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1 Thessalonians 4





This chapter begins with an interesting word: Finally.  Most of you have been around church long enough to know that when a preacher says “finally” it really doesn’t mean much.  For example, Paul’s use of the word “finally” comes at the half-way point of his letter.  In other words, his conclusion is going to be as long as the body of his letter.  Preachers are weird creatures.

Paul begins this chapter talking about the Christian life.  As is often the case in the Scriptures, the Christian life is referred to as a walk.  That’s a pretty good description.  The Christian life begins with a step of faith and then continues with a series of steps that become our Christian journey.

Paul challenges us in verse 1 to walk or to live in a way that pleases God.  Then he goes on to talk about what a God pleasing walk would look like.  To begin with it involves sexual purity.  At the time Paul was writing this letter, the Roman Empire was a most immoral place.  And sexuality immorality was absolutely rampant.  Imagine people who lived in that and who actually participated in that getting saved.  Although they were given a new nature at the point of salvation, they would have still had a lot of bad habits that they were probably more than fond of.  So, Paul challenges them with the fact that walking in a way that pleases God means living a sexually pure life.

When you get to verse 7, Paul makes the point that sexual purity is necessary for holiness.  In other words if we desire to be like the Lord, we need to live pure lives. 

The more we are like the Lord, the more we will genuinely love others which is the topic in verse 9.  Paul goes on to say that the Thessalonians were known for loving other believers but he encourages them to love more and more.  As Christ followers we cannot love enough.

In verse 11, we are given some other characteristics of a holy life.  We are to live a quiet life.  Too much noise of our own making or the result of others distracts us from the most important things in life.  We are to take care of our business.  And we are to work to provide for ourselves, our families, and for others who cannot provide for themselves.  Living like this provides an indisputable testimony to those who are not Christ followers.

When we get to verse 13, Paul seems to shift subjects.  But in effect, I think he is giving us a reason to live a holy life.  And that reason is one day, Jesus is coming back to rapture believers out of the earth. 

There are some who tend to reject the notion of the rapture but I want you to notice what Paul says about this in verse 14.  He places the certainty of the rapture on the same level of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  He says if we believe that Jesus died and rose again we should also believe that Jesus is coming back to get us.  This is absolutely huge.  The death and resurrection is the foundational truth of the Gospel.  And in the same way that we believe and cling to that truth, we should also hang on to the fact that Jesus will come and get his church.  Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly!

Posted by Joe Ligon with

1 Thessalonians 3





Pastors don’t often get to talk about pastors.  What I mean by that is pastors don’t often get to talk to their churches about what it means to be a pastor.  Sometimes when pastors preach at other churches they get to speak about being a pastor.  But we pastors seldom get to talk to our own churches about what it means to be a pastor.

The main reason we pastors don’t do that is we don’t want to appear self-serving.  And the other reason is most pastors that I know don’t like the attention on them.  The problem with that is churches are not often taught what the Bible says about the office, the role, the ministry, and the heart of a pastor. 

Thankfully, Paul talks a lot about being a pastor in this chapter.  So we have an opportunity to walk through some of this together.  My hope is that this, as well as all the other devotions we have done together, will serve to strengthen the church.

As the chapter opens, Paul is miserable because he is not with the new church in Thessalonica.  To help alleviate that Paul was willing to send Timothy back to see how things were progressing.  It is interesting that Paul chose young Timothy for this responsibility.  Yet, in verse 2, Paul mentions some important characteristics that support his decision.  First of all Timothy was a brother.  That means he was a Christ follower.  Obviously churches need to be led by Christians.  Second, Paul describes Timothy as God’s coworker.  In other words, he wasn’t a one man show.  He was a team player.  The church will not thrive for long on the personality of one person.  Churches need teams and team leaders to thrive for the long haul.

Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica for a couple of reasons.  One reason, in verse 2, was to exhort, encourage and establish the church to stand firm in the faith.  Paul knew that they were facing difficult times and were dealing with affliction and persecution.  As any good pastor would, he not only grieved that but also wanted to do whatever he could to help those folks walk through that.

The other reason he sent Timothy back was just to get news about the church.  In verses 5-10, Paul is rejoicing in the great news he heard from Thessalonica.  Even though his own circumstances were less than ideal, he was thrilled that the church was doing well.  Even though he was dealing with his trouble, affliction, and persecution, he was glad that things were going well. 

Most pastors can’t go for long without thinking about the church.  Specifically, most pastors can’t go for long without thinking about the folks in the church: those who are sick; those who are grieving; those who are missing in action; those who are doing well.  Most pastors can’t go for long without thinking about what they need to teach the church.  Most pastors can’t go for long without praying for the church.  The reality is it is hard to separate a pastor from his church.

Verses 11-13 almost read like a doxology.  Paul is praying for the Lord’s best to be a reality in the Thessalonian church.  He is praying for the church to be steadfast.  And Paul is praying that the reality of the return of Jesus would be a great encouragement to his friends there. 

Pastoring is unlike any other job because it is a calling.  And a man who is called to minister in a church finds his life inextricably intertwined with the folks of that church.  When they are hurt, he hurts.  When they are good, he is better.  When they are gone, he misses them.  When they have left the church, he always grieves.  When he is away, they are never far from his mind.  And so it should be.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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