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1 Thessalonians #8
Love God by Loving People

This morning we come to the last section in 1 Thessalonians. Paul is anxious to get his letter delivered to the Thessalonians. I wonder if...

--Timothy is all set to take the letter back to the Thessalonians.

--A ship is ready to leave...

--He is running out of paper...

For whatever reason, Paul seems anxious to tell them everything. So, this last paragraph of 1 Thessalonians is packed. Paul lists 12 things the Thessalonians need to do. Paul makes an extensive Christian “To-Do” list.

This is fine for Paul to make a “To-Do” list for the Thessalonians... but it violates my first rule of preaching... Have a point. Not 2 points, not 12 points; have a single point. The problem with having more than one point in a sermon... is you are unlikely to remember 12 things. You are even more unlikely to incorporate any of them. One point may be doable, but 12 is just noise.

That leaves me with a dilemma. Or maybe it is a duo-deca-lemma. Listen to the paragraph. Then, I will tell you what we are going to do with this sermon.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 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. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. Brothers pray for us. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

The twelve are underlined. Here is how I am going to solve my duo-deca-lemma, you pick one. I will quickly go through all 12 of Paul’s “to-do” list. You pick one to do this week. Once you pick your one you don’t have to listen to the rest of the sermon. If you do one, it will make me feel like this sermon is a success.

Ready here we go... this is going to be fast.

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1) Love on your leaders

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 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.

The first thing on Paul’s “to-do” list for the Thessalonians was to love on their leaders. Paul doesn’t use the word “elders” here, but I think that is who he has in mind. Paul wants the Thessalonians to respect their elders because of their labor. Paul wants them to esteem their elders because of their work.

To-Do Item #1 – Give an elder some love. I would suggest you tell one of our elders you love them for their 25+ years of labor. Wow, can you imagine being an elder over a bunch of chuckleheads like us for over 25 years? Send them a Hallmark, or one of those cute emails that play music or just genuinely thank one.

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2) Live at peace

1 Thessalonians 5:13 Be at peace among yourselves.

This is part of number 1, I suspect. But I want to break it out. Be at peace.

--Don’t be that guy... who is the whiner.

--Don’t be that guy... who causes consternation.

--Don’t be that guy... who the elders pray about in their meetings.

Be easy to get along. Put the joy of others above your druthers.

To-Do Item #2 – Give a kudo instead of a critique. When you feel someone needs a piece of your mind... give them a kudo instead. A kudo is than an atta-boy.

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3) Be patient with the confused

1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

I suspect we are going to find out in 2 Thessalonians that some of the believers in Thessalonica had quit working and were sponging off the church. Perhaps, they thought Jesus was coming soon, so they were just going to coast until the Parousia. Paul tells everyone to patiently encourage them to get a job. Be encouraging to those who are confused. Be helpful to the hurting. General principle... be patient with those who are off a bit.

To-Do Item #3 – Be patient with someone who is off. This can be a simple word of kindness. You could take someone to lunch. A genuine... “How are you feeling?” Listen to their problems. Be kind to someone who may be off.

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4) No revenge

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

This is part of human tendency. If we feel wronged, we want to get even. There is this overactive sense of vengeance in most of us. There is a drive to right every wrong.

Sneak over to Romans 12 where Paul elaborates on this principle.

Romans 12:17-21 Repay no one evil for evil but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 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.

Wrong is rarely overcome with brute force. Love is the way to defeat wrongness. This action item can only be chosen if you have a problem that needs to be righted. Do this one if you are passively-aggressing someone with the silent treatment.

To-Do Item #4 – Give your wrong to God.

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5) Rejoice by praying

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

These could be three different things. Who wants a 14 “to-do” list. I think the thought is one. Prayer is a way to rejoice when you give thanks for who you. Rejoice in what is going on in your life. The place where you are needs rejoicing.

To-Do Item #5 – Give a prayer of thanksgiving for yourself. To keep everyone from doing this one because it is the easiest. You need to do it without ceasing... at least everyday this week... at a minimum.

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6) Be in touch with the Spirit

1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.

Here is how I think this could work. Spend some time in quietness listening for someone you need to connect with. Listen, test, do it.

To-Do Item #6 – Listen for a message to give to someone.

12 point-sermons are brutal. We are only half-way done.

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7) If it’s stupid...

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from every form of evil.

We normally think of evil as something big; murder, child molesting, terrorism, or brutality. Perhaps, the thought here is not just abstaining from “big” evil, but from dumb evil; every form of evil. If you are doing something that is stupid... stop doing it.

To-Do Item #7 – Stop doing something stupid. At least for this week.

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8) Praise God for your sanctification

Number 8 is the opposite of number 7.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming (Parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

This is my favorite one. The God of peace. YHWH is peace. YWHW is good. YHWH is holy. He is making you to be his person. God is making you to be his instrument ready for the Parousia. You are totally set apart for worship. God is faithful. God is going to do it. God is going to make you who you need to be for eternity!

To-Do Item #8 – Praise God for who he is making you to be. Capture a vision of who God is preparing you to be for the next life. Isn’t that an odd thought? God is making you totally ready for the next life. Spend some time contemplating the total package of who you are going to be. Perhaps, write it down... “I am going to be...”

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9) Pray for “us”.

1 Thessalonians 5:25 Brothers, pray for us.

Paul asked the Thessalonians to pray for his team of missionaries. You could do that. Adopt a team of missionaries to pray for. Let them know you are praying for them.

To-Do Item #9 – Pray for a missionary team.

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10) Give a holy hug

1 Thessalonians 5:26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.

In our cultural I would say “holy hug”! Express your affection to each other with a sincere hug.

To-Do Item #10 – Give 10 holy hugs.

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11) Read 1 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 5:27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.

This is serious; under oath. Paul wants them to read his letter to everyone. I suspect during church. Read this letter out loud!

To-Do Item #11 – Read this letter out loud. Either to someone or just to yourself. Read the letter. In just a moment I am going to recap what we have learned in 1 Thessalonians. As you read it, note the lessons.

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12) Offer the grace of Jesus

1 Thessalonians 5:28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Paul begins the letter with the blessing of grace. Paul ends his letter with the blessing of grace. We normally say, “Good Luck!” when we want to bless someone. That’s ok. But it would be better to offer the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to others.

To-Do Item #12 – Offer the blessing of grace to another. See if you can remember to offer grace instead of luck. Instead of saying, “Good luck” say, “The grace of Jesus be with you!”

That would be cool.

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Here is your list of 12 choices. If you haven’t picked one, let me recap.

To-Do Item #1 – Give an elder some love.

To-Do Item #2 – Give a kudo instead of a critique.

To-Do Item #3 – Be patient with someone who is off.

To-Do Item #4 – Give your wrong to God.

To-Do Item #5 – Give a prayer of thanksgiving for yourself.

To-Do Item #6 – Listen for a message to give to someone.

To-Do Item #7 – Stop doing something stupid.

To-Do Item #8 – Praise God for who he is making you to be.

To-Do Item #9 – Pray for a missionary team.

To-Do Item #10 – Give 10 holy hugs.

To-Do Item #11 – Read this letter out loud.

To-Do Item #12 – Offer the blessing of Christ’s grace to another.

I challenge you to pick one of the twelve. Each one of the 12 loves someone. Each of the 12 either loves others or yourself. I believe when we love those in front of us, we love God. It is difficult to love God, directly. Love should be demonstrated with some sort of action. That is hard to do toward God. So, we love God by loving people. We love God when we... love those around us. That is the answer to my duo-deca-lemma; here is the one point of this sermon... We love God by loving others.

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Next week, we jump into 2 Thessalonians. Paul finds out he needs to fix a couple of more things. Let’s close our study of 1 Thessalonians by recapping what we learned. I am surprised by how much we have learned in 1 Thessalonians.

1) The Christian life is composed of three essential elements... faith, love and hope. We need all of these to be solid as a Christian.

--We need our theology solid. What we believe is important.

--We use love as the power of the kingdom.

--Our hope keeps us going!

2) We also discovered that... our community is also formed in... faith, love and hope.

--Faith forms our community in common belief.

--Love gives our community power.

--Our hope is motivation to keep faithfully keep loving!

3) There is nothing as powerful as a sacrificial, authentic, God-glorifying, gentle, life-sharing, blameless, truth-speaking... covenant-community! We can out love the world!

4) Whenever the storm clouds of suffering are gathering in your life, you will need faith; a faith in the word of God, which works within you to produce obedience, forged in a faith-community, transformed into trust, which is victorious!

5) Paul is Bez the builder. We are the temple. We must keep the temple beautiful. Christians, individually and churches, collectively, ought to be committed to more and more... more and more obedience to Jesus; more and more pleasing God; more and more beautified by the Spirit.

6) Nick is asleep, waiting for the Parousia, to always be with the Lord. Christians live in hope of the next life!

7) Loving each other loves God. 12 ways to love God.

I’m going to close this sermon by doing my challenge for the week. Here is #12... “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”


Tim Stidham

Los Alamos Church of Christ

November 11, 2018



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