Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Shepastor: “The Mark of a Christian Part III: Endurance That is Inspired by Hope...”

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.

In Part II of the series, “The Mark of a Christian," Shepastor explored the example set by the Christians in Thessalonica through their “Labor prompted by love.” Today, we will consider the final example in Part III of this series, “Endurance that is inspired by hope.” The third mark of a Christian is that they are inspired by hope. That’s why Paul says, “we are not as those who have no hope.”

We cannot endure without hope. The term endurance means, “the ability to withstand hardship or adversity especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity like a marathon runner's endurance. I have never run in a marathon. I have never participated in those 5k runs or even walks. But I know people who have and they train for months and weeks to prepare for the long distance. A marathon is not like a sprint. A sprint is a quick short distance run that takes a lot of energy. But a marathon runner needs energy and stamina – staying power. They need endurance.

In order to withstand hardship and adversity, you’ve got to believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, something greater is on the other end of the journey, that your work, your faith, your labor is not in vain! You’ve got to be inspired by hope. For the Christian, our hope is in Christ. We have an eternal hope and we have hope for the here and now. Our eternal hope is that Jesus died for our sins and rose for our salvation. Our eternal hope is that if we confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God has raised him from the dead, we shall be saved. Our eternal hope is that our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Our eternal is that if this earthly tabernacle should be destroyed, we’ve got another building, not made with hands, whose builder and maker is God!

Our earthly hope is that through Christ we can do all things. Our earthly hope is that through Christ we are more than conquerors. Our earthly hope is that Jesus came that we might have the abundant life. Our earthly hope is that we believe to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!!! Hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” The reason why hope is a mark of the Christian is because as God’s people, we live with expectation. We are not like Eor in Winnie the Pooh. We don’t walk around “under the circumstances.” We look up and wait for God’s promises in full expectation that what God said, He is willing and able to do.

We don’t allow our spirits to remain downcast. We like the Psalmist challenge our hearts and declare, “Why art thou cast down oh my soul and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God who is the health and the help of my countenance!” He said, I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance…In other words, when the Psalmist took a look at God, the creator, God, the giver and the sustainer of life, God… the Lord God almighty who hung the moon and the stars in the sky he praised God for the help us his countenance. What is the countenance? The term “countenance” means the look on a person’s face that shows one’s nature or feelings.

We know that God is not a person but a spirit - and none of us living have seen the face of God, but by the reading of His word and the experiences of our lives, we know and understand the nature of God. The personality of God – the way of God. God is a healer – he is a deliverer – he is a way maker – he is the source of our joy and our strength – God is all powerful – He is all knowing – He is everywhere and can do anything – God’s countenance – God’s nature.

So when we as Christians consider these things – the countenance or the nature of God we gain the hope to endure. When we look at our problems matched up against God’s power then we will move from telling ourselves about our problems and instead begin to tell our problems about our GOD!!! As God’s people, our endurance, our ability to withstand hardship, our ability to run the distance, our ability to press our way, our ability to stand the storm, our ability to “keep on keepin on” is inspired by our hope in God! As God’s people, may we take a page out of the character of the Thessalonian Christians…may we (1) Have work that is produced by faith, (2) May our labor be prompted by love and (3) And may our endurance be inspired by hope in Christ Jesus.

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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