Summary: we will consider an investment that always pays back much more than you could ever imagine.
A Wise Investment (1Thess 1:6-2:2)
Last week I was at Hess buying some fuel and I got stuck behind a woman who was buying a stack of lottery tickets. I am sorry to say it; but that just grinds my nerves. You know what I mean don’t you? Some of these lottery junkies take forever like kids in a candy store - I’ll take two of these and 6 of those & maybe one of those red ones as well. Who would have thought that there would be so many irritating choices - Cash 3, Play 4, Fantasy 5, Mega Money and to quote their web page “a wide variety of fun & exciting Scratch Off Tickets to choose from”. Please, all I want is some gas! But as I was standing there flipping out on the inside, she looked at the cashier and complained,”I giving you all this money and I probably won’t even get a dollar back.” Now that is just pitiful!! What a vain pursuit! But it should come as no surprise -- Gambling is like that; and so are many investments people make.
In fact, one of keys to success is wise investment. How should I invest my time and energy? Where should I invest my money? important questions for all of us to ask.
This morning we will consider an investment that always pays back much more than you could ever imagine.
As Paul says in 1Thess 2:1,2 Our coming to you was not in vain.
The last two weeks we focused on the cost of discipleship. Suffering, hardship and sacrifice are all marks of following Jesus. Yet in spite of this, the church at Thessalonica continued to grow and lived with great joy knowing that they were honoring their Lord and Savior. Two principles based on this theology of suffering:.
Human joy fades under hardship but the joy of the Lord rises above hardships - It’s transcendent joy.
Sacrifice, suffering and hardships are investments in eternity that pay earthly dividends.
The cost that you pay for following Jesus is always a wise investment. It is always time, energy and money well spent. This is what the HS wants to teach us this morning.
To set up this point let’s first look at passages in the gospels: Mt 6:19ff & Lk 16:13ff
Pray & Read 1Thess 1:6-2:2
Changed lives - “followers of us and the Lord” (6)
“followers” is from the Greek word mimay-tace where we get mimic -- lo copy.
Instead copying the behavior of the world they copied the behavior of their leaders. instead of living like the Devil; they began living like the Lord.
Carol hurt her wrist last week so she wrapped an ace-bandage around it; well, before long Elisa & had one around their wrists; Wes had one around his knee ; and so that Hudson wouldn’t be lefted out, I helped him wrap one put one around his head like a mummy.
Question: Why would Paul place himself before the Lord? Shouldn’t we follow the Lord first? Of course, Paul is saying is that we learn about the Lord’s values by watching His children.
What are those behind you learning about the Lord?
Child training can be described in three stages: Follow me b/c I say so; Follow me b/c God says so; Follow God b/c it is right.
For a young believer in Christ the progression is similar: “Follow me as I follow Christ.” to “be imitators of God as dear children.”
Imitating Christ works out in 3 ways in 9,10: holiness - Turned to God from idols”, service - “To serve the living & true God”; expectation - “To wait for His Son from Heaven”
“Turned to God from idols” (9)
Notice the direction of this action: to God, from idols.
Not, “from idols to God.” You do not leave your idols for some reason then hopefully find God
God taps you on the shoulder then your eyes are opened the beauty, the glory and greatness of God - “have you not known”; then you become willing to forsake your worthless pursuits.
Before you can live right you first need to be made right.
Salvation is more than a promise of Heaven it is a new allegiance and a new lifestyle. It is not fitting Jesus to our lives somewhere. It is a radical change of behaviors & attitudes. This is not easy - changing habits that have become ditches in your heart and mind. But God has broke in & “Every valley shall be exalted and every Mt and hill made low”. This does not mean believers never sin, but it does mean that God’s saving grace accomplishes a real change in a person’s life.
"Becoming a Christian involves a very definite break with non Christian habits. Whatever our previous background has been there must be a turning from our idols. The act of conversion involves a change of the direction of the will. There is a decisive happening, a reorientation of the whole of life." Leon Morris