Summary: Sometimes when we look at certain Bible passages we get the feeling that only suffering and persecution awaits the true believer in Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth! Even in the midst of trials we can have joy and peace and hope! PTL!!
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (Please look up this Scripture as we will read it in a few minutes)
As I was thinking of last weeks sermon we had spoken about the death of James, the brother of John and the miraculous deliverance of Peter from prison and of the fact that there is a great wave of persecution of Christians throughout the world and that we may one day ourselves face the choice between preserving our earthly life and our salvation. We also spoke about the commandment of our Lord that we must pick up our cross daily as a person would on their way to crucifixion. And, while that is all true it is only a part of what the life of a Christian consists of.
Is life as a Christian only a life of dreading the future because we may one day be confronted with the choice between life and Christ?
Let’s take a look at today’s Scripture and see …
(Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 from your Bible as people follow along and comment as you go along …)
Let’s take some time to review some of our memory Scriptures:
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
What is the opposite of godliness? Selfishness …
Either the Lord is the center of your life or you are!
We can see this in little children … A child may have twenty toys surrounding them on the floor but if a child with no toys comes into the room and tries to play with one of those toys the child with the toys will have one world for them. What is it? “MINE”!!!
Never rich enough. Never pretty or handsome enough. Never trim enough.
Never smart enough. Never enough possessions.
Ungodliness with discontentment is great pain!
You know about the theories of black holes in space? That they have such a huge gravitational pull that light, which is pure energy, can’t even escape from them.
If you are a disciple of “self” you live in a black hole where everything swirls around you and you will be forever discontent. Why? You have no resources to satisfy yourself and this world has no resources that can give you true and lasting satisfaction!
But what do we as Christians, followers of Jesus Christ have?
We have the Lord, the Holy Spirit, leading us in the path of righteousness.
Our lives revolve around Him the Creator of all that exists.
We have the Lord who is an endless resource of all that REALLY matters!
We have Godliness which flows from our relationship with the Lord and strengthens our relationships with others!
We have contentment instead of covetousness.
Jesus is ALL we need, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health until death we see Him face to face.
We have Christ and we have contentment and that IS great gain!
What else do we have a devoted followers of Jesus?
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
If we are REALLY sold-out followers of Jesus Christ we are filled with the Holy Spirit. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit and are growing into mature Christians we have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
But, what if we are not devoted followers of Jesus and are still living ungodly lives?
Love - Hate
Joy - Sorrow
Peace - Strife
Patient - Short Tempered
Kind - Cruel
Good - Wicked
Faithful - Disloyal
Gentle - Harsh
Self-control - Out of Control
Do you see the incredible gifts that are available to those who are devoted followers of Jesus?
Which side of this list would you rather have?
Regardless of what country we live in, regardless of persecution, regardless of health or wealth or race or anything else, which side of this list would you rather have as the defining characteristics of your life?
Acts 16:25 NIV
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
Acts 5:40b NIV
“[The Jewish leaders] called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.”
Pretty horrible, huh?
Acts 5:41 NIV
“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”
And another one of our memory Scriptures:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
This great gift of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, kindness and self control did not come without cost!