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Summary: Advent 1(C) - Believers stand firm in the faith whenever they are growing in joyful faith and whenever they are growing in Christ’s love.

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1 THESSALONIANS 3:8-13 - ADVENT 1 - November 27, 2005 (Outline)

INTRO: A new church year begins this morning with the season of Advent. For Christians this is a very special time for us to prepare for the coming birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. We also prepare for the second coming of Jesus as the righteous Judge of the living and the dead. Today’s society is so pre-occupied with worldliness that they have little time to spiritually prepare for God’s gracious gift of the Savior. We can easily become caught up in the buying and rush of this merchandising season. "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved"(MATTHEW 24:12,13). Today’s text presents us with words of encouragement as we prepare for Christmas as we are reminded

STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH.

I. Growing in joyful faith and,

II. Growing in Christ’s love.

I. GROWING IN JOYFUL FAITH

A. We understand today’s text better as we learn a bit about the setting of these words.

1. Thessalonica was a bustling city of about 200,000 people. Some believed.

2. Some rejected Paul’s message and he was driven out of the city and area.

B. Paul sent Timothy to find out how the church was doing. Timothy returned with good news.

1. Verse 8 describes Paul’s great joy because of the congregation’s faithfulness.

2. Paul rejoiced with thankfulness in verse 9 for their steadfastness.

C. The faithfulness of the congregation should not have surprised Paul.

1. Verse 10 tells how Paul prayed day and night for these believers to stand firm.

2. Paul prayed for them to grow in faith until he might return to them again.

D. As society tries to rob Christmas of its true meaning it is all the more important for every believer to stand firm in the faith. In these last days reminded that the foundation of our Christian faith is not seen in the glitter of decorations, or in the gaudiness of this world. Simply the foundation of our faith remains the same. Mankind’s greed or false teaching cannot change the foundation of Christianity. "But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ"(1 CORINTHIANS 3:10b, 11).

E. Based on the solid rock of Jesus our Christian faith is a joyful faith. There are many in this world without much joy or happiness. They have misplaced the true meaning of being prepared for Christmas. Our lives, especially in this day and age, really, truly need to reflect outward the precious joy of salvation that is in each of our hearts. "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand" (PSALM 16:11).

F. The joy of Christmas is truly, only celebrated by the believer. As believers we understand the rea-son for the season. Jesus Christ came as an infant born in Bethlehem to live and die on the cross and rise again. Jesus did this for humanity – to pay the price of the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Our sins are forgiven and covered with the holy, innocent, precious blood of Christ our Lord and Savior. "I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness" (ISAIAH 61:10a).

Transition: Believers stand firm in the faith as they grow in joyful faith. We also stand firm in the faith as we continue growing in Christ’s love.

II. GROWING IN CHRIST’S LOVE

A. Paul rejoiced that the faith of these new believers was not extinguished.

1. Paul loved these believers and the Lord loved them.

2. These believers were now to love one another because of faith.

3. Verse 11 describes Paul’s love for them as he prays to be able to see them.

B. Paul was in Athens and was anxious to see these believers once again.

1. Paul relates how he prays day and night for their reunion.

2. Paul prayed for the increase of their Christian love in verse 12.

C. God’s love would keep these believers strong and faithful and joyful.

1. Verse 13 describes more of Paul’s prayer for these believers.

2. Paul wanted them to be strong, faithful, joyful until the Lord’s return.

D. We note here how Paul depends on the power of prayer for these believers. Paul knows that in prayer the power of God would be realized. Ephesians records another one of these powerful prayers of Paul. "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God"(EPHESIANS 3:18,19). Stand firm believer in the faith by growing in the love of Christ!

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