  what if don't sense .. His Presence, His Response?
Answer:  Pray anyway!!! - Col. 4:2,  Eph. 6:18

Note:  words of our model/teacher - John 11:41-42
Note:  words of great pray-er:  James 5:16

This = God's Desire ... for your good, for your witness, therefore, for His promotion.

These =  (1)  easy to understand
              (2)  difficult to do
 BUT     (3)  within your power!!!

Closing Scripture:  2 Pet. 1:10-12

Saturday, January 12, 2019

1st, Thessalonians (continued)

Review:  Paul's 2nd. missionary journey - led to Thessalonian successful church start  (in only three weeks?)

BUT - opposition led to a riot to Paul being sent away.
Timothy was sent back and stayed - to ground new Christians and establish the church - probably there a year and a half..

Eventually Timothy goes to Paul (at Corinth) with a good report!!  So.... Paul writes 1st. letter to church at Thessalonia.
to:  (1)  Commend them  (doing a great job!)
      (2)  Encourage them (because opposition will continue and likely will increase)
      (3)  Correct them and (4) instruct them because a) they're New Christians - have never heard the message before  b)  they were raised in a pagan culture   c)  there was no New Testament

SO (example:)  1 Thess. 4:1-2

Note:  some instructions merit long passages  ie:   (sexual purity/ brotherly love/ Lord's return - they were confused about that)

Others = Simple/ easy to grasp; common knowledge - therefore, brief in presentation:

1 Thess. 5:12-22 - my count = 16 separate instructions in 11 verses!
Will look at a few -- briefly --

#1.  Respect your leaders  (elders, teachers, etc.)
       description - 1 Thess. 5:12 - reason - 1 Thess. 5:13  - not because of the title or position, but because of the Work!  (Due!!)

#2.  Live in Peace
Question:  this is the guy who incited riots?? example:  Phillip --> Thessalonia -->  Berea!!

Qualify - Rom. 12:18  (as far as depends on you)
Add Jesus - Matt. 5:9 = (peace MAKERS!)
Note:  Eph. 4:3 - (every EFFORT!!  because it's not easy!!)
Willing to do what's necessary to try and make peace.

#3.  Warn the Idle - already dealt with it - 1 Thess. 4:11-12
                               will see it again - 2 Thess. 3

Paul address (un-necessary_ idleness as:  (not those that can't work, but those that won't) 
  (1)  a MORAL issue
  (2)  not befitting of Christians/ unwarranted behavior

#4.  Encourage the timid - (fainthearted, easily discouraged)
Example:  Words = power to put courage IN, take courage OUT 
             Prov. 18:2 - power of life and death in the tongue
             Psm. 141:3
             Eph. 4:29
             Matt. 12:35-37 - words have the power of life and death

#5.  Help the weak
Obviously - physically weak.  Here probably = Morally weak!!
Rom. 15:1   Gal. 6:1 (help the weak)
Is a fine line between can't and won't.  Some people are just weak, can't seem to make right moral
Which leads to.........

#6.  Be patient  (with everybody!!!)
      often = "long suffering" which = suffer long before you snap!!!
                 "even tempered" - don't get bent out of shape
if can't  be patient within ... do so without!!

#7.  Don't Retaliate - (don't return wrong for wrong!)  
Model = Jesus who said - "turn other cheek", go extra mile"
                        who did - "Father forgive them..."
Note:  1 Pet. 3:9 - "called"

#8.  Be Kind - warmhearted, affectionate, considerate, caring, thoughtful, sympathetic...
in a word? - "gracious" - granting grace, undeserved favor!
Eph. 4:32
Gal. 6:10
Matt. 25:31-40

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Man Behind Santa

Are between Christmas and New Years.  So - another Christmas message.

St. Nicholas - born approximately 270 AD at Patara - port on the Mediterranean Sea in present day Turkey.

Parents died while he was a boy so was raised by his Uncle Nicholas - founder and chief bishop at New Zion Monastery.  Led to Nicholas' desire to become a monk.

While still young, he decided to give away his inheritance AND to do so quietly.(anonymously)

Was sent as a teen to study at Alexandria, Egypt at the Christian School of Alexandria founded by John Mark.  = 1st. Christian Seminary.

Next he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land  to round out education.
Hoped for conformation of his desire to be a monk.
However, Received a call in a vision/dream.   "This is not the vineyard where you shall bear fruit for me.  Return to the world and glorify my name there."   which lead to NOT a life of seclusion but a life of Public Ministry.

On way home, stops at port of Myra - enters church early one morning to pray and give thanks.  Unbeknown to Nicholas, the chief bishop of the area had died.  Other bishops had gathered to choose successor.  Legend = oldest, wisest bishop had a dream that God said .."1st. person named Nicholas to enter the church is to be chief bishop."

So.......  Bishop of Myra  (served there unitl death in 343.)

Nicholas was imprisoned for approximately 7 years during the Great Persecution by Diocletian, Roman Emperor at that time.

Then came Edict of Toleration in 311 - stating that Christianity was to be tolerated!
Next in 313 - Edict of Milan - by Constantine - Christianity Approved!

Nicolas = released, returned to Myra, resumed office of Bishop.  Was instrumental in the Council of Nicea.

Continued as Bishop of Myra until his death, and eventually was sainted.  Was patron saint of many groups/peoples, especially (1)  sailors  and (2)  children

Then St. Nicholas led to Father Christmas, Sinter Klauss, Santa Claus.  Various depictions by Thomas Nast in 1881, and Norman Rockwell in 1939.

Scripture says "imitate great men, women of faith" - Paul - 1 Cor. 4:16, Heb. 6:12, 13:7

But.... how to imitate a Nicholas??

On one hand, you can't - was his call, his gift package, work of the Holy Spirit, the times, opportunities, etc. - all unique and according to God's specific plan, call for him.

However, all great saints are characterized by common Christian traits --
                 which we can duplicate and which we are called to imitate.

So... Ordinary Traits of an Extra Ordinary Christian  
Nicholas was....
#1.  A Seeker - of God, God's truth, God's will.   Deut. 4:29
     A.)  requires effort
     B.)  is a Life long pursuit  - example:  Paul - Phil. 3:10-15

Jesus stressed "be content with things you have, BUT never content with your Spiritual attainments!!
"blessed are poor in spirit, mourn, hunger & thirst.."

Which leads to:  therefore,
#2.  A Student - can't do God's will if you don't know God's will!
                          can't teach His ways if don't know His ways
                          can't portray His character if don't know His character.

Example:  parents dedicate child to God's will but never truly seek to learn God's will
New Testament word "disciple" - which = a learner/student

Seeker/student naturally leads to....
#3.  A Responder - Luke 6:46
Nicholas - wanted to be a monk, live life of seclusion.  Was called to be Bishop, public service.
Could have refused the call.

POINT:  submit whatever the call.
The One who said "go into all the world..."  also said "wash one another's feet..."
So, that leads to:

#4.  A Servant - "Great leaders in God's Kingdom are Always Servants.  Matt. 23:11-12

So, if not gifted, called, enabled to do great things, nevertheless, ARE gifted, called, enabled to Serve!!
Example:  Peter and the post-resurrection Instructions he received:  feed my sheep, nurture my lambs, shepherd my flock.
which leads to:  just a servant of the people, but MORE than just a servant of the people:

also, #5 - An Advocate for the people.  ie: a helper, defender, protector.  Also a promoter, enable,r developer to pick up, lift up, build up.

Point:  making use of YOUR position, influence, clout.  Example:  Peter called to nurture, now calls others to Nurture - 1 Pet. 5:1-2

Naturally, if responder/servant.. then also:

#6.  A Steward - a manager of the Master's wealth, one who handles what's been entrusted 
(money, time, talents, opportunities, etc.)  1 Cor. 4:1-2

Could list other traits.
POINT = all great saints, miracle workers, world changers are:
         (1)  characterized by common Christian traits
         (2)  traits that you and I can imitate
         (3)  traits that we are CALLED to duplicate!

Which = accept, receive
              promote, make known

Closing Scripture:  Heb. 6:9-12