Summary: If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are being changed from the inside out day by day. God's process of changing us covers every area of our lives: body, soul, and spirit.
This is the last message in the series from 1 Thessalonians. I hope you’ve enjoyed these messages as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them.
Did you about the retired preacher who was searching for something in his wife’s closet? He pulled out a drawer and saw five eggs and a stack of money that appeared to be over a thousand dollars. He called his wife and said, “Honey, what’s with the eggs and the money?” She said, “Well, dear, back when you started preaching, I decided for every bad sermon you preached I’d put an egg in that drawer.” The preacher smiled and said, “Only five eggs, that’s pretty good! But what’s with all the money?” She said, “Well, every time I got a dozen eggs in there, I sold them. That’s why I have all that money!” Hopefully, I haven’t laid too many eggs in this series!
As you’ve seen the title of this message, some of you already know what these eleven letters represent, others of you may be scratching your head trying to pronounce it or wondering if it’s a misprint.
Sometime back in the 1980s I attended a Christian Conference and the leaders were all wearing buttons with those letters on them. It was a great conversation starter, because everyone they met said, “What do those letters stand for?”
If that button was designed to make you remember the theme, it worked, because all these years later I still recall that PBPWMGIFWMY stands for: Please Be Patient With Me. God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet! If I had a vanity car tag, I think that’s what I would put on it, although it would take a wide tag to fit all of those letters in!
Let’s read the final words Paul to the believers in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28:
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. Brothers, pray for us. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
Each of us is a work in progress. It reminds me of the little song I taught to children in one of the churches I served. “He’s still working on me; To make me what I outta’ be. It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars; The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be. ‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me.”
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you’re being changed day by day. In this message, I want to answer three simple questions. First, who is changing me? Second, how is He changing me? And finally, when will He be finished?
I. WHO IS CHANGING ME? THE GOD OF PEACE
Paul identified the One who is changing us. He wrote, “May God himself, the God of peace.” One of the first things we learn in English is every sentence has a subject and a verb. It may also have an object as well. In this verse, God is the subject, sanctify is the verb, and you is the object. In writing this sentence Paul used a unique Greek construction we don’t really have in the English language. It triples the impact of the subject so that it literally says, “May God, May God Himself; May God Himself, the God of Peace sanctify you.”
Paul could have identified God as the God of Power or the God of Grace or the God of Glory, but in this context He calls Him the God of Peace. Why? We live in such a chaotic restless world, that peace is a rare commodity. God’s Will for your life is that He will bring you to a place where you experience real peace, the peace that passes all human understanding.
This is a good place to remind you about the three tenses of salvation. There are three big words that describing what God wants to do in your life. The words are justification, sanctification, and glorification. You have been saved; you are being saved; and you will be saved. In the past you experienced justification: God saved you from the penalty of sin. In the present you are experiencing sanctification: God is saving you from the power of sin. And in the future, you’ll experience glorification: (you’ll receive a glorified eternal body), you’ll be saved from even the presence of sin.
Here’s the truth. Only God can make you better. You can exercise to improve your body; and you can read and study to improve your mind, but only God can make you a better person.