1 Thessalonians

Paul’s final remarks to Thessalonica and us

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1 Thessalonians 5:26–28

26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.

27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

As Paul closes this letter he encourages brotherly love. The holy kiss was a genuine greeting, men kissed men on the cheeks and women kissed women on the cheeks. The fact that it was a holy kiss indicated that it was a genuine Christian greeting between brothers and sisters in Christ. We do handshakes or hugs and in the heartbeat of this thought our Christian greetings should ooze with genuine love and care for one another.

Then Paul admonishes them to read this letter to one another. In fact, he wants it to be read to them all. Over the last few months I have been reading this letter to you. Now, who can you read it to? Have you ever noticed the cleansing effect that reading of the Scriptures has to us? Just reading through books of the Bible cleanses us from frustrations, from hurry, from fear, from anxiety, from insecurities and more. The washing of the water of the Word is meant by God to cleanse the filthy and to quench the thirsty.

Finally, Paul’s salutation is simply this: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” In a sane spiritual moment, what more do we need besides the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ? When we know that the source of this grace is our precious Lord Jesus, the Anointed one of God, we then know that it is the grace that we need. For while justice may knock at the door Jesus sends grace to answer the door. When in our hearts we feel condemned the facts of God’s grace must overcome our wrong feelings. Oh how I long for all of you today to know the present grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in every thought, every action, every responsibility, and every reaction of your day. When we are that cognizant of the grace of the Lord we live in the peace that follows grace. Grace and peace be unto you.

 

I am looking forward to Sunday together. This is the final series in the Five Solas of Justification. This message will address the fact that we are justified to the glory of God alone. No human that ever lived, no matter how great a writer or how desperate a person could have designed and implemented God’s plan for our eternal salvation. This completed plan of redemption causes us to bring glory to God.

 Next Sunday, the 17th, we will be going to do Christmas caroling at Sunrise Assisted Living in Naperville at 3:30 in the afternoon. All are invited as we gather with the residents there to lift up the name of Christ. If you have particular Christmas reading that you would like to do please let me know.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Who Needs Prayer?

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1 Thessalonians 5:25 Brethren, pray for us.

Who needs prayer? Paul did. Who was Paul? The man who wrote much of the New Testament, that’s who Paul was. He understood the mysteries of God like no one else, Peter tells us that. Paul heard the voice of God and followed it exactly. Paul started churches all over Eastern Europe and led people to Christ everywhere he went. Who was Paul? We go to his writings for every part of our Christian lives and our church function.

But what did Paul ask for? He didn’t ask for money. He didn’t ask for help. He asked for the one thing that really surprises us, Paul, the great Apostle, asked for prayer.   I don’t think he asked for prayer because he has a cold or some physical or financial issue. Paul knew the level of the spiritual battle that he faced and he knew the value of the prayers of God’s people for the outcomes of those battles.

Whose spiritual battles do you pray for? We have an enemy who hates the work of God at every level. Our enemy is against all that we do for God. Therefore, he creates issues for all of us who are striving to live for Christ and do His work. So, whose spiritual battles do you pray for? If Paul asked for prayer, then so do I. Would you pray for me? Pray for our church services. Pray for one another as you go to work, to school, and struggle to live life. Brethren, pray for us.

Our adult Christmas party is this Saturday night. We forgot to mention the “white elephant” gift exchange. This is a lot of fun for the evening. If you failed to sign up, please let Sandy or Bobbi know that you are coming.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Kept by God until Christ’s return

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1 Thessalonians 5:23–24

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

The benediction of a letter was the wrap up thoughts of the writer.   As the Holy Spirit led Paul to conclude this letter He wanted us to remember that God is the faithful One; He is the One who preserves us, sanctifies us and keeps us blameless until the coming of Christ. While our salvation needs to be worked out with fear and trembling, once we understand that God has saved us by His grace we will also understand that God keeps us by His grace.

 

The problem with moralist preaching is that it teaches us to try harder, to live better, to become more sanctified to prepare for the coming of Christ. Paul says that God is the one who saves us, sanctifies us, and preservers us blameless until Christ’s return. While some may use this as a license to sin without apparent penalty, those who love the Lord for saving them see this as the key to successful Christian living. God is constantly at work in us leading us away from the sins of the world, the flesh and the devil. God is on our side keeping us from the enemies defeating attacks.

 

God is faithful, that is, God never stops being God and never stops working on our behalf. He is faithfully by our side, alive in us, pushing against sin and leading us toward greater righteousness. God is the faithful one and He will do all that He determines to do in us and through us. Walk with God. Spend time with Him. Listen to His words. Submit to God’s gracious and peaceful ways for your life. He is the faithful One, He has called you, and He will do all that you need done in your life until Jesus comes.

 

Last night, Bobbi and I had the privilege to hear three of our teens at the Oswego East high school Christmas concert. Hats off to Kameron, Andrew, and Zach for great performances. The school has a wonderful performance hall and the students rose to the occasion delivering a great concert. Great job guys! It was well worth our time to come and see you use your talents.

 

Tonight is our regular time of Bible study, prayer, youth group and Kids4Truth. Join us as we seek God’s face together.

 

Rachel still has not had her baby. Do keep her in prayer as she labors toward delivery. She has been at home since Sunday evening.

 

Pray for the Wentz family. The dad has lost some use in his arm and tests are being done to determine possible causes. They are a Christian family who serve the Lord at Michigan State University in a campus ministry.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Yes, we are to strive to live against sin while possessing God’s grace

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1 Thessalonians 5:22–23

22 Abstain from every form of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In a time when grace is preached and taught as the primary and sometimes only focus of the Christian life, this teaching might not be popular. Yet, Paul, from whom we learn so much about the riches of the grace of God, takes a moment to tell us to abstain from every form of evil and to live sanctified and blameless lives until the coming of Jesus Christ.

 

Maybe you are not familiar with the “hyper grace” movement. The teaching of hyper grace is that since you are saved and kept by grace nothing you do in this life can take God’s grace from you, therefore, when you sin it doesn’t really matter, you are under grace. The hyper grace teaching downplays the need to avoid sinful actions and attitudes because we have been given grace for our whole lives. Let me say that Paul did not teach this.

 

Throughout the epistles, most of which Paul wrote, there are lists of thing to put on and lists of things to avoid. In fact, Paul wrote these words, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? May it never be!” Even though we are saved and kept by grace, the Lord Jesus would have us live lives apart from sin until He comes. Therefore, let us do all we can to avoid every sin in this life and then to live as sanctified, set apart for service, as we can in these bodies of our flesh. I know what sins of the flesh I need to avoid. What sins of the flesh are you avoiding? Avoid sin to be set apart, sanctified, for God’s service until Jesus returns.

 

We had a great day at Grace for Life this past Sunday. Thanks to all who come and make our church services Spirit-led. The joy of the Lord is with us as well as the Spirit of understanding as we open up God’s word together.

 

Rachel still has not had her baby. We have been keeping the kids while Rachel has been in labor since Friday. Pray for grace for her and for a healthy delivery of the baby in God’s time.

 

I will be in service this morning at 10:30 at Sunrise Assisted Living and appreciate your prayers for that service.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

What do we do to the Holy Spirit’s Light?

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1 Thessalonians 5

19 Do not quench the Spirit.

20 Do not despise prophecies.

As I read verse 19, I come to understand that I, as a human being, am able to quench the Holy Spirit’s work through me in His church. As you know, to quench something is to put it out like extinguishing a flame, blowing out a candle, and so forth. The Holy Spirit is the light, the torch of God who lives in every believer. Ephesians 1 makes this very clear. But when we reject the Word of God, compartmentalize sin, refuse to reconcile with each other before the setting of the sun, live un-submitted lives and essentially live in rebellion to the Spirit led Word of God, we shut off the work of the Holy Spirit in us and through us.

 

When a Christian quenches the Holy Spirit they will then lose the joy of the Lord, the peace of Christ, and anticipation of the fellowship of the church. If they continue in rebellion to God (for all sin is rebellion to God, do not call it any less) they will make excuses for their powerless lives, change churches blaming the church, try to put themselves in positive spotlights of human service, and more. But until sin is confessed and reconciliation with God and man is sought, the Holy Spirit will still be quenched in their lives.

 

Then Paul admonishes us to not despise prophecies. These two admonitions go hand-in-hand for when we reject the Word of God we quench the Spirit of the Word. When we accept the Word of God and receive clarity of the Word from the Holy Spirit His light shines both in us and through us. Only Christians who live in submission to the Holy Spirit according to the clear teachings of the Word of God know the fullness of joy and peace and the power of God in and through their lives.

 

Confession of sin is a wonderful release of the binding chains and the reigniting of the Holy Spirit’s light in our lives. Commit to daily and even hourly confession of sin so that God’s holy light can consistently shine in and through your life.

 

This Sunday I will be brining the fourth Sola of the Reformation: the teaching of Justification comes from the Scriptures alone. This is vitally important as we face Satan’s constant attacks on the Word of God and on its clear teachings of eternal salvation.  

 

We do have a men’s prayer breakfast this Saturday at 7:30 at Denny’s.

 

If you want concert tickets for Sunday’s concert please contact me today and I will set them aside for you.

 

Pray for Steven and Rachel. Steven has prepared the Glee Club for this concert and the sole director for it. Rachel is really uncomfortable in her pregnancy and could really deliver any time. Pray that as God unfolds His timing we would know how to work through these details.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Rejoice

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1 Thessalonians 5

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

Can I start with a question this morning?  Why is this instruction one of the hardest to follow?  When our sins are eternally forgiven and God has given us His Son whose Holy Spirit dwells within us, why is it so hard to rejoice always?  When we have heaven to gain, earth to lose, and sin to shed, why do we have so much trouble giving thanks for the things of this life that are shaping us for now and for eternity?  When we are thankful for the will of God regarding our eternal, eternal, eternal salvation, why is it so hard to thank Him for the other aspects of His will?

Somehow, we think that God owes us a better life or at least a life without the troubles that we so often have to endure.  Somehow we blame God for the troubles first without a thought of thanking Him for His will.  Therefore we don’t rejoice but we join those in trouble wondering just where God is during the trouble.

My dear friends, I am old enough in the faith to know that God never changes and that God, who gave me His Son, will not withhold any other good thing from me.  I have seen and known that the troubles of this life are the hand of God shaping me and causing me to look with greater hope to my eternity with Him.  He has shown me to have a loose grip on everything in this life and a tight grip on eternity with Him.  According to God’s will, heaven is a place with no more tears, no more sorrow, no more sighing, no more sickness and no more death.  I have a firm grip on that while realizing that this life is filled with these things.

Today, give thanks in everything for this is the will of God concerning you.  Today, rejoice evermore and pray as much as you need to and then some.  God is with you both now and forever.  Have a loose grip on this life and tight grip on eternity.  Rejoice and give thanks.

 

I posted yesterday that today, giving Tuesday, Victory Academy for Boys is taking donations and every donation is being doubled.  I am excited about this because my donation will be doubled. Ask God what you can do and then follow this link and rejoice as you give.  Last week, they hosted 65 people, counseled every family twice, and continued their work of reconciling families to God and to each other. They do a work for churches that churches cannot do on their own. Victory is worthy of our support.

http://www.victoryacademyforboys.org/givingtuesday.html

 

Have a great day rejoicing in the Lord,

PS

Instructions for caring with Christ-like care

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1 Thessalonians 5

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

As Paul is wrapping up his letter to the faithful men and women in Thessalonica he gives them some various but important instructions.  Notice the different categories of people here and the different responses we are to have toward them.

  1. Warn the unruly.
  2. Comfort the fainthearted.
  3. Uphold the weak.
  4. Be patient with all.
  5. Don’t ever render evil for evil.
  6. Always pursue what is good.

I am sure that in my lifetime I have been guilty of getting these mixed up and thus giving confusing and frustrating advice.  I have warned the fainthearted, been impatient with the weak, and upheld the unruly.  When someone is unruly they need to be warned that their actions are going to take them the wrong way.  When someone is faint of heart they need comfort, not instruction. When someone is in a weak moment of life they need to be upheld not given a sermon.  This requires a bit more attention to people’s conditions than we might be used to giving but what a difference it can make.

In all seriousness, God is working on me with a need to be patient as He is patient.  This is not patience for patience sake nor patience until I am in complete frustration and have “had enough.”  This is longsuffering that leads to the salvation of the one I am showing patience to.

Have you ever sought to get even?  Have you ever returned evil for evil because someone “got you” first?  Boy of boy does this go against our nature.  No one gets us without getting something in return.  But this lesson tells us never to return evil for evil but instead return good to them.  This is “Christ” in us not “us” in us.

Pursuing that which is good is without doubt the very best way to live.  People are remembered for doing good to others.  They are remembered for showing kindness in difficult times.  They are remembered for caring when others didn’t.  With Christ in us, we can always pursue what is good and then given Him the glory when our good works are noticed.

Tomorrow has been designated as “giving Tuesday.”  Victory Academy for Boys, as you may know, was where I worked for fifteen years, is involved in “giving Tuesday.”  Victory Academy is indeed a life-changing place.  Boys come there who are at odds with their parents, their schools, and their God.  At Victory they are pointed to the love of God, the truth of God, and the grace of God.  The parents have homework assignments to teach them how to be godly parents.  Reconciliation with God and with the family is the overarching message of the ministry.  
Through the Bill and Linda Gates foundation every gift given tomorrow will be doubled.  If you are going to give somewhere, do consider giving to Victory Academy for Boys.  Here is the link: http://www.victoryacademyforboys.org/givingtuesday.html
Have a great day in the Lord,
PS