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March
11
2018

Living for Jesus: Life in the Church

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is
growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore
we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your
persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
This is part two of Living for Jesus. As people who believe in God and claim a special
relationship with Jesus it's good to look at God's Word and see how we are doing. Sometimes
we can hear God's Word like a fresh inspiration--or like a new song. I hope today's Word can
be like that for you, or that it will challenge you and bless you.
Some background on 2 Thessalonians, the letter was written around 50 A.D. about 18 months
after the first letter. Paul was probably in Corinth. Thessalonica lies at the base of Mt. Olympus,
the home of the Pantheon of gods.
The letter begins. Paul, Silvanus and Timothy someone might ask, “Why did Paul mention
Silas and Tim? He’s the Apostle, he started the church. He’s writing the letter, everyone looks
to him. But Paul knows that everyone matters! Everyone is important and of great value.
You matter to me, to one another and to God. Turn to your neighbor and say. “You matter!”
Paul also knows how much everyone in the church cares for Silas and young Timothy. They
also worked very hard at getting to know everyone and sharing the gospel and encouraging
each other. Always name those who are in the ministry together!
Vs.1b, “To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
To the church of Cheney United Methodist in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Did
you notice we owe our existence as a church to God? We draw our life from God our Father
and the Son. So, we are in God, and God empowers us, builds us up and leads us! We are in
God and we are in Christ Jesus.
Vs.2 completes the introduction and salutations. It was customary in those days to offer grace in
the salutations--Paul always added peace. Two great gifts that are ours from God. Grace is
God's power and favor that works in our lives. Peace can be a sense of wholeness, health and
well-being. You could consider this a prayer that when the letter arrives you will know God’s
presence active in your life and that you may have health.
Verses 3-4 reflect a thanksgiving for God's grace. “We ought always to give thanks to God
for you ...” 18 months earlier he wrote: “We always thank God for all of you.” The difference
here is a stronger sense of thanksgiving--like it's almost an obligation to give thanks and it's a
proprietary thing to do! I'm not saying that Paul's thanksgiving was not sincere, the wording
suggests Paul is very thankful to see that they have grown spiritually, and the credit is due to
God's grace!
Now take a look around, see who is here today. Here are people who worship here regularly,
people who represent the family of God at this location. Can you give thanks that they are here?
I give thanks for all of you. I give thanks for your dedication and witness. I give thanks for your
love for Christ. Can you give thanks for everyone here? I do mean everyone!

Let's finish verse 3, “because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one
of you for one another is increasing.” I want you to notice 3 things in this verse. One. It says
Everyone. Love is not for the elite: the pastor, your Sunday School teacher, the chairs of the
boards and committees--it is for everyone. If you are not convinced about love, you are probably
not convinced about Jesus. Today would be a wonderful day to turn from your sin and fully
embrace Jesus Christ by faith and have all your sins forgiven! Then you can begin the journey
with us that moves away from selfishness and stretches and strains for selflessness, you turn
from me, me, me to thinking of others. Let our definition of love be “You before Me!” Turn to
your neighbor and say, “You before me.”
Second, we love one another. Love is reciprocal. Some of us are challenged to let people
love us. We can serve them, do things for them and with them--but it is hard to receive from
others! Love is supposed to be mutual; it is a two-way street. And we should be teaching our
children both how to give and to receive.
Third, Love is increasing. It is not flat or stale, Love is still growing, still increasing! I can
honestly say, that “I love Jesus more today than when I started in ministry.” Do you love
your spouse more today? What about your children? Would it be odd to say to someone, “I
think our love has reached its maximum potential?” How can that be? Don't you think a love
worth having is alive, a living love? Our love won't be perfect this side of heaven.
Verses 4, “Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your
steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are
enduring.” Normally as Christians we don't encourage boasting. Paul used a Greek word that
is only used here in the New Testament. It typically means “To be “marked” with something
hot like being branded. Paul was saying, even in the short time he was there, he was deeply
touched by what he experienced of their love, faith and zest for life-- it left a deep impression.
He boasts in the sense he takes delight in telling this to the other churches. I could ask have you
made a mark on someone? Do you try to let the light of Christ show through you?
However, the key word of the verse is “steadfastness.” Paul was super impressed with their
steadfastness and faith. Get this even in the midst of persecution and affliction. Persecution is
more specific than affliction and deals with religious threats, restrictions and danger. Affliction
could be trials from evil, or simply bad circumstances. Either way they were steadfast, they
didn't waver in the faith, the kept their eyes on Jesus and trusted in His grace.
Today has enough care and concern for today. Make your mark by steadfastness--in a deep
knowing that Christ is at work in you! We want to live for Jesus, let the church be alive such that
our relationships build each other up and our shining lives give glory to God!
May God bless you!
Pastor Doug

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