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Summary: Three strategies to live spiritually responsible lives.

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Just because a person’s an adult doesn’t necessarily mean that person is responsible. When I turned 18 years old it seemed that the only thing I could think about was moving out on my own. But like most 18 year olds, I still had a lot of growing up to do. Eventually my mom helped me buy a trailer that was in a mobile home park in West Pomona, right off Holt Blvd. and Dudley. The trailer was cramped and old, the area was horribly crime infested, but I was just excited to have my own place. But my first foray into adulthood didn’t last very long since I neglected to pay my utility bills. Soon I was without a phone, then without light, and then without gas. So soon I moved back in with my mom and stepdad until I could get my utilities turned back on. That was the first of many lessons that being an adult didn’t automatically make me responsible.

Just the other day someone emailed me a list of those daily affirmations. You know what I’m talking about: Those one liners that are supposed to inspire you to be responsible and to take responsibility for your own success. Only these daily affirmations were ones that didn’t quite make the cut. Let me read you a few:

I will assume full responsibility for all my actions...except the ones that are other peoples’ fault.

I will honor my personality flaws because without them I would have no personality at all.

I’m grateful that I’m not as judgmental as all those self-righteous people around me.

False hope is better than no hope at all.

A good scapegoat is nearly as good as a solution to the problem.

Here’s one all us Alcoholics Anonymous members can relate to: Just for today, I won’t sit in my living room all day watching TV....Instead I’ll move my TV to the bedroom.

Maybe I read the wrong list of daily affirmations when I turned 18.

Well just as adults can act pretty irresponsibly sometimes, Christians can also act pretty spiritually irresponsible at times. Spiritual irresponsibility takes many forms, and we’ve encountered several kinds of spiritual irresponsibility in our study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The Thessalonian Christians were followers of Jesus Christ, but some of them were acting spiritually irresponsible. Some were speculating about Jesus Christ’s second coming and the rapture of the church. Despite Jesus’ clear teaching that it’s not for us to know the dates or times of his coming, and despite the apostle Paul’s clear teaching not to speculate, that didn’t stop some of the Thessalonian Christians. These are the kind of guys modern Christian publishing companies would go nuts over, because they’d quit their jobs, stopped taking care of their daily responsibilities, as they plotted charts and came up with end time scenarios. It reminds of so much of the speculation that’s surrounded y2k. Other members of the Thessalonian church had quit their jobs and they were just loafing around. They were sponging off the other members of the congregation in the name of Christian love, spending their days meddling in other people’s affairs and spending their energy on fruitless activities. If they were alive today, they’d probably be spending their day in internet chat rooms, watching soap operas, and playing Nintendo. There was a responsibility problem in the Thessalonian church, and when Paul wrote his first letter to them he told the church to warn these people (1 Thess 5:14).

Today we finish our series called LIVING CONFIDENTLY IN UNCERTAIN TIMES through the New Testament book of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. In this series we’ve been preparing for the new year by looking at what the Bible teaches about spiritual confidence. We’ve talked about how a personal relationship with Jesus equips us to face an uncertain future, how we can share that confidence with other people. We’ve talked about what kills spiritual confidence in our lives and how to empower other people with the confidence that comes from Jesus. We’ve talked about how to face the uncertainty of death with spiritual confidence, as well as how to build a confident church. Today we finish our series on this, the last Sunday of 1999, and we talk about Responsible Living. Today we’re going to find three strategies to live spiritually responsible lives as we face the year 2000.

1. Managing Our Relationshiops (2 Thess 3:6, 14-15)

Paul starts by addressing the entire church about how to treat the irresponsible people among them in v. 6 and then in vv. 14-15. Paul begins his appeal by making it abundantly clear that he’s speaking in his official capacity as a representative of Jesus. He’s not just sharing his opinion, but what he’s speaking of he’s doing so as an apostle of Jesus, with the authority conferred by Jesus. In fact the word "command" here is a military term for giving soldiers their orders. Paul couldn’t have appealed to any higher authority for what he’s about to say than he does here (Wanamaker 281).

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