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Your Supernatural Resources

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Your Supernatural Resources

1 Thessalonians 1:1-3

Hattie Green was dead. There was no doubt about that.

She died sometime in 1916.

But from the looks of her life, she had been among the living dead for a long time.

Hattie lived in poverty.

She ate cold oatmeal because it cost money to heat it.

When her son’s leg became infected, Hattie wouldn’t get it treated until she could find a clinic that wouldn't charge her. By then, her son's leg had to be amputated.

Hattie died arguing over the value of drinking skim milk

Here’s the shocker:

When Hattie died, her estate was valued at over $100 million.

She had money to meet her every need, but she chose to live as if it didn't exist. 

Hattie Green’s story pictures many Christians who either ignore or neglect the supernatural resources that are ours in Jesus Christ.

We are children of the King, yet many of us live like spiritual paupers.

Today, we’re going to talk about the supernatural resources that God gives us for victorious Christian living.

[Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3]

Universe around us … is so easily divided into groups of three.

Ask the physicist – he’ll tell you that the physical universe is divided into three parts: time, space, and matter.

Ask the historian – he’ll tell you that time is divided into three parts: past, present, and future.

Ask the architect – he’ll tell you that space is divided into three parts: length, breadth, and height.

Ask the chemist – he’ll tell you that matter exists in three forms: gas, solid, and liquid.

The universe around us bears the mark of its Creator – the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And, in these verses we see that every believer –

Whether you were saved yesterday or whether you were saved 30 years ago

– every believer has been given three supernatural resources for living the Christian life.

One is faith.

The second – and greatest – is love.

The third is hope.

And all three of them depend on the one whose name is mentioned in verse one: “Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Before we go any further, think with me for a moment about that phrase, “Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1.   The word “Lord” identifies Him as our Master. We belong to Him. We follow Him. We obey Him.

2.   The name “Jesus” identifies Him as our Mediator. He came to die on the cross in order to bring us to God.

3.   The term “Christ” identifies Him as our Messiah. He was the Christos, the Messiah, God’s anointed, chosen one, who came to redeem us and deliver us from sin.

If Jesus is your Master, your Mediator, and your Messiah – then Jesus has given you supernatural resources for living.

Let’s take a look at each of those resources:

The first resource has to do with your past…

1.   Your Past: Faith in Jesus Transformed You

 

In your past, Jesus transformed you.

 

Paul wrote that he never stopped thanking God for the Thessalonian believers …

1 Thessalonians 1:3
remembering without ceasing your work of faith …

“Work of faith.” What does that mean?

It means in the recent past, these former pagans and idol worshipers from Thessalonica had placed faith in Jesus as their Savior.

Look down in verse 9:

… you turned from idols to serve the living and true God …

That is faith at work.

Faith is not merely belief; faith works.

It has the power to change.

Faith enables you to turn from what is wrong to what is right.

Faith empowers you to turn from dark and hurtful things to right and true and healthy things.

They had been transformed by Jesus.

And Jesus was now making a difference in the way they …

Thought.

Talked.

Treated other people.

There had been a work of faith.

Now, we are not saved by good works.

The Bible is crystal clear about that.

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Nothing about my salvation depends on what I have done.

If I were to serve up to God …

Mountains of my own morality.

Globes of my own goodness.

Enough personal virtue and good deeds to fill all the oceans of a million worlds.

All of that would not outweigh my sins on God’s scales.

Only by God’s grace, through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – can I ever be saved.

But once I am saved, Jesus will work in my life and will transform who I am and what I do and how I live.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The church at Thessalonica was a young church. All of the believers there were recent converts to Christianity.

But – already – their faith was working in their lives.

Already – there was a change that everyone could see.

IL: Mongolian Grill. You fill a bowl with frozen meat, raw vegetables, maybe an egg – add some spices, then you take the bowl to the grill and they cook it for you.

Great. Unless you use the wrong spices. Then you have to eat your mistake.

Going down the line. Chicken. Pork. Beef. Shrimp. Not too many vegetables. You fill up on vegetables at those places – that’s how they get you.

Then came to the spices. For some reason, absent mindedly put three heaping spoonfuls of cayenne pepper on top of my bowl.

Two reason: Younger and dumber than I am now.

Couldn’t undo it. Took it to the cooks at the grill. They cooked that cayenne pepper into everything.

Everything that cayenne pepper touched was transformed – including my lips, tongue, and throat!

In the same way, when Jesus touches your life, He transforms your life.

The moment you were saved, He came into your life, and He is working to transform every part of you.

Philippians 2:12
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

Notice – it does not say: “Work for your salvation.”

It says – “Work out your salvation.” Let your salvation work its way out into every part of your life.

Why?

Philippians 2:13
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

When you have been saved, there will be a “work of faith.”

Two questions for you before we move on to the next supernatural resource that Paul talks about:

1.   Have you been saved?

 

A point in time in your life when you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior.

“I’ve been a Christian all my life.” No. We are born dead in our sin. We have to make a decision for Jesus in order to be saved.

“I’ve always considered myself a Christian.” No. There has to be a time of turning from sin and turning to Jesus.

“I’ve been baptized.” “I’ve grown up in church.” Again, no. Church is important. Baptism is important. But the only thing that saves us is trusting Jesus and Him alone.

2.   If you have been saved, what difference is Jesus making in your life?

Has Jesus transformed the way you talk?

Has Jesus transformed your attitudes?

Has Jesus transformed what you will do and what you won’t do?

I could summarize this entire point by saying this:

Jesus Equals A Changed Life

If there’s No change, then there’s No Jesus.

So the first supernatural resource has to do with your past: Jesus has transformed you.

The second supernatural resource that all believers have concerns your present:

2.   Your Present: Love for Jesus Motivates You

 

Continue reading in verse 3:

1 Thessalonians 1:3
remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love …

Paul looked at the believers in Thessalonica and he noticed that their faith in Jesus Christ had not only created a transformation in their lives.

Also, day by day, their love for Jesus was motivating them to work for Christ and to serve others in the name of Christ.

The word “labor” suggests someone working to the point of exhaustion. Hard work. Backbreaking work.

Why this kind of labor?

Because of love.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

William Manchester was a Marine sergeant in World War II in the Pacific. During the grinding, bloody campaign to break the Japanese resistance on the island of Okinawa, Manchester received a wound that later earned him a Purple Heart.

But then, he did something more remarkable. He left the hospital to go back to the front lines, back to his unit and to almost certain death or a worse wound.

He was wounded again much more severely and spent months in a hospital recovering.

Many years later, William Manchester described why he went back to the battle in his book Goodbye Darkness:

In one of those great thundering jolts in which a man's real motives are revealed to him in an electrifying vision, I understand, at last, why I jumped hospital that Sunday 35 years ago, and, in violation of orders, returned to the front and almost certain death.

It was an act of love. Those men on the line were my family, my home…. They had never let me down, and I couldn't do it to them. I had to be with them rather than to let them die and me live with the knowledge that I might have saved them.

Love. For believers, that motivation of love should be even stronger.

It is the love of Jesus that moves us to …

Go places we wouldn’t choose to go for Jesus.

Risk our life, our feeling, our time, and our safety for the sake of the gospel of Jesus.

Pour our life out as a sacrifice for the sake of Jesus.

Suffer for Jesus.

Paul wrote …

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Unsaved people tend to live for themselves, but believers are willing to toil because of love.

We have a new motive for living; we love Christ and we love others.

What is going to motivate Hickory Grove Baptist Church to toil and labor and work and sacrifice for the sake of the gospel in this community, this city, and our world?

Love.

Love for Jesus.

Love for each other.

Love for lost people.

So, in your past – faith in Jesus transformed you.

In your present – love for Jesus motivates you.

Now, I want you to notice the final resource Paul talks about.

It has to do with your future.

 

3.   Your Future: Hope in Jesus Will Strengthen You

 

Read all of verse 3:

1 Thessalonians 1:3
remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father …

“Patience of hope.”

Unusual phrase.

Patience – literally means “to stand under.” Patience is the ability to hold up under trial.

The doctors say it’s cancer – but I’m going to hold up.

The boss says my services are no longer needed – but I’m going to hold up.

My husband says he’s leaving – but I’m going to hold up.

The newspaper says this world is full of war, crime, death, deceit, and disappointment – but I’m going to hold up.

How am I going to do that?

Through my hope in Jesus Christ.

Hope – we sometimes use “hope” to describe an optimistic outlook or wishful thinking or a dream.

We say, “I hope it doesn’t rain today.”

Or, “I hope my wife will cook a pot roast for lunch.”

Or, “I hope the Panthers will win the Superbowl.”

As you can see, in our language, “hope” may or may not have any basis in reality.

One little boy gave his definition of hope when he said: “Hope is wishing for something you know ain’t gonna happen.”

But, that’s not what “hope” means in the Bible.

When Paul talks about “patience of hope,” he’s talking about a hope that is a certainty.

He’s talking about a hope we can be confident in.

He’s talking about a hope built on a rock-solid foundation.

Biblical hope rests on God’s promises.

And, in the New Testament, our “hope” refers to Christ’s return.

I have a hope in Jesus – I know that either I’m going to Him or He’s coming for me.

That’s my future.

And so I can hold up under whatever this old world throws my way.

Peter talks about it in 1 Peter 1:

1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:4
to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

1 Peter 1:5
who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1:6
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,

1 Peter 1:7
that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

1 Peter 1:8
whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

1 Peter 1:9
receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

The lost are without hope. No future. No hope.

But believers can live today because we have hope.

We can endure the trials of life because we have hope – Jesus is coming again!

Some people go through life moping around.

Some by groping for answers.

Some by coping as well as they can.

The Christian responds by hoping

It’s been said that some Christians are so heavenly-minded, they’re no earthly good.

But usually the opposite is true.

Many Christians are so caught up in this present world that they no longer look forward to Heaven.

 

We have a hope to look forward to.

And it strengthens us as we walk through the darkness and the pain of this world.

CONC:

A man had made a load of money of money through his Wall Street investments. He had a beautiful apartment in Manhattan, a gorgeous place in the Hamptons, the best cars and a private jet. His clothes were the best that money could buy. He ate only the finest foods.

But somewhere along the way to getting everything he wanted, he had lost his son. The boy had run away during his teenage years, and had disappeared.

The father searched for his son for years. He hired investigators. He spent a good deal of his fortune chasing down any leads that turned up. But his son was nowhere to be found.

After 15 years of searching, the man hadn’t given up on his son. He simply didn’t know where else to look.

Then, one afternoon, the man was coming out from his office building at the end of the day. His limo was waiting. Just as he was getting into the car, he spotted a man in ragged, dirty clothing – begging for money from passengers along the sidewalk.

The man’s first impulse was to avoid the beggar, but there was something strangely familiar about him.

When the beggar approached and asked if he could spare a dollar, the businessman realized he had found his long-lost son.

With tears in his eyes and joy in his voice he hugged his son, crying, “A dollar? Don’t you recognize me? You are my son—everything I have is yours!”

Everything our Father in heaven has is your as a believer.

Everything.

Saving faith that transforms us.

A love that motivates us to labor.

A hope that sustains and strengthens us.

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