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How We Behave, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
October 28, 2020 8:00 am

How We Behave, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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The church that is worthy of being imitated becomes a megaphone, calling out to the world you are following the wrong God.

You have become obsessed with a decaying body. You're bowing before idols that will betray you and abandon you and leave you empty. Turn from those idols to serve the true and living God. The church has a mission that God has called us to accomplish. If you asked your neighbors and people you encounter when you're running errands to describe the Christian church, what would they say? Sadly, the perception held by unbelievers in our culture is not always a positive one. Our behavior as followers of Jesus Christ dictates how others see us. Our behavior also dictates how effectively we can lead others to Jesus.

Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart. Today, Steven Davey takes us to Thessalonians chapter 1. He's going to expound on the behavioral commandments written by Paul to that church. And as he does, you're going to see that what Paul said to the Thessalonians is what we all need to hear today. One of my commentaries mentioned the first century letter from Diognetus as he's describing in the first century the Christians.

He isn't one of them, but he's describing them. I did a little digging and found a copy of the full letter. It's rather lengthy. I've edited down to a couple of paragraphs in light of this study.

And let me read it to you. And as I read a couple of paragraphs, ask the question, is this describing me? Is this describing us? He writes, and I quote, Christians are not distinguished from other men by country, language, or custom. They don't inhabit cities of their own or use a particular way of speaking or lead a life marked out by any curiosity. Yet they display to us their wonderful and admittedly striking way of life. They live, but they do so as those who are passing through. As citizens, they participate with others, yet they endure everything as if they are foreigners. They marry like everyone else, and they have children.

Notice how this struck him. But they do not destroy their offspring. This is in a day when abortion was legal and rampant and infanticide after they'd been born they didn't want them. They do not destroy their offspring. They share a common table, but not a common bed. They love all men, but they're condemned by all men.

They lack everything, but overflow in everything. They are reviled, they're insulted, and repay it with respect. They do good, but are punished as evil doers. And when punished, they rejoice as if they were raised from the dead."

End quote. How's the pressure out there? How's the pressure? It's intense. It never lets up. It never gives us a break.

We can't catch a break. But we have the Word and the Holy Spirit using the Word in our lives, and through us it produces settled peace and security and joy. That's remarkable.

Now look at what happens. Verse 7, so that, in other words, here's the practical application of the Word and the work of the Holy Spirit. So that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia, that's northern Greece, it's up north, and in Achaia, all the way down to the southern province where they drink sweet tea like we do, right? He said to them, you are becoming an example effectively then to the entire nation, from the north to the south.

You're an example. The word he uses is tupos. We transliterate that and we get our word type. That word originally referred to a mark left by the blow of a hammer, or perhaps a dye into which precious metals were poured and it would come out with an impression on the face of that coin. So what Paul was saying to the Thessalonians here is, and remember, he doesn't say this to any other New Testament church, he says you became a type, a tupos, an example. He's effectively saying you are making an impression on all the believers who hear about you. They were given then, as Paul gives them here, as a pattern worth following, an impression worth being marked by. Simple people, yet profoundly influential beyond what they would have known.

Earl Palmer, an author and a former pastor who lives in California, wrote about his nearby high school, Milpitas High School. He talked about their orchestra. He said, for these kids, the orchestra, you know, doesn't sound all that great, unlike what we were able to hear today, right? He said, but they work hard, but every year they perform Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Now for you musicians, that's just not the easiest, that's not like the birthday party you learned when you started learning piano or chopsticks, the Ninth Symphony. He said, I'm convinced their performance would probably make old Ludwig roll over in his grave.

And you might ask, why bother? Why inflict on the audience and on these kids the burden of trying to render what Beethoven had in mind? Even, he writes, great symphonies cannot attain to that perfection. I've come to understand the answer is this. The Milpitas High School Orchestra will give some people in the audience their only encounter with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Far from perfection, it is nevertheless the only way this audience will ever hear Beethoven's message. Isn't that great? I think the Thessalonians would probably be surprised 20 centuries later to find out we've been discussing them. Hey, here's an example. They would have probably said, we are an example. Oh, man, not us. Don't study us. And yet we are. We're far from perfect.

No Christian, no church ever gets it right perfectly, but God effectively reminds us he has chosen to use us to allow those in our audience out there to have perhaps the only opportunity they will ever have to hear his message. Here's how we behave. We mimic faithful role models. We model joyful responses to the word and to the pressure. Thirdly, Paul writes that we motivate spiritual reformation.

In fact, I think he plays off this musical idea here. Look at verse eight. He writes, For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth. So that we don't even have any need to say anything about it.

I mean, it is just spreading. He uses this word to sound forth. It could be a reference to sounding a trumpet, to playing music on a trumpet.

It's the sound. The idea here is the sound of a trumpeter who plays, and it just kind of echoes. You know, I get to hear this magnificent organizer in choir three times on a Sunday morning. I sit over here by the woodwinds, hide over back in there until it's time, and I can hear this morning Richard on the piccolo trumpet hitting those high notes, and it sounds like we're going to coronate some king. It just sounds so majestic as he plays, and it just kind of echoes around.

That's the idea here. The message of the Thessalonians is echoing out like a trumpeter. Obviously word of mouth, writing of letters, testimonies, business contracts and deals, a salesman, tradesman, whatever. It's spreading, and it's especially inspiring and encouraging to the believers, so much so that Paul says, hey, you need to know about them, and I really don't need to say much, but you need to know about them.

They're an example. I want their testimony to impress you, to mark you, to stamp your thinking and your own lifestyle. The message is echoing out, and as Diognetus implies these early believers, it was no doubt motivating the believers to press on, and it was mystifying the unbelievers to want to know what this was all about. Verse 9, for they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, church and Thessalonica, and how, notice this, how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God he's emphasizing here. You turn from dead gods to serve a living God. You turn from false gods to serve the true God.

You turn from false teaching and false teachers to following truth. Everybody's talking about it. The word is spreading. Listen, a church that motivates and encourages and facilitates the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing the word to the world is really bringing genuine reformation. It's a church that is spreading the message of the gospel of the true and living God, and a body of believers that is obviously excited, like the Thessalonians, to deliver that word to their world is commendable.

It's commendable, by any means, by any method. Now the methods have changed over the centuries. In fact, we have more than the Thessalonians could have dreamed of. In fact, as I was studying this passage, it struck me, I wonder if there's any data on a brand new method I'm sure the Thessalonians would have jumped all over the internet. So I called one of my staff pastors and I said, do you have any data?

That entire website has been totally redone. If you've never been to it, colonial.org. I don't get paid for telling me that, colonial.org. I do have people come up and say to me, I missed that fifth point or that 15th point or whatever, and I'll say, look, by Tuesday afternoon, the entire sermon has been transcribed, manuscripted, footnoted, it's on the web, you can watch the video sermon, it's all there and it's all free. Well, I called and I said, do we have any data?

Because we started video streaming these services, entire services, and we are archiving the sermon video as well on the site. We've only been doing it for 30 days. Do we have any data? Over the past 30 days, this will encourage you, the sermons that are now video live streamed archive in just 30 days, people have gone online and have watched from every state except North Dakota.

I don't know what's wrong with North Dakota, but we got to do something about that. Several thousand people. You get this, in the last, I'm talking about 30 days. In the last 30 days, people have also watched from 66 different countries. Let me take a deep breath and I'll go through not all of them, but most of them.

Canada, India, Thailand, the Philippines, South Africa, Columbia, Brazil, Switzerland, Australia, Panama, Chile, Israel, Kosovo, Argentina, Germany, Ecuador, Guam, Liberia, Romania, Singapore, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Cambodia, Nigeria, Russia, Taiwan, Austria, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Denmark, Ghana, Honduras, Iran, Iceland, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Morocco, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Turkey, Trinidad, Venezuela, Zambia, Spain, France, and China. Can you believe that? Thirty days. All these people have been skipping church in all these countries. So how are we doing? Well, we hope and we pray as people actually watch. Could be a bad thing. Maybe they're not involved. Could be a good thing.

Maybe they don't have an assembly. Are they getting from us the sense that we believe the Gospel, that we have turned away from the idols of our world and we're following the true and living God. And for those believers who watch, they're going to be motivated to press on.

And the unbelievers who watch are going to be mystified with why we're so passionate about this Gospel. And listen, I can say this without any hesitation, no matter where you are in the world, no matter what country you're watching from, no matter what language, the number one idol in every culture, in every generation, in every country, the number one idol is self. This body. And everything related to this body.

Every idol is nothing more than a reflection of self-worship. And our culture is given over to it. Our bodies, the desires of our bodies, our pleasures, our pamperings, our successes, our anti-aging processes, more than a billion a year just in this country alone, sort of taken our world by storm. And the fallen men and women around us are focusing all their attention on that idol themselves, how to dress their body, how to fulfill the pleasures of their body, how to succeed with their body, how to improve their body, how to pamper their body. Don't take me too far. I'm all for a hot shower.

I'm doing anti-aging stuff too. I don't know if you can tell. Listen, compared to our world getting out its message of other gods, primarily the idolatry of the body, the idol of sexual pleasure, the idols of greed entertaining the body and having possessions for the body, we're not even in the same ballpark. We're just getting started. You talk about obsessed.

You talk about passionate. Let me give you one example. I came across this article from the New York Times. It talked about, in fact it uses the word missionaries. Let me give you their language. Missionaries who are intent on changing the world. That's their language. Women gathered in Madrid for their biennial cosmic conference to promote the values of the best-selling magazine in America, perhaps the world, Cosmopolitan.

According to this article, in the end I'm using their language. Listen to the nuances of the gospel in this. The Cosmo missionaries are intent on spreading the good news of their magazine. They strive to offer advice to women around the world on matters of beauty, relationships, success, and especially sexual pleasure. Its cover rarely fails to feature at least one bold, all-caps rendering of that word, S-E-X. Even the New York Times article admitted, and I quote, the repetition can be a little numbing, but it may help explain how this magazine has morphed into a global enterprise.

Now listen to this. It has 64 international editions, those languages. The magazines, they said, speaking of themselves, spread sex stories to 100 million teens and young women, which would comprise what would be the world's 12th largest country. The magazine sells in over 100 nations, even where any discussion of sexual pleasure is taboo. The editor of the magazine recently admitted that people might object to Cosmo's obsession, her word, with sexual topics, but she is unashamedly proud how that focus, she says, sets my magazine apart from my competitors.

She said in an interview recently, every Cosmo reader expects to have herself and her pleasures taken care of because that's what she deserves. Talk about a trumpet sound. The church that is worthy of being imitated becomes a competing trumpet, a megaphone, calling out to the world, you are following the wrong God. You are worshipping at a dead end.

You have become obsessed with a decaying body. You're bowing before idols that will betray you and abandon you and leave you empty. Look at the Thessalonians. They have turned from those idols to serve the true and living God.

And they want that message sent around the world. Should we be any less passionate about this Reformation and the Gospel of Christ? By the way, would you notice quickly they're waiting for something, or I should say someone, verse 9, the latter part, you turn to God from idols to serve a living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven. Wait for his, you're working and you're waiting. You're working and you're waiting. You're serving and you're looking.

Yes. Waiting for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead and rescues us from the wrath to come. Getting the message out and at the same time waiting for the Messiah to come.

It's really not that complicated, is it? I know I'm preaching to the choir, but may God challenge us even further to take another step in the right direction. We're following the right people. We're mimicking faithful role models. We are modeling the right responses, welcoming the word, welcoming the pressure. We're motivating by our lifestyle others toward a genuine spiritual Reformation.

We're motivating the believers, we're mystifying the unbelievers with our obsession for Christ. And all the while, we're waiting. It struck me as I studied this passage, we are effectively waiting for the sound of the trumpet. And when that sound occurs, our trumpeting will be over. We'll lay our trumpet down when his sounds.

Maybe today. I close with this. In his commentary on 1 Thessalonians and at the same verse, Sam Gordon, we had him this past summer from England, wonderful commentary on 1 Thessalonians, told the story of a tourist who was exploring the sites of Lake Como in northern Italy. He arrived at the beautiful estate and the castle called the Villa Asconiti.

I hope I said that right. Even though it wasn't open for tourists at the time, he pushed open the ornamental gates and walked in. Didn't see anybody around. Everything was unbelievably beautiful. Flowers blooming in a rainbow of extravagant colors, the shrubbery green and manicured to precision. Reminds me of my yard. He noticed over at one side of the castle a gardener on his hands and knees clipping by hand the blades of grass in one section of the lawn. He walked over and he said, I hope you don't mind a visitor looking at your garden. And the gardener replied, oh, you're more than welcome.

I'm glad to have a guest. So he toured the expansive grounds and then returned to ask the gardener, is the owner here today? I'm afraid not, the gardener replied. He's away. Well, when was the last time you saw him? The gardener laughed and said 12 years ago.

12 years ago. You mean this enchanting place that you've kept so carefully has been empty for 12 years? That's correct, the gardener replied matter of factly. The tourists asked, well, who tells you what to do? The gardener explained that the owner has an agent in Milan who communicates with him regularly.

But do you ever see the owner personally still clipping, trimming? The gardener answered, never, never. The tourists couldn't believe his ears, but you have everything so beautifully kept.

It's gorgeous, manicured. It looks like you are expecting him tomorrow. The gardener straightened up and looked up at his guest and said, oh, no, sir, not tomorrow. I expect him today.

It could be today. So, Father, take this word and the example of the Thessalonians and stamp upon our hearts a pattern worthy of following. Thank you for this dear flock facing intense pressure, yet welcoming the word, looking to Paul as a role model and, of course, to you as their Lord and motivating us even down through the centuries to this very day.

Thank you. This is how we, Father, behave in a way that would be commendable. May we do a little bit more like the Thessalonians. As the Church of Jesus Christ, we eagerly await the return of our King.

And when He returns for us, we want to be found prepared and ready, being faithful stewards of what He's called us to do. Today's lesson was a reminder of what some of those behaviors are. The lesson was called How We Behave, and it comes from our current series on the Church entitled Upon This Rock.

This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Stephen's the pastor of a church in Cary, North Carolina. A few years ago, that church expanded and modified the church constitution and bylaws. Because we've always stood on the truth of God's Word, we didn't remove anything that we believe, but we did add some things.

There've been rapid changes in our culture that have resulted in our society affirming things to be good that the Bible declares to be sin. We wanted to make sure that we clearly articulated what God's Word says about issues like marriage, gender, and the sanctity of life. If you're a pastor, deacon, elder, or other church leader, we'd be happy to send you a copy of these documents in case it might be helpful to you. Just give us a call at 866-48-BIBLE. That's 866-482-4253. We'd be happy to send you a copy of that document while supplies last. Please join us tomorrow here on Wisdom for the Heart. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-31 23:12:21 / 2024-01-31 23:21:12 / 9

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