1 Thessalonians 5:25
Some of the most profound and sublime truths in life are not found in the abundance of paragraphs, but in the trimmed leanness of a single sentence. Take for instance the sentence, “I love you” — it’s not rocket science, you don’t need a degree to understand its meaning, and yet it speaks a thousand words. How about, “I’m sorry” — two words strung together in three syllables, taking a single second to say, and yet how much irreversible damage could have been prevented if someone would only have stood up to say these elementary words, “I’m sorry”. How many wars could have been averted? How many innocent lives could have been saved from premature death?
In this sermon, we take just four words at the close of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians as the subject matter for consideration. Four words, don’t seem like a lot, but as we shall see, the strength and power of these words are life-changing!
Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the New Testament Scriptures, and one of the most quoted books, second only to that of Psalms. It has been referred to by scholars as a miniature Bible. There are 66 Books in the Bible, and there are 66 chapters in the Book of Isaiah. There are two divisions in the Bible, and there are two divisions in the Book of Isaiah. The first part of the Bible (OT) is comprised of 39 Books, and the second (NT) is comprised of 27 Books. The Book of Isaiah? Ditto...39 chapters in the first division (1-39), 27 chapters in the second (40-66).
It is my heart to walk you through just one chapter — the first of the second great division, Isaiah chapter 40. As we walk together through this chapter, you will see that the central theme so prevalent in the second half of this Book —hope, the future restoration of Israel, salvation through her Messiah, is here found in this single opening chapter. It is my hope that we might fix our eyes on God so as to be encouraged.
When God begins to stir the hearts of His people to a work that He has determined to do, you can be sure of one thing; the devil will also stir the hearts of his own subjects to rise up in opposition against it. There’s scarcely a work that God has ever set about to do, that has not gone without such opposition. In the days of Nehemiah, God was at work in the rebuilding of the city walls and sure to form, Sanballat and his men opposed the work with one objective in mind, the hinder the work and to cause it to stop.
This sermon is an encouragement to all who are part of living work in this last hour. The work of God shall be opposed, and you too shall suffer blows from the enemy, but be of good courage, the Lord is with you in the work for good, and he shall bring it to completion!!
A man’s sickness is known by his symptoms. The symptom is not the sickness, but rather, the symptom is the indicator of the sickness present. As I look around at the Church of Jesus Christ in the West, I don’t know any other way to say it, I see a sick Church. You say, Brother, judge not, and I say, Brother, how can I not when the symptoms are staring me in the face!! When a man’s temperature is registering 42 degrees C on the thermometer and his face as pale as a sheet, I’m not waiting to ask him how he feels, I’m calling the doctor!!
In like manner, when you see a Church that has lost its appetite for doctrine/teaching, it is symptomatic of a Church that is sick with sin!! This sermon is a call for the purity of the Body of Christ.
If I was to task a man with the arduous job of naming the greatest hymn ever written, I’m sure that opinions would abound. Take, for instance, Charles Wesley; it has been calculated that he wrote no fewer than 6000 hymns during his lifetime. Of these 6000, many are in agreement in concluding that the greatest of these (and arguably they would say, the greatest hymn ever written) is the hymn, “Jesus, Lover of my Soul”. No one is quite certain as to the events that led Charles to pen these words. One story tells how that on one Atlantic crossing, as Charles returned to England, a frightening storm arose at sea. Just as it seemed that the ship would go down, threatening to take all on board with it, a frightened bird flew into Wesley’s cabin through an open window and sought safety and protection in the folds of his coat!
Jesus, Lover of my soul,
let me to thy bosom fly,
while the nearer waters roll,
while the tempest still is high:
hide me, O my Savior, hide,
till the storm of life be past;
safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last.
Other refuge have I none,
hangs my helpless soul on thee;
leave, ah! leave me not alone,
still support and comfort me!
All my trust on thee is stayed;
all my help from thee I bring;
cover my defenseless head
with the shadow of thy wing.
Some view the Christian race as a 100 m dash. On your marks…get set…go!!! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and it's over! However, as one looks in the text of Holy Scripture, one quickly discovers that the Christian race is no 100m dash, but a marathon of lasting endurance! In this sermon, we look at two indispensables that are necessary for Christian perseverance. There’s a race to run dear Christian; let us run the race with endurance so as to finish!
1 John 2:12-14
What man plants a sapling, who upon his return ten years later, does not expect to find a fruit-yielding tree? Imagine the horror at discovering that the bendy sapling is no further on in its progression as in the day it was first planted. If it is an apple tree or a pear tree, we’d expect that tree to have come to maturity, and the sign of its maturity would be the beautiful fruit hanging from every branch. As it is in the natural, so it also ought to be in the spiritual!! Tell me, is the maturing of your spiritual man in proportion to the length of years you’ve walked with the Lord? It is the heart of our Lord to see His children go on to spiritual maturity, growing from little children to young men, to fathers.
Let us prepare our hearts as to what we will do with what is said in this heart-searching sermon.
1 John 1:5-7
There’s something about light — its piercing rays of glory, its all-pervading brilliance, is no match for the darkened shadows cast by nature's night. I find that for so many, though they name the name of Christ, they are content to live in the bluey shades of the twilight hours when Christ is calling them into the brightness of daylight. Neither hot nor cold, neither wicked nor good — they’re content to pitch their tent in no man's land between the borders of heaven and hell. As I look at the Bible, I don’t see any shades of grey, just life, and death, light, and darkness, day and night. If this is so, why then do we allow for shades of grey in our lives? This is a call to walk in the light!!
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
The athlete on the field of games is not passive. There’s no passivity about him — see him on the starting line, he’s not passive; he is thinking through the race before him, he’s focussed. Everything about the life of an athlete is disciplined. You name the sport, and I’ll show you an Olympian that’s under the rule of discipline. What he eats, what he drinks, what time he lies down to sleep, what time he rises up again; the intense training schedule for the space of four years, in season and out of season. The Apostle Paul draws on this powerful and well-known imagery to make his point. How run ye, O Christian?
2 Chronicles 26:1-5
When God brings His people from one season into another, they must give careful attention and purposeful thought as to how they intend to meet this new environment. I’ve come to learn over the years that change for some, while it ought to have been the best thing to have ever come their way; proved at last to be their undoing!
A man can begin in the lowly shadows of obscurity, and behold as he rises through the ranks of success, he can find at last, he’s not the man he was at the first. Success has gotten to his head; prosperity has clouded his vision, fogged his thinking, and corrupted his mind. I find that a man needs to be on guard at all times, but none more so than in the midst of blessing.