Tuesday, 5 May 2015

NO HALFWAY HOUSE

From 1 Thessalonians Chapter 1

Paul begins his letter by greeting the Thessalonian church in his usual manner speaking grace (the favour of God) and peace (wholeness) over them. He commends them as an example to other believers and details why in vs 9-10.

1.  They turned, they were converted, left something to gain something, they made a decision to change and take a new path.  Faith will not work as a bolt on to your old life.  When Peter spoke to the crowd at Pentecost they were cut to the heart and cried out asking what they should do.  They knew they needed to change, to turn away from their old life.

For the Thessalonians the old way of life was the worship of man made idols.  They chose to get rid of them and worship God and him only.  These days we may not have a carved image on our mantlepiece that we bow down to but we must understand that anything that takes the place of God in our lives is an idol.  Ask God to show you the things in your life that take the place he wants to occupy.  There is no halfway house - either Jesus is Lord of your life or he is not.

He says they received Christ with joy and affliction. Why affliction?  Because they changed and that impacted on those around them and some won't have liked that.  Whilst we don't reject those whom God loves we have to make a choice about the company we keep and whose influence we accept and choose to turn from our old ways. "Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character." (1 Corinthians 15:33)  We choose to worship God and fellowship with Christians so that we are built up and able to touch the world with the gospel that lives in us.

2.  They served the living God.  Their lives were not 'me' centred always looking to have my needs met but looking outward to serve God by serving others.  To be a servant of God is a high calling.  Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and God will sort out everything else.  How do we do that?  First rather than looking to others to meet your needs, choose to look to the needs of others before yourself.  Look for ways to serve one another and not just in meetings. We serve by being friends and family to each other by building loving caring relationships. We lay down our lives for our friends when we choose to sacrifice what we want to do in order to give them what they need.

Bryn Jones wrote:
"The Kingdom is here but not in it's fulness. It is time for Christians to live in the immediate in the light of the ultimate."

3.  They waited not like the grumpy impatient patients in my doctor's waiting room but instead they waited with expectancy and a great hope for the future.  They knew Jesus and were confident in his return. We need security and our hope stretches right into the throne room of God and is rooted in a promise of God that is for always. We are not hanging around to see what happens we have a purpose and work to do in our waiting.  It's important that we work hard so that we can contribute and help build what God has put in our hearts. Our waiting is purposeful and there is much to be done.
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Hebrews 13:19)

Peter Topliss (Chesterfield 4/5/15)