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Do You Have What It Takes?


"14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, 16 hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.
17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while—in person, not in spirit—were all the more eager with great desire to see your face. 18 For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us. 19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy."
Good Morning beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We are thankful to have our brothers and sisters from all around the world with us here today.
What a tremendous blessing and a gift from God. Please know that we are in prayer with and for all of you. And we are grateful for your faithful prayers as well.
Persecution was not limited to biblical days. There are many believers today, all around the world are experiencing affliction, and they always have. Every generation of Christians has known some form of  persecution and martyrdom.
While suffering in the Christian life is to be expected, it’s good news for us to realize that we don’t have it nearly as bad as some, who are in danger of their very lives, because of their faith. That is why we must always be in prayer for our brothers and sisters and the Persecuted Church. Beloved, I cannot stress just how important that is. We are certainly not alone ­ there is solidarity in your suffering.
Philippians 1:29 teaches us "For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
As the children of God are born again, redeemed and set free from sin. We have an Advocate with the Father, who stands and pleads our case. We have the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Life sometimes is difficult to bear, but when we consider to Whom we belong, it is much easier. Being part of the church, helps to bring us comfort, however, it had also ought to challenge us. We are obligated to maintain our fellowship, walking with the Lord. 

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your Word. Lord, we pray that You would lead us to be a pure people, to models of spiritual virtue and purity for not only our children, but for the young people of today. Father, we pray that You would protect them from sexual sin, and immorality, keep the minds of men and women pure from sinful things that are available to them, adultery, fornication and pornography, that their children might be blessed with the wisdom and knowledge of what a marriage is. That they might learn by example the meaning of marital love and faithfulness.

Lord, help us to boldly and courageously take a stand against the society of this day, that applauds sexual promiscuity and immorality. Raise up a generation of people who know and uphold Your Word, and are fearlessly proclaiming the truth to an unregenerate generation.

We pray for our brothers ans sisters who are being persecuted around the world, grant them increased faith, strength,that they would persevere against the attacks on their faith. That they would stand firm in the face of torment and torture. 
We pray this in Christ's name

Today's Message: Do You Have What It Takes?
In verse 14, Paul writes "For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews"
This is the second time Paul speaks of the church being imitators. Clearly, he is emphasizing the importance of following the Lord and the teachings of His Word. Surely we can all agree that we need to be followers, as well as imitators, of the Lord and His righteousness. We ought to strive to be more like Jesus every day. We ought to continually be in a state of transformation into His likeness! 
I Peter 2:21  teaches "For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
And Romans 12:2  says "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

I find it interesting that Paul mentions that they were followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus. They followed the godly example of the Judean churches. This speaks volumes to me. I am convinced the cultures were much different. Judea had a different lifestyle than Thessalonica. They weren’t prejudice or judgmental, following their example of godliness.
These believers in Thessalonica had suffered much by their own countrymen. Those who knew them best had persecuted them the most. Much of their opposition wasn’t from those without, but from within. I believe this is a sad reality, however, it is true nonetheless. We often face hurtful and even damaging opposition from those whom we would never expect, often times, within our own families. It is those who know us best, that can hurt us the most.
Paul revealed what I consider to be rather an interesting statement: .."even as they have of the Jews."
Here, he is speaking of the adversity the Judean churches had faced by their own countrymen, the Jews. The church in Jerusalem was not immune to suffering and difficulty and they were not either. In other words, the enemy will not idly stand by while the church prospers. I believe that this a much needed truth for us today.

Perhaps, this didn’t appear to be an encouragement, but it confirmed some things in Paul’s heart. They were doing enough to be noticed. They were being fruitful for the Lord and the enemy noticed and launched an attack. While I certainly don’t look forward to adversity, however, I would hope that I am accomplishing enough for the Lord to be noticed of the enemy. 

II Timothy 3:12 teaches "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."

Verse 16, "who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,"

This serves as a reminder to us of the lengths that Satan and those who follow him, will go to accomplish their purpose of opposing the church. The world will stop at nothing to silence the voice of the gospel. It is evident in our world today, that many have made it their life's goal, to hinder and oppose the church and true biblical teaching. We know that the opposition didn’t stop with the crucifixion of Jesus. In fact, these Jews actively pursued the Apostle Paul, wherever he went, stirring up trouble and opposing the church.
There are many today think they are doing the world a favor, and some even believe they are right with God in opposing the church. Many are no longer willing to stand and proclaim truth because they seek to please men, rather than God. Some today in the pulpit, would rather compromise doctrine for the sake of cooperation than confront people with the truth of God’s Word! They believe that those who firmly stand for truth are the problem and that by compromising, they are actually the ones truly pleasing the Lord.
Paul writes in verse 16, "hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost."
These false teachers, actually sought to forbid Paul to share the gospel with the Gentiles, that they might be saved. They had no concern for them or their need for salvation. These hard hearted Jews could have cared less if the Gentile race remained in their sin. I find this to be quite ironic, when you think about it, they hadn’t even received the gospel themselves. The word hindering actually carries the idea of forbidding They did everything they could to hinder Paul and his ministry.
These rebellious Jews were unable to prevent the gospel from spreading, and may I be so bold as to say, that man is inadequate to prevent it, yet today. There will always be those who seek to hinder the church and the progress of the gospel, but we serve One who is more than capable to overcome the will of man and accomplish His own Divine will! Therefore, I believe, that we must trust the Lord fully, by faithfully proclaiming the gospel and leave the results up to Him. Beloved, I can assure you, that His Word will not return void!

These false teachers had one priority and that was to please the flesh. They carried religion upon their sleeves, but their hearts were far from God. They were determined to satisfy the flesh while pretending to serve the Lord. Their hearts were filled with sin continually.

Things have not changed in our generation. As long as men live upon this earth, there will be those whose sole desire is to please the flesh. That should come as no surprise; the flesh presents the greatest battle to most anyway. That is why it is so important that we deny the flesh and seek the Lord. 

Romans 13:14 says "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."

 As Christians, we are in the midst of difficult days, however, the church will prevail. In the coming days, I believe that we may face more adversity than we could imagine, but God will prevail! There will be times, when it feels as though our oppressors have the upper hand, I can assure you that one day the tables will be turned. We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ, our Lord. We must not allow the difficulties of life to hinder our labor or cause our faith to waver. When we have done all that we can, we just need to stand firm!

 In verse 17, Paul tells us, "But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while—in person, not in spirit—were all the more eager with great desire to see your face."
Paul dealt with the Thessalonians with the gentleness of a mother and with the firmness of a father. The phrase "taken away" is a very powerful image that literally means, "When we were made orphans." Paul was a mother and a father, ow he feels like a parent who has been ripped away from his children.
Keep in mind that Paul had stayed in Thessalonica for only a matter of weeks, but because of intense Jewish opposition, he was run out of town. However, he had always planned to return to finish the job he started. However, because he had been delayed in his return, his opponents had begun to slander his character. Some of the new believers were beginning to question his motives. "If he loved us why did he leave us?" they asked, "Why doesn’t he come back to see us again?"
Though Paul was not able to return, he never really left them in his heart and thoughts. In fact, he thought about them all the time. And his longing for them was "intense." For Paul and his team, the Christian faith must be centered on a passionate all consuming relationship with Christ; but it must not be lived in isolation. 
Beloved, as the risk of repeating myself, as Christians, we need each other. And we should never settle for casual relationships with other believers. We are called to do life together, to comfort, and care deeply, to pray intensely, to laugh together, and even to cry on each other’s shoulders, as we live in authentic community with one another. Much of what we’re called to do in the Bible can only be accomplished as we function in deep fellowship with fellow Christ followers.
Verse 18 says "For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us."
We can see, that Paul tried again and again to reconnect with the church at Thessalonica but it never worked out. Paul tells these believers the reason for it at the end of verse 18, "...and yet Satan hindered us"
We don’t know specifically what Satan did to keep Paul from going back to Thessalonica. It could have been opposition, legal difficulties, illness, travel complications, or a direct spiritual attack. But we do know that Paul attributed the blockade to Satan himself. We must remember that Satan is real and that he loves to attack Christian relationships.
In John 8:44, Jesus said of Satan, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
While Satan does have the power to hinder and frustrate the work of God’s servants, he can only operate within the confines of what God allows him to do. In other words, God allows the devil to obstruct our efforts at times, however, God does not allow Satan to hinder His plan as a whole. Paul recognized that Satan was keeping him from going to Thessalonica, but he understood that this was part of the providential plan of God.As there were actually some good things that came out of this roadblock. God even uses the devil to accomplish His own Divine purposes. The Thessalonians were forced to rely on God, rather than Paul. Though Paul couldn’t go, however, the believers still grew.
Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, has been read and studied by literally millions of churches and believers over the past 2,000 years,many have benefited from applying the principals of first and second Thessalonians. If Paul hadn’t been faced with a barrier, we might never have had this marvelous portion of the Scriptures.

The Apostle Paul could still rejoice in knowing that these believers were his crown and joy, even though he wasn’t able to see them in person.

"For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy."

In these final verses, we see that even though the adversary is against us, we have something to look forward too! Paul has hope, because even though he can’t see the believers, he has confidence in them. The word "joy" pictures his own inner feelings, when he will see them as they are presented to the Lord and welcomed into His kingdom. The "crown" refers to the wreath of leaves given to the winner of a race in the Greek games. It’s a victor’s wreath, a gold medal, and a trophy of triumph.

I 'd like for you to notice something. Paul’s greatest hope, his most joyful aspiration, and his crowning achievement was to see these men, women and children in the presence of the Lord Jesus when He comes in His glory. If we could ask Paul what really fired him up, if we could find out what kept him going when things were tough, I believe that his answer would be something like this, "I will stop at nothing, doing all that I can to ensure that no one is left behind when Christ returns!"

Revelation 1:7 tells us that when Jesus comes again, many people will be filled with fear because they’ve not been saved. "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen."

Revelation 4:10-11 also teaches that believers will one day lay their crowns at the throne of Jesus, "The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

In Closing....

 The day is soon coming when Christ will ultimately judge those who deny His tender mercies and seek to hinder others from the faith. So it only makes sense to build your life around those things that will last forever. Therefore, we better make sure the Bible is in us and that we’re investing our lives in people. Our goal in life should be to go to heaven and take as many people as possible with us. Because the only thing you can take to heaven is someone else.

Beloved, there is little doubt, that we are in the midst of difficult days, but the church will prevail. We may face more adversity than we ever thought possible in our nation, but God will prevail. The church is not going down; it is going up!

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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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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