Summary: Our Adoption, God's providence, Love
FOLLOW THE LEADER – Adoption Day
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (pg. 825) August 23, 2015
Have you ever loved someone so much that after a period of time you had to see them again? I mean you just couldn’t stand being separated from them? And maybe, because of circumstances or distance...it was impossible.
[Kari and I dated for 2 ½ years while I was in school in Knoxville, TN and she lived in Fort Pierce Florida....About 900 miles and limited funds separated us for long periods...we talked every Sunday night. I had to use a payphone in the hallway of Brown Hall at Johnson, but I could hardly stand not seeing her in person...and as soon as I got the chance I’d get in my little pick up and head south on 75.
While my son was in Iraq for almost 2 years...we got to see him once...during his 2 week furlough...we wrote to each other...emailed...calls were more difficult, but there were a few...usually “I can’t talk long Dad...we’ve got a mission, but I love you...see you soon.”
I could hardly stand it...and couldn’t wait to wrap my arms around my son.]
The apostle Paul uses that same phrase 2 times in 1 Thessalonians chapter 3....
Right after he tells the Thessalonians... “You are our joy and crown.” He says
“So when we could stand it no longer...we sent Timothy to strengthen and encourage you.”
Both Paul and the people he loves are in the middle of a war...A war of trials and persecution of their faith...He says in verse 5... “For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent (Timothy) to find out about your faith...I was anxious that in some way the tempter had pulled you away...and I was afraid our labor might have been in vain.” (v. 5)
Paul uses the word “labor.” It’ s the same word that’s used to describe what a mother endures when giving birth to a child.
I’m not sure any man has the right to use that word...but the Apostle Paul says... “Labor...pain...work” was involved in the Thessalonians being “adopted into God’s family.” His labor...Silas labor...Timothy’s labor...was a part of these believers being born again.
You see most men can biologically sire a child...but making the choice to become a father is completely different...It involves a lifetime of love, sacrifice, and time.
It made the Apostle Paul tell his adopted spiritual children “Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.”
(1 Thess. 3:10)
It seemed impossible for Paul to get back to Thessalonica...but he knew something about our heavenly Father.
I. GOD WILL CLEAR A WAY FOR US
There’s a song that goes “God will make a way when there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see...God will make a way for me.”
It’s why our text begins “Our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus can clear the way for us to come to you.” (v. 11) That’s what we’re praying for!!”
Faith doesn’t doubt God’s power to do anything...but it also trusts God’s plan and His timing.
Human nature...our sinful one, desires immediate comfort when we are in darkness...and immediate happiness when we’re unhappy. We plead for the thorns to be removed...There’s nothing wrong with that...it’s human nature...but faith keeps trusting God when He says...“No, my grace is sufficient for you.”
Paul tells the Thessalonians and us something important in verses 3 and 4. “We don’t want you to be unsettled by these trials. FOR YOU KNOW QUITE WELL THAT WE ARE DESTINED FOR THEM.”
I struggle a great deal with preachers. Some who preach to multitudes, who say...it’s God’s plan for you to be healthy and wealthy...Really??? It’s God’s plan for us to be like Jesus...who’s only worldly possession they gambled for while He died on a cross...Paul had a thorn in the flesh, and Peter writes,
1 PETER 4:12-14 (p. 852)
Satan is a liar...it’s his native tongue according to Jesus...And so many of us become “unsettled” in our faith because we start believing His lies...Echoes from his deception of Adam & Eve.
Why is God with holding this...He knows what you need, but won’t give it to you...you won’t die...
And we become bitter of Spirit, we become cynical in our faith...and the tempter tempts us away from the Father, and we seek to find happiness outside His will...and His way.
[I was with one of my very best friends the other day and he shared with me that after relocating...finding a church was hard...they thought they’d found one, but things didn’t work out...and they started spending weekends camping...they met some folks...these folks brought other folks who did some things he used to do in his former life...pretty soon those things were tempting again. He wanted that connection, so did His wife...He had the spiritual discernment to see what was happening...the spiritual welfare that he was engaged in...and he made the right choices for he and his family...but Satan’s a schemer isn’t he? His goal is to pull you away from your heavenly father...and he’s had a lot of practice...and a lot of success too.]