1 Thessalonians 1

Today we begin a short series on the letter to the Thessalonians.

Thessaloniki, Greece Image, Pixabay

Collect

God of truth,

help us to keep your law of love

and to walk in ways of wisdom,

that we may find true life

in Jesus Christ your Son.

Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace.

We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions[b] report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.

Sermon

Brothers and sisters, although the majority of the world is aware of the Christian religion, few are aware of faith.  You may ask is one not the same as the other?  Well, we are not living in the times of the first believers, witnessing Christ and his miracles firsthand.  Instead, we are living according to Hebrews 11 verse 1; we’re living the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.  We haven’t seen God in Christ as a human being, but we know of his existence and we believe in Him.

We are living in this time, 2000 years later.  A time where at the touch of a few buttons we can access information about almost anything through Google and view a video about how to access, work, or create it via YouTube.  We live in a country and in a time where people believe in what they can see, hear, and touch.  Faith isn’t typically required as everything is present and at the tip of our fingers.  Things happen in our everyday lives, but unlike the past where word of mouth and writing on tablets was the main way of passing on information, we share stories through in a variety of ways and can do so instantly through social media.  You might say, there are no miracles in my life or at least none worth sharing.  No one has been raised from the dead or regained their sight after being blind.  But, you’re wrong. 

A miracle by definition is an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.  In other words, it could not be explained by reason and thus must have been a gift from God.  The very miracle of life is something to celebrate every day.  My own daughter was born with a limp arm that barely moved.  The doctors said that there were no broken bones, no fractures, and after various body and head scans, they couldn’t identify the issue.  My family prayed for her for 3 days.  We had faith that though the doctors could place no reason for why her arm was deformed, that God could and would heal her.  On the third day her arm was miraculously healed.  There’s something about that third day.  There’s something about the name of Jesus!  Amen? 

When she attended her physiotherapy, the therapist said he couldn’t identify any abnormalities, but due to her age scheduled a follow-up visit.  After seeing her 6 months later, she was discharged.  This is one of many stories I share as a part of my overall testimony.  What is your testimony?  What have you had to believe and trust God for, what strengthened your faith and gave you hope?  What is your story?

Recently, I attended a diocesan course on evangelism where we were asked about how we talk to others and share our faith.  Interestingly, many shared their discomfort about how to do this.  Although, many had been Christians for majority of their lives and were church goers, they struggled in this area.  We see in the first Thessalonians 1, that these followers of Christ lived by faith and led the example of how to live.   Their actions spoke to those around them and others were drawn in because they witness their major life changes and saw the fruit from it.  In verse 5 it said the gospel came in not only word, but in full conviction.  We know that Jesus is the word and gave us the perfect example on how to live.  Being convicted is being firm in what we believe, having faith without a doubt that all our blessings come from God.

You might ask how do I live so that others might see?  How do I share my convictions and my story with others?  And, how do I do it during covid, when we have to be socially distanced?  The answer is easy.  You must be guided by the Holy Spirit.  Now, that answer might sound cliché, but the reality is only you know your story.  Jesus gave us two commandments to follow: to love God above all else and to love our neighbours as ourselves.   Ecclesiastes 3 verse 1 says there is a time and season for everything.  There will be moments where you can share the love of Christ with others.  This could be sharing something small like whilst leaving the till at the supermarket saying, “God bless you.”  Or it could be sharing something a bit more personal when chatting to a stranger whilst waiting for the bus, or a video blog on your Facebook page.  The great commission comes in various forms.  In Matthew it says to make disciples and baptise them.  In Mark it says to preach the gospel to all creation.  However, and whatever form the Holy Spirit is directing you, do as the Thessalonians, be bold…share your story with power and conviction.  Know that no matter what, our invisible God has not been invisible in your life and sharing your story of faith might be the miracle that someone else has been waiting for.

Final Hymn, To God be the Glory

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