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Paul's Heart

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I have entitled this morning’s message as “Paul’s Heart”. But when you look at who Paul was and what his role was to the people of Thessalonica, I could also entitle it as “The Heart of a Pastor”
This is one of those passages that is a little more difficult, as a Pastor, to preach through, not because it is of sensitive content, but as I was going through this study it became apparent to me, not that I thought otherwise, but it further instilled into my mind that I have a lot of growing and maturing to do in my faith and more specifically in my ministry.
Not that I would ever idolize the Apostle Paul, However, I can continue to learn from his example as a Pastor and follower of Christ.
The heart of a pastor is a very unique thing. He feels many of the same emotions anyone else does. It isn’t that the pastor is given something that is impossible for others to possess, but his heart is special because it is different. I can’t really explain all that God does in the heart of a man when he is called to pastor a congregation of people.
Many times, the pastor doesn’t even know the membership he has been called to serve, but even before he assumes his duties, God has placed a love for those people within his heart. It is more than a desire for their wellbeing; it is a genuine love for them and a heartfelt desire to serve them. God does something special in the heart of a man when He places him in the position of pastor.
Paul certainly possessed a pastor’s heart. Even as he wrote this letter to the church, he was not with them physically, but we can clearly see that he still possessed a love for them only God could give. He had already sought to encourage and challenge their faith, and now he pours out his heart to his brothers and sisters in Thessalonica.
This will be a two part sermon. We will read the whole passage today, but only look at the first half this morning and then we will cover the second half next week. I want to look at the qualities our Lord develops in the pastor as we look at Paul’s Heart… We will call these...

Paul’s Pastoral Qualities:

But I also want to mention that these qualities are not limited to just Pastors… any follower of Christ can and should be exhibiting these same qualities in their own Christian walk and ministry.
Lets look at 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 (Read)
What I want you to see, first of all, this morning is...

1. Paul’s Investment

vv.1-2 “Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,
The first part of Paul’s investment that I want you to notice is...

1.1 His Endurance

Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone...
Remember the closing verses of Chp. 2 that we looked at a few weeks ago… – Paul endeavored (or longed) to see them, once again, but was hindered by Satan. Paul was deeply burdened by his separation from the church. He longed to hear from them and had a strong desire to know of their well-being.
The word “Endure” reveals the deep passion Paul had for the church. It means “to conceal, to hold out, to put up with”… some of you ladies put up with your husbands snoring… You may not like it, but you endure it… why? because you love him! … and holding a pillow over his face might not end well… so you endure it…
Paul had concealed his concern and desire for Thessalonica as long as he could. But now, he could no longer put up with, not knowing how they were doing with all the persecution from the Jews...
He didn’t want these new believers to interpret his absence as
… uncaring and unloving.
… him leaving them to suffer on their own.
… or just giving up on them.
The Jews from Thessalonica who rounded up some evil men from the marketplace to form a rioting mob could really use Paul’s absence to their advantage.
“Paul’s gone. He is not coming back you know. He’s a fake and a conman who just wanted to use your homes as free accommodation until something better came along.”
or… “Why should you stick with the teaching of Paul? He faces a little trouble and then he runs away. Why don’t you just go back to making things the way they were so our city can be at peace?”
You see… We know the church of the Thessalonians is standing firm.
In the face of persecution and pressure they fixed their eyes on Jesus Christ and were living out their faith in such a way that they were becoming a model church for so many other churches to follow...
We know that.
But at the time Paul didn’t know that… and he couldn’t endure it any longer...
Folks, As a pastor, I am concerned about the well-being of this congregation. I am most concerned with your spiritual needs, but I am also aware of the physical and social needs. God will not allow a man that He has placed within a congregation to go on unconcerned about their needs.
When a man reaches the place that he loses his concern, it is probably time to seek the Lord about another place of ministry. (This is particular to the heart of a Pastor, but all believers ought to be concerned with the well-being of the church. You don’t have to be a pastor to seek the welfare of the church.)
The second part of Paul’s Investment was…

1.2 His Sacrifice

we thought it good to be left in Athens alone...” Paul chose to send Timothy to Thessalonica and remain at Athens alone, with Silas. Now, some might assume Paul was fearful of returning to Thessalonica. It might be thought that he was being cowardly and afraid for his personal well- being.
However, a short study on the life and ministry of Paul will reveal that is simply not a valid conclusion. Paul was bold in his faith and commitment to the gospel, even if it meant persecution or physical harm.
His sending of Timothy in his place does, however, speak volumes about Paul’s love and desire for the well-being of the church. Even though he longed to be there in person, attending to their needs and enjoying their fellowship, he made a personal sacrifice to stay behind for the good of the church.
You see, Paul knew the uproar that surrounded his first trip to Thessalonica and he wanted to avoid any further distractions. He felt that his presence would hinder the spreading of the Gospel instead of helping it… and he wasn’t willing to take that chance.
What a lesson for me, as a pastor, and for you as believers and Church members... Would we be willing to lay aside our personal desires for the good of the church? Would we be willing to make such a sacrifice so that the church might prosper?
Paul was willing to make such a sacrifice and he did, by sending Timothy… Which leads us to the part of his investment…

1.3 His Intern - Timothy

we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,
Who was this “Timothy”???
Paul referred to Timothy as a brother. He was a fellow believer. He had trusted Christ in salvation. He too was committed to the cause of Christ and the growth of the church. Paul had not sent someone who had no desire to help the church or support her in times of need. Paul had invested much in the heart of Timothy and he knew the church would benefit from his presence.
There is a Pastor by the name of Bob Ziebarth and for almost 8 years, he invested into the heart of man, the qualities of a Pastor. After those 8 years, Pastor Bob took his investment and turned him over to another Pastor, who would also, for a few short months, invest into this man, the qualities of a Pastor…
And I am very thankful for the investment of Pastor Bob Ziebarth and also the investment of Pastor Jeff Wallace on my life and ministry. It is because of their faithfulness that God has blessed my family and I with the opportunity to serve here at Pierson Bible Church… and I want you to know that we are thankful for each and everyone of you!...
Paul also speaks of Timothy as a fellow-labourer in the gospel of Christ. He shared the same passions that Paul possessed. He had the same desire for the church. He was willing to labor among the Thessalonians just as Paul would have. He could be trusted and he could be counted on… And as fellow-laborers in the gospel of Christ, We need that same commitment.
The Second Pastoral Quality that I want you to notice is…

2. Paul’s Desire

Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica to… “… establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.
These verses reveal Paul’s desire for the church. Keep in mind that he is no longer with them. It would have been easy to have forgotten them or grown unconcerned. Paul had a passionate interest and strong desires for the believers in Thessalonica.
First of all...

2.1 He Desired Stability

He desired that they be established… Established means - “ To Strengthen, to make stable...” Paul knew the doctrine he had established among them, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Timothy was sent to strengthen their faith further. Paul desired them to be stable in their faith, unmovable in the face of adversity.
As we get closer and closer to the return of Christ, it is important for our faith to be stable as well. That is part of being “Read and Waiting”… When we were at the Pastor’s Conference, Ken Ham spoke on the importance of the foundation of our faith. Our foundation needs to be The Word of God… As we read and study God’s Word, that foundation is strengthened and our faith gains stability. If our faith is not stable, then we may stray when difficulty or opposition comes knocking on our door!

2.2 He Desired Security

Timothy was not sent just to “establish” them. But he was also sent to “encourage” them. This has the idea of “admonishing, comforting, instructing, standing alongside of.” … The people had faced a very discouraging experience. Soon after they received Christ, their pastor was run out of town. Paul knew the anxiety they felt. He knew the doubts they had. He knew they needed one to comfort, console, encourage, and stand with them. Paul knew that Timothy was the man for the job.
There are times in our lives when we need that same comfort or security. We need the assurance that fellow believers are there for us and with us. We need the instruction and help that only comes through the Lord and His people.
It is hard to stand when you are asked to stand alone! Never underestimate the power of unity and support. Just knowing someone is there with us brings great benefit to our lives!

2.3 He Desired Faithfulness

v. 3 “that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.
Paul wanted them to endure in the struggle. He warned them of focusing on the storm rather than the Savior. He desired that they be faithful in the face of opposition.
Paul is not one to sugar cote things and he was not deceptive regarding adversity. He wanted his brothers and sisters to understand that serving the Lord often came at a price. They would be called upon to stand in the face of adversity… he even said “that we are appointed to this.
All who served the Lord prior to that time had faced opposition, Paul, Silas and Timothy faced opposition and the believers in Thessalonica would as well… If they all faced opposition and Satan still uses the same tactics today as he did then… Then it should come as no surprise when I say that; Trouble and difficulty will come our way when serving the Lord, but we must not be moved by them…
Warren Wiersbe said “The trials and testings that come to our lives as Christians are not accidents–they are appointments. We must expect to “suffer for his sake”. Persecution is not foreign to the believer, but a normal part of the Christian life.
Folks, We must remain faithful and stand up for the truth even when it isn’t popular
We cannot forsake the truth in order to gain the approval of the world.
Lastly this morning, I want you to see...

3. Paul’s Integrity

vv. 4-5 “For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. 5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.
Paul reminds them of his character and integrity as a man of God. He is not bragging, but simply reassuring their confidence in him.
He reminds them of...

3.1 His Honesty

“4. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.
Paul reminds them he had always been open and honest with them concerning all things. Apparently, he even warned them of possible persecution before it ever came. He had earned their trust and he wanted to make sure that didn’t change.
Our world today needs Pastors that are willing to speak God’s Honest Truth. But, even more so, it needs Christians who aren’t scared to speak the truth even though it may cost them the relationship of close friends and family.
Don’t mistake what I am saying here. There is a time and a place for Hell fire and Brimstone type of truth sharing… but the most effective way, I believe, to share the truth… is to speak it in love.
I believe that the world has been lied to so much, that they are longing for someone to just be honest with them… may God direct them to his faithful disciples who will share with them His love and the truths of His Word.
See also...

3.2 His Loyalty

The first part of v.5 says “For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith...”
As I’ve said before, it would have been easy for Paul to abandon the work in Thessalonica. The unfortunate reality is that, many of today’s preachers probably would have… They get into the “I don’t get paid enough to deal with that...” mentality… I am certain that phrase never even crossed the mind of the Apostle Paul. He was loyal and committed to the work the Lord had led him to start in Thessalonica and he was genuinely concerned for their well being.
A pastor needs to remain loyal to his congregation until the Lord removes his burden. He needs to love and care for those whom the Lord has asked him to lead. But along with that… Church members need to possess that same loyalty. I know there are times when the Lord leads folks to a new church, but much of what we are seeing today is not of the Lord. We need those who are committed to blooming where God has planted them!
And lastly this morning, Paul’s integrity is seen by…

3.3 His Accountability

5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.
Paul didn’t want his labor in Thessalonica to have been in vain. God had led him there to establish a church and encourage the believers. He had a responsibility to fulfill and he knew that one day he would give an account of the church there.
Accountability is little discussed in our day. I can assure you that I am aware of it and am humbled by it. God has led me to pastor this church and I will give account of my ministry here. Believers need to be reminded of accountability. If you are a member of this church, you are responsible to support it in every way you can. If you are serving in an office here, you are accountable to God for that.
We need to BE ACCOUNTABLE to God by being accountable to godly Christians. The spiritual-sounding phrase "I am answerable only to God" may be a subtle excuse for not answering to anyone, including God!
Some of you may recognize the name, Charles Colson. He was one of President Nixon’s closest aides and he became a Christian. In an article titled "The Problem of Power," he wrote, "Christians need to hold one another accountable. Although I know intellectually how vulnerable I am to pride and power, I am the last one to know when I succumb to their seduction. That’s why spiritual lone rangers are so dangerous--and why we must depend on trusted brothers and sisters who love us enough to tell us the truth."
Here in these first few verses of Thessalonians 3, Paul has begun to reveal his heart to the church in Thessalonica. They would do well to follow his lead and so would we.
Some questions for you to think about this morning…
Psalm 119:11 “11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.”
- What is hidden within our hearts?
- Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?
- Is there a committed desire to serve Him in ALL that you do?
- Are you confident in what you believe and are you willing to stand for the truth?
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