Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Shepastor: “The Mark of a Christian Part I”

1 Thessalonians 1:1-3 New International Version (NIV)
1 Paul, Silas[a] and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace to you.
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Thessalonian Christians were discouraged. Their loved ones were dying, time was passing, the church was being persecuted and it appeared that all hope was lost. This letter encourages the believers to keep the faith, knowing that God was with them, their faith would be rewarded and that Christ will return. The Apostle Paul begins this letter by lifting up the Thessalonians’ strong witness of faith, born out by their actions. He encourages them by letting them know that they are example to Christians everywhere, an example that continues to instruct us today.

In these few short verses, Paul outlines 3 impressive characteristics that the Christians at Thessolonica exhibited. (1) Their work produced by faith, (2) Their labor prompted by love and (3) Their endurance inspired by hope in Christ Jesus. In Part I of this series, we will explore the meaning of the first characteristic, “Work produced by faith.”

Let’s take a moment and consider “work produced by faith.” Picture in your mind where they were. Thessolonica was a large, metropolitan trading center in Greece. It became the capital of Rome. It was a busy business area with people from all over the world, selling, buying, bartering, arguing, pushing, shoving, demanding, drinking, cursing, possibly lewd and crude behavior. If you’ve ever been to New York City, downtown during rush hour or even just during other times of the day, you can get a sense of the hustle, bustle, fast pace. Now imagine trying to live a life that is completely opposite of that culture. Add to that persecution from the people around you as well as the government. That was the lot of the Christians in Thessalonica!

They were doing all that they could to learn, grow and walk in their new relationship with Jesus. They were swimming against the tide. They were also deeply committed to sharing their faith with others. They were workers. But not just any kind of workers, they were people who had work that was produced by their faith. It took FAITH for them to continue to do the work of the church in the midst of great persecution. They had to be able to see beyond what was before their eyes and believe that the sacrifice, their suffering, their struggle, their undaunted actions were not in vain.

The Thessalonian Christians’ work was produced by their faith. It can be challenging to keep on working, keep on praying, keep on believing, keep on serving, keep on planting seeds when everything around you is screaming your work is not making a difference. But their work was produced by their faith. That which comes out of the ground is called, “produce.” It was planted and spent a great amount of time in the dirt before it came bursting up through the soil with vegetables and fruit. Their work was the “produce” of their faith.

The Thessalonians worked because they had faith. They kept on being about their Father’s business because they had faith. One mark of a Christian is that they walk by faith and not by sight. If you can see the answer, if you can see the end result, if you can see just how everything is going to work out, then it is not faith. FAITH is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen!

It takes faith to do the great works of God
. It takes faith to keep on working, keep on toiling, keep on building, keep on serving when everything is going against you and only a few people are standing with you. But the child of God understands that with God ALL THINGS are possible. The child of God understands that greater is he that is within you than he that is within the world.

The child of God understands that we need mustard seed faith… a little bit of faith is potent. A little bit of faith can help you to move mountains. A little bit of faith can produce GREAT results. Faith compels you to keep on working, keep on serving, keep on planting, keep on sacrificing because you see beyond the natural. You see victory in the spirit realm in the heavenlies.
You speak those things that be not as though they were. You remember where you’ve come from and you believe in where you are going. One mark of a Christian is work produced by faith.

Next week we will consider the 2nd powerful characteristic exhibited by the Thessalonian Church, in Part II of this series, "The Mark of a Christian: Labor prompted by love.”

Until then,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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