Don’t Be Confused
Series: wk. 6
Text: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 (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. 4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. 5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain. 6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you-- 7 therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. 8 For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, 10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12
Intro: On many occasions I have told you to look in the mirror and like what you see and even reminding you that you look marvelous. The text today is going to force us to take yet another look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “How are we doing?” After you give yourself some time to think about that the next question naturally follows: “Is it Worth it?” Is living the Christian life style worth it? Paul had a great concern for the Thessalonians. He really wanted to know how they were doing. He had probably spent countless days and nights worrying about them. Paul asks them and hears from them and it makes his day! Paul opens his heart and shares his great concern for this church. Remember, Paul writes this Letter to a church that was suffering for their faith and wondering if it was worth it. Paul writes to them to encourage and strengthen them in their faith by reminding them that Jesus is coming soon to take them all away from this. He wants them to “be ready” when Jesus returns.
Application: The Christian believer needs a strong faith.
A strong faith is a faith that is not moved by afflictions:
1. Is the Affliction Worth It? Vs. 3-5
That no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. 4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. 5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.
Little else could be launched against the church and its believers except martyrdom itself. But Paul says: "No man should be shaken by these afflictions." Despite the shameful treatment and savage attacks, the believer is not to be shaken away from Christ. So when the attacks are so severe and savage, how can the believer keep from being moved? How can he stand fast?
The believer must know they are appointed to persecution. Believers are persecuted because they are not of this world. They are called out of the world. They are in the world, but they are not of the world. They are separated from the behavior of the world. Therefore, the world reacts against them. They are persecuted because believers strip away the world's cloak of sin. They live and demonstrate a life of righteousness. Such living exposes the sins of people. They are persecuted because the world does not know God nor Christ. They want no God other than themselves and their own imaginations. They want to do just what they want - to fulfill their own desires, not what God wishes and demands.
Man's idea of God is that of a Supreme Grandfather. They think God protects, provides, and gives no matter what a person's behavior is, just so the behavior is not too far out. They think God will accept and work all things out in the final analysis. However, the true believer teaches against this. God is love, but He is also just and demands righteousness. The world rebels against this concept of God. Keeping these reasons in mind will help us to stand against persecution when it is launched against us. And stand we must, for we must reach the world for Christ—a world reeling under the terrible plight of so many desperate needs and sin, evil, corruption, death, and condemnation. The believer must know that the temptation to cave in to persecution is of the tempter, of Satan himself. This is the very reason Satan has launched the persecution: to strike fear in the believer and silence him. Satan wants the believer to hush up about Christ and to desert Christ. If Satan can rattle the believer to turn away from Christ and the church, then he is able to use his desertion to affect many lives. Satan is able to destroy the faith of both the believer and those who look up to him, such as children, family, and friends.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9 Is the affliction worth it? Yes! Yes! Yes!
A strong faith is a faith that gives forth an excellent testimony:
2. Is your Testimony Worth It? Vs. 6
"But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you."
When Timothy returned from his mission to the Thessalonian church, he had a glowing report. The believers were standing fast in their faith in Christ. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42
They were not buckling under to persecution nor to the temptation to be silent about Christ. They were not forsaking their worship of Christ. In practical terms, they were continuing to study the Scriptures, pray, and worship together. And when possible, when it would not arouse opposition, they were sharing Christ and the promise of eternal life with all who would listen. The believers were standing fast in love - love for Christ, each other, and their fellow men. They were ministering and meeting the needs of all those who would receive their help. And they were doing all they could to demonstrate love and care and good citizenship toward all.
What a dynamic testimony of strong faith, the kind of faith every believer and church should covet: a faith that stands fast in the face of severe opposition. A faith that demonstrates the love of God - agape love. A faith that longs for fellowship with its pastor.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-38
A strong faith is a faith that stirs the heart of its pastor and fellow believers:
3. Is Stirring the Heart Worth It? Vs. 7-10
7 Therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning your faith. 8 For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before out God, 10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?"
The strong faith of the Thessalonian believers comforted Paul, and Paul desperately needed comforting. Paul was in Corinth when Timothy arrived with the glorious news of the strong faith of the Thessalonians. A fierce persecution had broken out against Paul and the church in Corinth, and he was dragged by the Jewish religionists to stand trial before the Roman court. He was released, but the persecution against him and the church continued. What a lesson for us! Our faith is used by God to strengthen and encourage others in their need. “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
We never know when our strength and faith are needed to help some dear believer. We must always stand fast in the faith, so that God can use our strength wherever He wishes. Imagine having the privilege of helping and encouraging dear servants like Paul in one of his stressful times. Every church and believer has the privilege of helping and encouraging their pastor - if they will only stand fast in their faith and grow more and more in Christ.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
The strong faith of the Thessalonian believers stirred Paul to pray for their fellowship and growth in Christ. Paul longed to be with them so that he could continue to share and grow them in Christ. He wanted to build them up and perfect whatever weaknesses they might have. What a pastoral heart! The heart to always proclaim and teach Christ until we are all perfected into the image of Christ.
Conclusion: The one thing needed by Christian believers is a strong faith: a faith that honestly knows Christ and knows what it is to walk in Him day by day, trusting Him, To know and have His care, comfort and strength. What we need is a faith that stands fast, endures, and perseveres, and that grows stronger and stronger in Christ. The stronger we believe and the more faith we have, the more we can conquer in life and do the things that we should do. A strong faith in Christ enables us to triumph over the trials and temptations of life and to fulfill our purpose in life. Many of the believers in Thessalonica had a strong faith; therefore, their faith stands as a model for us.
Rearrange the word worth, what do you get? – Throw, now take away everything that is not holy not worth worrying about, and throw it away! IT IS NOT WORTH IT!
Is it worth it?
Is the affliction worth it?
Is having a strong testimony worth it?
Is stirring hearts worth it?
In : Sermon
Tags: "don't be confused series"
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