Sexual Purity

We live in a sexualized society. And while we’re 2,000 years removed from Paul’s letter to the new followers of Christ in the church of Thessalonica, our cultural situation is very similar. They came to faith out of a culture that deified sex. People lived to please themselves, but Paul is calling these new believers to walk and live in a way that pleased God more and more.

How do we live that kind of life in a culture that’s saturated with sexualized images, messages, and beliefs? We cling to three important things in this text: We have a calling from God, a warning from God and a Helper from God.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Ezekiel 36:26-27

Please God

We all know people who are hard to please. Maybe their standards are so high you can’t please them, or they change their minds about what they prefer, or they’ve never told you what pleases them. In this text, Paul transitions from looking back at the Thessalonians new lives in Christ, to looking into the present and future, asking and urging them to excel at something they’re already doing – pleasing God.

The big idea for this text is this: Christians ought to walk in a way that pleases God more and more. We’ll consider what pleases God – a life of obedience and faith, why we should please God – because of the instructions we have, the blessing it brings, the glory to come, and our love for the Master, and finally, we’ll ask, how do we please God – by reckoning rightly about sin, others and our suffering, and meditating on pure things to filter the pollution.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2; Matthew 15:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Romans 8:18; John 14:21-24; Romans 6:11; Phil. 4:8

Loving People through Prayer

For three chapters, the Apostle Paul has been encouraging the young church in Thessalonica and reminding them of his deep love for them. Today, we finish this section of the letter with Paul saying again that he longs to see them, “to supply what is lacking in their faith.”

When Paul writes these words, he writes them like a prayer. And in this section we see that Paul loved these people through prayer, and we learn, in turn, to love people through prayer as well. We see the kind of heart Paul had in his prayers, that fueled his prayers and even in difficult seasons, like the one he was in, kept him praying. And we see what Paul prayed for these people.

Of all the needs, desires, and longings they must have had for themselves, what rose to the top for Paul to bring before the Father? Their spiritual growth. We often ask God to change things in our prayers, but Paul never asks God to change anything about the Thessalonians circumstances. He asks God to change their hearts.

And the good news is this, we are confident our Father hears and answers our prayers, because Jesus paid the price for our sin so that we could be reconciled to God as our loving heavenly Father.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Acts 6; Matthew 7:7-11; John 1:1-2, 14; Matthew 22:37-39

The Church that Lasts

We face questions in life that are different at every stage. But after 20+ years of building a career or family, there is one question that keeps you up at night. “Will it last?” That is Paul’s question about the work he and his team started in Thessalonica, about the Church that was born over those three short weeks.

In this text, we see Paul write more emotionally and vulnerably than anywhere else. And it’s clear that the church that lasts has four characteristics: It is loved by her leaders; stabilized by personal ministry; tested through afflictions; and lasts by faith.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:17, 3:5; Hebrews 13:7; John 16:33; Revelation 7:15-17

Receiving the Word of God

The Apostle Paul constantly gave thanks to God for the spiritual health of the young church in Thessalonica. In this text it’s clear that one of the reasons they were so healthy is because of the way in which they received the gospel and the work it was doing in them.

Paul gave them a model for ministry in 2:1-16. He was a steward, a mother, and a father, but he’s also a herald for the gospel in verse 9. And in verses 13-16, Paul points out that when you do gospel ministry, some people receive the word as God’s word and it does its life-giving, life-transforming work in them. But others will reject it, and may even oppose it. When they do, God is displeased and His wrath hangs over them.

How do we receive God’s word? In this sermon, we wrestle with three questions: Is the Bible the word of Humans? How do we come to believe the Bible is the Word of God? And, What happens when we receive the Bible as the Word of God?

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16; 2 Peter 3:15-16; Mark 15:21

A Model for Gospel Ministry

One of the best ways to learn is to watch the life of someone who does it well. You might call this person a coach, or a mentor or a role model. In 1 Thessalonians 1, the Thessalonians came to believe the gospel, turning to Go from idols. When they did, they began to “imitate” Paul and his team members, and in time, to imitate Christ, the ultimate Role Model for every believer!

In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12, we begin a very personal section of the letter from Paul. In these verses he reminds the Thessalonians about his ministry among them. And as he does, we see in him a model for gospel ministry in three pictures.

To do gospel ministry, whether that’s as a Pastor/Elder, a Group Leader, Christian parent, co-worker, or friend… you must be…

A steward, entrusted with a valuable to deliver. A mother, sacrificially and affectionally serving others. A father, living an exemplary life, continually encouraging your “children” to follow Jesus.

Scripture: Acts 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

How the Gospel Works

We live in the era of text messages and Marco Polo. Back in the day, we used to write letters. My wife saved a box of letters we wrote to each other before we were married. If you read them, you’d know what we were doing, questions we were asking, things we were hoping for, you’d know what was happening in our lives.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Church for several reasons, but one was to affirm their faith, love, and hope during hard times. He let them know their lives made him grateful to God for the work of His grace in them and through them. And in the midst of affirming them and thanking God for them, he shows us how the gospel works.

It comes to you, it works in you, and it echos from you. The questions are: Have you repented? Do you believe the gospel? How is the gospel working in you now? Who are you pointing to Jesus?

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Romans 10:14; Ephesians 1; Deuteronomy 7

Evidences of Grace

The “Nones” are the fastest growing part of our population in the US. They’re the people who check the box “None” on survey’s asking, Which religion do you most closely identify with? They’re not closed to faith, they’re “spiritual, but not religious.” They want to know what you believe and why, so they’ll have the conversation. But they also want to see your faith lived out in your life.

In the first century, there was a group of believers who were models of what authentic Christian faith looks like. Paul wrote them a letter we know as 1 Thessalonians. In chapter 1:1-3, Paul points out their “work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope” are three evidences of God’s grace transforming their lives.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3, Acts 17:1-7; James 2:14-17