Sunday Sermon 5.22.21
When was the last time you thought that? Whenever it was, I’m here to tell you, you are in good company.
It was a thriving metropolis, with a large busy harbor, deep shoreline, and successful trade with the nations around it. It’s population was growing quickly with many kinds of immigrants.
It had been established as the capital city with all major thoroughfares passing closely by it. Having flourished for centuries, things were changing now.
The Governors were taking the wealth of the people, siphoning it off into their own pet programs. Rising within the culture was strong opposition to God and growing hostilities toward believers.
Laws were enacted to keep them from speaking and riots broke out more than once decrying “injustices”.
Secular values, seductive images, sexual pleasures, and material wealth were exalted over a holy life of Christian values.
A believer was even dragged out of his house and charged with “causing trouble all over the world”. Opposition was fierce because they were defying Caesar’s decrees.
This is the precise description of Thessaloniki, 51 AD
History does repeat itself, doesn’t it?
Believers were having to find their way through an immoral culture and I’m sure were asking, “Does anyone even notice what I’m doing?” (Besides the bad mouthed “Karen’s”)
Well, someone did notice.
In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (yes, they lived in Thessaloniki, in 51 AD), he says this,
“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.”1 Thessalonians 1:3
Paul and Silas noticed what they were living through and contending with. Things got so hot in the city when they were there that a riot broke out by a mob of bad characters who rushed into Jason’s house (whoever he is) and dragged him and others before the city officials. (Acts 17)
He was a believer. So were the others who were charged and released, and all of it because Paul and Silas believed and preached the good news.
Paul noticed all the suffering and accusations, the harassment, opposition and wrong decrees. Paul noticed the secular filth bombarding the believers. Paul was fully aware of what the Governors were doing and how society was changing.
And so he commended the Thessalonians, validated them and encouraged them. Look at his words again- there are 3 things that he remembers and recognizes in them. Their:
- Work produced by faith
- Labor prompted by love
- Endurance inspired by hope
He recognized their work. That is all the things that they were doing. Job, home, family, social circles, all of it. And notice too, he validated the faith that it took to do everything they were doing.
It is possible to work, and do things without faith. They were commended for working through it all with faith!
He remembers their labor. Labor is different from work, it involves pain. Think of the labor and delivery of a baby. It’s work for sure, but the labor is the painful part.
Notice too, Paul points out that their painful labor was prompted by love. Again, like a couple, who prompted by love, choose to have a child and the painful labor that accompanies it.
Paul remembers and notices their painful times but also that love is the driving forces in their life.
Lastly, Paul encourages them by mentioning their endurance. Realizing that they have stood through all kinds of opposition, ungodliness, secular ideas, sexual perversions and societal changes, and they have done so because of their hope in something bigger and better and more lasting!
Paul remembered them. Paul noticed them and because he did, his words written for their encouragement in 51 AD, stand as words of encouragement for us in 2021 AD
Paul would remind you, that not only does he notice what you are doing, so does our Heavenly Father, His beloved Son, Jesus and the always present Comforter- the Holy Spirit.
He would remind you that your work, your labor and your endurance has not been lost in the realm of the Spirit.
He would remind you that your faith, hope and love will stand for all eternity, just as he did when he wrote:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love….”1 Corinthians 13:13
So again, I repeat, you are in good company if you have ever wondered if what you’re doing is even noticed.
Go with God,