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.