Title: WHAT IT MEANS TO “REALLY LIVE”
Text: 1 Thess. 3:9-13
Everywhere you turn today we are bombarded with propaganda on “the good life.” Everyone is offering products or ideas that promise to make you happy. The appeals are hedonistic or materialistic to the core. Each one promises things that are sure to bring satisfaction.
But none of them will ever fulfill their promise in any lasting way. Why? Because nothing that is external and temporal is capable of meeting our deepest internal needs.
The good life needs to be replaced with the real life. The good life provides only fantasies and fakes, but the real life brings us an abundant, fulfilling relationship with God.
When we order our own lives, we substitute the real thing with that which leaves us empty. We turn from God’s way and we create our own. We replace the real with the fake, the authentic, the artificial. When we do that, we replace satisfaction with emptiness.
But when we listen to God, we change. We experience life that is truly satisfying. Paul tells us in our text how we can really live. Read Text!
There are four elements here that make up the real life: Joyful in gratitude (3:9), earnest in prayer (3:10), abounding in love (3:11-12), and established in holiness (3:13).
1. When you hear nonchristians say, “Man, this is really living!”, what kind of things are they usually talking about? What percentage of our society do you think is really striving to find the best life they can possibly live? Where are people going in order to find this gusto of life?
2. Paul’s first ingredient to the abundant life is being joyful in gratitude. Do you think this is essential to living a good life? Explain. What are you joyfully grateful for when you think of our church?
3. Does joyful gratitude mean anything if it is not expressed? What are some ways we can express this joyful gratitude?
4. The friendship and loyalty of the Thessalonicans must have given Paul a deep sense of happiness even though he was going through rough times. How much do you depend on the support of Christian friends in rough times? How can a Christian express their loyalty to other believers? When do they need it most?
5. Paul did not let his own circumstances dictate what his attitude toward life would be. How much of your life would you say was wasted in raunchy attitudes because of the circumstances around you? What would it take for you to turn your attitudes around if things started off bad on any given day? Ps. 103:1-2
6. The second ingredient to the real life is being earnest in prayer. How frequent did Paul pray for the believers in Thessalonica? What kind of commitment does it take to be that consistent in praying for someone?
7. Paul prayed specifically for them in two areas. List them. Do you think Satan blocks the way of Christians getting together? 1 Thess. 2:18; 1 Cor. 16:5-9
8. One of the things Paul prayed for was the opportunity to complete what was lacking in their faith. Paul must have had something in mind. Do you think a pastor has similar things in mind concerning the flock God has entrusted to him? When do you think a pastor addresses those concerns?
9. When a pastor is preaching and teaching, do you listen with the thought that he is trying to “complete that which is lacking in your faith”? Can we really expect to complete that which is lacking if we do not apply the delivered Word to our lives? Heb. 13:7,17
10. In verses 11-12 Paul gives the third ingredient to the real life: abounding in love. Paul wanted them to know there is a connecting link between the Lord and their love for others. Jesus said that the world would know we are Christians by our love. Why is that? 1 Jn. 4:8 How can loving others sacrifically be one of the ingredients to the abundant life...does loving others make us that much happier and fulfilled in life? Can a Christian see someone in need and turn his back on him, have the Spirit of Christ in them? 1 Jn. 3:16-18; Ja. 2:15-16
11. Paul said our love is to overflow toward one another and all men. Who are some of the most neglected people when it comes to you loving them? Who did Jesus tell us to reach for Him in Matt. 22:8-10; 25:31-40?
Comment: Here is a suggestion of the kind of love we are to express to all men.
Listen. Respect and accept people enough to graciously hear what they have to say.
Overlook. Pass over and forgive the minor, unpleasant flaws in others.
Value. Demonstrate respect towards others that overshadows any critical comments we may have to make.
Express. Love is demonstrative. We don’t just feel love or say loving things. Rather we show love by doing what is in their best interest.
12. The final ingredient to the real life is being established in holiness. Why is personal holiness so important to living the abundant life? 1 Pet. 1:15-16 Where does our standard for holiness come from? How long are we to strive in God’s power for this standard of holiness? 1 Thess. 3:13 When will we finally be altogether holy? 1 Jn. 3:2-3
Let’s get the most benefit we can out of tonight’s study. To really grab a hold of this real life, we need to apply it to our lives...
1. Mentally...let’s grow wiser. Let’s commit ourselves to applying the knowledge we already have rather than simply acquiring more facts.
2. Emotionally...let’s grow stronger. Our decisions should be based on the facts that we know rather than just on our feelings.
3. Spiritually...let’s grow purer. We should strive to live holy lives by pleasing God rather than man.