A Family of Faith, Love and Hope
In 2 Thessalonians Paul thanks God and brags to other churches about 3 really great things that the Thessalonians had going for them. That was their: faith, their love and their hope. Family these three things should be what this family is about. Faith, Love and Hope. Like our family the Thessalonians had gone through some tough times. They were being persecuted on every side. From both the Jews that did not accept Christ and pagan Gentiles. But through it all they learned what it was to have saving faith. They learned that faith in Christ was more than just belief. I have a friend who is scared to fly and he says all the time; He says I believe that a plane will fly from here to Arizona; I just don’t have enough faith in them to ride one. There are many people today who believe Christ but don’t have the faith to ride with Him. Faith is more than belief. You’ve got to add things like knowledge, trust, and even hope. When you factor all of those things in, it becomes evident that faith in Christ, is having a genuine relationship with Him. Think about it. Why did Christ come? What happened in Genesis? The fall of man, which led to a broken relationship with God and man. And all through the books of the law and prophets man continues to show his utter sinfulness. Man got so bad, in the book of Jeremiah you find a time where God told Jeremiah not to even pray for the people, and if he did He wouldn’t hear his prayers. It was bad. So bad even that between the testaments, between Malachi and Matthew is 400 years of silence. 400 years man didn’t hear from God. So what did Jesus do? Jesus came to restore man to a right relationship with God. If DaDa were with us this morning, he would say that Jesus took the hand of man, then reach up and took the hand of God and put them back on speaking terms. The purest sign of your faith in Christ is your relationship with Him. And these three things that Paul was so excited that the Thessalonians demonstrated, faith love and hope are a result of one thing. That is, our relationship with Jesus Christ. In the 6th Chapter of John after Jesus fed the 5 thousand with two fish and 5 loaves of bread remember He sent the disciples to other side of the sea and He went up into a mountain to pray. Well the crowd of people who were fed saw that the disciples had left but Jesus had not gotten in the boat with them, so they went looking for Jesus. Now we know from the text that Jesus walked on water and met the disciples on sea, got into to the and crossed to the other side with them. But when the crowd could not find Jesus they got into boats and went to Capurneum looking for Him. When they found Him, Jesus told them you are not seeking me because you saw signs, you are seeking me because you got full from the food I fed you. And so because this they did not have a firm foundation in Christ. They did not have a relationship with Him. They were going along with a movement with no commitment to Jesus. As a result of this, when He began to teach them some things that were not familiar to them, they didn’t want to except it, and they turned from Him and went away. Too often in many of our churches I believe we have missed the mark. I say that because what I have seen is a lot emphasis on a public confession, but no discipleship. No teaching of relationship. No real foundation to stand on. And then instead of discovering our need for a genuine relationship with Christ, we are led to a bible study filled with words, that we really have not even allowed to reach our hearts. And because of this we end up with a lot of words, but no love or Holy Spirit to guide them. Often times that makes us hard hearted, stuck up, offensive, rude and unpleasant. Making it impossible to share with one another and others what God has called us to share: our faith, love and hope. The truth about it is we really become like the Pharisees that Jesus spoke of in John chapter 5:39,40. Here the Pharisees are not willing to accept the testimony of Jesus based on what they think they know. Jesus says to them: 39 You diligently studya the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. Jesus was trying to let them know that it is me. I am what you are searching for. Have a relationship with me. And family He is still saying that same thing today. He’s still saying come to me. I’m the one you’ve been looking for. He’s saying you’ve found a husband or a boyfriend and you still feel lonely; its because you’re looking for me. You’re not financially struggling but you still feel empty; its because you’re looking for me. Until we realize the missing link in our life is our relationship with Christ there will always be something missing. We will always be searching for something. And family I know, because I have been in ministry for a little over five years now and I have spoken in many different churches for many different occasions. Even right here in Indianapolis there is a district of about 50 churches that meet annually for a session and I have taught in those sessions a couple of years, but I can honestly say that it has really only been in the last two years that I have really understood what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. So family I’m asking you to look within yourself, and explore your own personal relationship with Christ. Becasue once we find it. Once we realize that joy and peace are found in a relationship with Christ; we can spend the rest of our lives in loving relationship with Christ and others, going through the rest of this wonderful cycle that Paul commends the Thessalonians for going through. That cycle is: Faith, Love and Hope. After we realize that our relationship ship with Jesus is a first thing. And that is the key, keeping first things first and second things second. When Julia and I’s marriage was really on the rocks we had to realize that the only first thing was our relationship with Jesus, and that, in fact, our marriage was a second thing. Once we realized that, and our personal relationships with Christ began to get stronger then our relationship with each other got stronger. And so even with our family as a whole we have to realize that our first thing is our relationship with Christ and that will allow us to function in the next area that Paul commended the Thessalonians in, and that is, love.
Love is an action word. Love is not an emotion. We wake up everyday and we choose to love whom we will. Scripture says that God so loved the world that He chose to give His only Son. Jesus told the disciples that love would be the evidence to the world that they were His. Now if you are not in Christ love can be very difficult, because you tend to look at people, and only see them. Only see there mishaps and mess ups. But family for us there should be a difference how we look at each other. We are Christians. No longer of the world but adopted as sons and daughters of God the Father. We need to start seeing each other how God sees us. I know its difficult because all our life we have been calling ourselves sinners. We’ve been holding on to this cliché “I’m just a sinner saved by grace”. And family when you think of yourself as a sinner you will do things that sinners do, but Paul in his letter to the Romans wrote while we were yet sinners Christ died. When Paul wrote to the churches he didn’t address them as sinners. Give Example… He address them as saints. We have to start seeing ourselves and each other how God sees us. Through Christ. Not only are we earthly family but we children of God. Look at how God view us in Ephesians 1:3-6: 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 hea predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Righteousness is credited to our account because we have a relationship with Christ. Do we still sin yes, but that is because we are still in this contaminated flesh, but there will come a time when we will have new glorified bodies and our outside will look as new as our inside is now. Family, what I am asking us to do now, is to look past each others contaminated flesh. Look past our mess ups. Look pasts our let downs and see what is on our inside. Let’s really do what one songwriter suggests and let the Jesus in me love the Jesus in you. When we get the Faith and the Love, we get the Hope.
What is hope? Hope is knowledge and experience. Look at Romans 5:1-6: 1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Hope is knowledge and experience. Our knowledge is the relationship and the love that we have in Christ, and our experience, is that, what He brought us through yesterday; He is able to bring us through today. He is still the same God that brought us from Melville to Cardinal Dr., and He will carry us through every other situation that we face. Family I know often times it seems like we are at the end of our rope and we can’t hold on any longer, but that’s ok because I got news for you ain’t holding on to God He is holding on to you.
a Or Study diligently (the imperative)
 The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Jn 5:39-40
a Or sight in love. He
 The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Eph 1:3-6
 The Holy Bible : King James Version. electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. Bellingham WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995, S. Ro 5:1-5