Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

09/30/2018 A.M.

 

A New Way To Live As We Wait

1 Thessalonians 5.11-23

 

Paul says… We are raised from our baptism to walk in a new life… To be changed people…To live differently.

 

Then he writes to this young church at Thessalonica… Giving them instructions on How to live till Jesus comes… He closes with some final instructions on Christian Conduct as we cultivate... this New Way To Live

 

This section of the letter seems to have to do… Not so much with moral ethics in society… As it does as with church ethics.

How to behave…

•Within the church…

•Within the Christian Family…

•The Household of God.

 

Paul starts this section with verse eleven… Access a Worship Bulletin and let’s read our text together… First Thessalonians Chapter Five… Beginning with the verse numbered Eleven… Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. 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.

 

Paul begins this section with a challenge to get along with one another… How to treat one another… Encourage one another and build each other up.

 

You see… Reading this text tells us there’s no such a thing as a Lone Ranger Christian.

•We are family.

•We are the household of God.

•We’re a fellowship,

•An ecclesia.

•We are community

As a family we have a responsibility to one another.

 

So…My challenge this morning is INTROSPECTION.

 

Take off the reflectors… Don’t listen to this sermon thinking… I hope brother or sister so and so is hearing what the preacher is saying.

 

Let each one of us listen carefully and apply these thoughts to self... OK?

Are you ready?

 

Let’s see what we can learn about living as family till Jesus Comes…

 

First…Paul says… Appreciate one another.

Our King James says... Get to know one another.

Those who labor among you… And those who are over you… Those who admonish you.

 

•First… Get to know everybody who labors in the church… In the work of the Lord.  All those who involve themselves in the Father’s Kingdom Business.

 

•Second… Get to know those who have the oversight.

I don’t know anyone else this could be but the Elders.

 

•Thirdly… Those who admonish you… He’s speaking of teachers.

 

Here is the bottom line church… It takes a real effort to live together as a family.

 

Some in the church today are idealistic.

They think they will search until they find the perfect church and then they will place their membership there… And all will be rosy till Jesus comes… Wrong!

 

It doesn’t work that way… Never has… Never will.

The truth is some of you are hard to get along with.

It takes a real effort to live with some of you.

I see Georgia nodding her head in agreement.

Honey…I’m talking about these people… not ME!!

 

Listen…Are we making any real effort to…

•Get to know one another?…

understand one another?...

•Be Patient with one another?

•Get along with one another?

 

If we don’t… We’ll find ourselves running up and down interstate forty-nine looking for a congregation that we feel perfectly fits our expectations.

 

I gotta tell you this perfect church does not exist except in heaven.  And to join that group… Presupposes you having to leave this world in death. Indeed… Paul is urging us to be mindful of one another… Making an effort to… understand… And be patient… With one another.

 

Secondly…We must learn to live at peace with one another.

Look at verse 13 of our text… Hold one another in highest regard.

The King James says… Esteem one another.

 

When was the last time you told one or more of our… Elders… Teachers… Ministry Leaders…

•That you appreciate them?

•That you love them?

When was the last time we told anyone in this church that we loved them?

I know people who I’ve never heard say… I love you.

I can hear some of you thinking 'that’s wimpy...That sounds sissy… I don’t go around telling people I love them!'

 

If you are thinking that… You must not know God very well… God is not wimpy… God is love… He loves us… And He tells us so repeatedly… Do we really want to be like Him?... Sobering question… amen? 

 

Paul then gives four groups in the church that need our special love...

The difficult… The Idle…The unruly… Those out of step with Jesus.

 

The Greek word literally means those out of line. In classical Greek this word was used to describe a soldier who would not keep step in rank.

Know anybody in the church like that?

Paul is not talking about…

• The immoral…

• The rebellious…

• Those who have chosen to walk in the ways of the world.

 

He’s speaking of how to get along within the church family… How to get along with…

•Those dissatisfied…

•The grumbler… Griper…

•The fault finder.

•Those who always are stirring the pot of dissension.

•The unruly within the family circle.

Those who act this way in the church are to be warned and disciplined.

 

Encourage the timid… The weak... Comfort the feeble.

The Greek literally is the little souled…Paul is speaking of…

• Babes in Christ…

• Those who are likely to give up easily.

• Those who are not likely to survive trials and troubles

• Those who are spiritually fragile.

• Those easily discouraged.

 

Those souls who could easily be lost by… Some thoughtless word… Some inappropriate behavior on our part.

 

These are to be held on to tightly… Very tightly! We have some in this church who are fragile… Be careful... Be careful with them.

Don’t let them slip away.

I’m not talking about those who may move their membership to… Bentonville…Southside… Cave Springs… I’m speaking of those who may leave the church… Be careful with them!

 

Those who would be ugly to us… Even mistreat us.

Note verse 15… Never repay evil for evil.

Jesus…In the Sermon on the Mount… Tells us how.... Turn the other cheek.

Psychologists tell us there are two responses in the human system.

 

One is known as a Signal Response.

•Someone slaps you, and you slap him back.

•Someone honks at you on the road, and you honk back.

•Someone cuts you off in traffic, and you give an obscene gesture.

 

Listen to me… Not us… Not us… Christian people… God’s children… His family… The church… ARE not into signal responses… Jesus wasn’t and we aren’t!

 

The other is controlled response.

•A response of the will.

•A response of discipline.

•A response that comes from… love…Patience… understanding.

Paul put it this way in Romans 12.19... Do not take revenge… But leave room for God’s wrath.

 

Here is Peter’s admonishment… Live in harmony with one another… Be sympathetic… Love as brothers… Be compassionate and humble… do not ever repay with evil or insult with insult… But with blessing… To this you were called so that you too may inherit a blessing.

 

Church…I wonder what God-given blessing we are missing out on because we’re into vengeance and retaliation… Into repaying evil with evil?

When will we learn?… Vengeance in not ours!

Vengeance…Revenge… Retaliation… Retribution… These behaviors belong in God’s court.

 

Scripture tells us… He will repay!... We must let god do his work... amen?

 

We’re to Be patient with everyone.

Live in peace with one another… The Greek is long tempered.

God never wants his people to operate with short fuses of…

•Irritability…

•Anger…

•Being cantankerous…

•With an unforgiving spirit.

These are not attitudes we as God’s Children are to display one toward another.

 

Next Paul leaves the negatives and moves toward the positive…

 

Put on a happy face… Be cheerful… Rejoice always…

Here it is… joy takes the burden out of service.

 

The early Christians counted it a joy… To be God’s child… To be forgiven… Have no guilt… To host His indwelling Spirit. They were privileged to suffer for the cause of Christ.

 

This First Century Christian joy came from internal convictions…Not external circumstances… True JOY COMES FROM WITHIN!!

 

This is the attitude that allowed Paul and Silas to sing at midnight while in the stocks of a Philippian jail.

 

Listen to these verses…

• Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ… So that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.

 

Rejoice… Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials so they your faith may be proved genuine.

 

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.

 

• Rejoice in the Lord always… I say again… Rejoice.

 

Why?.. Because the Lord is near His family... God lives in His family.

Indeed…The world should be able to see Jesus in us in our JOY…Amen?

 

The second positive is to be found in our prayer life.

Pray without ceasing.

This doesn’t mean we go around mumbling a prayer.

What it does mean is that we have a constant awareness of our fellowship with God… And our dependency upon Him.  

 

Praying without ceasing means that we never find ourselves in a place where we would feel uncomfortable to pray.  That’s not a good position for a Child of God to be in... Is it?

 

For years… Georgia and I worshiped with a group of Elders who never attend a Sunday morning service that they don’t first meet and pray ten minutes for the church family.

That always impressed me… Prayer is always appropriate… Amen?

 

Next… Paul reminds us to Give thanks for all things.

A Child of God can always find something to be thankful for.

Paul is not saying… Be thankful FOR all things… But be thankful IN all things.

Some bad things will happen to us… Individually and as a family.

Yet we can still be thankful.

 

Friday…I prayed with a lady who was having a lung biopsy… It didn’t look good… It didn’t go well… But her response with a smile was… The Lord will take care of me whatever the diagnoses…. That’s faith... That’s giving thanks in all things.

 

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire… Do not quench the Spirit.

Quench is usually a word that deals with fire.

Interestingly enough… The Holy Spirit is pictured as tongues of fire in Acts chapter two.  Paul is saying… Don’t put out the Spirit... Don’t inhibit God’s Spirit working in your life.

 

Now…I don’t pretend to know all that Paul may be speaking of here… But I have some ideas… Some possibilities I want to share with you.  Think with me about the mission and WORK of the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus said… He will lead us into all truth.

All Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God might be thoroughly, completely furnished unto every good work.

 

Paul is saying to the church at Thessalonica and to us…

•Let the Holy Spirit speak.

•Don’t quench the Word of God.

•Don’t fail to do right when you know what right is.

James tells us that to know what the Spirit wants us to do and not doing it is sin.

 

The Spirit convicts us of sin.

That is if we allow Him to speak to us through the Word. If we will agree with Him on what sin is in our lives.

 

We must not quench the Spirit… But…

•Admit our sin guilt.

•Acknowledge our sins.

•Confess our faults.

John tells us that… In this confession… This acknowledgment of sin… There is forgiveness… If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

Let the Spirit lead us out of temptation.

Jesus taught us to pray… Lead us not into temptation… But deliver us from the evil one.

 

No…God does not tempt us… But He will deliver us from the evil one… His promise is not to allow us to be tempted beyond that which we can overcome.

 

In Romans 8.26 Paul indicates that the Holy Spirit assists us in our prayer life with utterances we do not understand.

Again…I don’t understand all this verse may be saying… But church… We don’t have to understand it to believe it… Or to accept the benefits of its truths.

Don’t quince this working of the Holy Spirit by denying the possibilities.

 

The Holy Spirit produces His fruit in us.

Are we allowing the Spirit to produce His fruit in us… Love… Joy… Peace… Patience… Kindness… Goodness… faithfulness… Gentleness… Self-control.

 

Listen to me church… There are times the Spirit is at work giving us… Individually…And corporately as a church… Opportunities to produce His fruit… Don’t ignore these opportunities to be His witness… Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire!

 

So…Are we willing to allow the Word and God’s divine providence to lead us out of temptation and sin… And into… Good works… Good deeds?

 

Indeed…The church… The family of God that allows the Spirit to work in their life will be…

•A special church…

•God’s church..

•The genuine New Testament family of God.

God… let that be us!... amen?

 

Do not Despise prophecy…. Treat prophecy with contempt.

I believe prophecy here is not foretelling… But forthtelling.

Despise in the Greek literally means…

•To count as nothing…

•To set at naught…

•To inhibit.

Paul is saying… We must not set at naught the inspired word of God.

Individually and corporately… Our responsibility to the Word is to…

•Hear it…

•Believe it…

•Obey it…

•And share it with others.

Most of us would be uncomfortable to admit that we despised the Word... Right?

But sometimes we do just that by…

•Not hearing it.

•Believing it.

•Obeying.

•Or by not proclaiming it to those about us?

 

Then finally… Paul says… As you wait for Jesus’ return… Abstain from evil.

Our King James says… All appearances of evil.

 

The difference in wording has caused some misunderstanding... It shouldn’t!

What is latterly said here is this… abstain from evil in any form.

 

•Church… If we are really into glorifying God through this family.

 

•If the direct object of our religion is pointing others to Jesus.

 

•If we are really trying to conform to the image of Jesus… Have His… Heart…Disposition… Behavior… Then we will shun even the appearance of evil... Amen?

 

Well… The bottom line to our lesson this morning is found in verse twenty-three…

As we wait upon the Lord’s coming… there is a new way to live…

 

• Don’t allow… The world… Culture… Political correctness… To mold us into its evil…

 

• But let God sanctify us through and through by adding and subtracting these qualities to life.

 

We end with this question… Are we a part of God’s family… His Household… His church… His called-out people?...

 

If not… You can be by… Faith… Repentance… ConfessION of Jesus’ Name… And New Testament baptism… Immersion in water for the forgiveness of your sins.

 

As a baptized believer… You can become a member of THIS family by placing your membership under the oversight of our Godly Elders.... Letting them… Shepherd… Guide… Feed… Lead… and Discipline us.

 

The invitation is for us to be family… As we stand and sing the invitation song.