Speaker: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: Faith, Hope & Love
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (ESV)
1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For 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.
Faith, hope and love are indicators of true/real spirituality because they carry the following characteristics:
v4 “we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you…”
v5 “our gospel came to you… in the Holy Spirit…”
v2 “work of faith, labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”
v9 “how you turned to God from idols”
v5 “you know what kind of men we proved to be…”
v6 “you became imitators of us and of the Lord”
v7 “so that you became an example” v8 “so we need not say anything”
Questions for Reflection
How important is authenticity to you as you evaluate what is true?
In what ways does Jesus show himself to be authentic, true, with integrity? As you reflect on what you have read about Jesus and what the church has taught about Jesus, are there any areas where you are still suspicious? What are they?
How do we understand inconsistencies in the followers of Jesus? What are reasonable expectations for Christians? What is unacceptable?
Why must faith, hope and love, as the Bible presents them, be responsive to God’s initiative? Can we have true faith, hope and love without God acting in some way first?
If you struggle with faith, hope and/or love, how can looking to God help you grow where you need? How can you look to God in a way that fosters these three?
What animates you? What feelings, desires, conceptions of yourself or the world, etc. empower your actions? What would it look like to have faith, hope and love be the fundamental fuel for your choices and actions?
How do you work at faith? How do you work at love? How do you stay steadfast in hope? What does a productive struggle in each of these areas look like? How can your faith, hope and love mature through consistent effort?
How is your faith, hope and love affected by the people you associate with, by what is going on in the world, by social trends? In particular, what forces strip your faith-hope-love?
What does it look like to have sufficient faith, hope and love that your life is a witness to the true work of God? How can you live where you are (school, work, with friends, family, etc.) such that you are bringing something good of the good news with you and pushing against the negative forces of our world? How can you promote peace in your daily life?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father, we come to you, the living and true God, admitting our need. Our faith is weak, our love lacks deep conviction, our hope wavers. We confess we have found it easier to fake our way morally and religiously than to consistently walk by the Holy Spirit. Through our minimal efforts in life we have failed to thrive, and our thoughts, words and deeds give evidence of this. We long for what is true and real. Continue to make yourself known to us, so that we develop faith, hope and love in response to your grace. Empower us by your Spirit to live by faith, hope and love. Protect us from what lures us away and grips our hearts and minds, and use us to advance your ways as we go about our lives. Amen.