November 2, 2008
Proper 26 (A)
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

As believers in Christ we have a responsibility to extend God’s reputation in the world. People are watching us. How do we live lives worthy of the calling of God?

I. We must follow a consistent model.
For the believers in Thessalonica, Paul was that consistent model. He spoke truth to them (1 Thessalonians 2:8); he shared his life with them
(v. 8); he shouldered the burden with them (1 Thessalonians 2:9); and he showed his character to them (1 Thessalonians 2:10). Paul could confidently say, “Do as I do, not just as I say.” He boldly proclaimed through his speech, behavior and character: “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”
We need people like that in our lives, people who are consistent in their walk with God, people who are an open book, people who live the teachings of Christ, people whose walk matches their talk.
A small boy was consistently late coming home from school. His parents warned him that he must be home on time that afternoon, but nevertheless he arrived later than ever. His mother met him at the door and said nothing. His father met him in the living room and said nothing.
At dinner that night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He looked at his father’s full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent. The boy was crushed.
The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy’s plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy, and smiled at his son.
When the boy grew to be a man, he said, “All my life I’ve known what God is like by what my father did that night.”

II. We learn from caring ministers.
Paul not only was a consistent model; he was a caring minister.
As a minister he was gentle like a mother caring for her little children (1 Thessalonians 2:7). He treated them with tender loving care. He was concerned about their safety and security.
As a minister he was diligent as a laborer who toiled night and day (v. 9). He did not want to be a burden on the believers where he ministered. Paul was the first bi-vocational pastor. Whenever he went to a new community, he relied on his skill in tent making to provide for his needs.
As a minister he was encouraging like a father comforting his children (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). He wanted those under his charge to succeed. He pushed them hard so they would not fail as followers of Christ. He did this by encouraging them. Encourage personifies the idea of seeing a runner begin to stumble as he rounds the last turn and heads toward the finish line. Instead of simply letting him fall and finishing the race on his own, the encourager slows down, puts his arm around him and carries him to the finish line, even if it means personally losing the race.

III. We must embody the compelling message (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
It is not enough to watch great examples of the faith and sit at the teaching of wonderful pastors; we have to personify the message of Christ in order to live worthy of God. In order to do this we have to:
Appreciate the Word of God. The Bible is not just another book; it is the very Word of God. It is God’s love letter to us, providing instructions and guidance for daily life.
Appropriate the Word of God. Paul uses the word receive and the word accept in relation to God’s Word. To receive the Word of God means to accept God’s Word; to accept God’s Word means to welcome God’s Word into your heart. Receive means to hear with the ear; accept means to hear with the heart. The idea is not just to hear the Word but to take it into our hearts and make it a part of our lives.
Apply the Word of God. It has been said, “Don’t just study the Bible, do something!” Too often the Bible is intellectualized and emotionalized but not actualized-actually doing what the Lord revealed to us.
God’s call upon our lives is that we live worthy of Him, extending His reputation into the world. When I was a child, I heard over and over again, “You’re Hollis Ezell’s boy.” That meant something special in the small town where I grew up. Now I understand that as a child of God, I have an even greater responsibility to live in such a way that I enhance His reputation in the world. I best do that by following godly examples, learning from faithful ministers and living out God’s Word.

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