The Church of the Living God
1/22 – Messengers of Hope (1 Thessalonians 1)
Introduction — In the beginning of this letter to the church, Paul, Silas, and Timothy give their greetings of grace and peace. They then tell the church of their thanks to God for each member. They remember the church in their prayers, keeping in mind the example of the church. The believers in Thessalonica show a steadfast work of faith and love and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. These members, these messengers of hope, know God loves them and chose them. Once they heard the gospel, they believed the gospel. Now, they, like Paul and his team, sound forth the gospel to others. This church is actively sharing the good news in word and deed. These messengers of hope live what they say they believe.
The word of the Lord sounds forth from you not only here, but also in every place your faith toward God goes! This must be our testimony. This must our witness. God calls us to be messengers of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We speak thanks to God for the church. (1-2)
Comments: Paul and Silas and Timothy write to the church. They see this body rooted in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. These men affirm the grace and peace of God in their midst. These men tell the church of their constant prayers for all of them. Paul and Silas and Timothy thank God always for this church. These men pray often, and pray thankfully. They offer thanks to God for this body, this church. Gratitude is a major theme of their prayers to God. Foremost on their minds and on their lips is a word of thanksgiving to God. Questions: What’s the first thing out of our mouths? When we speak to God, what do we say? When we speak with our friends, what do we say often? If someone were to follow us around for one day, what theme would he or she notice? What do we say about one another? Do we offer gratitude or gripes? Do we give hollow platitudes or sincere praise? What flows from our heart to our tongue? Application: Give thanks to God for the church. Give thanks to God for the person you’re setting next to right now. Give thanks to God for your spouse. Give thanks to God for your children. Give thanks to God for your pastors. Give thanks to God for those in your Bible study group. Give thanks to God for those who lead worship. Give thanks to God for godly mentors in your life. Give thanks to God for difficult people. Give thanks to God for behind-the-scenes people. Give thanks to God for the church.
We see God’s work of grace among us. (3-6)
Comments: As they give thanks to God, these men constantly bear in mind the church’s work of faith and labor of love and steadfast hope. These men know how much God loves the church. They know that God calls each person within the church. They see God’s work of grace among them. Paul and Silas and Timothy reflect on the way God changed these individuals through the gospel. These folks received the gospel and are now living examples of the gospel. Even in the middle of much pain, this church cherishes the gospel. They, too, see God’s work of grace. They don’t seem to focus on petty things. They don’t seem preoccupied with small matters. Their focus is on living out the gospel for the glory of God. Questions: What is our focus? What do we notice? What do we pay attention to the most? Do we bear in mind God’s work of grace among us? Do we thrill at His love for us? Do we stop to consider that He chose us before the foundation of the world? Do we marvel at the way He is changing us? Do we have joy even in the middle of our pain? Do we have full assurance in Christ? Do we live out the gospel for the glory of God? Application: Notice how God is changing us—the work of faith, the labor of love, the steadfastness of hope. Pay attention to how much God loves us. Keep in mind that God chose us. Cherish the gospel. Do not focus on petty matters. Focus on living out the gospel for the glory of God. See God’s work of grace among us.
We sound forth the word of God. (7-10)
Comments: These men see the result of God’s work: the church became an example to all the believers in that region. Indeed, the word of the Lord sounds forth from this church. Like a blasting trumpet or a ringing bell, this church heralds God’s word with clarity and conviction. The church is a bridge for the gospel in both word and deed. And wherever the people in this church went, other people take notice. As Paul and his team write, “They themselves report about us what kind of reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” Most certainly, that church served God as messengers of hope. Questions: How about us? Do we serve God as messengers of hope? Do we have this hope in us? Do we believe the gospel? Do we sound forth the gospel? Do we proclaim God’s word with clarity and conviction? Do we turn to God? Do we turn from idols? Do we show a steadfast hope in Jesus? Do we set our lives as an example others can follow? Application: Let’s set our lives as an example others can follow. Let’s live what we say we believe. Let’s keep turning to God. Let’s turn away from idols. Let’s look to Jesus as our certain rescue. Let’s sound forth the word of the Lord with clarity and conviction. Let’s serve God as messengers of hope. Let’s be messengers of hope.
Word Study for 1 Thessalonians 1
1 church (ekklesia—a calling out; a popular meeting; an assembly; a congregation)
2 give thanks (eucharisteo—to return thanks; give thanks; be thankful; express gratitude)
3 bearing in mind (mnemoneuo—remember; call to mind; mention; memory; keep in mind)
3 steadfastness (hypomene—endurance; perseverance; to wait expectantly; cheerful patience)
3 hope (elpis—expectation; what is hoped for; basis of hope; anticipate with pleasure; confidence)
4 knowing (oida—know; see; understand; remember; acknowledge; honor)
4 beloved (agapao—love; show love; take pleasure in; to prize)
4 choice (ekloge—chosen; selection; election)
5 conviction (plerophoria—full assurance; certainty; accomplish fully; entire confidence)
6 tribulation (thlipsis—affliction; oppression; trouble; anguish; persecution; burden)
6 joy (chara—gladness; reason for gladness; jubilation; delight)
7 example (typos—pattern; image; mold; stamp; archetype; model; visible scar; design; form; copy)
7 believers (pisteuo—believe; trust; put faith in; think to be true; entrust)
8 sounded forth (execheo—proclaim; to spread; to go round; to ring out)
9 report (apangello—bring tidings; inform; command; announce; bring news; tell)
9 turned (epistrepho—turn about; change one’s beliefs; return; come back to a point)
9 idols (eidolon—false god; image; phantom)
9 serve (douleuo—be a slave; be controlled by; be subject to)
9 true (alethinos—real; genuine; truthful; not imaginary; trustworthy; faithful)
10 wait (anameno—await; expect)
10 rescues (rhyomai—save; preserve; snatch; drag; deliver)
Application for 1 Thessalonians 1
Let’s give thanks to God for one another, remembering one another in our prayers.
Let’s keep in mind God’s work among us and within us.
Let’s keep in mind that God love us and chose us.
Let’s remember the depth of the gospel.
Let’s be godly examples to one another.
Let’s sound forth the good news of Jesus Christ.
Let’s keep turning to the true and living God.
Let’s be messengers of hope.
Gospel Connections for 1 Thessalonians 1
Jesus is the resurrected Son of God. Jesus is alive. Jesus is our hope. Jesus rescues us from the wrath to come.
Thoughts and Quotes for 1 Thessalonians 1
To hear the phrase "our only hope" always makes one anxious, because it means that if the only hope doesn't work, there is nothing left. ~ Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book
Hope itself is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness. It is no accident that above the entrance to Dante's hell is the inscription: "Leave behind all hope, you who enter here.”
~ Jügen Moltmann, Theology of Hope
We should ask God to increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak, and raise it up when it is overthrown. ~ John Calvin
Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of his life, and every moment beyond it, the believer can say with truth, on the basis of God's own commitment, that the best is yet to come. ~ J.I. Packer
Lord, give me firmness without hardness, steadfastness without dogmatism, love without weakness. ~ Jim Elliot
People have an idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and they are the critics, blaming or praising him. What they don't know is that they are the actors on the stage; he (the preacher) is merely the prompter standing in the wings, reminding them of their lost lines. ~ Søren Kierkegaard
Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating [young people] . . . too often fathers neglect it because they get so caught up in making a living they forget to make a life. ~ John Wooden