#HashtagsPastor Jerry Gillis - July 24, 2016
Faith shows us that God Himself is the only satisfaction for our souls; that is why we turn, serve and wait.
Community Group Study Notes
- What are the idols in your life that can claim your affection and allegiance in place of God?
- What does it mean when we say that God Himself is the only satisfaction for our souls? Do we believe this to be true? Do our lives demonstrate one way or the other if we believe it?
- What would it look like for us to be actively waiting for our great hope – the return of Jesus? How does that change the way we live?
They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:9b-10)
Well it's summer, and we're having a little bit of fun, right? I remember the summer after I graduated high school, I wanted to have a little bit of fun because I wanted to extend the summer as far as I could extend it before I had to actually go to the University of Georgia. And I was, you know, and then had real responsibility and real stuff, so.
I was hanging out with my friends kind of all the time and goofing off and working a little bit, but just trying to extend the summer out. And my buddy Drew and I ended up deciding to start taking up tennis. We didn't know how to play but, you know, like we played ping-pong, but we didn't know how to play tennis. So we decided to go out we were going out like late every night, you know. Like ten o'clock at night we're going to this tennis court at Bells Ferry park and playing over there.
And I remember we weren't very good, so we were trying to teach each other kind of how to play. But it got competitive real quick, I mean super quick. And we played all summer long, I don't know who won more games, (I did). I'm not sure. I don't know that for positive (I do). But I don't know for sure. In case Drew's watching, he's a really good player and a good friend who can't beat me at tennis. But it was still a really fun time that we had.
So we did this kind of just three word formula of how we needed to do it. We realized we couldn't just stand there like ping-pong, you know. And then kind of you have to start out by turning, right? You kind of turn, and then you serve, and then you wait. So that's what we started doing right? You kind of get the ball, you know, and you get the right court and then you you turn and then you serve and then you wait.
And so, we were competitive for a while. And by the time that we were done in the summer time before we both went off to college, we were probably thinking we were decent, but we by no stretch thought we were a model player of any kind.
But when I got to the University of Georgia, my sophomore year I was in a history class. And sitting I think right behind me was a girl named Karen. And she was just one of those class friends. The class was like 300 people at the University of Georgia, it was huge. And so, you know we would sometimes trying to study before class or whatever, you know ask each other questions.
Well I came to find out you know, she was talking one day, and she said she played tennis. And I was like, oh that's cool. I said, I play tennis. And she was like, well I mean I play tennis here at the University of Georgia. Like I play for the women's tennis team here at the University of Georgia. You know, we're like one of the top ten tennis teams in America. And I play number one singles for them at this university. And I was like that's cool. I play tennis. And she..
And so I gave her this, I gave her this one. Like this, I was like, it's cool, maybe we should play. Me and you should play sometime. And she just kind of looked at me and she went yeah that, I don't think that would be good. And I was like, because you don't want to get beat by me, is that why you don't want to do that? And she was like um, I still remember she actually said this. She said, I could run 10 miles and then pick up a racket and beat you 6-0. And I was like, bring it sister! I know how to turn serve and wait!
So sure enough she said okay, I'll let you play. So we got to go into the indoor facility at the University of Georgia where only the scholarship athletes got to go. And I don't know, I got dragged in there by her, which is cool. And I was like okay. I get to come in there and play. But I looked, and I was like, hey wait a minute, you're not even sweaty. I thought you were gonna run 10 miles. She said, no no no, I'm taking this kind of seriously. And I was like wait, wait. I thought this was a 10 mile run and then you're going to pick up the racket and beat me 6-0. She said I'm just gonna pick up the racket and beat you. And I was like all right. And I thought hopefully that means in tennis, and not she's gonna start wearing me out.
So she wins the first game, and she's just messing around. I win the second game. That's what I'm saying. I hope she's not watching right now. Like there's no way she's watching, but if you are, I won the second game, straight up, and you were doing the best you could. She wasn't. Then she was like oh, oh, ok. Then it was like a slaughter after that. Like I was embarrassed. I should have just left with my head in my hands and cried and suck my thumb and gotten some milk and called for my mommy. It was bad.
Everything about her game looked different than my game. Her turn, serve, and wait didn't look anything like my turn, serve, and wait. She would turn almost to where, like if she... She would turn like our back was to me almost. And then she line that thing up you know, and then she would unload to serve. And I mean it had so much junk and stuff on it, it would hit the court and kick like it was in a pinball machine. It would like pang. I can't even get a racket on it, and I look stupid. I'm just thinking, this is embarrassing, man.
And then, her wait was different than my wait. See when me and Drew were playing, I would just kind of turn you know a little bit. I would hit it over to Drew and then I'll be like uh. Wonder if he's going to hit it back. I think he's gonna. Not her. She would turn, serve, and then she's working while she's waiting. She knows the balls in the other court, but she's busy getting ready to anticipate where it's coming so that she's going to be in perfect position to smash it down the line while I'm going uh. That was my game.
You see, here's the thing. She was a model tennis player. I was not. And whenever you see someone that is a model in the particular thing that you're doing, you and I serve ourselves well by paying attention. I started realizing I'm getting smoked right here, so I started paying attention to what she was doing to think maybe I can learn something, because this is a model tennis player showing me how tennis ought to be played.
What if in the life that we live in our church, in the life that we live as believers in Jesus, what if the Bible talked about what a model church looks like? What if the Bible talked about what a model believer looks like? And in fact, it does. When the Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica, he actually talks to them as a model church. He uses that language in fact, when he calls them a model church. And it's interesting because, just as I learned how to play tennis with a little three-word formula: turn, serve, and wait; Paul also employs three word formulas to talk about what it looks like to be a model church.
So if you've got a Bible with you or handy or on a device or whatever, in First Thessalonians, that's in the New Testament about two-thirds of the way through the New Testament if you're not familiar with. First Thessalonians chapter one is where I want to kind of talk from for just a little bit today. I want you to listen to what it says in 1st Thessalonians chapter 1 beginning in verse number two, it says this. Paul says, We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. And then down in verse 7 it says, and so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia - the Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia but your faith in God has become known everywhere.
Boy, wouldn't that be great if an apostle of Jesus actually said that about our congregation? He was saying this about the church at Thessalonica. He was saying you're a model. You've been demonstrating, here's what he said, faith love and hope. And as a result of that, you become a model, so that everybody all around the region that we're in, they know about you. They know what kind of faith, love, and hope that you show.
Now, when you read the Apostle Paul's letters, as some of you do in the New Testament, he wrote many of them, about two-thirds of the New Testament written by Paul. He uses this three-word formula a lot. Faith, love and hope. Sometimes you hear it actually talked about in a different sequence. Faith, hope, and love, because you're familiar with 1st Corinthians 13, because you've been to weddings before and heard the love chapter right? So all of you have heard this phrase before - faith, love, and hope - but sometimes we hear that and it just stays in the realm of kind of Christianese. You're kind of going.. what?
What's being said when he talks about faith and love and hope? Well, because Paul doesn't want us to be confused, Paul uses another three word formula that corresponds to faith, love, and hope, so that we can see some concrete verbs that correspond to these things. And in fact, I think they'll sound familiar to you in light of what we just talked about with my tennis experience. In 1st Thessalonians chapter 1 beginning in verse 9 it says, Here's what everybody said about you they say how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his son from heaven whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who rescues us from the coming wrath.
So Paul uses these three terms: turn, serve, wait. Why? Because he's helping us understand what this looks like in comparison to faith, love and hope. If you were drawing lines between them here's how this would look - faith corresponds to turn. Love corresponds to serve. And hope corresponds to wait. I want to help you to see this a little bit more clearly, so I want to unpack each of these. And I'm going to use kind of an equal sign so that you kind of know that these two things correspond.
Here's the first thing that we'll talk about. We'll talk about turn equals or corresponds to faith. Let me show you again in our text what we're talking about in 1st Thessalonians chapter number one. Look again in verse 9. It says, They tell how you turned to God from idols. Now it's important that we get this, because here's what Paul says. He says that you turned to God from idols. That's a big deal.
You see, Thessalonica had its share of idols. They were real. These weren't made up idols, these were actual items, like statues that were worshipped. In fact, one of those was of the Emperor. There was a cult of Emperor worship in Thessalonica when Paul was writing. And you know that the Roman Empire kind of had its way with all of it. And Thessalonica was a part of the Roman Empire. That meant that's the whoever the caesar was at that time was worshipped as a god. In fact, on some of the money that they had, it was his face was imprinted on the money. And it would actually say "the son of god" on the money that they used. Because the caesar was worshipped as a deity. But it wasn't just a caesar. There were other gods that were a part of this too. Gods in the Greco-Roman world like Isis or Serapis or Osirs or Mithra. They were all a part of kind of this multiple gods that were worshipped and who had statues that people could actually worship.
And here's what is said by Paul. Paul says, here's why I know you to be people of faith. Because you have turned from idols, and you have turned to God. You see, that requires faith, because when we have faith that God is the one who can satisfy our souls, God grants to us something called repentance. You see, repentance is best defined this way. How many of you are in in this room are watching on any of our other campuses or whatever, how many of you have ever served in the military? Just raise your hand. Anybody serve in the military? Okay, there's a bunch of us. Wow. Fantastic. You know as military folks, that if you got an about face when you were marching, you know what that means right? An about face does not mean take a side shot. It means we're going all the way in the opposite direction, right? I'm going this way, I stop, I turn, I'm going that way. That is what repentance means. When you read that term in the Bible - repentance - it's a military term that means to do an about-face. So you are headed one direction. I am embracing idols. Now we by faith trust in God. And now we turn from idols, and turn to God. That's a picture of repentance that comes by faith. That's why faith and turn are corresponding to one another.
You see why this is important is because, although we don't have like statue idols that were worshiping in the United States very typically. There are some, but they're usually brought in from other contexts, people have emigrated in the country that comes from different religious backgrounds that may do that. But generally speaking that's not what we do in the United States. But we have our share of idols. You see, the way that we would define an idol is this - it's not just about a statue. But an idol is anything that claims your allegiance or your affection more than God. That's what an idol is. You see, we have to look out in our culture. We have to look out for some of the idols that we find ourselves embracing; turning our backs on God and turning to these idols. But that's not at all what a model church or a model believer does.
There's a lot of items I could talk about. I want to just talk about two for just a second, alright? The first one is the idol of self. This is the one that's maybe the hardest to defeat. Because you and I both know that sometimes we think we are the best captains of all the world, right? This is my ship now, right? That's how we feel. We feel like we've done some kind of revolution, and we want to take over, and we want to do our thing however we want to do it. And the idol of self grabs hold of us.
Walk into any bookstore anywhere, and one of the biggest sections of thematic sections that you'll find in every bookstore is the self-help section. Do you know why? Because people keep coming back to the same well over and over and over, and think that somehow they can be the source of their own satisfaction, and that they can be the one to fix everything that's wrong with them. Yet we keep selling the same thing over and over and over and over again.
And part of the problem with the idol of self is that, the idol of self is kind of moved in in our culture in some unique ways. Sometimes it's because of technology that it's moved in. Because we're we're now living in a world where we can make our voices heard any time we want to, we can put ourselves on line anytime we want to. We can do all of this. In fact, even the way that we are function socially is different, and it sometimes feeds the idol of self, not all the time, but sometimes.
Do you remember back in the day, those who are old enough to remember, there used to be these things called cameras. Yeah, they're real, and they and they had film in them. And you actually had to wind them up. Remember that? One of those bad boys, right? And then you actually had to kind of turn and take pictures. Some of you that are younger you're like what is this archaic nonsense that you are speaking of? We don't know this. So there used to be cameras.
Npw and let me take this. How many times was the picture taker back in the day, how many times was the picture taker in the picture? They were never in the picture, right? They were the picture taker. We didn't have that kind of option.
Then of course, you know, we move from those to this really new invention called a Polaroid camera. Does anybody remember that? They were roughly about this size. Roughly the size of like NASA's computer system. Right? That's why hanging around your neck you take this thing. But it was cool, because apparently it had a full-blown printer inside of it. Because you would take the picture, and now everybody was like, ah dude this is awesome. Just wait, wait for it. Wait for it. What are we waiting on? What's going on? What's happening? What's happening right now? Watch. Watch. And then out of the mouth of this camera, something starts coming out right? You're like what is it? It's just a bunch of goo. I don't know. And then you take it out what do you do? Start shaking it. Right? Why? It needs air, because you need really good air to make this horrible image show up on this Polaroid picture, right? And then you look at it you're like wow. I don't, what is that? You know, because you never know what it is.
But then now, with our phones, we don't need cameras because we have them on our phones. And we've got a selfie option, which means that I can do this. Here's this side of my face. Kaching! Here's this out of my face. Kaching! Now I'm going to put it up. And here's the question I ask. Everybody comment, which side of my face do you think is better? Now, number one. I don't have time for that. Number two. I don't have a care for that.
But this is what we do. We end up somehow trying to cover our lust for self in some other guises. Kind of like this, right? We're at the beach. How come nobody ever takes pictures of themselves like, when they got the measles and mumps and they're sick, and they've had a stomach virus. Nobody does that right? Nobody. It's always like the best version of you somehow right?
So you're on vacation, it's cool, you want everybody to know your life is better than theirs, and they should be depressed. And you stink. And I just want to put all these up there for you. Na-na-na. That's kind of what you're doing right? And you put it up there, and it's the sunset, right? And so you do one of these, right? And then here's what it says though in the bottom comments section. Isn't the sunset beautiful? I don't know! Cause your big face is in front of the sun. I have no idea. You didn't want comments on the sunset. You wanted comments on how good the sun makes you look. It's feeding the idol of self.
You see, these are the things in our culture that we have to be able to diagnose and understand. It's not. When we post stuff sometimes, we're not actually looking to post things that are help.. Back in the day, you used to have a thing called a photo album. And you're the only people that got to see it. Or like people that actually came to your house and that were friends. Right? And then usually it was only when they asked lik, I see your photo album sitting on your coffee table, could I take a look at it? Sure. You know. And then you look through it, and most of the time none of them were the pictures of the people that live there. They were pictures of friends and family and others that they cherished.
But see, now in our culture, it's about us, man. We live in a very small universe, population one. And we sit as kings and queens of that universe. You see, the idol of self wants to convince us that we are better gods than God. The idol of self wants to convince us that we know better what to do with our lives than god knows what to do with our lives. And so, we think man, if I'm feeling, and if I like it, then I'm going to do it. Why? Because this is about me. So if I need to gratify myself sexually, or if I need to watch pornography, if I need to get involved in my own comfort or my own leisure. I'm just going to pour it on myself. Why? Because it's really about me at the end of the day. I am the highest good. That's what the idol of self tells us.
But see, at the end of the day, I make a terrible god. You make a terrible god. And you know, sometimes I'll get in conversations with people through the course of my ministry. I've had conversations or occasionally gotten emails from people who have said, well I'm just, I'm so glad I'm more enlightened than you are. You know, you're so simple-minded believing in God and all of this silliness, you know. I don't need a god, right? I'm done with all that stuff. I'm smarter than that. I'm more mature than that. I'm more cultured than that, you know. That's just silliness. But you don't really philosophically there's no such thing as an atheist? Philosophically, there's no such thing as an atheist. Everybody's got a god. Some people just choose to make it themselves. Everybody's got one. Some people just choose to make it themselves.
See, the idol of self wants to creep in any way it can, and convince us that we can be better gods. But Jesus knew very clearly that wouldn't be the case, which is why he told us in Matthew chapter 16 these words. Jesus said to his disciples, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? You see, Jesus knew that we make terrible gods. And that what our job is is to turn away from trying to be our own gods, and turn away from that idol, and turn to God, right? So the idol of self.
But let me give you a second one real quick. It's the idol of stuff. You see, in the culture that we live in, this is a big deal. The idol of self and the idol of stuff are two of the most in our face idols. I'm not saying it's not okay to have money and have stuff. I'm just saying that money and that stuff should not have you.
You see, this is why Paul warned Timothy. Paul, the writer of 1st Thessalonians had a protégé named Timothy. And he warned him about this, because even in their culture it was an issue. Listen to what he told Timothy in first Timothy chapter 6. He said, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Why is Paul telling his protégé Timothy that this is such a big deal? Because Paul knew that the love of money is an idol. It's idolatry. Greed is idolatry. You say, oh that may be a little strong Jerry. No, no, because Paul said it very clearly in some other places as well. Both in Ephesians and Colossians, he said as much. Listen to how clear he in in Ephesians 5. Paul says, For this you can be sure: no immoral, impure or greedy person - such a person is an idolater - has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Can he be any clearer than that? He says it in Colossians chapter number 3, too. He says, Put to death therefore whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
In other words, he knows that there is something in our hearts that will allow money, stuff, to gain our affection and our allegiance more than God. That's when it becomes an idol. But what Paul says that model churches do is that by faith, they turn from idols and turn to God.
But then there's a second corresponding piece, and it's simple this way. He says serve equals love. Not only does turn correlates to faith, but serve correlates to love. Look again in verse number nine. They tell how you turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God. You see, we serve what we love.
I don't know how many of you how many of you were listening to music like this was your generation like in the seventies? How many of you were listening to music during that time? All right. Some of you admit it, some of you haven't. Well there was there was a writer of songs who became kind of an American, you know really kind of an American classic of writing. And he wrote gazillions of songs, but he sang terribly. I mean you couldn't understand anything he was saying. It was like [singing impression] yeah yeah blowing in the wind, yeah. Right? Some of you who are who are of proper age know who I'm talking about? His name was Bob Dylan. Right? I can even do a bad Bob Dylan impersonation and you know who I'm talking about. Dude couldn't sing at all. But he could write, man. He wrote a song in 1979, it was called, "You're going to have to serve somebody." Some of you may remember it.
You see, that's just true. Everybody is going to serve somebody. But you're going to serve who or what you love. That's why these two things that Paul talks about correspond to one another. If it's an idol that you love, it's an idol you're going to serve.
But you and I both know that Jesus taught us that that's really impossible for us, right? We can't do both. We can't act like we're serving God when we are serving something else, right? Here's what Jesus said in Matthew chapter number six. He said, No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. You see, Jesus is actually giving us a general principle. You cannot serve two masters. You can't serve God and fill in the blank, anything else. You can't serve two masters. And then he gets specific. He said if you want a specific example, you can't serve God and money at the same time. You can't do it. It is not going to work. Why won't it work? Because you're going to love one, and the one you love is the one you're going to serve. That's just how it goes.
Os Guiness famously talked about this, and he kind of rephrased it for modern ears. And here's what he said. He said, either we serve God and use money, or we serve money and use God." You see, that's the danger when we find ourselves listening to the kind of the siren song of idols in our lives, because we get to a place where instead of serving God and using the stuff that we have to serve God, we're actually serving the stuff we have and just using God in that process.
But you know he says this, he says they tell how you turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God. Paul's very specific when he talks about the living and true God. Why is he talking about the living God? Here's why. Because all of the idols are dead. They're not real. They're like gold, silver, wood statues. Whatever. They're not real. God is life itself. He is the only one who is actually living.
I mean, think about how silly this looks. I'm gonna take my wallet out. I'm gonna pull out a twenty-dollar bill. There's not much else in there if you wanted to steal my wallet. You might be able to get a few Happy Meals and a picture of my kids and my wife. So here I've got an Andrew Jackson right here on this twenty-dollar bill, right? Now Andrew, what is my purpose? I'm sorry. I can't hear him. I'm getting nothing. Do you know why? Because its lifeless. It's breathless. It's dead. Why would we let things like this become our master? Are you serious? Is this the kind of God you want in your life? One that can't talk, doesn't live, can't speak, no breath? Is that what you want? If so, it's no different than the statues of old. No different. Because you are choosing to find your existence and your life in a god that is breathless and lifeless. And that won't get you anywhere.
In fact, what happens to us is, here's what happens. We become like the god that we serve. And if we're serving a breathless lifeless god, we become breathless lifeless people. In fact, this is what the psalmist, this is how the psalmist said it. Psalm 135. Listen to how the psalmist said it. The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands. They've got mouths, but they can't speak. They've got eyes, but they can't see. They have ears, but they can't hear, nor is their breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. If you want a lifeless, breathless, dead spiritual existence, then serve lifeless, breathless, dead things. But if you want to know life, there is a living God. And that's why we turn from idols to God, and we turn to serve the living God who is also, Paul says, the true God. He's not in this sense actually corresponding true versus false, he's actually saying in a sense of real versus unreal. Dead and lifeless or living and true. Which do you prefer? Model believers and model churches have learned how to do this.
Let me give you a third thing real quick. And that is the corresponding between waiting and hoping. In verse number 10 it says this. It says, and we wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus who rescues us from the coming wrath. So when Paul is talking to the people of Thessalonica, he tells them to turn from idols to God. He tells them to serve the living and true God. And then he tells them to wait. Now why does he say wait. Listen. It's not a wait like you and I might think. It's not the wait that I was demonstrating in my tennis prowess. Uh. That's not the wait he's talking about.
He's talking about a waiting in expected hope. And that we should be working while we wait. This is what Paul is talking about.
How do I know that? Because the Thessalican people actually started because they heard that Jesus is going to return. That Jesus is going to come back, and they were fired up about it. Paul said, I don't know when that's going to be, but he's going to come. You can bet on it. So you know what some of them started doing? They quit their jobs. And they sat on lawn chairs on the top of hills. What are you guys doing here? Well, we're waiting on Jesus. I know, you've been here like two months. How's that going? Well, we've eaten a lot of peanuts and squirrels, but we're doing the best we can.
That's why Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians says, if you don't work, you don't eat. You can't just check out on everything. You've got to be more like Karen was as a tennis player. Where when she's waiting on the on the volley to come back, she's actually working in expectation of when that's going to occur, so that she is prepared when it happens. That's exactly what we are to be doing when we wait, because we wait in hopeful expectation of the Lord Jesus' coming. We don't just stand here doing nothing going, well he's going to come pretty soon. We actually are commissioned by Jesus to be working while we're waiting, so that the expectancy of hope is seen by the world that's around us.
Now, it also says, by the way, that as we wait for him, the one that God raised from the dead - Jesus - that he's going to rescue us from the coming wrath. Now this is the part that nobody wants to read see. In our day and age, we get so sensitized to things that we want to be offended by. Everybody is looking to be offended by something, right? Some people are just like on an offense streak. I just want to read stuff so I can be offended. You know why? Because you want to feed the idol of self. Because the more self-righteous you feel, the better it feels to you. And so you just want to be offended about everything because you feel more righteous at that point. Stop it.
Jesus says, he's going to rescue us from the coming wrath. Now some people don't want to hear that because our ears get too sensitive, and it's like, that offends me I don't hear anything about the coming wrath. Well you should, because actually when Paul's writing it to the church at Thessalonica, when he tells them that, it's hopeful to them. That's actually hopeful to them. Do you know why? You think about what it costs them to turn away from worshiping the emperor who ruled them with an iron fist. You think about the social excommunication that would occur in their lives. You think about a potential for persecution and death in their lives. Because they are saying no Jesus is Lord, Cesar is not. You think about saying that in an empire, and think about what that would cost you. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you that when they heard these words that Jesus is going to rescue us from the coming wrath, they were hopeful about that, because they knew that Jesus was going to glorify himself and was going to vindicate them.
In fact, in his second letter to the Thessalonian church in chapter one, here's how he says it. He says, All this, all that's going on in your life, it's evident that God's judgment is right, and as a result you'll be counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. With this in mind, we constantly pray for you that our God make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you and you in him, according to the grace of our God in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you know what this is actually saying? Jesus is going to return. And when he does, he's going to make everything clear. He's going to show everybody everything. So all those who persecuted the people of God. They're going to realize, oh. They're going to see the glory of Christ, and they're going to see the vindication of his people. Why is this important for us? Because just as this was important for being a model church and model believers in that day and age, it is in ours.
Because in North America right now, there is more and more a squeezing of those people who call themselves by the name of Jesus. More and more we are being pushed out to the margins, being called ridiculous are unintelligent or simple minded. Or even worse yet bigoted and hateful and mean. And of course we all know that there are people who bear the name of Jesus who bear nothing of his resemblance who make all the rest of us look crazy. But that's what we all get lumped into right?
And we're losing some of our freedoms, and we're losing some of our abilities to live in the way that we want to live, to worship in the way that we want to worship, to do in the ways that we are called to do. Some universities are being Christian universities are being stripped of their status because they are unwilling to compromise the teaching of the Scripture in relation to social issues. And so they are now being forced upon by government agencies who are saying you can't do these things anymore. It's a struggle. And more and more in this day and age we're going to find out who's actually serious about walking with Jesus and who's just playing around the margins. Because this is going to start to move in on us more and more. \
But here's the deal. The reason we can remain hopeful is because the Son of God, the one who spoke everything into existence, in the beginning was the word and the Word was with God and the Word was God in the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory the glory of the only begotten of God, full of grace and truth, that same word Jesus is going to return, and he is going to set everything right. He is going to glorify His name and he is going to vindicate his people. So while we wait we work in hopeful expectation of his return.
You see, the hope of the gospel for those of us who believe in Jesus is that we're not under wrath. That's the hope of the gospel. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. No condemnation. We aren't going to be left to our own devices. Do you know why? Here's why. Here's why. Because we turn from idols and we turn to the living God, who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. That's why. It doesn't make us better than anybody. It makes us experiences of grace. That's what we are we've experienced grace. We're just one beggar telling other beggars where to find bread. We're just helping people understand that we were lost, and then we were found not because we landed on something, but because he found us. He initiated with us. He changed us. He through faith granted us the repentance to turn from things that are dead and lifeless, and turn to the living and true God in the person of Jesus Christ, And we have been transformed so that we wait with hopeful expectation, and we work while we wait, because we know just as he came once born of a virgin, went to a cross rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father, he is coming again, without any shadow of a doubt. We don't know when it's going to happen, but until it does we are going to live empowered by his Spirit, and we are going to work for his glory in the world, so that every man, every woman, every child has a repeated opportunity to here, to see, to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. God says come, and that's what we invite the world to do.
So how do we model it? How do we have how do we become model church, model believers? Faith, love, hope. Turn, serve, wait. What do you need to turn from? What have you embraced in your life that is dead and lifeless that you need to turn from and turn to the living God?
Some of you are here, and you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus. You've never turned from acknowledgment of this fact: that you can't save yourself. No amount of good works that you do will tie God's hands behind his back, and say okay, I've now got to let you into my presence. Because if that were the case, what in the world was Jesus doing when he went to a cross to pay for your sin? You can't get to the Father except through the Son. It's his initiation, not yours. It's his work, not yours. Christianity is not spelled do - D-O. It is spelled done. D-O-N-E. Because Jesus has finished this on our behalf. It's not what we can do, it's what he has done. But if we by faith turn from believing that we can somehow be our own gods, and we put our faith and trust in him, we can be transformed, forgiven, and set free in the now, and secure forever. If that's something that you've never done, if you've never come to a place in your journey where that's been true for you, then I can't think of a better day than today. I can't think of a better place than right here to submit your life to Jesus Christ right now, and receive him as your Savior, as your Lord.
Would you bow your heads with me for a moment? If you don't have to move, or you're not going to serve somewhere whatever if you could just be still, I would appreciate that. Thank you so much.
If you're here, and you know that you're one of those folks that needs to receive Jesus, maybe you'd pray something like this and right where you're seated, with all the faith that you have. Just pray Jesus. Just pray this in your heart. Jesus I know that I've sinned and I can't save myself. So I turn away from trusting in anything other than you. And I put my faith in you. I'm asking you to forgive me of my sin. That your power would live within me. Because I believe you died for me, and because of me. And I believe you rose from the dead. And I want to serve you until you return. Because I know that there's no life except life in you. So I give you my life.
As our heads are bowed and eyes are closed, if you're in this place in this room, or in the East Worship Center. And you'd say, hey Jerry, I just prayed that with you, meant it with all my heart. Would you just put your hand up in the air? I'm not going to embarrass you. Just put it up in the air. I just prayed that with you. I meant it with all my of heart. I just invited Christ to come into my life. Man, thank you. A bunch of hands. Thank you. You can put your hands down. I appreciate your honesty. Thanks, you can put your hands down.
Here's what I'd ask for you to do. When we dismiss in just a minute, there's a place right across our atrium, it's called the Fireside Room. It's clearly marked. It's not a scary dungeon. There's no weird stuff going on in there. There's just some pastors in there and some other friends. And here's what we'd like to do. We'd like to maybe say a prayer with you and then send you home with something that you can take home with you that will help you be able to look through the Scripture so that you can understand more about what it means to follow Jesus and to grow as a disciple. That's it. No strings attached. Okay? We just want to help you. We want to encourage you in this journey. And so I want to encourage you to to come by the Fireside Room when we're done. It's literally just right across the atrium. It's clearly marked. Don't leave here without going by their. You say, it takes a little bit of courage. Yeah I understand. Your Savior went to a cross naked and beaten to save you. Surely in a place where everybody's on your team for you, love you, surely you can follow him here. If you can't follow Jesus at this place, you'll never be able to follow in the world that we live in. So I encourage you to come by and let us be of encouragement and help to you. All you gotta do is just walk in take somebody by the hand, and say I gave my life to Jesus. Can you give me what you said you'd give me? And we'll do that.
Hey for the rest of us, some of us that know Jesus. Maybe we let some things creep into our lives that have taken some of our allegiance, some of our affection. That they're standing in places that only God should stand. There is a good word for what we should do and that's repent. We should just turn from that and turn to God, and ask God to show us what it means to follow him, to serve him.
Father, I pray that you would help us with this, because these things matter to you. They matter deeply to us. And we know God that you want us to be a beacon of light in the world that we live in. You want us to show people what it looks like to follow Jesus with our hearts. To demonstrate faith and love and hope, because we have turned from idols, and turned to God, and we're serving the living and true God, and we are waiting and working as we have an expected hope for his return. The world needs to see that kind of hope and love and faith. And I pray they would see that through our hearts and our lives. So Father, help us to demonstrate that in the world that we live in, so that we might bring light into the midst of darkness, and hope into the midst of despair, and faith into the midst of despondency, and love into the midst of hate. We trust you to do that with us for your glory in Jesus name, amen.
Love you folks. Have a great week.