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Thankfulness In God

Thessalonians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:48
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This morning we are continuing our study in the book of Thessalonians and Paul begins his letter here by stating that He is thankful and then listing some of the reasons for His thankfulness.
On this Mother’s Day, I trust that each of you is thankful for your mother and whether you can speak to her in person or simply remember her, I trust that these three qualities are attributes for which you can thank her
In addition each of these three attributes are qualities that all of us can strive to cultivate in our lives.
Paul writes:
1 Thessalonians 1:2 KJV 1900
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

Continual Thanksgiving to God

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy assure the believers there that they are constantly thanking God for the converts there. It is not just a one day event - or even a few days a year such as this Mother’s Day Holiday, but a regular feature of their prayer times.
Although some letter writers of that time period gave thanks to the gods for protection or provision, Paul’s expressions of thanksgiving were of a different nature.
While we might be thankful for our Mothers or thankful for our friends or thankful for things,
Paul gives thanks to God for all things - not just the happy or helpful things - but all things.
If we truly believe that God is in control and that He loves us, then we know that everything that comes into our lives is a part of His good plan for us.
Here Paul gives thanks in particular to the converts there in Thessalonica.
And not just a few select converts, but all of the converts.
1 & 2 Thessalonians: Verse by Verse The Prayer and Thanksgiving Given for Them (1:2)

Paul had been forced to leave them too soon (2:17) and was filled with anxiety for these recent converts who were not ready to be left on their own. We should remember that the team had gone to Athens not originally to minister but were waiting for news (Acts 17:16). So when it finally came with Timothy, the worry gave way to rejoicing and thanksgiving. The statement here (“always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers”) is not a formula statement or mere formality but expresses his actual feelings and practice.

After assuring them of their thanks for them, Paul then gives three reasons for this thankfulness, he remembers them:
1 Thessalonians 1:3 KJV 1900
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
that end phrase simply means in the presence of God and the word and there could also be phrased as “God, even our Father”
Paul here is stating that he is remembering them in God’s presence - in other words, this memory is in the midst of his prayer life - at the throne of God our Father.
And Paul says that they pray without ending or ceasing. Now obviously, this does not mean they did nothing but pray, but neither does it mean simply “an attitude of prayer.”
Rather, It seems best to conclude that Paul and team engaged in regular, extended, and strenuous prayer. “It would not be adequate to make an equation [of praying without ceasing] with what we call today ‘the spirit of prayer,’ a readiness to place oneself in the presence of God.”
Gary Steven Shogren, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 58.
1 & 2 Thessalonians Explanation of the Text

The Gentiles in Jesus’ day viewed prayer as efficacious to the extent that it repeated large quantities of “power” words, which would somehow effect change in the cosmos. Christian prayer, by contrast, is powerful in that it is directed to a powerful God. Today there are Christians who reason that repeated prayer somehow reflects a person’s lack of faith. I have heard too many times, from the pulpit or in conversation, that the Christian should learn to speak to God once and for all about some necessity, and then simply “leave it with him.” Yes, surely in some extraordinary case the Spirit might lead in that direction. Nevertheless, this practice has no basis in the doctrine of prayer as taught by the OT, Jesus, the apostles, or the earliest church fathers.

He then mentions first of all, their

Work Arising from Faith

Paul is not stating that salvation comes by works. He is very clear that salvation comes by grace alone.
But here, Paul is speaking of the work that proceeds naturally from that faith.
1 & 2 Thessalonians Explanation of the Text

“Faith” (πίστεως) in this context is not a creed but the action of believing that produces hard work

James reminds us that faith without works is dead - here Paul is stating that He thanks the Lord for the works that are arising naturally from their faith in God.
We need to make sure that our religious faith is not only a reality in our hearts, but a work in our lives - in other words, our actions and attitudes must be different because God has changed our lives internally.
It is interesting that in these times, we have had that outward prop of Sunday church attendance removed.
How has the lack of Sunday public services affected you? Has it changed what you “do for God”?
If our faith is authentic, then the work that arise from it will not be dependent upon public displays of worship, but will be dependent upon what a good friend of mine who also preaches/teaches publicly calls the audience of one - our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 KJV 1900
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

Labor Spilling Out from Love

The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Thessalonians (1) The Thanksgiving (1:2–5)

“Work” and “labor” are synonyms. The latter (kopou), however, is a slightly more intense word indicating strenuous work in contexts where a contrast with the former (ergou) is implied.

I think it is appropriate here to talk briefly about Moms and the work that they all do. Moms are amazing in what they accomplish - and the labor that they endure not just at a birth but throughout life - is a labor spilling out from their love for their children.
Paul of course is not speaking specifically about moms, but I think the point is well taken that Mom’s labor hard and labor long - all because of their love for others.
And the word here means more than just work, it conveys the idea of hard labor - to the point of exhaustion.
Paul is recalling the hard work, the labor of love that the Thessalonians had and that labor arises not from the love of fellow Christians, but really from the love of God.
In other words, God’s love for us transforms us into people who desire to love Him in return - and as a result, we then labor for Him and fellow believers in love:
… those who yield themselves to God are transformed by the power of the divine agape, so that they rejoice to give themselves in the service of others. Paul thanks God that this is what the Thessalonians have done. Leon Morris
Is my love for my fellow believers in word or also in deeds?

Patience Based In the True Hope

Christians have an endurance even in the midst of trials and testings - since we have the hope of Jesus Christ and His soon return.
This hope is not a “baseless wish but a confident expectation of the Lord’s future work.”
D. Michael Martin, 1, 2 Thessalonians, vol. 33, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 56.
Paul is thankful for their endurance in suffering because of that hope.
Romans 12:12 KJV 1900
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
2 Thessalonians 1:4 KJV 1900
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
Am I confident in the Lord’s soon return?
Am I resting in the reality of His plan for me?
1 Thessalonians 1:2–3 KJV 1900
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
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