1 Thessalonians 3:11-3:13
FOLLOW THE LEADER – Adoption Day
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (pg. 825) August 23, 2015
Have you ever loved someone so much that after a period of time you had to see them again? I mean you just couldn’t stand being separated from them? And maybe, because of circumstances or distance…it was impossible.
[Kari and I dated for 2 ½ years while I was in school in Knoxville, TN and she lived in Fort Pierce Florida….About 900 miles and limited funds separated us for long periods…we talked every Sunday night. I had to use a payphone in the hallway of Brown Hall at Johnson, but I could hardly stand not seeing her in person…and as soon as I got the chance I’d get in my little pick up and head south on 75.
While my son was in Iraq for almost 2 years…we got to see him once…during his 2 week furlough…we wrote to each other…emailed…calls were more difficult, but there were a few…usually “I can’t talk long Dad…we’ve got a mission, but I love you…see you soon.”
I could hardly stand it…and couldn’t wait to wrap my arms around my son.]
The apostle Paul uses that same phrase 2 times in 1 Thessalonians chapter 3….
Right after he tells the Thessalonians… “You are our joy and crown.” He says
“So when we could stand it no longer…we sent Timothy to strengthen and encourage you.”
Both Paul and the people he loves are in the middle of a war…A war of trials and persecution of their faith…He says in verse 5… “For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent (Timothy) to find out about your faith…I was anxious that in some way the tempter had pulled you away…and I was afraid our labor might have been in vain.” (v. 5)
Paul uses the word “labor.” It’ s the same word that’s used to describe what a mother endures when giving birth to a child.
I’m not sure any man has the right to use that word…but the Apostle Paul says… “Labor…pain…work” was involved in the Thessalonians being “adopted into God’s family.” His labor…Silas labor…Timothy’s labor…was a part of these believers being born again.
You see most men can biologically sire a child…but making the choice to become a father is completely different…It involves a lifetime of love, sacrifice, and time.
It made the Apostle Paul tell his adopted spiritual children “Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.”
(1 Thess. 3:10)
It seemed impossible for Paul to get back to Thessalonica…but he knew something about our heavenly Father.
I. GOD WILL CLEAR A WAY FOR US
There’s a song that goes “God will make a way when there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see…God will make a way for me.”
It’s why our text begins “Our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus can clear the way for us to come to you.” (v. 11) That’s what we’re praying for!!”
Faith doesn’t doubt God’s power to do anything…but it also trusts God’s plan and His timing.
Human nature…our sinful one, desires immediate comfort when we are in darkness…and immediate happiness when we’re unhappy. We plead for the thorns to be removed…There’s nothing wrong with that…it’s human nature…but faith keeps trusting God when He says…“No, my grace is sufficient for you.”
Paul tells the Thessalonians and us something important in verses 3 and 4. “We don’t want you to be unsettled by these trials. FOR YOU KNOW QUITE WELL THAT WE ARE DESTINED FOR THEM.”
I struggle a great deal with preachers. Some who preach to multitudes, who say…it’s God’s plan for you to be healthy and wealthy…Really??? It’s God’s plan for us to be like Jesus…who’s only worldly possession they gambled for while He died on a cross…Paul had a thorn in the flesh, and Peter writes,
1 PETER 4:12-14 (p. 852)
Satan is a liar…it’s his native tongue according to Jesus…And so many of us become “unsettled” in our faith because we start believing His lies…Echoes from his deception of Adam & Eve.
Why is God with holding this…He knows what you need, but won’t give it to you…you won’t die…
And we become bitter of Spirit, we become cynical in our faith…and the tempter tempts us away from the Father, and we seek to find happiness outside His will…and His way.
[I was with one of my very best friends the other day and he shared with me that after relocating…finding a church was hard…they thought they’d found one, but things didn’t work out…and they started spending weekends camping…they met some folks…these folks brought other folks who did some things he used to do in his former life…pretty soon those things were tempting again. He wanted that connection, so did His wife…He had the spiritual discernment to see what was happening…the spiritual welfare that he was engaged in…and he made the right choices for he and his family…but Satan’s a schemer isn’t he? His goal is to pull you away from your heavenly father…and he’s had a lot of practice…and a lot of success too.]
When the way seems blocked…don’t take a rabbit trail…wait for God to clear it. Faith says…I’ll trust and wait…Satan says “Come on” take the rabbit trail” and it’s important to remember God’s Word says “We all, like sheep, go astray.” All of us take the rabbit trail occasionally…Thankfully the Great Shepherd continually calls us back to the Way…the Truth…and the Life…The only way to the Father…Jesus.
If you’re on Satan’s rabbit trail today, Man!
I hope you’ll hear His Spirit calling you back…
Paul wanted to get back to the Thessalonians so bad he could hardly stand it…they needed more discipling, and as they shared with their family and friends, new believers were made…All this in the midst of persecution and trials.
Why didn’t God open a way when Paul tried to return again and again…Paul says “Satan stopped us” in verse 18…Why didn’t God unstop Satan?
I don’t know… “His ways are higher than my ways…His knowledge is perfect…mine is shadowy and incomplete, at best.”
Sometimes God says “No.” Sometimes He says “wait” and sometimes he says “go.” Or he allows someone else, like Timothy to go, maybe for Timothy’s growth and maybe he was better for the situation.
Paul believed God clears the way…in His way…and that’s the best way…so do I!!!
Have you ever had God tell you no? To a relationship…to a job…to a possession…only to discover on the other side of the “no” that something much better was waiting…This is the essence of trust…it’s the essence of trust…it’s the essence of faith.
Remember the story of Abraham & Isaac in Genesis 22 after 2 ½ decades of waiting for God to fulfill his promise to bless Sarah & Abraham with a child. When He was 100 and she was 90…she had a child of laughter…Isaac.
So when Genesis 22:2 records these words from God…it’s shocking. “Take your son…your only son, Isaac, go to the region of Moriah, and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on the Mountain I will show you.”
What’s even more shocking is the next verse…“Early the next morning Abraham loaded up…and set out.”
On that mountain are a father and his son…and the son asks a heartbreaking question “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering.” And the father replies: “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burn offering…and the two went on together.” Listen to the scripture:
GENESIS 22:9-18 (p. 14)
God always provides. He is always Jehovah Jireh. This 115 year old man (just a guess) had stood on smaller mountains before…passed some tests…failed others…but had reached a place he understood…He trusted…the blessing that God has planned is on the other side of faith…even if it takes a hundred years…or the raising of a knife.]
Abraham and Paul knew through faith what 1 Thessalonians 3:11 says “Our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus Christ will clear the way.”
God’s plan is always to prepare us for His blessing…The Question.
II. ARE WE LONGING FOR HIS PRESENCE?
“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as our does for you. May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones.” (v. 12-13)
Remember Paul says “Night and Day we’ve been praying to see you again.”
Paul longs to be in the presence of the people he loves…and he longs even more to be in the presence of God His Father.
One is prevented by imprisonment and persecution one is the future hope of Jesus’ return which hasn’t happened yet.
This adopted child of God longs and needs to be with other adopted family members in worship…And more than anything else He longs to see His adopted Father. It’s why he wrote these words to the Christians in Rome…Read with me.
ROMANS 8:14-18 (p. 787)
You see our relationship with God in worship and our relationship with other adopted children is essential for two reasons. (One) our love increases and overflows (to other believers and to everyone.)
The Holy Spirit opens our hearts to others…We begin to consider others more important than ourselves. We start to use our struggles as ministry to others who struggle. The love of Jesus begins to well up in our soul…and it pours over into the lives of people…As the church, we don’t just come to a place…we gather to share our lives and love each other…and those who are so lost….We long for other children to be adopted by the same “Abba” daddy that has adopted us.
And two: Our hearts are strengthened in preparation for His return. Our hearts are the bank we deposit every thought and emotion into…both Jesus and Solomon spoke this truth…Solomon said, “Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:23)
Jesus said “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and an evil man brings evil out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)
Satan would harden our hearts, make them cynical, fill them with selfish ambition and vain conceit. He knows our nature is sinful and selfish so he finds a ready helper in our flesh. When this happens the band is filled with counterfeit notes…Our mouths speak things which hold no value. They appear to be real, but aren’t. When the Holy Spirit fills the vault. He produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. And your mouth sings praises of longing to be with God…and your mouth proclaims “good news” to everyone. No wonder guarding our heart…strenthinging our heart is something we should do “Above everything else.” It’s the bank both the Holy Spirit and the enemy want to fill.
[I have these great friends: Bart and Sarah Price
SHOW PICTURE OF PRICE FAMILY
Bart was in our youth group in Louisville, and Sarah is Allen Cooper’s daughter…the camp manager at Camp Calvary, one of my best friends. I did Senior High weeks with him for over a decade. Bart and Sarah minister at Antioch Christian Church in Willisburg…My first preaching ministry…Randall Barnett’s Father, O’rear was one of my elders. This past year Bart and Sarah began the adoption process for a daughter…a little girl named Pia…she’d join her brother Joe. But it was difficult…Bulgaria and it’s regulations, rules and bureaucracy…made it almost impossible…8 weeks ago that door opened. Papers were signed…Pia became a Price. God made a way..I’ll let Sarah tell you a little about it
Read Sarah’s Story:
Throughout this entire journey we have known that God has orchestrated things! When we weren’t sure where to start, He led us to Bulgaria. When we struggled and didn’t have the money. He provided every time something was due. When we were scared or worried over details, He provided peace to cover us. He closed doors we were not to walk through, and opened doors that took our breath away and left us wondering. It was not always easy, but God was ALWAYS with us. We never felt alone. There is so much hurt and pain and mistrust woven into adoption – we are still learning, but in the difficult times we know that God is faithful. He brought us here! And we would follow Him again through all of it to bring Pia home.]