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A Prayer and a Promise for Unfinished People

Paul brings his first and deeply affirming, encouraging letter to the Thessalonians to a close. He prays that their sanctification, God’s will for them, will be finished and through at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And he promises them that their faithful, heavenly Father, the God of peace, will surely do it!

In the midst of all the rigor of this call to walk in a way that pleases God more and more, in the face of opposition that seems unrelenting, he urges them on through his prayer and his promise.

As followers of Jesus in a world broken by sin and pressing hard against our faith in Christ, and in this life with its temptations pulling on our flesh, we often feel the discouragement and a kind of futility in living this life to which we’ve been called. We feel very unfinished, with the finish line nowhere in sight. But through his prayer and promise, Paul urges them and us, not to lose heart today because on that day He (our faithful Father) will make what’s unfinished glorious!

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28; Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:11

The Day of the Lord

The Day of the Lord seems to be a fundamental teaching for believers. Jesus Himself spoke of it as “the coming of the Son of Man.” The Apostles of Christ taught the early church about it, Peter wrote of it in 2 Peter 3, John wrote about it in Revelation, and Paul writes about it here.

Notice that in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul has to inform the believers about what would happen to the dead in Christ at His return. But in 5:1-11 he says they are already “fully aware” about the Day of the Lord.

So, why was it so important? Because the Day of the Lord was then, and is now, the goal all of history is rushing toward! Paul knows that what the Thessalonians believe about the Day of the Lord should inform how they live. So he describes what it is, and how they should live in light of it’s coming.

The big idea for the message is this: The coming Day of the Lord is a call to spiritual sobriety today.

The Day of the Lord is certain, sudden, and brings inescapable destruction. Therefore we should remember our identity, walk in sobriety, anticipate our destiny, and participate in community.

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 1:7b-9; Luke 17:26-27; Revelation 6:15-17; Luke 21:34

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

Godly Ethics at Work

We all want to work with people who have a solid work ethic, but ethics at work aren’t always clear. People feel the pressure to conform to a culture in the workplace that cuts corners and lacks integrity. Does God care anything about the way we work? And how do we overcome the external and internal pressure to work in a way that lacks integrity?

Scripture: Proverbs 10:9-10, 16:11, 11:1, 20:23; Genesis 25-32, 42-43; Romans 8:28; Matthew 6:31-33

Wise Words

We speak and use words hundreds of times a day. Conversations, text, email, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, it seems we never stop communicating. And all in the hopes that our words will carry some weight, be influential, cause people to think or respond in a way we hope.

Our ability to speak is proof that we are made in the image of God who spoke the world into being, who send His Son into the world as “the Word made flesh.” How we use our words matters because they reflect on the character of the God who created us and if we are believers, the God who has saved us.

Proverbs challenges us to speak thoughtful words, timely words, and truthful words. The pitfalls and opportunities are many. We need wisdom to speak wise words.

Scripture: Proverbs 25:11; James 3:2, 8; Proverbs 15:23, 28; Proverbs 29:11; Matthew 12:36-37; Ecclesiastes 3:1,4, 7; Hebrews 3:12-13; Proverbs 12:19, 16:28, 26:20, 13:3; Eph. 4:29

Growing Pains

Acts is an amazing history of how God unleashed the gospel into the world through the church. Yale historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette notes, “Never in so short a time has any other religious faith, or for that matter, any other set of ideas, religious, political, or economic, ever achieved so commanding a position in such an important culture without the aid of physical force, or social or cultural prestige.”

This is all the more amazing considering the gospel faced one obstacle after another. Beginning in chapter 4, there is persecution from outside the church. In chapter 5, we see corruption within the church, and more persecution from outside the church. And now in chapter 6, something new.

In verses 1 and 7, Luke shows us how the church is thriving and more and more people are coming to faith in Christ, in spite of all these obstacles. But in between verses 1 and 7, he exposes a problem that threatens to divide the church and distract her from her mission in the world.

In the end, we learn that God means to unleash the gospel and win the world through a people who say “It’s not about me. I will do whatever it takes for the sake of the mission and His glory.”

Scripture: Acts 6:1-7; Luke 17:10; Mark 10:44-45; John 13:12-17; 1 Peter 4:10

Unacceptable Love Part 2

Before a parent would die for their child, they die to self. Love is not first found in the big outward acts of dying for another person, but inwardly dying to self. Love, as demonstrated by Jesus in washing His disciple’s feet, is laying aside status and forsaking entitlement to pursue the holiness of another person.

Scripture: John 13:31-35

Unacceptable Love Part 1

Jesus calls His people to love one another with a supernatural love, so much so as to joyfully participate in one another’s pursuit of holiness.

Scripture: John 1:1-17

The Prophet Elijah

The most significant problem of both the Old and New Testaments is idolatry. And for that matter, the greatest problem that we face is also idolatry.

Elijah was a man called by God to confront idolatry in the most convincing way. It is a story like none other. But Elijah shows us that even God’s choicest servants can suffer from profound weakness.

Elijah confronted Israel’s idolatry and those who propagated it. He won the most unimaginable victory and drew the hearts of God’s people back to Him. However, he then wandered into the wilderness and suffered greatly with depression and wanted to give up.

His life shows us the reality of life in God’s service.

Scripture: 1 Kings 18