Summary: Respect, encouragement, ministry, faithfulness
1 Thess 5: 12-28 November 25, 2012
1) I’ll never forget Christmas of 2003….my Dad was battling cancer…we’d just found out it was through his entire body…..lungs, spine, lymph nodes…everywhere….He weighed 125 pounds soaking wet and didn’t eat a lot before this disease…Not much reserve fuel in the fork to fight it, but he did, for almost 2 months…I preached his funeral on March 4th, he died on March 2nd…2004.
But I’ll never forget that Christmas of 2003…it wasn’t the presents I remember…although he’d ordered me a Scottie Cameron putter from eBay and gave it to me…(I might use other clubs in my life time but I’ll die with that putter in my bag).
I remember my Dad sitting with each one of his grandchildren on the sofa during this Christmas and talking to them..he was, in his own stubborn, hard, loving kind of way trying to challenge them…and say good-bye…He wanted to give them some final instructions….
I think he knew they were his legacy after he was gone…It would be his children and grandchildren that would carry the torch…and he wanted them to know some of the priorities he’d discovered in life…He’d shared them before…but now he knew time was short…so, one final time he put them into a small packet of words shared on a couch…he knew what he was doing…and so did they….
Paul, the Apostle comes to the end of this heartfelt love letter with a chain of jewels of good advice…his final instructions to his children and grandchildren in the faith…
Listen to his words… Read text: 1 Thess. 5: 12-28 (p832)
Respect your leaders…live at peace with people, don’t take revenge, stay in the will of God, don’t dispose spiritual gifts remember the one whose called you….and, P.S….stay in His word and His grace.
The apostle Paul’s not sure if he’ll ever see these precious people again…he pours himself and his priorities into this first letter…There will be a second, but it is extraordinarily brief in comparison…Paul, Silas and Timothy all are living with death staring them in the eye and they know it.
It’s why he writes these words to Timothy, his son (or grandson) in the faith.
“For I am already being pour out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure” (2 Tim 4:6)
You see godly leaders know…we are always one generation away from extinction...our legacy is the people we leave behind.
There is no success in God’s Kingdom unless you leave a successor…
John Maxwell put it well “A leader who develops people adds…A leader who develops leaders, multiplies.
Fern Creek Christian Church is no different than any other church in the Kingdom when it comes to this…that’s why Paul begins.
I RESPECT YOUR LEADERS
And the reason for the respect is the “work they are doing” It’s not a question of personal prestige…It’s not the title that makes a leader great…it’s the ministry that the person is engaged in that is their badge of honor.
There is an unusual thing we do in American churches…we sometimes give titles, but have no real memories attached to them…So, do you respect someone simply because they hold a title…”Well, I could say “No…Scripturally it’s something Paul, or the other apostle couldn’t even fathom…
Except maybe when it came to Diotrephes in John’s 3rd letter…John the Beloved writes…
[I wrote to the church, about Diotrephes, who loves to be first (This is a leader who cares about titles, but not people)…He will have nothing to do with us…So if I can I will call attention to what he is doing…gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church…Dear friends, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good…” (3 John…p865)
Real leaders are identified by what they produce…like trees. A good tree bears good fruit…Bad trees bare bad fruit.
Respect leaders who produce good fruit…encourage them, love them, support them…and
II LIVE IN PEACE
Living in peace is easy if everyone plays nice…The problem is…not everyone plays nice.
What Paul is telling us…”It is impossible to preach the gospel of love in an atmosphere poisoned by hate.”
William Barclay writes in his commentary of 1 Thessalonians…Better for that a man should quit a congregation in which he is unhappy and in which he makes others unhappy and find one where he may be at peace.”
I’d say “Amen to that…but add a caviot.
“If you are unhappy because your church isn’t being shaped into your preferences…and you go to another one hoping it will be more to your liking…soon that place won’t measure up either…and about the 2nd or 3rd place maybe you’ll discover (but I doubt it) it’s not the place that needs changing…it’s you…