Saturday, September 18, 2010

Final Instructions

FINAL Instruction from 1 Thess. 5:12-28

The message today is a simple one. No controversies. Not a lot of deep theology. There are no metaphors, idiomatic expressions, hidden meanings, or parables. Paul is giving his last instructions—which really is not his last as he writes one more letter to these people. But, for today, let’s look and see how this passage works itself out into our day-to-day lives.

First, it will affect you. Paul is asking and urging us to do something that he feels is important to the life of the Church. He is very clear about what to do.

Secondly, this passage will most likely stay with you for a long while. Not because of my superior preaching. It is going to stay around in your hearts because this is God’s Words! His Word will not return empty. Many of us today are here today because the Word of God started to work in our lives a long time ago. We now, when we look back, we can see how His Word had entered our very hearts and caused us to be alive in Jesus. His Word alive in us!

Paul asked these Believers to respect and honor those people who are teaching them—who are over them in the Church. These people work hard on your behalf. Because of that, they are targets of many attacks from the Evil One. Whoever they are, those people who have taught you, lead a Bible Study, prayed over you, these people are to get your respect. Those who were given this responsibility from the Lord have guided and encouraged you to stay obedient to the Lord. So, overwhelm them with your appreciation and with your love. Have fun doing it! As in giving with a cheerful heart—show your love without holding back.

Here comes a hard one for some: Live at peace with each other. Some feel it is their role in life to be difficult. To be nasty and mean to people. To be brutality honest no matter who gets hurt. Can’t live at peace with that kind of mindset. To live at peace with others does not mean being a weak person or a ‘YES man!’ It takes courage and power from the Lord. We all know of people who are hard to be with. Some here are married to them! Sometimes we get a feeling of wanting to hurt someone. We feel we must because something happened and our feelings were hurt. Paul says to us all: never you mind. Get that right. Be at peace with each other means that you too are at peace with God and yourself. How is that possible? Forgive them. Then you will be forgiven!

Paul moves from asking to urging his friends. A deeper, more involved action. This means so much to Paul! We are to warn the freeloaders or idle people to get moving! We all are part of the Body and we all need to be functioning in a healthy manner. Those who are idle take time away from our work in the Gospel. An idle person becomes the devil’s work area. Busy hands are good: idle hands produce discord.

We are to gently encourage those who are struggling to keep up. To reach out to those who are wiped out-exhausted and get them upright once again. It might be to hire a person—if it is your place to do that—in order to get them productive once again. Everyone needs encouragement! How did it go last week? Did you encourage someone? No? Why not? Did you forget? Did you think it was silly? Paul urges us to encourage people we are around. It is good practice to do so.

We need to be patient with people. (Now Paul is meddling!) Just let me alone, we might say. But Paul, and the Holy Spirit of God wants to bless us with an active Christian Faith. A Faith that helps encourage people to enjoy His Grace and Love.

We are not to pay back evil for evil. We are not to get even. Give that notion up! We are to be careful not to get on people’s nerves. It is easy to snap at each other. We see cats do that. We need to always look for the best in each other and it is our role in the Body of Christ to actively do our best to bring that out in others. Try to be kind. Try and keep at it!

Next comes Paul’s list. Short sentences yet powerful and life changing. Be joyful. Be cheerful-no matter what. Count it all joy—even when you enter hard times and temptation. Let’s be real, OK? Is this possible? It is when our hearts are in the right place. If we are looking into our own hearts for satisfaction, no, it will not be there. If we are looking at following the Heart of Christ, yes, it is possible—even to the point of becoming a different person once this sets into our reality!

We are to pray at all times. Even now, I would appreciate your prayers as our translator and I deliver this message. Asking God to help us understand the Word of God, to be able to speak the Word of God in an understandable manner. That people’s hearts would be touched and we, ourselves, would be different as the Word of God takes root in us.

We are to thank God at all times. Give thanks for things that come your way. The waitress gives you a glass of water: thank her. Your wife fixed dinner; thank her and then help clean up after dinner.

This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ to behave and live!

Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. When I was a teenager, I had given my life to Jesus. While working at a church near my home, an older man—who was known as a fine Christian man—said to me, “You are excited now but wait a few years, you’ll come to understand. Your joy will leave ‘cause life is hard and your life is not all fun and games. When you get older, you’ll see.” What, to be as crusty as you? No thank you, very much! I like being joyful in Jesus ‘cause He has given me life! What else am I to do?

That old man tried to put out the Spirit’s fire in me. I am glad to say he did not succeed, but how many others are discouraged when older Believers dampen their zeal for the Lord. Careful.

We are to listen to the people who speak the Words of God but we are not to be gullible. Check what they say with the Word of God. Test the spirit, as it were. He says this but the Word say something else. Reject what that man says because of the Word of God is true. Hold on to the good and throw out anything tainted with evil. Anything, no matter the cost.

Paul asks us to pray for them. Pray for the door of opportunity to stay open. That hearts would be changed because of the Power of God in their lives. Pray all the time. Under any circumstances, keep your heart in the right place so that you can pray. Keeping yourself pure from the evil around you is your job. Say in turn with what the Lord is showing you. Ask Him for continued guidance. Pray for others direction as well.

You can keep those prayers going to the Father’s heart by staying close to Him. By keeping yourself pure. Throw out anything in your life that is tainted with evil. Anything.

Now comes the end of his instruction, but wait, there is more still. He almost ends this letter but first he gets really caught up in seeing just Who his Father is. He asked God Himself, who makes everything holy and full, to make us holy and full. Paul knows that his Father is completely dependable. If God said it, God will do it! That is a good reminder.

Look at what Paul prays for these people:

May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then, Paul gets personal. Not a problem, but we are to be genuine with one another. Embrace each other with a Holy embrace. Give a holy kiss. Not something sexual. Not with lust in the heart…but part of the purity we have in Christ.

Then, Paul ends his letter once again as I will end. God’s Grace be with you who love the Lord Jesus Christ.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sons and Daughter of the Light

First Thess 5:1-11

1-3 I don't think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen. You know as well as I that the day of the Master's coming can't be posted on our calendars. He won't call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody's walking around complacently, congratulating each other—"We've sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!"—suddenly everything will fall apart. It's going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman.

4-8 But friends, you're not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You're sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let's not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let's keep our eyes open and be smart. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. But not us! Since we're creatures of Day, let's act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation.

9-11 God didn't set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we're awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we're alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it. - From the Message.

Verses 1-4
are dealing with what we spoke of last week. Jesus will return as a thief in the night—we are to be unaware of when but HE WILL COME. Some will say “Peace and safety” and that becomes their mantra. While there may be some peace and safety in life, the general trend will be bad to really bad. There will be a growing evilness in society and within the Church people will ‘fall away’ from the Faith. Evil will increase and the hearts of many will grow cold. Don’t go there.

Let this be a gentle warning to family members. Do you have issues with a family member; deal with it now, as unto the Lord. Forgive; let there be restoration. Do not let your heart continue to grow cold toward them. If there is a member of this Fellowship with whom you have a broken relationship, I plead with you, in the Name of Jesus, deal with it. Seek out help. Don’t let the sun go down on another day without dealing with this attitude. Because there is an issue of pain or hurt or dislike in your heart, it will hurt you, for GOD WILL NOT ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS. By the authority of our Lord & Savior, be reconciled, in Jesus Name.

The Word of God is clear, isn’t it? The forgiven will be lifted up. Those who are in pain and those who in conflict will be comforted. Come to Him for rest. Come to Him even for the will do deal with the problems of life. He can help. He can heal. He is the only One who can. His relationship with you is that important. His Name is on you and you and I need to walk as Children of God. A broken relationship hurts His heart deeply. He will return and He MUST find a Bride—you and me—who is clean from interpersonal conflict. A Bride who is pure. Get ready: He is coming. Don’t know when but don’t feel it will be pushed aside and forgotten. All will be revealed at that time.

New theme: SONS OF THE LIGHT. Much to say about LIGHT and darkness. One has the blessings of God/the other does not. When on is in the LIGHT, they walk differently. They think differently. They are different because the LIGHT is in them. This LIGHT is more than a clean conscience. More than good feelings. More than being good…or kind…or doing what is right. This LIGHT is the Holy SPIRIT. This LIGHT is a relationship based on the action Jesus did on the Cross. His death on the Cross opened the door of Heaven so that we could be forgiven. It is the most important fact that ever was revealed.

5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

So We have a name. Sons of the light. What does that mean and what does that entitle us to do or be? First of all, the term looks like it comes right out of the Gospel of John and later 1st John. He deals a great deal with the word LIGHT.

Shall we look at a few areas of LIGHT, according to John? 16 times in his Gospel, this word is used. Light of me, light shines in the darkness, testify concerning the light, witness to the light, true light that gives light to every man, Light has come, men love darkness instead of light, evil hates the light…and that is only from Chapters 1-3!

Jesus Himself said in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world, Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 9:5 “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

John 11:10 “It is when he walks by night that he stubbles, for he has no light.”

John 12:35 “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.”

Then Jesus talking about Himself in John 12:36 and 46 “Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

See what He is getting at? There are two camps. One camp is in the LIGHT and the other camp is in Darkness. Light and darkness. No middle ground. No place for a fence sitter. You either are one or the other. To become a Son and Daughter of the Light, you need Faith. You can move from the dark camp to the Light camp through Faith in the Light. To walk in the Light is being obedient to the Call of God on your life.

In First John, John speaks of Light five times. 1 John 1:5; 1:7; 2:8~10.

•God is light.

•if we walk in the light, as He is in the Light.

•the true Light is already shining.

•Anyone who claims to be in the Light but hates his brother is still in darkness.

•Whoever loves his brother lives in the Light.

These are not just nice words or a suggestion from John. It is much more than that! He means it! You can’t really love God and have hate in your heart for one of God’s Children. Any of His Children. Esp. when they are part of the Body of Christ!

So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.

Alert and self-controlled. Two action words that take some practice. If you were guarding a bank filled with Gold bullion and Diamonds, you would need to show some alertness. Not only with being awake but also with the proper tools of the trade. What kind of guns would you have?

How do we develop such alertness in the Spirit-life? One, read in the Word of God as often as you can. Not just a Daily Bread devotion once a day—that being a good source. By developing the Mind of Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

Also in Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, St. Paul teaches believers access the mind of Christ through offering ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. He says very practically, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1~2

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don't become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. From the Message)

The New Living Translation has it this way: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

THERE IS A VERY BIG DECISION involved over which we have some measure of power, although enabled by HIS Grace. The practical and personal question is: will I align my thoughts and beliefs with the messages coming to me from this world, or will I align my thoughts and beliefs with what God says is true?

Another example. In his letter to the Philippians Paul says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5, KJV

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: NIV.

He then describes what that would mean: that He humbled himself, that He poured out His life in love, that He became a servant to even to the people who wanted Him dead. Apparently having the mind of Christ involves not only what goes on between my ears, but also what I do with my hands and feet and mouth toward others. This is not the way people act that lives in the darkness, BUT IT IS THE WAY PEOPLE LIVE WHO LIVE IN THE SON…IN THE LIGHT OF JESUS!

The idea is not just found in Paul’s letters. In His final words to His disciples Jesus says, “Everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15

Walk as Children of the Light. BE Sons & Daughters of the JESUS!

putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

This is the practical side of the Walk of Faith. An activeness of putting on Faith and love as one would put on armor before a battle. Dressed up in Faith, love and the hope of salvation. A breastplate-for frontal attacks; a head covering of Hope-the mind we spoke of before—of Salvation. The heart is protected and the mind as well. Be aware of the attacks of the evil One. Watch your heart and watch your mind.

So, we need to realize that He dies for us to live a better way: His Way, so that we may live together with Him. We are to encourage one another and build each other up so that no one is left behind. Young and old, strong in the Lord and those who are weak. All are to be encouraged and grow closer to Him. Are you doing that with each other? We need to be!