Thriving Through Thessalonians #2


Thriving Through Thessalonians #2

Paul is going to remind the Thessalonians about the rough time the team experienced in Philippi.
                            
Acts 16:16-24 (MSG)
16 One day, on our way to the place of prayer, a slave girl ran into us. She was a psychic and, with her fortunetelling, made a lot of money for the people who owned her. 17 She started following Paul around, calling everyone's attention to us by yelling out, "These men are working for the Most High God. They're laying out the road of salvation for you!" 18 She did this for a number of days until Paul, finally fed up with her, turned and commanded the spirit that possessed her, "Out! In the name of Jesus Christ, get out of her!" And it was gone, just like that.

19 When her owners saw that their lucrative little business was suddenly bankrupt, they went after Paul and Silas, roughed them up and dragged them into the market square. Then the police arrested them 20 and pulled them into a court with the accusation, "These men are disturbing the peace—dangerous Jewish agitators 21 subverting our Roman law and order." 22 By this time the crowd had turned into a restless mob out for blood.

The judges went along with the mob, had Paul and Silas's clothes ripped off and ordered a public beating. 23 After beating them black and blue, they threw them into jail, telling the jailkeeper to put them under heavy guard so there would be no chance of escape. 24 He did just that—threw them into the maximum security cell in the jail and clamped leg irons on them.
         
Paul’s experience that has kept me going, believing that God is working something through the trouble like He did when His team of Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-20 (MSG)

1 So, friends, it's obvious that our visit to you was no waste of time. 2 We had just been given rough treatment in Philippi, as you know, but that didn't slow us down. We were sure of ourselves in God, and went right ahead and said our piece, presenting God's Message to you, defiant of the opposition.

3 God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message. 4 Be assured that when we speak to you we're not after crowd approval—only God approval. Since we've been put through that battery of tests, you're guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. 5 We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen to take advantage of you.

6 Even though we had some standing as Christ's apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. 7 We weren't aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. 8 We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.
9 You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn't have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God's Message to you. 10 You saw with your own eyes how discreet and courteous we were among you, with keen sensitivity to you as fellow believers. And God knows we weren't freeloaders! 11 You experienced it all firsthand. With each of you we were like a father with his child, 12 holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.

13 And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks! When you got the Message of God we preached, you didn't pass it off as just one more human opinion, but you took it to heart as God's true word to you, which it is, God himself at work in you believers!

14 Friends, do you realize that you followed in the exact footsteps of the churches of God in Judea, those who were the first to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ? You got the same bad treatment from your countrymen as they did from theirs, the Jews 15 who killed the Master Jesus (to say nothing of the prophets) and followed it up by running us out of town. They make themselves offensive to God and everyone else 16 by trying to keep us from telling people who've never heard of our God how to be saved. They've made a career of opposing God, and have gotten mighty good at it. But God is fed up, ready to put an end to it.

17 Do you have any idea how very homesick we became for you, dear friends? Even though it hadn't been that long and it was only our bodies that were separated from you, not our hearts, we tried our very best to get back to see you. 18 You can't imagine how much we missed you! I, Paul, tried over and over to get back, but Satan stymied us each time. 19 Who do you think we're going to be proud of when our Master Jesus appears if it's not you? 20 You're our pride and joy!

There is an opposition that dogs  Paul and the team.

The opposition said Paul was an unsavory character with a police record.

The opposition said Paul was a heretic.
         
The opposition said Paul was out to make a name for himself,
                  
That Paul taught things that people wanted to hear to gain that following.
                  
The opposition said Paul was all about the money.
         
The opposition accused Paul of thinking he was better than everyone else.

Paul’s answer to the opposition’s accusations is by reminding the Thessalonians the way the team conducted themselves during their short stay, reminding them of the team’s authenticity

1 Thessalonians 2:3 (NIV)
For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.

Authentic means no hypocrisy, rather sincere and pure, the real deal.

To thrive spiritually you need to be authentic.
         
Very often, our actions in a given moment are intended to avoid certain consequences. And so we alter or mitigate our communications or behavior to assure that those consequences won’t be negative or problematic.
           
Inauthenticity is a denial of who we are.

Paul is refuting the attacks of the opposition by asking the Thessalonians to
remember the teams behavior: Remember our authenticity and remember our integrity.

1 Thessalonians 2:10 (NIV)
You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.

Integrity means a strong sense of right and wrong that motivates your behavior

Integrity brings a sense of honor, you become guided by principle.

Integrity keeps you walking the path you are on with sincerity.             
                            
Integrity creates in you an undivided heart.
                  
To thrive spiritually you need to have integrity.

You need authenticity and integrity because you are going to be opposed.
Authenticity and integrity refutes the opposition. 

1 Peter 2:12 (MSG)
Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

As a disciple of Jesus living a life of authenticity and integrity changes the way you deal with people.

1 Thessalonians 2:12 (MSG)
 holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.

Authenticity and integrity are necessary if you are going to overcome the opposition.

I predict that there will be continued vilification of Christians. The accusations of being closed-minded, harmful to human dignity, deniers of human freedom, anti-everything, unfair, homophobic, reactionary and just plain mean and basically bad deluded people is going to grow louder and louder until open hatred of believers is justified.
         
1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 (MSG)
They make themselves offensive to God and everyone else by trying to keep us from telling people who've never heard of our God how to be saved. They've made a career of opposing God, and have gotten mighty good at it.

Authenticity and integrity are necessary if you are going to overcome the opposition.

John 16:1-4 (MSG)
1 "I've told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. 2 They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he's doing God a favor. 3 They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. 4 I've told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you'll be well-warned and ready for them.

How do you develop authenticity and integrity?

You stand up for what you believe to be right and true.

You find help to do make your stand through your practice of the spiritual habit of fellowship.
         
You find help in the presence of God in your life, The Holy Spirit who empowers you to live the life of a disciple. You cultivate a sense of God presence through the spiritual habit of worship.

Cultivating authenticity and developing integrity will help you to thrive.


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