5/16/2010 Sunday

Who Are the last Ones Standing?

1 Thes. 3:1-13 [show] Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, [2]and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, [3]that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. [4]For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. [5]For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain. [6]But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you-- [7]for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. [8]For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. [9]For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, [10]as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? [11]Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, [12]and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, [13]so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (ESV)
This text is from the ESV Bible. Visit www.esv.org to learn about the ESV.

  • for new believers, Thessalonians found life even harder
  • 1 Thes 3:8 [show] [8]For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. (ESV)
    This text is from the ESV Bible. Visit www.esv.org to learn about the ESV.
    ; who ARE the last ones standing??
  • standing firm in times of trial; but some cave in to the pressure…

Characteristics:

  • those who get above the shock of having challengers from which they thought salvation might rescue them
    • “wait, isn’t life supposed to get easier after accepting Christ?”; get blindsided
    • v3; trials: Paul discusses unsettlement so we won’t “return” our faith to God (ie. reject our faith)
      • Paul says we are destined for affliction, persecution…
    • who do we run to in times of need?
      • Mr. Rogers-type (happy go-lucky, “everything will be fiiiiiiiiiiiiiine”) vs someone who has suffered much (realistic)?
        • spur one another on…
  • those who make the right choice between temptation and trust
    • Satan’s great @ spiritual espionage; will pounce on those in weakened state (to break you down)
      • temptation to give up and fall
      • discouragement…
    • v6; convinced to give in to faith; in times of trial, the Good News of Jesus is for you
      • your life is still Jesus’ show; trust Him.
    • v10; need equipping!!
      • 2 Tim 3:16 [show] [16]All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (ESV)
        This text is from the ESV Bible. Visit www.esv.org to learn about the ESV.
        ; discipleship, correct what is off track…
  • those who are moved from self-taking to love giving
    • v12; love increase
      • The 1-2 Punch: faith & love
    • we have spiritual bi-polarism; the constant up’s and down’s…
    • something unbelievers can’t manufacture: love for all people
    • self-centered = weak
  • those who God has made His holy ones
    • v13; strengthen your heart
    • causes you to be blameless in holiness; set apart
    • suffering = preparation, practice
    • Holy ones = angels, believers
      • Big Hope: one day will be all about God & The Holy Ones
    • your faith & love NOW must overflow to stand strong against the storm

He who loves his dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intention may be ever so honest… God hates visionary dreaming.

– Bonhoffer