Feb 29, 2004 AM
Tree Of Life Wesleyan Church
Behavior In The Church (pt 2)
Country Music Song Titles:
1. If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead?
2. I Went Back to My Fourth Wife for the Third Time and Gave Her a Second Chance to Make a First Class Fool Out of Me
3. You’re the Reason Our Kids are Ugly
4. I’m Ashamed to Be Here, but Not Ashamed Enough to Leave
5. If My Nose Was Running Money, Honey, I’d Blow It Al On You
6. You Were Only A Splinter As I Slid Down The Banister Of Life
7. You Ain’t Much Fun Since I Quit Drinkin’
8. I Would Kiss You Through the Screen door but It’d Strain Our Love
9. I Wouldn’t Take Her to a Dogfight, Even if I thought She Could Win
Thank God that Gospel Music has such a positive and uplifting message, unlike the songs of the world. As a matter of fact, the church is a great resource and promoter of positive music. Without the church and the Christian message, all music would be in the devil’s camp. This is something to thank God for!! And that is what we are going to be looking at this morning – the church’s behavior towards God. So let’s start by reading the same passage that we read last week. 1 Thess. 5:14-24
Last week we looked at our behavior in the church towards each other, how we are to warn the idle, encourage the timid and help the weak – which was covered in verses 14 and 15. This morning we are going to focus on the next few verses in this passage as we look at our behavior towards God.
Paul says that there are seven things that should govern our behavior towards God and the first one is that we are to Be joyful always (vs. 16:NIV). This seems like such a ‘no brainer!’ God has saved us, and He looks after and cares for us! “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28; NRSV). Not only this but He has given us eternal life!! The glorious privilege of living face to face with Him and serving Him forever and ever.
There was once a young boy who went to spend the week with his grandfather on the farm. While walking around he noticed the chickens, they were scratching and playing around. The little lad said, “They ain’t got it”. Next he saw a colt in the field playing and kicking up its heel’s to which he replied, “He ain’t got it”. After examining all of the animals on his grandfather’s farm and see that none of them had “it”, this boy finally found the old donkey in the barn. When he saw the donkey’s long, frowning face and the way that the donkey just stood there he screamed for his grandfather to come quick. “I found it, I found it” the boy kept yelling. When his grandfather asked what he had found he said, “Pawpaw, I found an animal that has the same kind of religion that you have.”
How is it, that we who have the greatest thing in the world often have the longest face to show others? The believer who keeps their thoughts on what we truly have in Jesus Christ, can do nothing but rejoice!! For we have been given everything!! Rejoicing continually is not a new concept that Paul gives us here, Jesus said, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20; NIV) and Paul again tell us in Philippians Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Phil 4:4; NIV)
The next verse says, pray continually. How would you like it if your prayer time went something like this . . . ? READ Illustration.
Pray always. Prayer is God’s ordained way for us to receive things from Him. God moves, acts, and responds to prayer. Prayer stirs fellowship and communion with God and brings about greater knowledge and understanding of God. It causes us to learn more and more about God and stirs more and more trust as well as worship and praise of God. We are to be in prayer continually, not only at appointed times, but always – at least in the sense that we never consciously stop praying, as if at that moment we were not dependent upon God. We are always dependent on Him and so we should always be in prayer. It has been said, “though it is quite impossible for us to be always uttering words of prayer, it is possible and necessary that we should always be living in the spirit of prayer.”
There is so much to pray about, that we would never run out of things to pray. We can pray for our selves, for our families, our church – locally and those far away, for its members, for its leaders, that it will hold to the truths found in the gospel through God’s revelation, for its holiness, unity and mission; for our nation, its leaders and government – and the list goes on and on – besides all the praises that we can offer up in prayer!! So, pray always!
And in keeping in this same thought, Paul says give thanks in all circumstances (vs. 18a; NIV). Giving thanks even in difficult circumstances comes from our recognition of the sovereignty of God and His influence in our lives. He is in total control and He is mindful of His own children. We can see His hand in everything which impacts our lives; or if we cannot see, we trust. You see, we are confident that our loving Heavenly Father gives only good gifts to His children. This does not say that we are to thank Him for terrible trials such as accidents and death and sin, but what it does say that we are to thank God for His presence and power as we walk through those trials. In Jesus there is victory and triumph over all, no matter how terrible. So, in everything give thanks to God for the victory that He give through Jesus Christ.
These three things; that we rejoice always, that we pray continually, and that we give thanks in all circumstances, are God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (vs. 18b; NIV). That expression, “God’s will” may be taken in two ways: first, these are what God requires; and second, these are what God intends and what His grace makes possible – a devotional life marked by joy, prayerfulness, and gratitude, because and we are in Christ Jesus.
John Wesley, I hope we all know something about this man, John Wesley said this about the threefold description of the Christian life. After describing prayer as the “fruit” of rejoicing, and thanksgiving as the “fruit” of both rejoicing and prayer, he declares, “This is Christian perfection. Further than this we cannot go; and we need not stop short of it.” We should never stop short of living our lives where prayer, thanksgiving and rejoicing for what God has done for us are not at the front of everything we do.
Now Paul goes on to say, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (vs. 19; NIV). Or do not “quench” the Spirit’s fire. In other passages of Scripture regarding the Holy Spirit we are told that Christians are to “fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Tim. 1:6; NIV), the New King James says, “to stir up the gift of God”, the New Revised Standard says, “rekindle the gift of God”. The Holy Spirit is a fire that burns within us. The Greek word for “put out” can be used for “extinguishing a fire” or a lamp. John Stott says, “The Holy Spirit is light as well as fire and, far from extinguishing him, we must let him both shine and burn within us.”
There is a great deal of uncertainty as to why Paul was writing these words. Some think that he is addressing a tendency in the church to resist, in some way, the Spirit’s work. Maybe some of the leaders in the Thessalonian church were unsure of themselves and, tended to suppress spontaneous contributions to worship. This is easy to understand because it can at times get out of hand, but when people are afraid to even raise their hands in worship of God because the person next to them never does, or they might think it strange – we have put out the Spirit’s fire – and we should not let this happen – we need the fire and the light of the Holy Spirit to show us how to truly worship, because this is something that we really can not do on our own – we need His help. So let Him help you!!
Do not treat prophecies with contempt (vs. 20; NIV). It is believed by many that this part of the passage may be in regards to the prophecies of Jesus’ return. They think that many of the Thessalonians may have been engaging in wild speculations and inappropriate actions with respect to the Second Coming. In reaction to this, others may have swung too far the other way, shutting off all consideration of the topic. This is still happening today! There are churches and denominations that refuse to talk about the Second Coming of Jesus, and about the book of Revelation, like it is something of the devil – its not, its of God Almighty and should be taught and learned and studied. For all of God’s word is good for teaching and correcting. Do not treat prophecies with contempt or do not despise them.
And yet the next thing that Paul tells us is to Test everything. Hold on to the good. (vs. 21; NIV). Test everything. This was not just for the prophecies, but it meant exactly what it said, “test everything.” Both the gifts and the behaviors of believers are to be tested and proved. We are not to blindly accept what people say, even if it is the preacher or servant to God. Neither are we to blindly accept people themselves. Every person, what he says and does, is to be tested and proven. And how do we do this? By using Scripture – that is our measuring devise. But here is the catch – how can we use Scripture to measure if we don’t know the Scriptures? We need to be in the word of God daily. And when a person or a truth is proven – hold on to it!! Hold on to what is good!! Do not let good doctrine go: hang on to it, live and practice it, and teach it to others.
And lastly, Paul says that we are to Avoid every kind of evil. (vs. 22; NIV). He does not say that some evil is O.K., or that a little evil will not hurt you, he says, “avoid EVERY KIND or ALL evil!!!” If something appears evil, get away from it. If there is a chance that it could be wrong, leave it alone. If there is even a suggestion that it could be wrong, flee, run!! A believer must have nothing , absolutely nothing, to do with evil – not even the appearance of it. This isn’t rocket science!! If its bad or could be bad, get away!!
These are good reminders of how we need to honor God.
1) Be joyful always
2) Pray continually
3) give thanks in all circumstances
4) Do not put out the Spirit’s fire
5) Do not treat prophecies with contempt
6) Test everything and hold on to the good
7) Avoid all evil
I’ll tell you this if you do the first three, the others will be a lot easier to do and you’re life will be much better and your walk with God will be wonderful!!
Feb 2, 2003 AM
Miles City Wesleyan Church
Miles City Mt.