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Faith, Hope and Love


"Paul and Silvanus and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father," 
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome! Welcome to worship this Lord's Day.
We are so thankful for all of our brothers and sisters from all around the world who are here with us today.
We are keeping you in our prayers and hope you will do the same for us.
Our nation is currently captured by the prospect of the world, as we know it, coming to an end. Where have all the biblical, Christ centered preachers gone? If they use Scripture at all in their messages, they slightly season their messages rather than allowing the biblical text to be the solid meat of the main course. It is evident that the early church had a profound impact on those around them and for the cause of Christ. I have to question what impact is the modern church having on the world today.

I believe that a church that does not extend grace to others is a Church that does not experience peace. Grace is receiving something that we do not deserve. Beloved, salvation is because of the grace of God. I don't have to remind you, that we have done nothing to earn our salvation and we should remember that as we minister to people. Peace comes when we trust God no matter what is going on around us.
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father,
Thank You for Your Word. I thank you for this wonderful church family that you have blessed me with teaching, for the joy of watching them grow and mature in faith. I thank you for giving me a life that abounds with opportunities to serve You and these great people. Father, thank You for the increase of this ministry, for those You are reaching around the world. As I ponder all that I received in Christ, one of the greatest blessings associated with being in Christ is the fellowship that comes with salvation, the intimacy of a relationship with You, and those saved by grace are placed within the body of Christ, and become part of this ministry. I am thankful for the church!
I'm grateful for Your loving kindness, You've given me in those You have surrounded me with. Lord, I pray for every beautiful soul that is among us, I ask that You would richly bless them with knowledge and wisdom. Lead me to lead them, so that they may lead others. May it all be for Your glory! 
In Jesus' precious name
Today's Message:  Faith, Hope and Love

There is just something special about those with whom we labor. Serving the Lord together, particularly in times of adversity, creates such a magnificent bond between those who work together. We must not neglect to rejoice for those of like faith and thank the Lord for each them. It would be a lonely and difficult task without those of you whom the Lord has placed alongside me! Thank y'all for all you do!

To give you some specifics about the return of Christ. Each New Testament book has a special theme or message, that is uniquely its own. Galatians is the freedom letter; Philippians is the joy letter; and Colossians lifts up the supremacy of Christ. The message of these letters written to the church at Thessalonica is the return of Jesus Christ and how this truth should affect our lives and our churches.
However, every chapter of I Thessalonians concludes with a reference to the end being near.
As we begin a new study in the book of I Thessalonians, at the risk of sounding like a "religious fanatic," for the next several weeks, I will be preaching from the books of first and second Thessalonians to help us see that the end is indeed near. The powerful truths of the words of I Thessalonians remain relevant today. We should always strive to grow in our faith, show Christian love to all, and remain hopeful in the promise of Christ’s return. We develop a more vibrant faith when we look forward to Christ’s return and the union of all believers on earth and in heaven.
Open with me your Bibles to the book of first Thessalonians chapter 1, verses 1 through 3. As we take our journey through these wonderful epistles, verse-by-verse, we’ll see that Paul did not look upon the doctrine of Christ’s return as a theory to be discussed, but as a truth to be lived. These letters encourage us to "live in the future tense" since Jesus is coming when we least expect Him. Also to instruct new Christians. The church at Thessalonica was filled with brand new believers. The apostle Paul started the church but was not able to spend much time teaching and discipling them. These letters provide very practical instruction on how to live the Christian life. Some of the topics include conversion, integrity, compassion, the Bible, heavenly rewards, suffering, prayer, moral purity, hard work, the Second Coming, the role of spiritual leaders, and dealing with difficult people. 
I would like to encourage to follow along with me as I read I Thessalonians 1:1-3

"Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, 
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,"
Here, Paul writes to provide hope in the midst of uncertainty. This young church was situated in a very dangerous world. The believers were facing persecution and wondered how much more they could take. The parallel to our world is striking. Over 60% of Americans think there will be another terrorist attack, we wonder what’s going to happen with Iran and Israel, we’re concerned about the Covid-19 virus, our economy seems to be on a roller coaster, and companies in our own communities have been devastated. Many large corporations announcing layoffs, and many small businesses closing.  Millions of people are out of work. These two letters were written in order to help believers avoid both withdrawal and hysteria. 
Before we jump right into our study of first Thessalonians, there are a few important key factors I'd like to share with you. First, it’s one of the oldest books in the New Testament. It was written less than 20 years after the Resurrection. As such, it is one of the earliest pictures we have of the Christian church.

Second, it’s one of the shortest books in the New Testament. It contains only 79 verses, which can be read easily in about 15 minutes. I would like to encourage you to read the entire book at least once a week for the next three months. I believe that you will be tremendously blessed by doing that.

I believe it’s one of the easiest books to understand. There is no complicated theology to ponder. Everything is simple, clear and direct. If you want to know Paul’s doctrine, read Romans. If you want to know his heart, read first Thessalonians. This church is to be emulated today. The church at Thessalonica is a model church. If we want to follow an example today, we can look at some successful churches around us, and that can be helpful, but it’s even better to try to imitate the faith and love of the Thessalonians.

Now, allow me to give you some background here. When the apostle Paul was converted, his life was radically redirected and he became a missionary for the Messiah. He traveled most of the Roman world, preaching to anyone who would listen and establishing churches in the cities he visited. In his efforts to evangelize and launch churches, he also met with strong opposition. The Book of Acts records that Paul went on three missionary journeys.
On his first journey, Paul and Barnabas sailed to the island of Cyprus and then planted churches in several cities in Asia Minor, as recorded in Acts 13-14. About a year later, Paul set out on his second trip, and this time, traveling with Silas. Together they traveled to many cities but eventually hit a roadblock. It was at that point that Paul had a vision in which a man begged him to come to Macedonia. Without hesitation, they boarded a ship and sailed to the area that is northern Greece today, taking the gospel to Europe for the first time. On the way, a young Greek believer named Timothy also joined the team, Acts 16:1.
The city of Thessalonica was a seaport town in ancient Greece. As such, it was an important crossroads for East-West travel as well as a strategic center. Whatever happened there would soon spread everywhere. After arriving in Thessalonica, Paul went to the Jewish synagogue in the city to begin his ministry. It was his practice to center his ministry in the synagogue if the town had one. Acts 17:2 says, "As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures." He went to the synagogues because he could reason with the Jews from the Old Testament Scriptures.
Paul, in his message, he conveyed three points. The Christ had to suffer. Christ had to die and be raised from the dead. Jesus is the Christ. 
The impact of that message, as recorded in Acts 17:4, "And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women." While there were many who believed, there was also a lot of opposition. Acts 17:5-9 tells us that the Jews became jealous and formed an angry mob, putting the city in an uproar. Eventually, they came to the house of Jason, where Paul and Silas were staying. After receiving a pledge, a bond or guarantee that there would be no more trouble from Jason, Paul and Silas were released. Verse 10 tells us that as soon as it was night, Paul and Silas bolted to Berea.

Paul’s brief ministry resulted in a small congregation made up mostly of converted Greeks along with a few believing Jews and a number of professional women. In order to understand the letter you need to know one important fact: The Apostle Paul left Thessalonica before he really wanted to. His premature departure after only a matter of weeks, caused many of the younger believers to question his ministry and his motives. Paul’s leaving also left a handful of "baby" Christians, likely no more than several months old in their faith, all alone in the center of a pagan community.

After leaving Thessalonica, Paul went to Athens. From Athens, he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to see how the church was doing, while Paul went on to Corinth. Timothy eventually reported back to Paul regarding the state of the young church and told him that the church was doing well but was under intense pressure to cave to the culture around them. Timothy also let him know that there was some confusion about the return of Christ, along with some moral and doctrinal problems in the church. It’s with that in mind, that Paul wrote this letter of encouragement and exhortation to these young believers.

I realize it may be tempting to skip over the introduction. However, we can actually learn a lot by looking at it carefully: "Paul, Silas and Timothy…"

I'd like to draw your attention to the greetings in both first and second Thessalonians are unique among all of Paul’s letters because of how Paul refers to himself. In the other epistles he describes himself as an apostle, a servant, or a prisoner.

We’re to serve as equals. This gives us a clue about Paul’s close relationship with these believers. He doesn’t have to prove who he is, or appeal to any title. He is simply "Paul." While I certainly don’t mind being called Pastor Brian, and take no offense, I personally prefer being called just "Brian." This is because I feel so close to each of you, you are my family. And, no one in my immediate family refers to me as Pastor.
Have you ever noticed how we as believers, tend to have our Christian celebrities? We often lift up the musicians and pastors because they preach, arrange and sing songs. This greeting stands as a wonderful corrective to our veneration of spiritual super stars.  
I believe that Paul's greeting serves to show us that we’re to serve on a team. The inclusion of Silas and Timothy as co-authors and ministers is also worth pondering. Paul places them on the same level as himself. All three of them are sending this letter to the church. Here, we see Paul’s consistent practice of working as part of a team. Unlike itinerant philosophers of his day, whenever possible Paul was accompanied by others. 
As we walk through the first three verses of this marvelous epistle, we’re going to find eight basic Christian vocabulary words. Because of our familiarity with words like church, God, Jesus, grace, peace, faith, love, and hope, it’s easy to gloss over their meaning. While I’m not arguing for new words, if we want to keep our faith alive, we need to go back and recapture the stunning significance of the Christian lexicon. 

In our culture today, the word "church" is almost always associated with a building. However, that was not the case in the first century. This letter is directed to the "church of the Thessalonians."  The Greek word Paul uses is ekklesia, which originally meant, "called out," a gathering of citizens called out by a herald from their homes into a public place. 
Paul, Silas and Timothy are writing to a gathering of people who have been "called out" together to come and meet with God. I'd also like you to notice that this group has gathered in a specific geographical location. As believers, we are part of the church universal because God has called us out and we’re to be plugged into a local assembly because that’s the only way to minister as a team. 
While some people will say that they don’t need to be part of a church in order to be a Christian, I don’t know how someone can fully function as a Christ-follower without being committed to a community of called out Christians.
The church is made up of people who can call God their Father. The only ones who can do this are those who have become His children through the new birth. John 1:12: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name"

To further clarify, the church is a company of believers, in a particular place, who affirm that they are children of God the Father and who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. I believe each word of this phrase is crucial to understand.

Jesus is His name. We worship and follow a real person who was born, who lived, died, and rose from the dead.

Christ is not His second name; it’s a title out of the Old Testament, which refers to the Messiah, or "anointed one." Jesus is the promised One, of whom the Old Testament Scriptures prophesied. To be more precise we could say it this way, "Jesus the Christ." That’s what Peter said in Matthew 16:16, when he declared, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."


Lord means that Jesus the Christ has absolute authority over our lives. You should only call Him Lord if you are serious about living under His leadership. Romans 10:10,  "That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Here’s another way to look at these three terms. Jesus focuses on his life, Christ emphasizes his substitutionary death and resurrection, and Lord expresses his supremacy over all things. By saying that the church is in "God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," this ekklesia is distinctively different than any other assembly. The church does not even exist, and certainly has no life, apart from God and His saving work in Christ. The monotheistic confession of "God the Father" involves a rejection of the Thessalonians’ former gods, while the acknowledgment of Jesus as Messiah and Lord distinguishes the Christian movement from Judaism. 

The next two terms combine expressions from Jewish and Gentile customs. Jews wished each other "peace" and Gentiles greeted each other with "grace." It was very common for letters in the first century to begin by identifying the author, then the recipients, followed by a greeting. But instead of using the usual greeting, like "hi," "hello," or "what’s up," Paul and his team use the word "charis" which resembled the common Greek salutation in sound but had an entirely different meaning. Grace refers to the kindness of God and focuses on His unmerited favor toward us.

The word used here is the Greek translation of the Old Testament word "shalom" and has both an external and internal element to it. Because of God’s grace, we can be at peace with Him, we can live in peace with each other, and we can experience the inner peace that surpasses human understanding.

The team of three then expresses their thankfulness for the Thessalonians in verse 2. They "always" or at "all times" giving thanks for these quickly growing believers. And when they think of them they pray for them. That’s a great model for us to follow. When we thank God for people, we’ll be more likely to pray for them. The more they thanked, the more they prayed, and then they smiled as they remembered three final things that the Thessalonians did to keep their walk with God fresh. In the midst of tough times, these believers were commended for their work, labor, and endurance.

This is the first time that Paul uses what was to become one of his favorite trilogies: faith, love and hope. These three terms function almost as a shorthand summary of the essentials of Christianity. They are linked together in Romans 5:1-5 to show how we can be sustained in times of trouble.

In Ephesians 4:1-6, faith, love, and hope are set forth as the basis for Christian maturity. Probably the  best known use of this terrific trifecta is found in I Corinthians 13:13, "But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Many of us struggle with this one, because we often think of faith as primarily an intellectual exercise. As evangelicals, we seldom refer to faith and work in the same sentence. The Greek word used here has the sense of vocation, not necessarily toil or labor. His thesis is that our primary vocation is being a Christian. How we make a living is our other vocation. Beloved, church would never be the same if we would grasp that our real job is to follow hard after Jesus and to serve Him without reservation. Our calling is to make following Christ our career.

Faith must always demonstrate itself in action. We are saved by faith alone but that faith should produce good works.  James 2:17 "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself." We don’t work in order to be saved; we work because we are saved. We are not justified by faith plus works, but by a faith that works.

Because of love, we’re willing to labor. I get teary when I see leaders who are laboring out of love for Christ and for children. When I was completing this message, I had to smiled as I  though about those who labor tirelessly for Christ and others. This ministry is full of laborers because it’s full of lovers of Christ and the brethren! I can assure you, for those who haven't served, it's not always easy to serve. But is sure is worth it! Amen? 

The Greek word "kopou,"translated "works" means "laborious toil" And carries with it the idea of toil and hardship. The Greek word for love is "agapē," which refers to a self-sacrificing love. Believers should always be willing to give themselves to others, even to the point hardship. It is only God’s strength and love that can keep us laboring, because it’s far too difficult to do it any other way.

To endure does not mean to passively accept something but to demonstrate strong fortitude in the face of opposition or difficulty. The Thessalonians needed to remain strong, even though they were being persecuted. Biblical hope is not something vague but refers to the assurance of better things are to come. It means to look forward in expectation with confidence. The Greek word used "elpidos," as used in these letters, refers to the return of Christ. My beloved, we can endure just about anything, because we know that Jesus Christ is coming again and will soon make everything right.


In Closing...

I am reminded of a story I once heard some years ago, about a small boy. The boy and his dad were planning a fishing trip for the next day. As the father was putting his son to bed, the boy tightly hugged his father’s neck and said in excitement, "Daddy, thank you for tomorrow!" Why does this remind me of Christ's Return? Because of the certainty of the Second Coming. I Thessalonians 4:13, tells us that we do not have to struggle and grieve like those who have no hope. We can thank God for tomorrow!

Though the End is Near, but for those of us who belong to Jesus Christ it’s just the beginning. I have some good news today. The road to heaven may be narrow, but the bridge is not out! Because of God’s grace as demonstrated when Jesus the Christ died as your substitute, today you can have peace with God the Father when you surrender to His supremacy. I pray that will be today!

May it be so...


And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name


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