What difference does God make?
Because the difference that God makes makes all the difference in the world.
Quick Review of Paul
- Led a successful campaign in Thessalonica
- He and Silas were banned from city of Thessalonica
- Commissioned an untested Timothy to represent him and lead this church
You, as a Christ follower, can thrive in a difficult environment.
You can be in a godless environment and still pursue godly faithfulness and holiness.
Three big successes of this church – 1 Thess. 1:2-3
- Your work produced by faith
- Your labor prompted by love
- Your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ
1. This church was committed to a work of faith – 1 Thess. 1:4-8
Faith (pistis) implies both knowledge and action. One may receive knowledge of a certain truth and may even offer verbal agreement, but “trust” or “confidence” is not said to be present until one’s behavior reflects that truth. In the Hellenistic period, this word came to connote the conviction that gods do exist and are active.
- Imitate a godly person (everybody is influenced by somebody)
- Didn’t fold at the first sign of persecution
2. This church was committed to a labor of love – 1 Thess. 1:9
Turned to God from idols to serve the one true living God
Serve (douleúō) – to yield or surrender to; to give up one’s power to another person or thing
Is something a personal joy or a personal idol?
Does ____________ help you serve God?
Do you serve ____________ which prevents you from serving God?
3. This church was willing wait and allow Jesus to finish the story – 1 Thess. 3:10
What difference does God make?
- Imperfect conditions should not keep you from serving a perfect God
- Keep serving God
- Keep waiting
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
TALK IT OUT
- Read 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Despite living in an environment of persecution, what positive traits did Paul observe within the church at Thessalonica?
- Read Ephesians 2:8-9 and James 2:17-18, 20-22, 26. Although Scripture is clear that we are not saved by our works, what is the connection between faith and works?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 1:6. In this verse, Paul commends the believers for imitating the Lord and their godly leaders. Who are some of your current role models? What is it about them that you find appealing? How is following after them affecting your spiritual growth?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 1:9. Unlike the literal physical idols these early believers had to choose to abandon, the idols we’re tempted to serve today are much more subtle. In his writings about Paul, theologian N.T. Wright describes idols as “shams, unreal gods who could enslave people but had no power to save them.” Name some things that can easily become idols to us today and how they ultimately fail us.
- Read John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 4:13-18; and Revelation 11:15-18, 20:10, 21:1-5. The early church was willing to endure hardship because their faith in Jesus gave them hope for the future as well as strength for the present. According to these passages, what are some of the things we can look forward to as believers? How does this affect how you process what happens in your everyday life?
LIVE IT OUT
- Is your life worth imitating? Probably yes and no. Name one thing you could start (or stop) doing this week to change one of those no traits to a yes trait.
- Is there anything in your life that has a tendency to interfere with your love for God, your time with God or your service to God? Why do you think that happens? What could you start doing differently to help keep that from happening?