Focus

January 7, 2006 1 Thessalonians 0:

Introduction:
1.  We’re beginning a new series today: The Disciple Making Church
- explain how this fits into our 2006 Theme: Gearing Up for Greater Effectiveness [being in a stronger position to win and disciple those God brings to us through our outreach efforts in our regular ministries and the new ministry of the Community Center in 2007]
- explain the importance of this year being a year of “GROWING” not “COMFORT” – [Gearing UP – NOT Gearing DOWN!]
>  i.e. Gearing UP in: (1) in faithfulness in attendance, (2) serving, (3) reaching out to others [being friendly – building relationships, etc.]
2.  We’re not going to be perfect – nobody ever ‘arrives’ – in fact, maybe you’ve heard this before:
"If you find a perfect church, please don't join it.  If you do, it won't be perfect any more." – there is a lot of truth in that statement!
- since churches are made up of human beings, sinners who are saved by the grace of God, no church is perfect
- but as you study the different epistles in the N.T. which were written to churches, certain ones of them were stronger than others
-the church at Thessalonica was not perfect, but Paul expressed great gratitude for them – indicating that they had a lot of strengths (show up in the first chapter)
3.  *  A few facts to remember about this church:
 Paul started this church on his 2nd missionary journey – cf. Acts 17:1-6 [READ]
- he was only there for 3 weeks // but in that length of time, God did a work through him from which we can benefit today as we study about this book
 Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonians for 3 reasons:
(1)  To express GRATITUDE to God for a healthy, spiritual church (1: 2-10)
(2)  To ANSWER the false accusations make about him and his fellow workers
(2:1-3:13)
(3)  To suggest specific ways in which they could continue to GROW (4: 1-5: 24) – ways in which they could BE better disciples and ways they could MAKE better disciples
6.  Before we begin our study of 1 Thessalonians, let’s go back to what is probably * The KEY passage on discipleship:  Matt. 28:19-20 – READ
 Matthew 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
[explain the context – Jesus had completed the plan of redemption, He was now returning to heaven to be seated at the right hand of the throne of God – as they (and we) awaited His return, He ‘commissions’ the disciples (and us) with this mission]
* There are a few things about this passage that I want to focus:
1) Everyone who knows Jesus Christ as his/her Savior IS a disciple – the issue is what kind of a disciple are you?
2) Every disciple should be involved in the process of ‘making disciples’ – it’s not just the job of the pastors – we all are disciple makers – the issue is what kind of disciples are we producing?
3) The process continues till ‘the end of the age’ (when He comes or you go home to heaven)
4) Discipleship includes baptizing and teaching ALL that Christ taught!
“Many have the false idea that discipling involves a narrow teaching of ministry skills and accumulation of Bible knowledge, but discipling is actually as broad in scope as Jesus’ teaching.  By including all He taught, we broaden our understanding of discipling.” – p. 22
- let's go back to 1 Thessalonians 1and study one of the characteristics of a Disciple Making Church
1st Characteristic of a Disciple Making Church:  Focused


I.  Focused on the Major Themes of Life:


- Paul said in v. 2 that he was thankful for this church – always – and kept praying for them
- there are reasons why Paul was thankful – it’s because the ‘got it’ – they put their faith into ACTION!
*  Here's what he remembered about them:
A.  The work of faith
Paul's thankful their work was a result of their faith
- "work" is a general term to describe all their efforts
- but Paul also says ...
B. The labor of love
- "labor" carries with it more of the incredible effort
- the specific details that come out of a heart of love
- he could be referring to their efforts to spread the gospel in spite of the persecution
- whatever specifics he is thinking of...
POINT: When there is a spirit of self-sacrifice (agapa) labor, we ought to be thankful and express it!
C.  The steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
- the word "Steadfastness" " is never used in a passive sense
- rather it is an aggressive pursuit of achieving a goal
- of going through the trial with a purpose
- and like other places in the scripture, hope is based on the promises and character of our Jesus Christ
[Q: Does that sound like another verse that Paul wrote to another church?
 1 Corinthians 13:13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. ]
- this Disciple Making Church also . . .


II.  Focused on Their Divine Election (v.4)


- the first thing Paul mentions after pointing out how thankful he was for what they were doing, was that facts about how God has chosen them – i.e. divine election
A.  Recognizing that salvation begins with God.
 2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth
 John 15:16 You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you . . .
 Eph. 1:4 He [Father] hath chosen us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world.
Point:  Our salvation began in the heart of God long before man or anything else was created!
- our salvation is a result of God in His love seeking after us, not us seeking after Him
- and when you consider the kind of people we were before salvation, that ought to make us grateful and motivate us to serve Him faithfully
B.  Recognizing that salvation involves the Word of God. (v. 5)
-  the Spirit of God uses the word of God to generate faith  
 Rom. 10:17 Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
(we'll see in a moment what else these Thess. did w/the Word)
Input: What are the implications of this to the proclamation of the Word?
[get the Word out – proclaim it! – you never know who is going to respond!!]
C.  Recognizing that salvation produces change.
Q:  How do you know if somebody is "elect of God"?   A:  Look for the changes in their life
- look for the evidence of them being a true disciple of Christ – because disciples CHANGE and GROW in the likeness of Christ!
1.  Change in our worship (3,9a)
worship = ascribing proper worth to God, offering our honor and obedience to Him
- Paul said these believers had "turned TO God FROM idols"
- when we think of "idols" we usually think of some icon of something – statue or form – but a good working definition of an idol would be . . .
idols = anything you make more important than pleasing God
- Thessalonica, like many in the NT, was full of idolatry
- but we have our "idols" today! (our “God-substitutes”)
Examples:  When you think of "idols" what examples come to your mind?
[sports, money, sex, control, material possessions, ‘feelings’ (come from drugs/alcohol)]
- If the Thessalonians had continued to worship their dead idols while professing faith in the living God, it would have proved that they were not among God's elect
Question:  What idols of the heart do you have that hinder your spiritual growth as a disciple or your effectiveness as a discipler?
2.  Change in who we serve. (9b)
- Paul uses the word "dulos" (serve) in v. 9  
serve (dulos) = a 3rd level galley slave of a ship (faithfully pulled his ore despite the circumstances of heat, fatigue, and the stench in the bottom of the ship – think of the BO [body order!])
- same word used in Phil. 2 to describe Christ
- if true discipleship is reflected in the way we serve – then you have to ask a question:
Q:  In what ways am I serving around FBC that would reflect my disciple statues and my disciple-making desires?
[Mention the Human Resource Coordinator position for ABFs– for the helping others to serve – THAT’S DISCIPLESHIP
Input: What is the difference between a Consumer (Observer) & a Server (Disciple)
Consumer (Observer) Server (Disciple)
Watches
Thinks: Somebody else
Only recognizes problems
Sits
“Sunday Only” mentality
Only ‘hearing’ the Word Participates
Thinks: I can do that
Wants to be part of the solution
Runs the race
“Daily” walk with the Lord
Doer of the Word
Q: Which category best describes you?
3.  Change in what we look forward to next. (v. 10)
- v. 10 reveals the next thing on God’s prophetic calendar
- we’ll touch on this more in just a minute – but the 2nd coming was a major FOCUS of this church – and a major motivation for what they did – which was DISCIPLE people!
- in short, they were DELIVERED – DISCIPLED– and then DEPLOYED!
- no wonder that got the job done in v. 6-8 – they had a very powerful reason to be ‘imitators’ of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy – Jesus was coming!
- If we are not very careful, we can get so busy looking forward to everything on our agenda, we forget   the next thing on God's agenda is the second coming
- and consequently, we will not be ready   - I John 3:1-3 (turn, read)
Transition:  There is another focus this church had from which we can learn: 


III.  Focused on Being Exemplary Disciples – 1:5-7


- we ought to be examples in several areas
A.  Starts with the way we receive the Word (v. 5,6)
[If time: Input:  What will be true of a person's life that is an example in the way he receives the word of God?   - these folks were examples in 2 ways]
1.  in much affliction
- even though accepting the word of God would cost them, maybe even their life, they welcomed the teaching of God's word
- we don't face that kind of pressure in America, but what many people do face is this:
>  pressure by family members/co-workers/friends who do not believe the gospel or who are not committed to obeying God
- this is why it’s so important to be faithful in your attendance to ABF and to the Worship services – so you can ‘receive the Word’ and take steps of growth!
Apply: Guys –we ought to be the example to our wife regarding our love for and obedience to the Word of God – how we ‘receive’ it!
Apply to our ABF:  Being an ABF that RECEIVES the Word!!!
2.  with joy of the Holy Spirit
Q: How do you receive the word with joy?  
1) THANK God for any reproof
 Prov. 1:5 A wise man will hear and will increase in learning
 Proverbs 17:10 A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.
2) OBEY it in spite of your feelings
 John 13:17 "if you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them”
Input: What does an ABF that would have this characteristic look like on Sundays?
Apply this to ‘receiving the Word in much affliction’ during the week (at workplace, or facing a trial/test of your faith – the Pratts (2 yr. old put in the hospital w/pneumonia)
B.  Evidenced by the way we follow our spiritual leaders – v. 6
imitators =  one who is like another
- these new believers not only accepted the message and the messengers, but they also imitated their lives
- it's important for all of us to respect spiritual leadership and learn from mature believes – that’s what a disciple making church does!
Point: There is a connection between a person’s response to authority and a person’s ability to ‘make disciples’! [at least disciples that are pleasing to God!]
Example:  Pastor Viars – he’s not perfect, but he works hard at being biblical/godly – and he is our pastor! [talk about our other pastors/deacons]
- one test of our spirituality is how we follow godly leadership
Input:  What are some excuse people give for NOT following leadership?
[various answers – some may be correct – i.e. if leadership is clearly unbiblical]
 Acts 5:29 We must obey God rather than men.
Point:  Most of the time we don’t follow leadership because of our PRIDE!
Example: Peter – he would later write the words:
 1 Peter 5:5 . . . clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.
C.  Evidenced by the way we proclaim the word – 1:8-10
- we can do that in a lot of situations:
 ABF on Sunday
 Home Fellowships (coming up Jan. 29th)
 Small Groups (Point Man Groups/Ladies Bible Studies)
Conclusion:
Q:  How is our ABF going to grow this year?
Q: What initiatives from 2006 Church Initiatives are we going to take ‘ownership’ of and see to it that those initiatives get done!
Q: What are 2-3 initiatives our ABF should focus on this year?
[talk about some of them – submit them to me or Danny by next week – we’ll finalize them and present them to you

ABF Series
The Disciple Making Church – 1 Thessalonians
Introduction & #1: Focused
Introduction:
*  A few facts to remember about this church:
 Paul started this church on his 1st missionary journey – cf. Acts 17:1-6
 Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonians for 3 reasons:
1.  To express _____________ to God for a healthy, spiritual church (1: 2-10)
2.  To __________ the false accusations make about him and his fellow workers (2:1-3:13)
3.  To suggest specific ways in which they could continue to GROW (4: 1-5: 24)
* The KEY passage on discipleship:  Matt. 28:19-20
* There are a few things we need to focus:
1) Everyone who knows Jesus Christ as his/her Savior ___ a disciple.
2) Every disciple should be involved in the process of ‘______________ _______________.”
3) The process continues till ‘the end of the age’
4) Discipleship includes baptizing and teaching ______ that Christ taught!
“Many have the false idea that discipling involves a narrow teaching of ministry skills and accumulation of Bible knowledge, but discipling is actually as broad in scope as Jesus’ teaching.  By including all He taught, we broaden our understanding of discipling.” – The Disciple Making Church, p. 22
1st Characteristic of a Disciple Making Church:  Focused
I.  Focused on the Major Themes of Life:
A.  The work of __________

B. The labor of ___________

C.  The steadfastness of ___________ in our Lord Jesus Christ.

II.  Focused on Their Divine Election (v.4)
A.  Recognizing that salvation __________________.

B.  Recognizing that salvation involves the ____________________. (v. 5)
Input: What are the implications of this to the proclamation of the Word?

C.  Recognizing that salvation produces ______________.

1.  Change in our ______________- (3,9a)
worship = ascribing proper worth to God, offering our honor and obedience to Him
idols = ______________ you make more important than pleasing God
Examples:  When you think of "idols" what examples come to your mind?

2.  Change in who we _____________. (9b)
serve (dulos) = a 3rd level galley slave of a ship
Q:  In what ways am I serving around FBC that would reflect my disciple statues and my disciple-making desires?

Input: What is the difference between a Consumer (Observer) & a Server (Disciple)
Consumer (Observer) Server (Disciple)

 

3.  Change in what we ___________ ______________ to next. (v. 10)
III.  Focused on Being Exemplary Disciples – 1:5-7
A.  Starts with the way we ___________ the Word (v. 5,6)
1.  in much ______________
2.  with _________ of the Holy Spirit
Input: What does an ABF that would have this characteristic look like on Sundays?


B.  Evidenced by the way we follow our ___________ ______________ – v. 6
imitators =  one who is like another
Input:  What are some excuse people give for NOT following leadership?

C.  Evidenced by the way we _________ the _________ – 1:8-10
Conclusion:
Q:  How is our ABF going to grow this year?
Q: What initiatives from 2006 Church Initiatives are we going to take ‘ownership’ of and see to it that those initiatives get done!
Q: What are 2-3 initiatives our ABF should focus on this year?

ABF Series
The Disciple Making Church – 1 Thessalonians
Introduction & #1: Focused
Introduction:
*  A few facts to remember about this church:
 Paul started this church on his 1st missionary journey – cf. Acts 17:1-6
 Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonians for 3 reasons:
1.  To express GRATITUDE to God for a healthy, spiritual church (1: 2-10)
2.  To ANSWER the false accusations make about him and his fellow workers (2:1-3:13)
3.  To suggest specific ways in which they could continue to GROW (4: 1-5: 24)
* The KEY passage on discipleship:  Matt. 28:19-20
* There are a few things about this passage that we need to focus:
1) Everyone who knows Jesus Christ as his/her Savior IS a disciple
2) Every disciple should be involved in the process of ‘making disciples’
3) The process continues till ‘the end of the age’
4) Discipleship includes baptizing and teaching ALL that Christ taught!
Quote – p. 22
1st Characteristic of a Disciple Making Church:  Focused
I.  Focused on the Major Themes of Life:
A.  The work of faith
B.  The labor of love
C.  The steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
II.  Focused on Their Divine Election (v.4)
A.  Recognizing that salvation begins with God.
 2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
 John 15:16 You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you . . .
 Eph. 1:4 He [Father] hath chosen us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world.
B.  Recognizing that salvation involves the Word of God. (v. 5)
 Rom. 10:17 Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
Input: What are the implications of this to the proclamation of the Word?
C.  Recognizing that salvation produces change.
1.  Change in our worship (3,9a)
worship = ascribing proper worth to God, offering our honor and obedience to Him
idols = anything you make more important than pleasing God
Examples:  When you think of "idols" what examples come to your mind?

2.  Change in who we serve. (9b)
serve (dulos) = a 3rd level galley slave of a ship
Q:  In what ways am I serving around FBC that would reflect my disciple statues and my disciple-making desires?
Input: What is the difference between a Consumer (Observer) & a Server (Disciple)
Consumer (Observer) Server (Disciple)
Watches
Thinks: Somebody else
Only recognizes problems
Sits
“Sunday Only” mentality
Only ‘hearing’ the Word Participates
Thinks: I can do that
Wants to be part of the solution
Runs the race
“Daily” walk w/the Lord
Doer of the Word

Q: Which category best describes you?
3.  Change in what we look forward to next.
(v. 10)
 I John 3:1-3

III.  Focused on Being Exemplary Disciples – 1:5-7
A.  Starts with the way we receive the Word (v. 5,6)
1.  in much affliction
2.  with joy of the Holy Spirit
Input: What does an ABF that would have this characteristic look like on Sundays?
B.  Evidenced by the way we follow our spiritual leaders – v. 6
imitators =  one who is like another
Input:  What are some excuse people give for NOT following leadership?
C.  Evidenced by the way we proclaim the word – 1:8-10
Conclusion:
Q:  How is our ABF going to grow this year?
Q: What initiatives from 2006 Church Initiatives are we going to take ‘ownership’ of and see to it that those initiatives get done!
Q: What are 2-3 initiatives our ABF should focus on this year?