Living For Jesus Every Day

// March 4th, 2019 // Sermons

This entry is part 10 of 15 in the series Last Days Christianity

Mark Twain once said: “It ain’t…  You can listen online or download it and listen later…Living For Jesus Every Day

…the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”  I think we could all agree with him.

We shouldn’t be surprised when we struggle to understand some parts of the Bible.  After all, how do you put into practice the teaching of Jesus in the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would like them to do to you”?  There is nothing tricky about what that verse is saying.  There are no translation problems.  This verse states a principle for conduct that crosses generations and is exceedingly simple, yet profound.

But, how do you put it into practice?  The words of the verses of our text are clear enough, but how do you live what they teach?

Our text teaches us to love others and live intentionally so that our lives win the respect of those outside the church.  We need this message today because, in many ways and in many places, the church has lost its witness – its relevance – to the world.  We have lost sight of what it is to be an “everyday Christian.”

We live in a sophisticated, high-tech world, but the basic needs of man have not changed.  People still want to know, “How can my life be changed, my sins be forgiven, and…how can I be holy in God’s sight?”

We need the exhortations of this passage.  First, we are to:

  1. Demonstrate philadelphia
  2. 9 starts out – “Now concerning brotherly love…” It’s like Paul says, “I don’t need to remind you about this, but I will anyway.” The original word translated “brotherly love” is philadelphia – it means the love of family members for one another.  It comes from two Greek words that have been joined together:
  • First, philos – meaning “tender affection, fondness, devotion” – it implies an obligation to love.
  • Second, adelphos – usually translated “brother” and literally means “one born of the same womb.”

Put the 2 parts together and you get philadelphia – which refers to the “tender affection that is owed to those born from the same womb.”

As Christians, we have been “born-again” – we have all been “born of the same womb”.  All who are saved are saved the same way.  God doesn’t have optional plans of salvation — Plan A for Protestants, Plan B for Catholics, and so on.

Jesus was very clear to Nicodemus when He said, “You must be born again” (John 3:3).  To be born again means we have received new life through personal faith in Jesus Christ.  Literally, we have been “born from God’s womb.”

Every person who belongs to Jesus is our brother/sister and therefore we owe all of them Philadelphia – we owe them tender affection and true devotion.  First:

  1. God teaches us to love one another – v. 9b

The word translated “taught by God” is not found anywhere else in the NTThis is not “classroom instruction”, it is truth learned through relationship.

If you want to learn to speak German, your best bet is to move to Germany and live with the Germans.  Sink yourself into their culture and soon the language will make sense to you.

The same applies to love.  You learn to love by hanging-out with loving people.  Love isn’t taught; it’s caught!  And so, if we absorb ourselves into the culture of the family of God, surrounded by His nature, we will start to reflect, live and demonstrate His love.  Love really should be the most natural thing for the believer to express.

1 John says, “We love because God is love.”  It’s a family trait – if we belong to God’s family, our love should show it.  Paul doesn’t have to teach these young believers to love…to be a Christian is to enter a fellowship of brotherly love.  Secondly…

  1. This love is for all God’s children – v. 10a

In the first part of v. 10, Paul uses the phrase – “all the brothers.”  He compliments them for what they are already doing.  It’s pretty easy to love some of the brothers, but, all of them?  That’s a tough assignment.

We need to be clear:  We are to love all true believers everywhere all the time.  This is not optional.  This can be hard because most of us have some who we are not that comfortable with, some whose convictions get them to do things we don’t agree with.

Here’s a statement – Being redeemed by the blood of Christ doesn’t make us into ‘cookie-cutter’ Christians!  Or, as Pastor Ray Pritchard wrote, “Redemption does not homogenize the church!”

We will always have our differences of opinion and conviction.  Believers have disagreed on important issues since the start of the church.  And the point is, we don’t have to abandon our doctrinal or cultural distinctives in order to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.  But, according to Paul, love for other Christians is not optional!

The love of God is not limited by nation, by continents, tribe or tongue or custom or clothing or race or politics or caste or any other human condition.  When the love of God grabs a hold of our hearts,  our hearts grow as big as His—reaching to the ends of the earth.  Thirdly…

  1. Love more and more – v. 10b

What does it mean that our love should increase?  It means that we should have:

  • Greater sympathy for those in need,
  • More patience for those who are struggling, and
  • Increased tolerance toward those with whom we disagree.

The best thing any church can do is to demonstrate love for one another.  The people of our world long to see churches and Christians who really love each other.

This is what most unchurched people want in a church is:  They are looking for a caring church!  Not just a friendly church, a relevant church, a church with programs for kids, good music and good preaching – generally they are looking for a place where they can be deeply loved.

Often God helps a church grow this kind of love by putting us in situations where we have to practice Christian love.  Have you ever been in a stressful, even broken relationship with another brother or sister?  Did you consider that maybe God allowed that to happen to grow your capacity to love?  Is that what happened?

God sometimes does this because the only way we learn to love is by dealing with people that rub us the wrong way.  I have seen it happen between husbands and wives, parents and children, between co-workers, neighbors, business partners, and relatives.  Some people who started out disliking each other sometimes end up as dearest friends.

C.S. Lewis said that “we may talk so much about loving people in general that we love no one in particular.”

What do we do if a fellow believer sees things the opposite to how we see them?  Can we still love him/her?

We shouldn’t expect Christians to always agree – and just because they vote for someone we wouldn’t vote fore, doesn’t make them evil.  But, we must always extend grace to each other.  Even though I may not understand my brother/sister’s conviction, if you are my brother or sister in Christ, we share a common faith that runs deeper than the details.

In many cases, we will simply have to agree to disagree.  And, in some cases, we might find it necessary to love each other from a distance.  We can’t love everyone the same way or to the same degree.  But, if we are Christians, we must find a way to love even when love is hard to do.

This love is the power of the Holy Spirit who causes us to love even the unlovely.  The church is to be a community of love.  We owe it to the Lord, to each other, and to the watching world.

  • Let love abound more and more
  • Let “philadelphia” – brotherly love, abound more and more.
  • Let Christian sympathy and care go out to those in need.
  • Let us pray for one another and especially for those with whom we disagree.

Paul’s 1st instruction – “Demonstrate Philadelphia”; his 2nd:

  1. Live a Balanced Life – v. 11 reads, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.”

When Paul was with them, he had taught them about the imminent return of Christ, so there was excitement in Thessalonica about the Lord’s return.   We will take a closer look at this next week – but, we believe that Jesus could return today or tomorrow or next week or next year.

Unfortunately, in every generation there are those who take end-time speculation to extremes.  In response to extremist views, Paul issues a strong call for balanced living.  He gives three commands…#1:

  1. Live a quiet life – This command answers the problem of restlessness. The word “quiet” comes from the Greek word meaning “Sabbath rest.” It speaks of resting from work, ending all conflict, striving for peace after warfare.  Paul says, “Be ambitious about quiet living.”

I think we need this instruction – our world tends to be very busy and noisy, ever seeking to make a bigger splash, to make a name for ourselves, to get ahead, to rise above the crowd.

The Message uses two words for this phrase: “Stay calm.”  We are to be less frantic and more settled in life.  Someone wrote:  “You will never be happy until you learn to enjoy what you already have.”  We need to hear those words.  We spend thousands of dollars seeking happiness when the answer is learning to enjoy what God has already given us.

“Stay calm” – is a desperate need for our workaholic lifestyles.  We live in hurried times, with little sense of stillness and rest.  We work harder to achieve less.  For many the motto is, “Get on the bus or get out of the way!”

We live in a hurry-up, get-it-done-now world.  Churches measure success by how busy the calendar is.  No wonder we are restless, edgy, tense, nervous, and easily distracted.  We talk but have nothing to say; we listen without hearing a word.  Command #1 – Live a Quiet Life…#2…

  1. Mind Your Own Business

This commands answers the problem of being a busybody.  We all know people who fit that description.  They are people who feel called to mind their own business–and yours, as well.  They believe they have a right and responsibility to get into others space.  One writer speaks of “the busybody’s compulsive itch to set other people right.”

I heard of a ministry leader who would often reminded his staff to “feel free to have no opinion about that.”  That’s good wisdom, because we all need to know that we don’t have to have an opinion about everything.  If I’m busy with my own things, I don’t have time nor energy to be concerned about what others do or say or how they dress, and so on.

#3. Working with your hands – This command answers the problem of idleness.  Paul, himself, worked with his hands as a tentmaker so he could support himself while he preached the gospel.  Even though he was highly educated, he didn’t mind hard work, and he didn’t find manual labor embarrassing.

This was in direct contrast to the upper class people of Greece – they despised manual labor.  When Christianity came to Greece, it brought in a new ethic based on personal responsibility and hard work.  After all, even Jesus was a carpenter’s son!

I found a quote that reads, “It is a terrible thing for religious people to have nothing to do but be religious.”  It is my opinion that the ones who are making an impact for Christ in the world are those who get up every morning, do an honest day’s work – whether at home or away from home – and doing it, with cheerfulness.

You can go and make an impact where I, as a pastor, could never go.  However, your attitude toward work, toward your boss, towards the people in your surroundings…all of these things determine if your impact is favorable for the cause of Christ or not.

There is no greater testimony than the Christian mechanic at his bench, the Christian teacher in the classroom, the Christian secretary at the desk, the Christian nurse at the hospital, the Christian farmer in his field, the Christian accountant keeping the books, or the Christian mother influencing her children.

That is true Christianity.  Pastor Ray Pritchard said, “Going to church means little if you are a lazy brick on the job!”  Most of us don’t see our daily work as a way to worship God…but it is.  What you do on Monday is just as sacred in the eyes of the Lord as what you do in church on Sunday.  As a matter of fact, if what you do Monday through Saturday does not involve God at all, then what you do on Sundays is merely a hypocritical act!  Paul’s 3rd instruction…they were to:

III. Make a Difference – v. 12 – “Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.”

Paul ends this part with a word about the impact this kind of life makes.

#1. Non-Christians will respect you

Stated negatively, “Don’t be lazy and give the church a black eye.”  Stated positively, “You can help the church have a beautiful reputation by the way you do your job.”

Remember the old adage:  “You may be the only Bible someone else might ever read.”  You might be the only Christian this other person will ever meet.  So, it is good to evaluate our lives – What do people observe, hear, and take-home, when they look at your life?

The lowliest occupation can become a powerful sermon when it is done with dignity, honesty, diligence and faithfulness.  The “average Joe” who does his “average Joe” job with uncommon grace will never lose his self-respect and will win respect for his Lord and for the church – the body of Jesus.

When we demonstrate that our faith makes us better workers, truer friends, better neighbors, kinder men and women, then we are really preaching what the world needs to hear and see.

When I was a student at NBC, President Jake Rempel read a letter near the end of the year, that he later posted on the bulletin board.  A company in Saskatoon had sent this letter, asking if there might be students from NBC looking for summer jobs.  From past experience, the students from NBC they had hired, were better workers and genuine, honest people…he wanted more of these.

Oh, that the people who you work with, do business with, and socialize with would have a great desire to know what you believe, know Who your God is, know where you worship and want to be like the Lord Jesus because they know you.

Our lives are sermons that will either draw other people to Jesus . . . or push them away from Him.  Lord, help it be the first one!  Secondly,

  1. You will be independent

There is a good kind of independence that we should all strive for.  It’s the kind that comes from paying your bills on time so you don’t have to steal, borrow, or run up a huge credit card debt.  There is nothing wrong with accepting charity in the time of need.  But, there is something wrong if you come to depend on charity and think you deserve this.

What does the church owe the world?  When you look at 1 Thess. 4:1-12, you notice that every Christian is obligated for three things:

  • A holy life—one that is free from immorality (v. 1-8).
  • A harmonious life—ever increasing in brotherly love (v. 9-10).
  • And, an honest life—living quietly, minding our own business, working with our own hands (v. 11-12).

If you want to make an impact on the world, this is the starting point.

Of course, in order to be holy, harmonious and honest, we need a relationship with Jesus, founded on the sacrificed Body and shed Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through relationship with Him, I can be the person He wants me to be, in this world.

Let’s pray…

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