May 22, 2014

Today you should read: 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

Welcome to our study through Thessalonians.  As you may recall from yesterdays JumpStart, Paul is remembering his visit to Thessalonica.  Thessaloniki is still a vibrant city (it’s the second largest city in Greece). Receiving God’s Word

Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.  1 Thessalonians 2:13

It’s so easy for us to read God’s Word, hear it taught – even take notes but not really receive it.  We say we believe it, but often live as what Craig Croeschel calls “practical atheists” (from his bookThe Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist).  James addresses this in James 1:22-25

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.  But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Are you the man who hears but doesn’t obey – looks at his dirty face in a mirror and does nothing?  It’s easy to be that man.  Remember when the word of God is taught there are four kinds of hearers (from Jesus words in Matthew 13)

  1. Hard Ground Hearer – their heart is so hard that the word of God doesn’t penetrate it.  It runs off – week after week – like water on pavement.
  2. Shallow Ground Hearer – they act as though they want the Word – they seem to receive it – but because they are so shallow – the ideas they heard quickly die.
  3. Thorny Ground Hearer – they also seem to receive the Word – and you think they’re going to run with it – but the cares and worries and stress of the world steal it away.
  4. Good Ground Hearer – Jesus said hears the Word and receives it.  It produces 100 times results in their lives and lives around them.

What kind of hearer are you?  Do you receive the Word of God?  Do you do what it says? Please post today how the Word of God has changed you in the last 3 months.  Thanks for reading!!

Posted: Tim Parsons

May 21, 2014

Today you should read: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Welcome to today’s Evangelism 201 class.  In Evangelism 101 we learned how to share the gospel via tools like “Prepare To Share.”  Our lesson today is based off of 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 and Paul’s example of ministry in Thessalonica.  We’re going to learn about the appropriate perspective and attitude we should have when sharing the gospel with individuals, groups, and new audiences.  Here we go…

  1. Do not share the gospel in vain (vs. 1).  In other words, we must not share the gospel as if we are salesmen or marketers, or with an empty or hollow attitude.  Instead, we share the gospel with appropriate character, recognizing that sharing the gospel is about bringing glory to God, not us.
  1. Share the gospel with boldness amidst opposition (vs. 2).  Paul experienced much persecution and opposition when spreading the good news about Christ.  One thing that will keep many of us from sharing the gospel is fear amidst opposition.  We must have a strong reliance upon God and proclaim the gospel with boldness.
  1. Share the pure truth of the gospel (vs. 3-4). It’s imperative that we share the truth of the gospel and let it do its work.  We need not add to the gospel or attempt to emotionally coerce someone into surrendering to Christ.  It’s important that we not deceive people by sharing a gospel that makes Christianity sound like an escape from life’s pain and difficulties.  Instead, we’ve been entrusted to share the pure gospel and challenge people to count the cost of surrendering to Jesus.  The gospel is not pleasing to all people, so my goal is not to please them, but to simply share the pure truth of the gospel.
  1. The goal of sharing Christ is not to make our knowledge of Him known, but to make HIM known (vs. 5-6).If we aren’t careful, we will find ourselves using flattering speech and seeking our own glory when sharing the gospel.  It can be tempting to try to impress the listener with our knowledge of God and seek their approval rather than simply make HIM known.
  1. Share the gospel with tenderness (vs. 7-8).  Like a nursing mother cares for her children, we must strive to show love, care, and affection for those with whom we share the gospel.  Sharing the gospel is sometimes a one-time occurrence, but often the gospel is shared over a period of time and is expressed by our life and love for the people we are reaching.  We must present the gospel with grace and tenderness.
  1. Earn the right to be heard (vs. 9-12).  Paul labored with the Thessalonians and proved that his motives were pure.  Sometimes we simply must earn the right to be heard.  Build relationships with people.  Serve them.  Care for them.  Give them a reason to want to hear the gospel from you.

That concludes our lesson for today.  Your homework assignment is to joyfully share the gospel with someone. Posted: Rich Duffield

May 20, 2014

Today you should read: 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10

We live in very difficult times in our culture today. With the advances of technology we are at a time when idolatry is very prevalent. Not to say that idolatry has not always existed but availability to indulge in our idolatry is at an all time high. The Thessalonians were sort of like our modern day New York City. It was the capital of Rome and a booming center of trade. It was a melting pot of Romans, Jews, Greeks and Egyptians. With that kind of society there was a number of different religions and cults. As we look at our passage today I want to help us think about what we can learn from the Thessalonians. How did they demonstrate the gospel through their lives in a culture devoid of the gospel?

1. They demonstrated the joy of Christ in the midst of affliction.

We live in a day and time when having faith in Jesus can be seen as ignorant, closed minded and even hateful because of our the Bible’s stance on family and marriage. You will face opposition for your faith at some level if you are trying to live out a genuine faith in Jesus. How you respond will determine who is in control of your heart, yourself or Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. It does not mean you have to be happy about affliction but it does mean you will have a peace and joy beyond understanding in the midst of affliction (Philippians 4:7)

2. True faith in the midst of struggle speaks volumes to those around us.

If you want to be a light in your home, your work place, in your school or wherever you go then have authentic faith. I have heard it said that, “more is caught then taught.” It is absolutely true. The Thessalonians got an opportunity to be a witness because of their actions. If you want your kids to love God then show them that God matters to you by your actions. If you want your co-workers or lost friends to give you an opportunity to share your faith then show them that your faith is real and that it matters.

What would you say that you have been communicating about your faith to others by your actions? What needs to change?

Posted: Chad Wiles

May 19, 2014

Today you should read: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5

Welcome to 1 Thessalonians at Jumpstart! If you are new to us, this is a great time to join in since we are starting a new book. This is one of Paul’s many letters, and since we’ve been through a number of them already, I’ll just remind you with this simple graphic what his life journey (post-conversion) looked like:

Paul Timeline

This short letter covers much ground. Paul has a lot of major subjects that he addresses. One of the key things he was trying to accomplish was correcting and influencing the Thessalonians’ theology. He also deals with practical issues, but these are addressed largely due to theological concerns that Paul had. As you’ve heard us say many times here at CPC, “What you believe affects how you live.” That’s what this letter is all about: orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy, or at least it should.

Here’s a snapshot of the major themes of the book:

1 Thess Themes

Paul starts this letter much like he does in his other writings. He begins with telling them who it is from — Paul, Silas and Timothy — and who it is going to — the church at Thessalonica. He then gives one of his traditional greetings: grace and peace. The letter moves to a discipler-disciple relationship that should be emulated by us.

>> The discipler is grateful for his disciples (v.2)
>> The discipler prays for his disciples (v.2-3)
>> The disciples are faithful to Christ (v.3)
>> The disciples are serving with love (v.3)
>> The discipler reminds his disciples of the Gospel (v.4-5)
>> The discipler cared deeply for his disciples (v.5)

Church, my prayer for you today is similar to Paul’s for the Thessalonians. I am grateful for you, and I pray that you remember what Jesus did for you on the cross. As you remember that critical gospel truth, I pray that you let it overwhelm you to the point of changing the way you live. Soli Deo Gloria!

(Both info graphics from ESV Online)

Posted: Todd Thomas