Saturday, July 23, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

"9For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come."
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

 Last time we saw that the reputation of the Thessalonians had spread to the region beyond Thessalonica itself.  They had become an example to all of the believers in Macedonia and Achaia (v.7-8). Now Paul adds more to the story of these believers  by telling what he had heard from others. The Thessalonians had given Paul and his fellow missionaries a warm reception and much more. In fact, it was evident to all who knew these believers that something had happened to them. There was a change in them.

But what exactly did they notice? There were three things in particular:  they had turned away from idols, they turned to God, and were now eagerly awaiting Christ's return. Is there anything that WE can learn from their example? Absolutely:
1)When Christ truly saves a person, others will notice a change. You can't stay in your sinful lifestyle. You won't want to. I'm not saying that Christians never stumble into sin that they never wrestle with temptation- we most certainly DO stumble and wrestle!!! But the overriding desire is to leave those things behind.
2)Not only do we begin to hate our sin, but we also begin to love God! Before we were saved, we did NOT love God. After He saved us, we find ourselves turning to Him more and more every day. We grow closer to Him through prayer and studying the Bible and spending time with other believers regularly.
3)As part of this turning away from sin and turning toward all things that please God, believers begin to long for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He said he would return and we believe Him. We can't wait to see Him face-to-face!

Are these things true of you? If you have believed in the Lord Jesus, they should be. They should be true of ME. I won't pretend that I don't struggle with sin. Those who know me best would probably laugh at me if I tried. Yet, He still loves me. He will never reject me. I never want Him to. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, don't give up. You will struggle with temptation and sin for the rest of your lives. But He still loves you. He will never reject you. Hebrews 13:5-6 reminds us:

"Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content
with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor
forsake you.' So we can confidently say,   'The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear; what can man do to me?' "

So Christ changes us from the inside out and draws us closer to Himself. Paul also emphasises that Jesus, God's son, was raised from the dead. This is part of the message that we believe. Jesus died. Jesus was buried. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is alive NOW. We await His return from heaven.

Paul highlights another important facet of Christ's work on our behalf: He rescues us from the wrath to come. What does that mean? Remember, all humans are born as "children of wrath"(Eph 2:3). We sin because we were born sinners. And once we are able to choose it,  we also sin because we want to. We deserve God's judgement, anger, and wrath. As we saw in an earlier post, He chose to save some of us and now we do not need to fear this wrath! What GOOD NEWS!!! Jesus, the One who rose from the dead rescues us from the wrath to come! And do not be deceived, God's wrath is coming. Christians hold many views regarding what will happen before Christ returns, but all agree that He is returning and that there will be a final judgment of both the righteous and the unrighteous- the righteous will enter eternal life and the unrighteous will enter eternal punishment.

To sum up: When a person  believes in the Gospel of God, that person is changed. Others notice this change. The believer desires to put away sinful living and desires to put on Godly living. The believer longs for the return of Christ, who rescues us from His coming wrath.

If you want more information on the work of Jesus and how He changes lives, please contact me!!
Remember, God is all Sovereign and stuff...

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