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Let Your Faith Flourish




"Paul and Silvanus and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore,
we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your
perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and
afflictions which you endure.
This is
a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be
considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day! 
We are so glad to have all of you here.

Today, as we continue in our journey through the Book of Thessalonians, we begin the second letter to the believers in Thessalonica. This letter was written just months after Paul had written the first letter. In that letter, as I am sure you will recall, Paul wrote about Jesus’ return, to encourage them and to answer their questions about it. 
Misinformation can mislead members and destroy a church, Misinformation was exactly what was happening in Thessalonica. It so appears that these believers needed a good bit more instruction, concerning the Second Return of Christ, as you may suspect, most of this second letter pertains to the
subject of Jesus’ return.

The Christian faith has always been characterized by a strong and focused sense of future, with belief in
the Second Coming of Jesus as its most distinctive element. From the day Jesus ascended into heaven His followers have lived in expectancy of His return. He promised He would return for His people. Centuries later, we continue to have hope and believe it will occur, while we wait for it. As Christ’s return is our most important belief concerning the future.

Then, as now, there is much misunderstanding and misuse of the Return of the Lord. Some even
tried to justify their idleness based upon the fact that they were waiting for Christ to return. Others, were suffering persecution and needed the assurance and hope that only a correct belief in the return of Christ
provides. Each chapter contains a correction of a very common response that many of us have when faced with some misinformation. 

Let us bow our heads in prayer.


Heavenly Father,

Father, we thank You for Your Word. Thank You for ministering to our hearts today
through Your Holy Spirit, may it continually do so, that we would be
refreshed daily in the truth we are about to receive. Guide us that we
would be an assembly of genuinely redeemed and a transformed people,
that it would be evident to those around us and to the world. Help us to
live lives that are in conformity to Your will, may we always be in
pursuit of Your glory. Strengthen us through Your Holy Spirit, that we
may persevere against those who may attempt to silence our testimony.

Lord, if there is among us anyone who has not yet surrendered their life to Christ as their Lord and Savior, we pray that You would reach down, touch the hearts, minds, that today, might be that glorious day. May it all be for Your glory and for Christ's sake.

Today's Message: Let Your Faith Flourish

I recall some years ago, being unable to sleep, turning on the television, the channel I had last watched was still on, and Johnny Carson had Billy Graham as a guest on his show. At some point during the conversation, there was a lull and Johnny said,"You know what, Billy? I bet if Jesus ever came back to earth, we’d do Him in again!" Billy Graham leaned forward in his seat, and said, "In the
Bible we read that Jesus predicted that He would return to earth again. But the first time He came in love, the next time, He’ll come in power.  And no one will do Him in!" The world would do well to take note of that statement from the late Billy Graham!

Open with me your Bibles to the and Book of Thessalonians chapter one. Today, we will explore the first five verses. I would like to encourage you to follow along as I read to you from this wonderfully instructional portion of God's Word. II Thessalonians1:1-5.

"Paul and Silvanus and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;  therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and
afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be
considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering."

It believed that this epistle the third of Paul’s canonical writings, assuming Galatians was his first. As you can see, Paul begins this epistle by naming the same three men mentioned in I Thessalonians 1:1. "Paul and Silvanus and Timothy," Though Paul mentioned his beloved coworkers Silvanus and Timothy in his greeting, Paul was the sole author, under the direct inspiration of the Holy
Spirit, for he spoke of himself in the singular. However,
Silas and Timothy joined him in sending the epistle. And therefore, Paul frequently used the term "we," as they had been together when the church was founded.
Acts 17:4, records that information for us. "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
Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, were still together when this letter was written. They had been in Corinth for some time, however, since they had been there when I Thessalonians was written, several months earlier, Paul wrote this letter of behalf of all three of them. 
They are not referred to in the Scriptures as being together thereafter, though it is entirely possible that they were. Since I Thessalonians was written from Corinth, and the topics treated in the second epistle
seem to grow out of situations alluded to in the first epistle, reflecting a rather similar situation in the Thessalonian church, therefore, Corinth seems the logical site of composition.
The letter gives evidence that Paul had recently heard news about the conditions in the church. It
is likely that this information came to him by way of the messenger who delivered I
Thessalonians and returned to Corinth. Some of the news was good, the Thessalonians were continuing to grow and to remain faithful to Christ, in spite of persecution. However, some was bad. There was false teaching concerning the day of the Lord, which had entered the church and was causing much
confusion, leading some of the Christians to quit their jobs, in expectation of the Lord’s return.
We often need multiple exposures to God’s truth before it begins to make sense. I know that sometimes, I need to read something numerous times, before it begins to sink in. That’s why it’s important for us to read, study and pray every day, making worship attendance a priority, and to connect with a small group. It is often easy for us to get sidetracked, or distracted, when difficult situations arise. Because these believers were undergoing trials their capacity to cling to truth was diminished.

Helping others grow requires patience and realistic expectations. therefore, we must remain committed to Christians who get confused and we are called to be diligent when disciples get diverted. I
told someone recently that the Christian life often feels like three steps forward and four steps back, however. at least at some point, we begin making progress. 

I would encourage you to hang in there with those who are wayward, worried, or weak. To follow
Paul’s methodology: Comfort, correct, encourage, exhort, affirm and admonish.

Bear with me, as I give you a little background about Silas and Timothy, in relation to the
apostle Paul. Silvanus, known in the Book of Acts as Silas, was Paul's faithful partner in ministry. Like the apostle, he was a Jew, that held Roman  citizenship, Acts 16:37. And, also like Paul, he had both a Jewish, Aramaic name, Silas, and a Roman  name, Silvanus. That he was chosen to take the decision of the Jerusalem council to the believers in Antioch confirms his status as one of the "leading men among the brethren."  

Acts 15:32, notes that he was a prophet, therefore, a preacher of the gospel. He became Paul's missionary partner after the Apostle split with Barnabas over John Mark, and was with Paul in the Philippian jail, where he witnessed the jailer's dramatic conversion after the earthquake, as recorded in Acts 16:19–34. He ministered with Paul in many other places, including Berea and Corinth. Later, he became Peter's co-worker and likely the one who carried I Peter to its readers.

Timothy, as most of you already know, was Paul's protege and beloved son in the faith. A native of
Lystra, a city in Asia Minor, Timothy was the son and grandson of believing Jewish women, however, had a Gentile father. Paul met Timothy on his second missionary journey, he was impressed enough with him to add him to his missionary team. Though Timothy was younger than either Paul or Silas, he
quickly became Paul's most valuable assistant. So great was Paul's trust in Timothy as a faithful reflection of the apostle that he frequently  served as his envoy and representative. Paul wrote two inspired epistles to him, and mentioned him in eight others.

In verse 1, "To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," we
are informed that the letter is written to same assembly of Christians, who received I Thessalonians. They needed to be reminded that they were in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what was happening, they were not alone. Grace and peace were available to them. I just love how much encouragement that the Apostle Paul gave to people.

As a footnote, the Apostle Paul frequently speaks of believers as being in Christ, however, only here and in the first verse of the first letter does he describe them as being in God the Father. It is, however, an appropriate reminder of the Father's care for a church undergoing severe persecution.

Thessalonica, was as you know, the largest and most important city in the Roman province of

Macedonia. located in he northern part of modern Greece. It was a thriving seaport. Spreading up the slopes of the hills, overlooking the harbor, it had a cosmopolitan population of about a
quarter of a million people, including native Greeks, Romans, sailors, travelers, tradesmen, and businessmen. The Jewish presence in Thessalonica, was both significant and influential.

Egnatian Way 

It is likely, that Thessalonica's greatest asset was its location on the Egnatian Way, the major east-west highway of the Roman Empire, which ran from what is now Albania to Byzantium, known as Constantinople in late antiquity and Istanbul. Thessalonica's main street was part of that great highway linking Rome with the eastern regions of the empire. This major route helped it become a a busy center of trade and commerce. The importance of Thessalonica's strategic location, on the Egnatian Way, to the spread of the gospel.

And, if Christianity was settled there, it was bound to spread East along the Egnatian Road, reaching all Asia Minor, and was conquered and West until it took even the city of Rome.  We know that

Thessalonica was founded about 315 B.C. by Cassander, one of Alexander the Great's generals, who became king of Macedonia after the latter's death. He named the new settlement, built on the site of an older town named Thermem presumably because of nearby hot springs, after his wife,
the half-sister of Alexander the Great. 

When the Romans conquered Macedonia, in 168 B.C.and divided it into four republics, they made
Thessalonica the capital of one of them and all of Macedonia became a Roman province, 148 B.C. It was madea free city in 42 B.C. although it was the seat of the Roman governor, the city was not occupied by Roman troops. It remained largely a Greek city, unlike Philippi, which was heavily influenced by Roman laws and customs. Also, as a free city, Thessalonica enjoyed freedom from
certain taxes. But most important, the city was granted a large measure of self-government; its people chose their own magistrates, known as politarchs,
a Macedonian title for an elected governor.

There was a study of what pastors think about Christianity’s influence was several years ago. The alarming findings show that many ministers are not very upbeat about the future of Christianity. Forty percent of pastors predicted that Christianity will have a decreased impact in the daily lives of Americans in ten years. Nearly half believing church attendance will dramatically decline.

While I can sympathize with their feelings I do not share in their pastoral pessimism. Perhaps because I have the honor and great privilege of serving in a ministry, that is full of believers, who take their faith very seriously, who love others, and who care about lost people. I want all of you to know, that I do mean that from my heart. I am so thankful for how you continue to respond to preaching, prayer, and even persecution.

The truth that Christians are in personal, spiritual, and eternal union with God is unique to Christianity. Other religions do not speak of themselves as being in their god. But the Bible teaches that those who
put their faith in Christ "become partakers of the divine nature," sharing eternal life with God through faith and identification with His Son.It is out of that living union, flows grace and peace. 

Verse 2 pronounces a blessing upon the reader, "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." They are recipients of God’s grace and peace, and he prays that they experience these blessings in fullest measure. The source of grace and peace is God and Christ. These blessings provide God’s answer for man’s great need. "Grace" is "God’s riches at Christ’s expense." It is God’s
unmerited favor which He freely bestows on all who accept Jesus Christ’s substitutionary work for them on the cross by faith. God gives man the opposite of what he deserves. He offers blessing instead of judgment. This blessing is the grace of God, afforded to believers. One that I am most grateful for, as I am frequently in need of His grace.

Peace is the wholeness which grace brings. "Peace" is the cessation of hostility which has resulted
from Christ’s death. God and people can be reconciled because the debt of human sin has been paid in full by Christ. As Christians, we can now have peace with God through the death of Christ. We also experience the peace of God, as a result of the Holy Spirit's continuing work in our life. This is how we
can be at peace, even in the midst of trials and persecution. 

This was Paul’s passion, his hearts desire for the Thessalonians. Both grace and peace are gifts of God that come to believers through the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace sum up the gospel. Grace is God's unmerited favor to the sinner, and peace is the result of that favor. It is no wonder that they appear in the greetings of all of the Apostle Paul's epistles.

Paul, in verse 3, "we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater," here, he is affirming that encouragement is prayed for the Thessalonians’ spiritual growth. 

I prayed with someone just last week, about a situation, that from a human perspective, appeared to be
impossible. After only a few days, she told me that God had answered those prayers. She thanked me for praying with her, asking how I could be so confident God will answer. I told her, that when I pray, I always expect God to answer. While, it is not always the result, I have prayed for, however, I always that He will answer! I find it surprising just how many Christians are shocked when God answers their prayers. Beloved, Scripture teaches us that we are to pray, believing we will have it. The key is praying, aligning our will with His, He will always give us what is within His divine will. The purpose of prayer, is not to make God give us what we want, but to understand what is is that He wants for us.

It's no wonder that the Apostle Paul is so thankful is that the Thessalonians’ growing faith, increased
love, and obvious endurance is a direct answer to his prayer in I Thessalonians 3:10, and 12-13.

As a footnote, the phrase "grows ever greater" means o increase above ordinary degree. It depicts a tree that shoots up rapidly and bears fruit before anyone expects it to. The initial seed of faith that sprouted when they first became Christians, which had been fertilized and now was exploding with
growth. In other words, our faith should be flourishing! I have frequently discovered, that many believers focus on putting our faith in Christ as a one-time decision. While this is certainly essential to becoming a Christian, our faith should always be growing more and more each day.

Genuine Christian love is spread through our heart by the Holy Spirit, this agape love, a self-sacrificial service that will even put the needs of others ahead of our own. The word Paul uses here paints the portrait of a river overflowing its banks. It is no secret, that many of us have some boundaries in our
minds of how far we will go in loving someone. Overflowing love is love that goes beyond those
barriers. True love is that which seeks the will of God in the life of the loved one. This sacrificial and limitless love is love that goes beyond barriers. I believe that a flourishing faith in Jesus Christ and a limitless love for other people are two vital signs for our spiritual life. 

I also believe that a believers spiritual stamina should be strong. Let's be honest, some of us shut down spiritually when we encounter difficulties. These Thessalonians didn’t do that. Here, Paul is actually bragging about them to other people in verse 4, "therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and
afflictions which you endure."

I realize that this is a foreign concept to the modern  church in America, suffering is actually a necessary tool for growth.  If Christ Himself profited from difficulty, then certainly, so can we! The nature of the suffering at Thessalonica is described as "persecutions," which is a word used primarily for a systematic attempt to oppress and harass Christians. While Christian persecution takes many forms, it is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Jesus Christ. Allow me to me remind you, that according to Open Doors USA, 1 out of 8 believers face high levels of persecution worldwide today!

Over 340 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination. 4,761 Christians killed for their faith. 4,488 churches and other Christian buildings attacked. 4,277 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.

Beloved, this should serve as a reminder, that no matter what is going on around you, or how difficult your life may be right now, your faith can flourish, you can practice limitless love, and God can give you spiritual stamina. As we persevere under persecution, God can use our response, as he did with the Thessalonians, to comfort others. 

II Corinthians 1:3-4 teaches us that "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

In spite of their persecutions and trials, these Thessalonian believers had a secure and glorious future. By keeping their focus on the future, they could handle whatever was happening in the present. I believe there is a tremendous lesson in this teaching, for all of us who claim Christ!

Sadly, many Christians today, think that suffering proves that God doesn’t really care, when just the
opposite is true. The signs of life – faith, love and stamina are proof positive that God has accepted them in verse 5, "This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering."

In Closing...

God, Who is our loving Father, desires us to have a deep abiding relationship with Him. Out of that relationship with the Lord, comes a growing and flourishing faith and love. As a result, a flourishing faith in Jesus and an overflowing love for other people are presented here as two vital signs of spiritual life. Just as a living body needs to have a healthy blood pressure, healthy organs, a temperature, a heart rate, and respiration rate, a spiritually alive person will have a healthy faith and love. Faith in Jesus Christ, is accompanied by a Christ-like love for others, it is an infallible sign of spiritual life in a true
follower of Christ.

Beloved, I do not claim to know how many times you’ve been wronged or how many ways
you’ve been victimized or abused. Nor do I know how long you’ve have waited for justice
to be served. But, what I do know, is that if you are in Christ, and you are obeying His commands, God is not deaf to your cries.!

Genesis 18:25 asks the question, " Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" The answer is a  clear and resounding "Yes!" Now, I know for some of you,that leads to another question. "When will He make everything right?"

It’s helpful to remember that we’re living in the interval between Christ’s first Advent and his final
Advent. 2,000 years ago, He came as an unrecognized babe in a manger. When He returns to earth, coming to deliver into everlasting security those who have believed in him, it is our own fault if we are not safe from temptation, and doctrinal error. He will soon come as the inescapable Judge of all mankind.  


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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