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Summary: Affirming the Afflicted (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

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Reading: 2 Thessalonians chapter 1 verses 1-12

Ill:

• I am sure we have all seen the type of western film;

• When the cowboys are besieged and hopelessly outnumbered.

• They are low on provisions and short of ammunition.

• They cannot hope to hold out for much longer.

• Then the exhausted cowboys hear a bugle call from behind the enemy lines.

• They look up and can hardly believe their eyes.

• The long awaited relief column has arrived.

• Suddenly the tables are turned.

• The cavalry slices through the enemy, swords flash,

• The siege is lifted.

• A few moments before they were surrounded;

• Now they are set free.

• The armies which had pinned them down are in full retreat.

• Disaster has been turned into triumph.

The Thessalonians were under attack:

• The Christian in Thessalonika were experiencing big trouble from outside,

• Both the Jews and gentiles were persecuting them.

• They were also facing problems on the inside;

• Problem people and difficult issues were causing them great difficulties.

• Paul writes to these Christians and says ‘Don’t give up. Look up!’

• The cavalry is coming – your saviour Jesus Christ is coming back soon!

(A)> Signs of life (vs 1-4):

ill:

• A few years ago, myself, Martin & James Fielder all took the ‘bronze medallion’ award.

• That meant we could rescue people who were drowning if we had our pyjamas handy!

• What it really meant;

• We were qualified to be lifeguards and allowed to supervising swimming sessions.

• Part of the training involved basic first aid;

• e.g. How to give the kiss of life, how to give E.C.C. (External Chest Compression)

• I’m glad I did the course;

• Because it helped when hiring swimming pools for youth groups etc,

• But on two different occasions I was nearby people who collapsed and stopped breathing,

• Sadly the man died, but I’m glad to say the woman started to breathe again.

• Now when you come across a collapsed person in a motionless state;

• You look for signs of life.

• Do they have a pulse? Are they breathing?

• You look for signs of life.

2 Thessalonians was written to a Church:

• Who were suffering persecution from without,

• And struggling with awkward people and difficult issues from within.

• But this Church was not dying a slow death;

• In fact the opposite it showed great signs of life.

(1). Their Faith was growing (vs 3a).

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so,

because your faith is growing more and more,

• Their "faith" is their total trust and reliance on Jesus Christ;

• To bring them into a relationship with God.

Ill:

• The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet;

• And cover a distance of greater than 30 feet.

Yet these magnificent creatures;

• Can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall.

• The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall.

• The Bible says; “Without faith it is impossible to please God”.

• Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see,

• And with faith in Jesus Christ we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of;

• Superstition and man-made religion that entrap us

The Thessalonians "faith" in Jesus Christ started at their conversion and it has been growing ever since.

• In fact, the word Paul uses here for "growing more and more"

• Literally means; "super growing."

• It was as if the initial seed of faith that sprouted when they first became Christians

• Had been sprayed with miracle grow, and so it exploded in growth.

• Their faith, their confidence and trust in Jesus Christ;

• Was flourishing like a healthy garden.

Note: Paul had prayed ‘night after day’ for the believers in Thessalonica,

• That their faith might be perfected (1 Thessalonians chapter 3 verse 10);

• And now he thanked God for answering those prayers.

Challenge: Is our faith still growing?

• Not in regards to salvation,

• That issue has been settled at our conversion!

• Regarding the PAST we are saved from sins PUNISHMENT

• It was dealt with at the cross – once and for all.

Quote:

“My faith has found a resting place,

not in a form or creed;

I trust the ever-living one,

His wounds for me shall plead

I need no other argument,

I need no other plea,

It is enough that Jesus died

And that he died for me”

Saving faith should be growing into experimental faith:

• “We walk by faith not by sight”.

• The Christian life is one long development of our faith,

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