The scripture reading is 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 and these were the concluding exhortations by Paul to the Thessalonians. His final exhortations were talking about the community of faith.
We can divide this passage into 5 different areas. Paul talks about our:
1. CAPTAINS v.12-13
2. CONNECTION with others V.14-15
3. CHARACTER V.16-18
4. Church CONDUCT V.19-22
5. CONFIDENCE V.23-24
Paul’s exhortations can help us build a strong church community.
1. Captains (Leaders or Elders) (V.12-13)
- Reading from the NKJV, Paul asks us to RECOGNIZE our leaders.
 A young pastor was officiating at the funeral of a war veteran. The dead man’s military friends wished to have a part in the service at the funeral home, so they requested the pastor to lead them down to the casket, stand with them for a solemn moment of remembrance, and then lead them out through the side door. This he proceeded to do, but unfortunately the effect was somewhat marred when he picked the wrong door. The result was that they marched with military precision into a broom closet, in full view of the mourners, and had to beat a hasty retreat covered with confusion.
This true story illustrates a cardinal rule or two. First, if you’re going to lead, make sure you know where you’re going. Second, if you’re going to follow, make sure that you are following someone who knows what he is doing!
- We are to recognize our leaders. It is a responsibility given to us, as a church, to identify the people who are over us in the Lord.
- They are the ones who work for us, have charge over us and admonish us.
- We are to ESTEEM or respect them and,
- We are to LOVE them.
- Sometimes we do not love the people we respect because that respect might come out of fear. Paul says to have both because we are to have a relationship with our leaders. We are to make the job of our captains more easier at church.
We are asked to respond to our Captains with RECOGNITION, ESTEEM and LOVE
2. Connection (V.14-15)
We can live only in relationships. We need each other. A rather crude and cruel experiment was carried out by Emperor Frederick, who ruled the Roman Empire in the thirteenth century. He wanted to know what man’s original language was: Hebrew, Greek, or Latin.
He decided to isolate a few infants from the sound of the human voice. He reasoned that they would eventually speak the natural tongue of man. Wet nurses who were sworn to absolute silence were obtained, and though it was difficult for them, they abided by the rule. The infants never heard a word—not a sound from a human voice. Within several months they were all dead.
Just like the babies died due to the lack of human connection, the same way we will also die if we don’t have a human and spiritual connection with our fellow believers.
Paul asks us to:
- ADMONISH the undisciplined
- COMFORT or encourage the fainthearted
- HELP the weak
- BE PATIENT WITH ALL
- TO DO GOOD TO EACH OTHER
Paul portrays the way we ought to be in the church. Like a disciplining father and a nurturing mother.
SEE THAT NO ONE REPAY EVIL FOR EVIL – This is our NATURAL TENDENCY to retaliate.
When we are GOVERNED by WORLDLY WAYS, we have a WORLDLY REACTION, VIOLENCE. But when we are governed by SUPERNATURAL WAYS, we must have a SUPERNATURAL REACTION, LOVE. This is only possible if we are in fellowship with Jesus, our supernatural Saviour!
EXAMPLE OF CONNECTION WITH COMMUNITY:
 IN ONE REGION IN AFRICA,the first converts to Christianity were very diligent about praying. In fact, the believers each had their own special place outside the village where they went to pray in solitude. The villagers reached these “prayer rooms” by using their own private footpaths through the brush. When grass began to grow over one of these trails, it was evident that the person to whom it belonged was not praying very much.
Because these new Christians were concerned for each other’s spiritual welfare, a unique custom sprang up. When ever anyone noticed an overgrown “Prayer path,” he or she would go to the person and lovingly warn, “Friend, there’s grass on your path!” – RWD
3. Character (V.16, 17 and 18)
Paul talks about the 3 HABITS that every Christian should have. The good habit that helps us have a BLAMELESS LIFE.
1. REJOICE ALWAYS.
- CONSTANT EXPRESSION
- We declare Christ is the source of our JOY
- Our JOY is independent of circumstances
- Why are we to be happy?
Rom 5:2, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. “
- We know our WE KNOW OUR FUTURE SALVATION IS SECURE – WE will be GLORIFIED and PERFECTED
- If we knew the outcome of any situation, wouldn’t we make use of that opportunity?
If, for school, we studied everything in the curriculum for our final exam and we are confident to ace the test, wouldn’t we behave in a manner that shows that confidence? That we are absolutely sure that we are going to excel in the final exam no matter what?. Wouldn’t we portray happiness that we have done our work on time?
The same way, if we are sure about our future, that we are saved and that we are going to heaven, shouldn’t our lives be one filled with happiness? That our future is secure no matter what happens down here on earth? That we have a faithful God who will keep us?
We must live with that CONSTANT EXPRESSION of joy because of our SECURE SALVATION.
2. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
- CONSTANT ATTITUDE. Just like Daniel in Chap. 6, even though death was imminent.
- We pray to have a strong relationship with God.
- To build a consciousness of being in His presence every moment of the day.
- Prayer is our way of having a CONVERSATION with God.
- We can read the Bible all we want but we will only KNOW OF Him. Only if we are in constant prayer can we KNOW Him. Only through prayer we can know the intimate details God wants to share with us.
- It is through prayer that He reveals what plans He has in store for us.
- Paul says to pray without ceasing in terms of praying for every situation that you come across. Even if it’s something small, we must pray. Prayer should become a second nature to us.
- When we pray, we declare to the world, that our lives are governed by Jesus Christ and that He is in control.
3. GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES
- CONSTANT EMOTION
- Rom 8:28, “ And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose “
- Eph 1:11, “ In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will“
- Looking at the highlighted phrases we see that everything that comes our way is overseen by God. Nothing happens by chance.
- Our God is precise. Nothing down here on earth happened or happens by chance.
- If we know that everything that happens to us is given by God and it is working for our benefit, shouldn’t we be THANKFUL?
My marriage coincided with the time I was interested in knowing about the Word of God and I was new in this field of study. So, there were no tools at my disposal. As my wedding gift, my aunt gave me a Study Bible to help me with my study in God’s Word. When I found out it was a Study Bible, I was happy. It was exactly what I needed at that time. When I saw that she took the time and patience to get something that was good for me, I was so happy. I went up to her and showed her my JOY, through my CONVERSATION and THANKED her.
The same way, when we face ANY situation (good or bad), we can be sure that God took the time and patience to work something good for us. So we must express that JOY (Rejoice Always), through our CONVERSATION (Pray without ceasing) and be THANKFUL (Give thanks in all circumstances) to God, our Saviour.
4. Church Conduct (V. 19-22)
Holy Spirit is not to be QUENCHED. HE:
- Applies God’s truth in our minds and helps to understand God’s Word. (John 16:13)
- He is a gift-giver (1 Cor 12)
- He’s a fruit producer (Gal 5:22-23)
In John 14:16 greek word for SPIRIT is “paraklētos” ONE WHO IS CALLED ALONGSIDE – COUNCILLOR
- He is important in our life. John 14:16 confirms that He is our guide sent from our Father in Heaven.
- WE MUST NOT QUENCH THE SPIRIT because HE will HELP TO ABSTAIN FROM EVERY FORM OF EVIL.
- Just as the spirit is important in our personal lives, the same is applicable in our church. The Spirit is important in our community of faith. The Holy Spirit helps us to be holy.
- Corporate holiness is only a reflection of individual holiness.
- Sin in the church can quench the effect of the spirit. In turn it can effect the holiness of people.
- Everyone in the church need to be holy. To the outside world, we not only represent our Church but we are also God’s representatives down here on earth.
5. Confidence (V23-24)
- This is our encouragement.
- “ Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. “
- “Sanctify” here means, seperatation.
- V.23 Paul talks about SPIRIT, SOUL and BODY as our entire HUMANITY. But ITS NOT. There are also our HEART, CONSCIENCE etc. Paul talks only about them because these 3 aspects points to the believer’s relationship with GOD, OTHERS and OURSELVES.
So rephrasing the verse above, “ Now may the God of peace himself SEPARATE you completely, and may your whole RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, OTHERS AND YOURSELF be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. “
Paul’s desire is for us, as believers, to mature in all our relationships and lead blameless lives together as a community until the return of the Saviour.
Over the past few weeks our brothers have been preaching on Paul’s exhortations to the Thessalonians and they have shown us how we are to focus on these actions in our present day church.
The different actions, exhorted in 1 Thessalonians, are the model church, the model ministry, life lived pleasing to God, life lived in hope and the community of faith.
 Imagine what the game of bowling would be like if you couldn’t see the pins you were trying to hit. In 1933, Bill Knox did just that—and bowled a perfect game.
In Philadelphia, Bill had a screen placed just above the foul line to obscure his view of the lane. His purpose was to demonstrate the technique of spot bowling, which involves throwing the ball at a selected floor mark on the near end of the lane. Like many bowlers, Bill knew that you can do better if you aim at a mark close to you that’s in line with the pins. He proved his point with a perfect 300 game of 12 strikes in a row.
Spot bowling illustrates part of a wise approach to life.
PAUL’S LETTER TO THE THESSALONIANS NOT ONLY REMINDS US OF THE RETURN OF CHRIST BUT ALSO THAT THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF OUR SALVATION IS TO BE “PRESERVED BLAMELESS AT THE COMING OF OUR LORD. JESUS CHRIST” (5:23). PAUL’S LETTER TO THE THESSALONIANS TEACHES US TO FOCUS OUR EYES ON NEAR ACTIONS THAT ARE IN LINE WITH THAT ULTIMATE GOAL.
1. Everyday Discipleship For Ordinary People by Stuart Briscoe
2 . Our Daily Bread, November 18, 1996
3. Our Daily Bread, August 4, 1992