Posts

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

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

God’s Wisdom for Marital Faithfulness

We live in a sexualized society. Sexual intimacy has been distorted. It’s all about my personal pleasure rather than how I can serve my husband or wife out of love.

Proverbs isn’t prudish about sexual intimacy. God encourages us to “drink the water,” and enjoy the gift He’s given us. It’s meant as a blessing. It’s meant for our flourishing. But he warns us that the desire He’s given us can be misused, so we should “flee the fire.” If we think we know better, if we refuse to listen, we’ll get burned. Our very lives are at stake. In the end, we must “guard our hearts.”

The Seed of a Faithful Church

Jesus promised His disciples that we would be hated as He was hated. We would be mocked, misrepresented, shamed, even killed for following Him. The persecution of Christians began within days of the birth of the church, and it will continue until Jesus comes.

In this text, we read about the first Christian martyr, Stephen. Not an Apostle or church leader, but an ordinary member of the church, serving Christ, and being used by Christ in amazing ways.

His story can teach us how persecuted Christians around the world – those who suffer much more than we in America – persevere with grace. But it can also show us how, in the face of cultural shifts that challenge us and cause us to hesitate to be Acts 1:8 witnesses for Christ, how to also persevere with grace for God’s glory and the spread of the gospel.

Scripture: Acts 6:8-8:3

God Is Holy

Isaiah has a unique background for a prophet, coming from a family of nobility. In this passage, he describes an amazing vision of God. The timing of this vision and its impact is very personal. Because of his family, Isaiah was likely close to Uzziah, the King who has reigned 52 years. He lost his earthly King, but through this vision, he regained the King, the Lord of Hosts!

In this vision of God, Isaiah is struck by His holiness, the root of all God’s attributes. He is separate, other than anyone or anything. He is morally pure, never makes mistakes, never does wrong in the world or with His people. There is no sin, no injustice in Him. Ultimately, how do we claim to understand He is holy without stepping up and making ourselves available to serve Him and His purposes?

Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8

The Sovereign God

Who is God? There are many ways to describe Him. The entire Bible tries in one way or the other to explain at least part of who He is.

God is sovereign, but there is something that drives His rule over the universe. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere but there is an attribute that governs each of these abilities.

What is this primary characteristic of God? He is holy, absolute holiness. This purity of character and intense sinlessness is the crux of His being.

Because God is holy, it means that we can trust Him, He will never do wrong. Because God is holy, our relationship with Him rests on the most secure of foundations. In this sermon, we will be challenged to seek His holiness and to seek to live as He is.

Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8