Living as the Church: Don’t be Lazy
As we continue in our study of this letter by Paul to Thessalonica, we come to Chapter 3 where Paul starts by saying “Finally.” What this teaches us is that when a preacher says that word, and they continue on for quite a while, it’s biblical! Our text for today is the first five verses, where we find the following:
1. Prayer request of Paul
2. Faithless fellows who fight against the faithful
3. The faithfulness of God
4. The protection of God
5. Obedient believers’ blessings
Unfortunately, or fortunately, time does not allow the opportunity to address each of these topics fully. As you can imagine, both The Faithfulness of God and The Protection of God could be their own series. But from this text I want to unpack:
1. The verses that address prayer for the Apostle Paul
2. The distinct differences between the Apostle Paul and those who are NOT of faith.
The Apostle Paul was not shy about asking for prayer. Paul often asked other Christians to pray for him.
If a person has the wrong view of history, they will invariably have an incorrect world view. For instance, if you believe that we are all the product of evolution, completely apart from God’s creative design, you will have a different moral compass than a person who believes that God has fearfully and wonderfully created us for a specific purpose. One person could view human history as an endless cycle of repeating events that are summed up in what we call the rise and fall of world empires; another person may view the history of man as random events with no meaning and headed towards oblivion. You likely know someone who views the world this way; where all events are pointless and have no meaningful consequences.
Without belaboring the point, most of us can see how our view of the past will have an impact on how we make decisions and live our life. An incorrect view will lead to incorrect decisions and a wasted life. The way we view the past extends to and colors our view of the future. A person who believes all past events are random will extend randomness and meaninglessness to all future events. In their view, the life of a fly would have as much meaning as that of a person. On the other hand, a person who sees the past as God revealing Himself through historical events will likely understand that God is a God of Judgement, Mercy, and Grace and will know that future events will be handled in a way consistent with God’s attributes. Everything that you learn about God from history as presented in the Bible can (and should) be applied to current events as well as future events.
Living as the Church: Walking in Community
May 20, 2018
Pastor Ben Marshall (Holland); Pastor Dean Parham (Hamilton)
sermon notes from Holland
1 Thessalonians 5:12–13 -
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Paul addressed the relationship between the brothers and sisters in Christ and those in leadership over them. Now, he didn’t specify clearly whether this was just the pastors or others in leadership roles. He left it as a general, blanket statement of those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you. How can you show respect and esteem for these people who show up week after week in order to serve?
Those in leadership roles are also those meant to be admonishing each one of us (to admonish v. — to warn or counsel in terms of someone’s behavior). It can be uncomfortable and counter-cultural to be thankful and hold in respect and esteem those who are calling us out in our sin, calling us to follow Jesus Christ and live in our new identity and new birth as a son or daughter of God. But, often, the very thing that makes us most uncomfortable is the very thing we need to hear and respond to.
The last sentence of verse 13, Be at peace among yourselves, helps us understand that we are all human and conflict is an inevitable part of that. Conflict and disagreement are a natural part of life. But, division and disagreement are not synonymous. The book of Proverbs continually calls us to speak in the right way to one another, and these ways promote peace. There can be disagreement that is not divisive. Proverbs such as 12:18; 15:1, 4, 28; 17:9, 27-28 show the importance of our speech and conduct toward one another.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 -
14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
We have certain expectations and responsibilities that we are called to have toward one another to help one another follow the example of Jesus Christ.
Admonish the Idle - If we are not living as we ought, we are instructed to admonish one another—to counsel according to one’s behavior that what they are doing is not right and God has shown us a much better way of living!
Encourage the Fainthearted - When life gets hard we need to remember the hope we have in Jesus Christ, the hope that He will return and bring an end to pain and suffering, sorrow and loss.
Help the Weak - Not everyone is where you are. We are all on a journey in the process of sanctification. Helping the weak is seeing someone in a different phase of life, a different area of spiritual growth, and becoming a mentor to them.
Be Patient with Everyone - When we remember how patient God has been with us throughout our life, we remember that we can show more patience to those around us.
Don't repay evil for evil; Seek to do good to others - We can seek to do good to those around us, our brothers and sisters in Christ. But Paul also ends that sentence with and to everyone. He doesn’t limit whom we are to seek to do good to. We are actually called to seek to do good to everyone!
Living as the Church: Live with Eternity in Mind
May 13, 2018
Pastor Ben Marshall (Holland); Pastor Dean Parham (Hamilton)
notes from Holland
It took just 0.41 seconds to get 85.5 million results when I searched for “end times.” The end of the world, post-apocalyptic genre of books and movies are ever-increasing in their popularity. The end of the world is something everyone expects, but are we really ready for it? Many expect it to happen during their lifetime.
Scripture teaches the return of Christ is imminent. Jesus Christ could return at any moment and the end of the world will have begun. A bunker underground and a storehouse of dried foods and ammunition won’t save you from the return of Christ. Paul, as he writes to the church of the Thessalonians, speaks to them about the day of Lord, which is the time when Jesus Christ will return and judge believers and unbelievers. The outcome of that judgment will be very different for each group. Paul wrote to the believers, not to remind them of what was coming, but to call them to necessary action.
If the Day of Judgment were to begin RIGHT NOW, what would your outcome be? Your “goodness” can’t and won’t save you; your morality can’t and won’t save you; your generosity, kindness, gentleness, care and concern for others, as good as those things are, can’t and won’t save you. It is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ that you are saved from the Day of Judgment and made right in the eyes of God. Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ? Don’t wait. You don’t know when the Day of Judgment will begin. It will come suddenly. You must be prepared.
Paul, writing to believers, children of light, reminded them the day of the Lord would not surprise them because they knew it was coming. He reminded them of their identity: For you are all children of light, children of the day… since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
What is your identity? What we think about our identity will determine our actions. When I talk about my identity, I am not first a pastor, husband, father, son or even a man. I am first and foremost a child of God. But, I don’t always live like it. I have to continue to remind myself of my true identity, not the one the world tries to place on me. So I ask again, what is your true identity? It is not in a gender, sexuality, political view or religious denomination; it is not in your label of married, single, divorced, widow, widower, mother, father, childless, adopted, etc. Your true identity is found in Jesus Christ. Are you in darkness or in the light (Eph. 2:1-10).
As true believers, children of light and children of the day, the Thessalonians could live with the confident knowledge they would obtain salvation through Jesus Christ, who died for them. If Jesus Christ died for us, we ought to live for Him (1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed). This salvation the Thessalonians would obtain is speaking of the future salvation to come when Jesus Christ returns, resulting in our ascension into heaven to be with God. It is this future hope which impacts every moment and day of our lives.
Live with eternity in mind. It changes your priorities. Knowing that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent should change the way we live our lives.
Here are just a few practical ways:
Parent with eternity in mind – When you parent with eternity in mind, you don’t care just about today’s behavior, but the eternal destiny of your children. You play the long game. It can be easier and feel more satisfying to respond a certain way in the moment, but momentary actions can derail the work of the long game. What I mean is this: a word spoken in haste or anger in the moment toward your child (or your spouse for that matter), especially done with consistency, could hinder your impact on the spiritual lives of your children/family. But, a word spoken with compassion, understanding, and love (which includes discipline), provides a positive impact on the spiritual lives of your children/family.
Love with eternity in mind – Again, play the long game. You are to make a commitment to love others—God, your neighbor, spouse, children, enemies, those who persecute you. You can’t love well if you only take into consideration the immediate—especially when someone wrongs you. Taking the long view, loving with eternity in mind, means that you are able to overlook an offense and love with the long-term focus of Christlikeness.
Pray with eternity in mind – The focus of your prayer changes when you consider eternity—don’t just pray for your daily bread but also that God’s kingdom would be on earth as it is in heaven; pray for the salvation of others, not just your safe trip to and from vacation.
Gospelize (preach the Gospel to others) with eternity in mind – The immediate is often not the most important, but our lives become easily focused solely on the immediate. Instead, with eternity in mind, we must realize that the eternal destination of those around us is the most important thing. Do we ache over the spiritual condition of our friends and family members? Do we seek conversations and Gospel-opportunities with others, or just focus on ourselves and our busy life?
Walk In The Hope Of Christ’s Return
Passage: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Sunday, May 6, 2018
Pastor Trent Broussard
We believe that the return of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven is imminent. I hold firmly to this confessional statement. The church has been waiting some 2,000 years for Christ’s return. It easy to dismiss the return of Christ as an event which will not happen in my lifetime. It is easy to live like it may be another 2,000 years before Christ returns.
I remember as a kid reading about and seeing the Berlin Wall. I thought it would never come down. I remember President Reagan’s speech demanding Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall. When it fell and revolution swept across eastern Europe, I was shocked. My paradigm of the world order changed dramatically. This paradigm shift has begun again as we watched on the news last week when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stepped over the border into South Korea calling for an end to over sixty years of hostilities. I thought it could never happen.
Fans of the Chicago Cubs waited 108 years between World Series titles. While there are certainly a lot of bandwagon believers, most Cubs’ fans didn’t think they would see a World Series title in their lifetime. In Boston, Red Sox fans endured the Curse of The Bambino for 86 years after they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Again, many fans believed they could never win until it happened in 2004. Those of you who are fans of the Detroit Lions likely live with this kind of mindset (and disappointment). You believe that winning the Super Bowl will never happen.
I believe that we often approach the return of Christ with this kind of mindset. Intellectually, we know and agree with the doctrine, but practically we don’t live like it is real and only remind ourselves of it when there is tragedy and the loss of life.
Calvary, we need a paradigm shift. Christ is returning; it could be today.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (ESV)
Paul’s intent is to comfort believers with this word.
Paul wanted the church to encourage one another because of these words. This passage is not written to give us a detailed timeline of events. This is written so that we can comfort one another. Every one of has experienced the loss of a loved one. We each know other believers who have suffered the loss of a loved one. The hope, the encouragement we have with which to comfort one another is the resurrection. Christ is returning and He will resurrect all believers who have already died, and those believers who haven’t died will be raptured together with the dead in Christ. Here is our hope, joy and comfort.
Where is our hope and comfort?
Jesus died and rose again. He is returning to claim His church. Whether we are dead or alive when He returns, we will all be caught up to meet Him in the air. We will be with Him for eternity.
Everything that is wrong with the world will be undone. The curse we have lived under since Genesis 3 will finally be undone.
One of my favorite carols we sing during the Christmas season is Joy To The World. Isaac Watts wrote a beautiful and theologically rich text and I believe he intended it as a text looking toward Christ’s Second Coming. Listen to these words and let your mind think not of the first Advent, but of the second and soon coming Advent.
Joy To The World
Joy to the world the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room
And heav'n and nature sing
Joy to the earth the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
Let Christ’s imminent return be a source of hope and comfort for you today. Let us respond to this wonderful truth with a life of worship and obedience.
Living as the Church: Holy Bodies
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Over the last several weeks we have been working together through Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians. As you remember, Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonia and had a sizeable population. It was a wealthy and influential center of trade and culture. It was also a haven for pagan worship, cults, and immorality. Smack dab in the middle of this darkness was a small church of Christian believers. This particular church was established by the Apostle Paul, Timothy and Sylvanus as they successfully preached to the Jews in the synagogues and the Gentiles in the city. However, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive to a world that turns a deaf ear. As such, Paul and company were forced to leave this fertile ground prematurely due to persecution from the Jews. Having to leave these new spiritual children was devastating to the missionaries. Chapter 3 states that when they could bear this separation no longer, they sent Timothy to see how they were doing. To Paul’s great relief, the light of this church was still shining brightly in the midst of the darkness. Paul pens the letter of 1 Thessalonians to encourage and exhort this body of believers. He also writes to challenge them to walk in such a way as to please God and to do so more and more (1 Thess 4:1). It is in this context that we approach our text for the day.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, ESV)
Imagine with me, if you will, a young man. Perhaps this young man was a Gentile convert in the church of Thessalonica who learned about Jesus Christ from the teachings of Paul. Growing up in a pagan culture, he has been surrounded by the corruption and immorality all around him. As such, he has been a willing participant in this immorality. But, now, for the first time in his life, he is attracted not just to the physical beauty of women but to the spiritual beauty as well. He meets a young woman in the congregation, also a follower of Jesus, who has grown up in the culture. He gets to know her and comes to love her. Yet, neither has learned how to approach relationships with the moral purity required of a disciple of Christ. As it turns out, there is still a bit of the world in them both. This immorality surfaces in their relationship bringing predictable consequences. They soon discover that as they follow Christ, things can’t stay the same. There is a connection between our sanctification and our sexuality. This is what Paul will address in these verses.
I bring up this example for a couple of reasons. First, this is probably not far removed from the testimonies of those in the congregation of the Thessalonian church. While they had come to faith in Jesus Christ, they would still need to understand what is means to walk in purity. Second, this story is very similar to my story, and, I suspect, the stories of others here today. Much like Thessalonica, we are surrounded by a culture that encourages and enables immorality. Media, movies, and internet hit us with a constant barrage of graphic sexual images and innuendo. We live in a generation that seeks to eliminate sexual boundaries, change the biblical understanding of marriage, and redefine gender. Our culture has pushed for sexual revolution and freedom from any restriction upon sex. Today, we are experiencing the consequences of this freedom. Yet, Paul’s message is not for our culture. This is a message to the Church of Jesus Christ. My friends, we need Paul’s message to the Thessalonians every bit as much today as the day it was written.
God’s Will for My Life - Sanctification
Many of us struggle to discern God’s will for our lives. Usually, this involves a difficult decision or choice. We wish that God would just speak to us with a voice from heaven. “My will for you is to buy this car, not that one.” What we are seeking is God’s permissive will in our choices. As His children, God allows us to make these choices freely while we seek his guiding hand. While wrestling to make decisions based on God’s permissive will is a part of the Christian experience, there is another aspect of God’s will in which there is very little confusion and even less wiggle room. We call this God’s perfect will. Recognizing God’s perfect will is quite easy because He has clearly revealed it to us in His word. It is usually found in statements like this “This is the will of God: your sanctification.” (1 Thess 4:3, ESV).
What is God’s will for us? The answer is easy: our sanctification. If we aren’t careful, we can spend so much time pondering what God wants us to do that we miss what He has clearly told us to do. God’s will for us is our sanctification. Now, if sanctification is what God requires of us, then we need to have a very good understanding of what it means. For our purposes today, let’s define sanctification as “the ongoing process of the saved person becoming holy through the empowering work of the Holy Spirit.” Today, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, trusting in the work of salvation gifted to you through His death, burial, and resurrection, you are now in the process of sanctification. God has declared you sanctified by the blood of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a wonderful and amazing truth! But, sanctification is still a process. It’s a process which requires action on the part of God’s people. God did not go through the trouble of sending his Son to die for us so that we could stay the same, comfortable in our sin. Instead, God saved us so that we would be made holy. This is a process that should continue for the entirety of our lives until the day we stand before our Lord.
Sanctification And Sexual Purity
Paul lays out for the Thessalonians three particular areas in which they were to focus their sanctification. First, they were to abstain from sexual immorality. Second, they were learn how to control their bodies in holiness and honor. Third, they were not to transgress and wrong their brothers and sisters sexually. Let us examine each of these areas more closely.
In verse 3, Paul exhorts the reader to “abstain from sexual immorality.” The word that the ESV translates as “sexual immorality” is the Greek word porneia. From porneia we get the word pornography. Strong’s Concordance defines porneia as “harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively idolatry: fornication” (1890). This idea of sexual immorality covers a lot of ground. It encompasses anything that is outside the bounds of what God has declared sexually permissible. Genesis 2 lays the groundwork for what is permissible by showing us God’s original intended design for sexuality.
“Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:18-25)
Notice in these verses the context in which sexuality was given to mankind. God created man and let him experience life alone with no helper. So, God created a helper suitable for him. God brought the woman, which He had created, to the man and the two became “one flesh” within the context of marriage. One man, married to one woman. Moses helps us here by telling us that this married couple was “naked” and not ashamed. Sex was a good thing! God invented it, it was his idea. Sex was a wedding gift to the married couple. There was nothing about sexuality for which they should feel ashamed. But like any gift, sex can be abused. For instance, water is a good gift; however, water out of control brings destruction. Trouble happens when we take that beautiful wedding gift, meant to be shared and experienced by a husband and wife on their wedding night and we open it early, shamefully doing that for which the gift was never intended. That is sexual immorality. Brothers and sisters, we need to stand for God’s intended purpose of sexuality! Why should all sexual activity happen between a husband and wife? Because that is God’s original design according to Genesis 2. Why do we maintain that all sexual activity should be confined between a man and woman? Because that is God’s original design according to Gen 2.
We must also understand that God’s standard for sexual purity does not change in the New Testament. Hebrews 13:4 states, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” What is the standard for sexuality in this verse? Marriage. It is meant to be a place where sex can be experienced in all purity. When a believer dabbles in any sexual activity outside of the marriage bed, it defiles God’s purpose for sex and the marriage bed. When God calls believers to abstain from sexual immorality, it is a call to avoid any sexual activity not held within the bounds of marriage.
Sanctification, according to verse 4, requires that “each one of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God. ” Paul makes clear that it is not good enough for those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord to continue to live like the unsaved. To be made holy, a believer must learn how to control his body. Jesus made it clear that this begins at the heart level. In Matthew 5:27 He states that to look on a woman with lust is to commit adultery with her in your heart (Matt. 5:27). He also said (Mark 7:21-23), “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Thus, to gain mastery of our bodies we must control our thought life. We cannot live in sexual purity if we continue to fill our minds with the sexual immorality of the world. This means that I must consider carefully what I allow to enter my mind. Brothers and sisters, what are we watching on TV? What movies do we allow to enter our households? What kinds of music are we listening to? What types of books do we read? As we are out in the community, on what or on whom do we let our eyes linger longer than we should? If I were to ask to see your cell phone, what would I find in your search history? What do we allow our minds to dwell on and fantasize about in the privacy of our rooms? Let us not be deceived into thinking that we can continue indulge in the sensuality and somehow grow to be morally pure. We must learn to control our bodies.
In verse 6, Paul emphasizes the importance of self-control by urging the Thessalonians to make sure that “no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you”. Sexual purity is not just an individual matter. According to Paul, sexual immorality not only affects us but it damages those around us. The passionate lust of the Gentile seeks to use others for their own pleasures rather than to seek their best. This plays out every day in high schools all over the country. Imagine a group of boys hanging out in the hallway when an attractive young lady passes by. As she does, this group quietly begins a discussion in which that “rate” the various aspects of her body. Is she a 10, a 9, a 6? Has this activity helped this young woman, created in the image of God, to draw near to Him? OR, have these young men taken advantage of her body for their own pleasures? Let’s assume that this young lady has purposefully chosen to dress in a way as to draw the attention of these boys. Has she helped these young men, created in the image of God, to protect their purity? OR has she taken advantage of their weaknesses for her own pleasures? Consider the young couple that is in a sexually immoral relationship outside of marriage. They may claim to love each other. But, is this a loving act that seeks the best for the other person and helps that person remain in right relationship with God? OR is it a selfish and lustful act in which these individuals are using each other for their own sexual immorality? Imagine a husband who has not taken the call to control his body seriously. Secretly, he has allowed the seed of sexual immorality to grow in his life. He then pressures his wife to fulfill every fantasy and urge that he has stored away. Is this a loving, selfless, and giving act that will result in marital intimacy? OR is this man using his wife for his own selfish purposes? Brothers and sisters, let us take seriously Paul’s warning that God is the avenger of such things. Surely, David would never have given Bathsheba more than a fleeting glance if he would have known the consequences of his actions for her, his family, Uriah, Bathsheba, and the nation of Israel.
Sanctification And The Holy Spirit
Given the powerful nature of our sexual drive, how can we possibly begin to walk in purity? The good news is that unlike the Gentiles who do not know God, the Holy Spirit has been given to Christians. We have the very power of God which enables us to live in purity. Thus, we must learn to walk in the Spirit if we are to have victory over the flesh. I must consistently reorganize my affections, forsaking the temporary pleasures of the body in order to have the lasting joy that can only be had by a right relationship with God. In Galatians 5:16, Paul writes, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” He goes on to enumerate some of those sinful desires, which include immorality, impurity, and sensuality. He adds that one fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control. So a daily step-by-step walk of dependence on the indwelling Holy Spirit is the key to resisting sexual temptation and developing sexual purity.”
Walking in step with the Holy Spirit also requires that we take certain other actions. First, we must begin with confession. The truth is that some of us have been trying to profess Christianity while we simultaneously live a secret life of sexual immorality. My friend, if this describes you, it's time to confess your sins. With the confession of sin comes the promise of forgiveness. John tells us that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 9). God is faithful! There is no sin that He is not aware of and completely willing to forgive. If we do not confess our sins to God then we cannot be cleansed. We will remain in sexual immorality.
Yet, there is another aspect of confession to consider. We must confess our sins to one another. James calls us in James 5:16 to “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” It is by the confession of sin to God that we receive forgiveness. It is by the confession of our sin to each other that we receive healing. This definitely requires a step of faith. Could it be that God is calling you to take a scary step of confession? Husbands, are there secret sins that you need to finally confess to your wife? Students, are there secret sins that you need to confess to your parents? Wives are there secret sins that you need to finally confess to your husband? Singles, are there struggles in your purity that you need to confess to one another?
When dealing with sexual immorality, as much as probably any sin issue requires us to seek accountability. Thankfully, God did not leave us to deal with this alone. Not only is He with us through the Holy Spirit, He also gave us the body of Christ. We were not meant to do this alone. Who do you trust, that you can be completely honest and transparent with, that will help you hold to the standard of sexual purity?
I would like to conclude with this: God’s will is your sanctification. As believers we are called not to grieve the Spirit, but to walk in step with the Spirit as we relate to others in sexual purity. We are called to glorify God with our bodies.
Strong, J. (1890). Strong's exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Abingdon Press.
 Cole, S.J. (Oct, 9, 2016). Sexual Purity (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). Retrieved fromhttps://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-11-sexual-purity-1-thessalonians-43-8
Living as the Church: Walk the Talk
1 Thessalonians 4:1-2
Calvary Baptist Church
Pastor Ben Marshall
This past week, Pastor Trent, Karl, and I had the privilege of going to a conference. While we were there, one of the pastors, Mark Dever, was preaching and said this: “It is easier to look holy than it is to be holy.” How true it is, but it is not a good excuse. We are called to be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 11:45; 1 Peter 1:16).
It is easier to look like you have it all together than it is to be vulnerable, honest, and passionately pursuing Christ in and through struggle. It is easier to work hard, pray at meals, go to church on Sunday, and just make it through the week than it is to meditate on the Word, pray with expectation and power, and actually thrive as a follower of Christ. But may we not be people who do only what is comfortable and easy.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 (ESV) Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
James 1:22 challenges every person who claims to be a Christian and says But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Going to church doesn’t save you. Church attendance will not give you what you are looking for. Obedience is God's love language (John 14:15-16)
The pursuit of a disciple of Jesus Christ is not to be a good person and try to sometimes do good things. The pursuit of a disciple is that of 1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
We are saved by grace for good works. The outworking of our faith is supposed to produce good works and the fruit of our faith ought to be clearly seen. We have to walk the talk. Scripture calls walking the talk being fruitful. Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. That means we are to be constantly growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Here are 5 action steps to walk the talk:
One, it pleases God when you live sacrificially.
Our default is selfishness. What would happen, instead, if you realized that your life is not about you? The sum total of your life does not consist of the things you’ve accumulated, money you've made, or success you’ve attained. Have you brought glory to God through who you are and what you do?
Two, it pleases God when you love sacrificially.
You don’t always feel like loving those around you, especially those closest to you, do you? Loving sacrificially is being selfless and loving even when you don’t feel like it. It is recognizing that love is not just an emotion; it is an action. You may not be in a place where you feel like you love your spouse, child, friend, parent, neighbor, or pastor! But, choose to forgive and pursue sacrificial love. Your relationships are meant to bring glory to God. Who is one person in your life to whom you can start to show a little more love this week, even though you may not want to?
Three, it pleases God when you pray sacrificially.
Prayer is the most productive and effective thing you could do in your life. But, it is one of the things followers of Christ don’t do often enough. Prayer unites you with God and binds your heart to Him. Prayer should be the foundation and the fuel for the decisions and actions of your life. This week, spend time alone in prayer at least five minutes every day.
Four, it pleases God when you serve sacrificially.
There are many places where you could serve here at Calvary. It would be a sacrifice, and we fully acknowledge that. But, remember, your life is not about you. So, if you are going to walk as you ought, in a way that pleases God, you must be obedient to serve Him and His people. You could get plugged into the nursery, the youth ministry, the children’s ministry, the greeters and ushers, the café team, the VBS team, and many others. This week, talk to one of our pastors or ministry leaders or call the church office and volunteer to serve sacrificially somewhere.
Five, it pleases God when you give sacrificially.
Operation Replenish is starting this morning, and it will stretch you. But when we are obedient to the Lord, we trust Him with our finances and we remember they came from Him in the first place. Tithing is the beginning. When we trust God with our finances, we live in a way that our money doesn’t own us. The amount we have may determine what we are able to do or how much we are able to give, but the story of the widow in Luke 21:1-4 reminds us that it’s not about how much we give, but our heart in giving.
Living Worthy of God
1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13
April 8, 2018
Brian Allen (Holland); Tom Wright (Hamilton)
Sermon notes from Holland
We have been in 1 Thessalonians for several weeks now, and we’ve learned a few things about the church of Thessalonica.
If we were to contrast the reputation of the church in Thessalonica to that of us, at Calvary Baptist Church, how would we stack up? We are likely the only representation that many people have of Calvary. In fact, churches don’t have reputations, people do. If we want to change the way people think about Calvary, each of us will need to change our individual reputations (consider Galatians 5:16-25).
The reality is, Calvary, that we are in a constant battle of removing those things that are holding us back and putting on those things that Paul refers to as the fruit of the Spirit. But, this reality doesn’t mean we should be satisfied or comfortable with our current status.
Remember back to 1 Thessalonians 1:3 when Paul mentions before God their “work of faith?” Believing that God will supply all the things in life we need falls into this category. It requires a great deal of faith to let God take care of our earthly needs as we spend time and resources on others. It is a statement of faith when we put money in the Compassionate Care Fund, or in the Global Outreach fund, or the Haggai Project, or give to the overall church ministry via our general fund. So, where is your focus?
When there is community life energized by the passion of pursuing God, resulting in the passionate pursuit of others for Christ, one of the “side effects” is a deep bond of love for others with the same passions. The Thessalonian church’s passion was evident:
For you received the word in much affliction with the joy of the Holy Spirit so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere so that we need not say anything. - 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. - Matthew 6:21
When we invest in the kingdom, our heart will naturally be drawn toward those that have a similar passion. With whom do you spend time? Are you living with a focus that reflects a passion for God’s word?
Here are some indicators we can use to gauge the leaning of our hearts:
- What are you drawn to in your free time?
- What does it take to get you to miss church?
- Are you active in Equipping U?
- Compare your church giving to what you spend on your hobbies.
- Are your close friends ministry minded?
Besides that natural tendency to invest our time and resources into the things we love, there is a supernatural component to loving the people of God.
So, Calvary, are we like the Thessalonians, just needing to increase our love for one another? Are we like the church in Laodicea, lukewarm, not hot and not cold? Are we self-assured and needing nothing? Are we like the Corinthians who were acting like infants in Christ with obvious jealousy and strife within the ministry.
In a congregation of this size, it’s likely we are a mixture of all of these. Those of us who are leading ministries should set the tone. Let’s strive to be like Paul’s team as outlined in chapter 2; let’s be bold to declare the gospel of God regardless of circumstances.
The point is this, if we are leaders in the body of Christ, we should be in love with Jesus and pointing everyone in our circles to love Him, too. Note that last sentence said “if we are leaders.” Everyone is leading somebody.
If you are 8, there are 6 year olds looking up to you. If you are 16, you have 12 year olds wishing they were you. If God has called you into His kingdom, then He has gifted you for ministry; therefore, you should endeavor to walk worthy of Him who has called you.
If we are serious about passionately pursuing Christ, then something dramatic will happen. We will love the study of God’s word, right? I am calling you out. This is called an exhortation.
Every one of you should be here at 9:00 am next Sunday for one of these opportunities:
- Discovering the God of Second Chances – taught by Shannon Overbeek
- Fatal Distractions: Overcoming Destructive Temptations – taught next week by Jon Whitmer
- Toward Redeeming Adverse Childhood Experiences: TRACE for men – taught by Joyce DeRidder
- FREEDOM: A Study in Galatians – taught by Jim Visser
- II Corinthians (JOY class) – taught next week by Brad Arnold
Be here to exhort and encourage others grow in their walk with Jesus. Let us be known for passionately pursuing Christ by falling in love with His Word!
Our Only Hope
1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
March 25, 2018
Pastor Ben Marshall (Holland); Karl Shumate (Hamilton)
Early in the history of the church, when Roman persecution was bad and worsening, the bishop of the church in Smyrna, Polycarp, was arrested. He lived in the second century and was instrumental in proclaiming the authority of the Scriptures. He quoted them in his writings and testified to the Truth of the Word that God inspired through writers like Paul and the Apostles who came just shortly before Polycarp.
Many Christians had been persecuted and were being fed to wild animals in the stadiums of Rome. It is in this context that Polycarp is taken captive. He knew the soldiers would come and did not run away. In fact, when he saw the soldiers approaching, he met them outside and talked with them.
As he talked with them, they were amazed by his age, his faithfulness to God, and they wondered amongst themselves why they were sent so quickly to arrest this old man. Polycarp had a table set out and food prepared for the soldiers who were there to arrest him. While they ate, he requested that he be allowed to pray without interruption for an hour. They allowed him to, and while they ate, Polycarp prayed for two hours within earshot of the soldiers.
Polycarp ended up being burned at the stake, but that is not how he died. When he was tied to the stake and the fire lit, the fire did not burn him. The governor of the province was so angry that he ordered the executioner to go up and stab Polycarp to death with a dagger. That is the martyrdom of Polycarp.
Why? Jesus Christ changes everything. Jesus Christ is our only hope.
The Thessalonians experienced dissenting voices in their hometown and society as well. It wasn’t popular, it was acceptable, to be a Christian and to follow the Word of God. But when they heard the Word of God, they understand that there was something more to this than debatable human wisdom. There was something about the Word of God that, when it came, it was somehow different. Paul writes in 1:5 the Word of God, the Gospel, came to them not just in word, but in also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
They heard the word of God, the Good News about Jesus Christ, and they accepted it not as the word of men but as it really is, the word of God.
The message of the Gospel is offensive. But it is the only hope for all humankind, and that is why we proclaim it. When we proclaim the, capital “T,” Truth, it is all too likely that persecution and suffering will come.
If we are going to live as the church, there are a few things we must do:
1. Put a high value on the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16)
2. Understand persecution is an expectation (2 Timothy 3:12)
3. Live like our only hope is in Jesus Christ & share it with others (John 3:16; Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Peter 1:3; Romans 3:21-25)
Paul's Method of Ministry
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
March 18, 2018
Pastor Trent Broussard
Paul describes a lot about his ministry with the Thessalonians, but it comes back to the example that he set with the conduct of his life.
Paul compares himself to a mother when he speaks of how he loves the Thessalonians. But, when he speaks of how he instructs the Thessalonians, it is like a father. He challenges them, ultimately, to walk in a manner worthy of God .
On this idea of walking worthy, John Piper writes, “A clue is found in Col 1:10 which says, "Walk worthy of the Lord, to please him." But Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it is impossible to please him." So the call to walk "worthy of the Lord" is at least a call to walk by faith.
But faith looks away from itself to the worth and ability and grace and strength of another. So walking "worthy of the Lord" would mean acting in a way that shows how worthy and able and gracious and strong the Lord is.”
When we lead and minister to others, we should remember these four things:
One, we lead and minister to others with the expectation that not everyone will love and respect us.
Two, we lead and minister to others with love, care, and compassion.
Three, we lead and minister to others with a desire to be holy and blameless.
Four, we lead and minister to others with an eye toward eternity.
Here are four practical steps you can take after this sermon today:
One, find a place to serve and learn how to lead
Two, give grace to one another and whenever possible, overlook the offense committed against you
Three, pursue holiness and discipleship (join an Equipping U class, get in a Bible study, find a person mature in their faith in Christ and ask them to disciple you)
Four, don't lose heart; Christ will return
Living as the Church: Grace and Peace
1 Thessalonians 1:1
Pastor Trent Broussard
The Church at Thessalonica was established by Paul on his second missionary journey, which is chronicled in Acts 16-18:22. Paul’s pattern was to go into a new area and preach Christ in the synagogue to the local Jews. In this city, there were converts of both Jews and Greeks, and Luke particularly mentions a number of influential women. As is also the pattern, the Jews, especially the synagogue leaders, were jealous of Paul’s success and sought to have him stopped. Paul was sent out of town branded a trouble-maker, but the seed of the church had been planted.
The recipient is the church of the Thessalonians. In other letters, the church isn’t always addressed directly.
Paul’s address here is to the church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Unlike his letters to the Corinthians, Paul refers to the church at Thessalonica as being in God and not of God. He not only calls them the church in God, but in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is uncommon for Paul as he uses the phrases “in God” or “in Christ” very specifically i.e. rejoicing in God (Rom. 5:11) or hidden in God (Eph 3:9). “In Christ,” when used by Paul, generally has an incorporative force, pointing to believers’ participation in Christ’s life or their membership in His body. This is a weighty reference that some scholars believe is intended to communicate that the church is brought into being by God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. It bears witness to the exalted place of Christ and communicates that the Father and the Son are active in the work of salvation and sanctification.
Peace was the normal Jewish greeting, while rejoice was the normal Greek greeting. Paul uses grace and peace as a standard greeting and these words point to both the power and activity of the gospel. Grace and peace only come through Christ. It is the power of the gospel that reconciles wicked man to God. Earlier we sang:
Grace and peace, oh how can this be
For lawbreakers and thieves, for the worthless, the least
You have said that our judgment is death
For all eternity, without hope, without rest
Oh, what an amazing mystery, what an amazing mystery
That your grace has come to me.
What’s so amazing about grace is that we do not deserve it. We deserve death, hell, and eternal separation from Christ. Instead we have been given life, peace, and eternity with Christ. How did we get grace and peace? Christ suffered and died in our place. He was condemned for us. He took our sins and our sorrows, as the hymn-writer tells us, and made them his very own. He bore the burden to Calvary and suffered and died alone.
Christ suffered the penalty for our sin so we don’t have to pay it. It doesn’t matter how vile a sinner you are, it doesn’t matter how wicked you have been, it doesn’t matter how long you have walked in your sin, Jesus’ death on the cross in your place is sufficient to pay for your sin. This is grace; this is the gospel. And what is peace? Peace is a return to the relationship between God and man in the Garden before the fall. The Garden was a kind of temple where God walked with man in beautiful fellowship. True peace is having beautiful fellowship with God.
Over the next few months, we are going to study this letter to the Thessalonians and observe what real Christianity looks like in a church. The Thessalonians were a model church. They got it right. Paul’s letter is full of commendation and not condemnation. We will see what they got right and how Paul encourages them to deepen their walk with Christ and grow in their fellowship. As we walk through a season of transition and search for a new pastor, it is my prayer that we will grow deeply in our walk with Christ and our love for both Christ and one another.
During this season of transition, we need to be praying for our church, for our new lead pastor, and for our team who has been tasked with discerning the Lord’s will for Calvary. I want to invite you to join me and any of our staff who are available, to gather every Thursday from 12:15-12:45 p.m. to pray. It will not be a long prayer meeting, but I believe the Lord would have us sacrifice time to pray and seek His will. If you cannot join us here, pray where you are.
Have you experienced the grace and peace of God? Have you heard His calling on your life? If the Lord is drawing you to Him, do not wait to respond. Come to Him in your brokenness, with your flaws and every imperfection, and allow Him to transform your life. If He is calling you, put your trust in Him today.