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Summary: People, Disciple Making, The Word of God

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FOLLOW THE LEADER – Our Joy and Crown

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20 (pg. 824) August 16, 2015

Introduction:

There is an industry that’s grown by over 300% in the last decade...it’s not internet related or high tech...It’s the trophy industry

SHOW VIDEO (Real Sports Promo 45 seconds)

Don’t you love when the guy is asked “How many kids do you have out here today?” and he says “About 650.” “How many of them will get trophies?” “About 650!”

Trophies used to mean that you excelled at something...you finished first, second or at least third...Now they mean “you showed up.”

What motivation is there to win? What motivation is there to do your best and get better...if there is an assumption that I’ll get the same reward as everyone else?

The Apostle Paul writes to his son in the faith Timothy, who served with him in Thessalonica and said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 2:7)

All sports analogies...and yes, they had an emphasis on endurance, faithfulness, finishing well...but he also used a sports analogy when he wrote to the Corinthians and said, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)

Doesn’t quite have the same ring when it says, “Don’t you know there are a lot of runners in the race with different levels of self esteem...It doesn’t matter who runs the best...because we’re gonna award the prize to them all.”

Who cares about self denial and sacrifice? Who cares who trained hardest? Who cares who stretches for the finish line? It’s all about how I feel about myself.

That is a worldly philosophy that has invaded the hearts of many church attenders and members...It doesn’t matter how I run this race of faith...after all we all get the prize...Thom Rainer says in the book “I Will” “When we have this kind of mentality we do not serve. Instead we seek to be served...We’ve paid our “dues” so we expect others to work for us. Church is about me...He shares some statements that reveal this attitude:

- “I told the pastor what I wanted him to preach; he just doesn’t listen to me.”

- “I don’t like the temperature in the worship center.”

- “If we don’t change our music style, I’m not coming back. I’ll find another church that can meet my needs.”

- “Someone is in our seat/pew.”

- “The church decided not to offer the 7:30 am service anymore because only a few people are attending. Well, that’s my service. If it’s gone, so am I.”

- “The pastor did not visit my sister’s mother in law in the hospital, even though I told him to.”

- “The church voted to paint the worship center a hideous color. I am infuriated. I just might stop giving.”

You get the picture. Biblical church life is about serving, about sacrifice, about giving and about putting others before our own needs and desires...He uses a word he calls “churchianity” and says it’s about being served, receiving, getting your own way and on insisting on your needs and wants before others.

C’mon give me the prize...I showed up...C’mon give me heaven because we all get the trophy...make me feel better!

Jesus is a leader worth following...and his example was one of serving others, washing feet, taking up a cross...“for the joy that laid before Him.”

The trophy and crown for Jesus awaited for Him after the finish line. That finish line involved a cross, a tomb and a resurrection from the dead...Hebrews 12:2-3 uses this truth to encourage us “to fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

He did this to save us. He knew saving people and dying for our sins was the only way we could be forgiven.

This is the essence of the gospel...it’s the Word of God, it’s His powerful message. Those who hear it and accept it become transformed by its power...It begs an important question.

I. HOW DOES THE WORD OF GOD WORK IN BELIEVERS LIVES?

Paul couldn’t thank God enough that the church in Thessalonica listened to His message, accepted it as truth...Not human truth but God’s truth...and then he says “This word is indeed at work in you who believe.”

How can he know that it’s at work in their lives? How can “we” know God’s Word is at work in our lives? That’s a pretty important question for all believers!

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