Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 22nd - Love Demonstrated II

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching and Efforts in Portugal
Olivia - Getting Better
Becky - Surgery Went Well
Alice - Getting Baptized
Fancy's salvation

Text – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

So, it’s a big list of commands, we’re going to cruise over them pretty quickly because they are mainly just guidelines towards living a godly life. They can be summed up in two commands,

Matthew 22:35-40 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

Two weeks ago we talked about respecting your pastors and loving them when they reprove you. We missed two quick things and I want to touch on them briefly;

Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but one who hates correction is stupid.

Is open rebuke better, or is secret love? Remember from Proverbs 27:5 that open rebuke, correction, is better than love in secret. And a verse that tells us to make sure those preaching are preaching the truth.

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

We’re going to talk about how to test their message in verse 20.

v. 13-15 Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

There are a lot of things included in this passage, so lets go through them one by one.

Be at peace, means don’t cause unnecessary divisions, realize that different people have different personalities and that God has no preference for non-doctrinal matters other than we live in peace together within the church, loving one another and encouraging each other towards action and godliness.

Admonish the idle means to yell at people who aren’t doing anything. Remember this for Second Thessalonians. This is people who could work but aren’t working, not people who are unable to work, for those people the church is supposed to take care of them.

Encourage the fainthearted means those whose courage is failing. Remember, Thessalonica was being persecuted and many had died. Those remaining were in constant threat of pain and death, and many had lost loved ones. We encourage them to be of good courage, that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, that we do not mourn as those who have no hope, here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. It is hard to apply this one to ourselves since nobodies trying to kill us.

Help the weak is likely the physically week, those who are unable to work for themselves, or cannot get around on their own, or those who have way too much physical and emotional duties; here we come along side them and bear their burden. We are able to apply this one easily, such as helping the elderly, feeding the homeless, or volunteering at church, or any number of many different ways.

Be patient with them all. All of these have some sort of failing, either their fault or not their fault. Just as God was and is patient with us, so must we be patient with those who annoy us or don’t do things the way we want them done or as fast as we want them done. The best advice I’ve received on this is that as bad as I’ve offended God, I have no right to be offended myself, for since I’ve been forgiven much, I must likewise forgive much.

See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good. This is precisely what Christ did for us, if he had been fair, he would have crushed us the first time we sinned. But because he repays evil with good, we have the opportunity to be saved.

Romans 2:4 Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Romans 12:19-21 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

v. 16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

We talked about these verses on Prayer-Sunday, so instead of going back over them lets look at some similar verses:

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Sometimes people will say that suffering is not caused by God or not what God wants for us, but this verse in First Thessalonians very clearly says that our circumstances are the will of God.

Let me give you an example, has anyone broken a bone in here? I broke my wrist when I was eighteen going way too fast on a motorcycle. The way it healed the doctor said it will be way stronger than it was to start with because it’s been built up and reinforced now.

That is how our character works, it is the natural inclination for me and your parents to try to keep you from all sorts of pain and hurt, but if we did this effectively you’d never grow in endurance, character, and hope. Just because some of you are characters doesn’t mean you have character, and everybody can always use more character.

I just finished The Heavenly Man about a Christian in China who spent years in prison, was beaten, chased, slandered, and humiliated in every way possible, and his character, hope, and testimony to the grace and strength of Christ is incredible.

On prayer, last week we learned about imprecatory prayers. Who remembers what they are? That's not our only type of prayer, obviously, but all of our prayers aren't lovey-dovey, but have at their heart the will of God and his holiness.

v. 19 Do not quench the Spirit.

Quench means to put out, like pouring water on a fire. You can’t drown the Person of the Holy Spirit, but you can hinder the work of sanctification he is doing in your life.

The three ways to do this are:

1. Indulge in Sin
2. Hang out with sinners instead of saints
3. Fail to Pray and Read your Bible

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals."

Paul goes on in verses 20-22 to demonstrate how not to quench the Spirit.

v. 20-22 Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Prophecies in this sense is different than we think of prophecies in the Old Testament sense. A prophecy is not predicting the future, it is declaring the Word of the Lord. Often times this is associated with his revelation of the future, but what a prophecy is is revelation from God. As we remember from Hebrews 1, new revelation has ceased, the Word of God is entirely sufficient for our lives until the end of the world. There is nothing anyone could say that would benefit us that isn’t somewhere already contained in this Book.

1 Corinthians 14:1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

So, in order not to quench the Spirit, we listen to people read the Bible and preach on the Bible. Just like you’re doing now. Remember also from Hebrews that we are not to forsake the assembling of the saints, a person who does not fellowship with others will not being doing good works in the Spirit, God wants us to work as a body and not as individuals.

Even while we listen to people preach, we are to test everything against the Bible. Make sure it is absolutely true and that heresy is not being preached from the pulpit. A church with a good preacher and a congregation that reads the Bible will go far, and while we’re biased here at Summit, we love that our church has both and we rejoice in the good works our church does.

When you find something to be biblical, you are to hold fast to it. Treasure the Word of God in your heart, apply it, and preach it. The book I just read happened at a time when it was illegal to have a copy of the Bible in China, so when the man it is about got a Bible, he instantly set to memorizing it because he had no idea how long he would have it. When in prison he was able to preach and quote straight from the Bible, even though he didn’t have one in front of him. Some of his best sermons were just when he would recite all 28 chapters of Matthew.

Abstain from every form of evil is pretty straight forward. If it hurts your conscience, don’t do it. If the Bible speaks against it, don’t do it. If you would be embarrassed if someone found out about it, don’t do it. If it would bring dishonor to your Saviour, don’t do it.

One of my very favorite verses deals directly with this:

Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Test everything, all I want you to do is tell me whether the following statement is true or wrong:
There is no such thing as an absolute statement. F

The universe is 16 billion years old. F

Good people go to Heaven. T

Water always boils at 212 degrees. F

Good deeds can pay for sins. F

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but not God. F

There is no contradiction between the Bible and evolution. F

There are many paths to God. F

God could have saved us apart from Jesus dying on a cross. F

Matthew 26:39, 42 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done."

Galatians 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.