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Summary: This is the first message in a series on the book of 2 Thessalonians. Paul gives encouragment to Christians who are going through trials and tribulations.

2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

INTRODUCTION:

A few months after writing his FIRST letter to them, Paul writes his SECOND letter to the Christians at Thessalonica.

WHY did he write this 2nd letter?

o The 1st letter didn’t answer all their questions.

o Persecution had intensified (1:4).

o They got a letter from someone claiming to be Paul … but this letter wasn’t from Paul (2:2).

o Some had quit their jobs to wait for the Rapture (3:11).

Because they were under such intense persecution by fellow Thessalonians, they thought God was displeased with them.

Have you ever felt this way?

- When things go wrong … or bad things happen to you … do you feel like God is punishing you … or is displeased with you?

This is called “The Principle of Retribution”.

- It is at the heart of every major religion.

- If you displease the gods, they will get you … floods, famines, fire, disease are the result of the wrath of the gods.

- If you don’t appease the gods, they will take it out on you.

It’s amazing how many Christians have the same idea about God.

- Many Christians believe that God will reward the people who do good with prosperity … and punish those who do bad with suffering.

We learn this from childhood.

- Good behavior earns you rewards … bad behavior earns you pain or disaster.

We carry this into our Christianity.

- Suffering is a sign that God is displeased with you … prosperity is a sign that God is pleased with you.

- This is where we get the “Name it, Claim it” philosophy.

- i.e., if you have enough faith, God will reward you financially, physically & spiritually.

- If you don’t have enough faith, that’s why you’re sick, poor & unsuccessful.

We get to thinking that when things go right, God is pleased with me.

- AND … when things go wrong, God must be displeased with me.

- That’s not how God works! But that’s how the Thessalonians thought God worked.

THE TRUTH IS … you can be PLEASING God … and everything seems to be going wrong.

- AND … you can be DISPLEASING God … and everything seems to be going right.

The WICKED can PROSPER … and the GODLY can go through TOUGH TIMES.

- I’ve seen it … HAVEN’T YOU?

- David saw it … and it troubled him … Ps. 73:2-3, 5, 12, 16, 21 – all turn

- THEN … David got his answer – 73:16-18

The Thessalonian Christians were under severe persecution … so they thought they must be doing something wrong.

- Paul wrote this letter to clear that up.

1:1-2 – “grace … and peace”

Paul knows that this is what they need right now:

“grace” … to let them know that God is a “gracious” God … Who will give them the faith they need to grow in their persecution … and be victorious.

“peace” … to let them know that God will see them through … and it’s not because they are bad.

1:3 – Paul begins by ENCOURAGING them.

When you’re going through a hard time, you need ENCOURAGEMENT, don’t you?

“thank God” - Paul lets them know that they aren’t a disappointment to him (or God) … but that he thanks God for their faithfulness.

“faith grows exceedingly” – that’s the PURPOSE for trials in our life … to grow our faith.


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