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Text - 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6
Did anyone witness to anyone this week? Would you have been more apt to witness for $50 a person? How about $100? What if you got $100 everytime you witnessed to someone?
Lets read two passages,
Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
What do you love more? Money, or God? You can't serve both. What is more important to you? Some money, or the glory of your God and the souls' of your friends?
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
There have been four major depressions in the history of America. 1720, 1790, 1868, 1929, they were all caused by the love of money through either real-estate speculation or the stock-market. These are between 60-70 years apart, if you look at 70 years after 1939 when the last depression was, you seen 2009, you see a love of money, real-estate speculation, and everyone is in the stock-market. We're in for a bumpy ride over the next several years, but this is not a bad thing, because money drives people from God; so when they lose their money, we have the perfect opportunity to see them saved in Christ.
I don't want you to think I'm prophetic or anything, this is just how history works, there is a major fall from God, then salvation, the next generation forgets the major salvation, the next generation starts to stray, they seek after wordly possessions, the next generation elevates themselves to high standing, then crash again. It happened all through Israel's history, it's happened in the history of the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States, China; Solomon said, "There is nothing new under the sun."
Remember, this letter is the first time that the Thessalonians had heard from Paul since he was kicked out of town in the middle of the night. Timothy had likely told them he was alright and that he sent his love, but they hadn't heard straight from him. He is writing to a thriving church and telling them that his coming was not in vain...it's almost silly if we didn't know how much pain and suffering Thessalonica had gone through since their conversion.
Paul was saying that the pain and suffering he had endured, that they had endured, was not on accident, but that it was for a purpose of spreading the Gospel.
Who knows what happened in Philippi? Philippi was the first place Paul took the Gospel in Europe, it's just down the road from Thessalonica. It is a major Roman colony, and while there Paul and his fellow preachers converted many people. They met a young woman who went around proclaiming their coming, saying, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation." She started to annoy Paul because she was being obnoxious and he cast a demon out of her and she lost her ability to perform witchcraft, which cost her owners a lot of money.
They got mad, compounded by how mad some of them must have been at their preaching, and they stripped them and beat them thoroughly and threw them in prison. The first night in prison, they were praying and singing, and it sounds like many of their fellow prisoners were converted, when there was an earthquake and they could have escaped. Instead of escaping, which would have led to the death of the jailer for losing them, they decided to stay and preach to him, and he was saved.
The next day, the Philippian magistrates kicked Paul and his friends out of Philippi, which is how they came to Thessalonica. Remember when they first came to town they converted Jews, Gentiles, and as the Bible puts it, "not a few of the leading women." They really shook things up in Thessalonica when they came to town, and they are showing in this chapter that they didn't come for money, or for prestige, or for girlfriends, but that they had been beaten and that it had cost them alot to preach the Gospel which led to the salvation of so many.
They were preaching not to make people happy, but to see them saved so that God would be glorified. While the conversion made their earthly life considerably worse, it made their eternal life infinitely better.
verse 5-6 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed— God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.
They could have gone in and said, "We're apostles, give us a dollar." Or Paul could have sought high esteem and said, "I want a big huge church in Thessalonica covered in gold, beautiful paintings, and illustrious stuff, and I want to be the Senior Pastor." Because they were evangelists, they didn't seek for people to glorify them, but they sought for people to glorify God, and in this it cost them much.
1 Corinthians 9:18-19 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
In this passage, Paul was pretty much preaching what he had already preached to Galatia,
Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.