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Cowboy Fellowship Church Pete Pawelek Series: 1 Thessalonians May 23, 2010 www.pastorpete.org The Message 1 Thessalonians 1: 4-6 Thank you guys so much. Well open your Bibles now to 1 Thessalonians. We have to dive right in this morning. If you've been with us the past couple of weeks, you know we started a series in the book of 1 Thessalonians. I've been encouraging you to bring your Bibles and write down some notes and put things out beside the Scriptures that will help you remember all the things we're talking about. If you haven't been here over the last couple of weeks, it may take you a little while to kind of get up to speed. You may want to go back and get some of the past CDs, especially the very, very first one. It's going to become very important that you remember some of the things we talked about in week number one whenever I present the next message to you when we come back to the book of 1 Thessalonians because we're going to come back to some of that geography stuff we talked about. It's going to be important for our next message especially. Hopefully you had a little bit of time there to find the book of 1 Thessalonians. Last week, we talked about The Method God uses to bring humanity back to Himself. We talked about, in the first week, the way Paul was so excited for this church. He was pumped up that this church had continued to do the things they were supposed to do. We don't have time to review it all. Last week, we focused in on the method God had used to transform those in Thessalonica. We said the same method God used to transform those people in Thessalonica all the way back in the first century would still work today, in Atascosa County, Pleasanton, Jourdanton, Charlotte, wherever you're from. It will still work today. It will work in South America. It will work in Central America. It will work in Africa, Europe, Russia, wherever. It's still God's method. I want us to go back, and I want us to kind of just recap last week a little bit by reading the Scriptures in context. Today we're going to talk about The Message. We're going to focus in on verse 6, but just for the context of last week and this week, let's go back and read 1 Thessalonians, chapter 1, verses 4-6. It says, "For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake." Verse 6, "You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." If you're following along in your outlines, the point number one is this‌ Error! No property name supplied. Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX

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1. In spite of… In spite of…we're going to camp out on in spite of for most of our time this morning. If you're following along in the Scriptures, out next to verse 6, write the message. Next to verses 4 and 5 you should have the method in your Bible. Then in verse 6, you should write down the message. I love what he says here. He describes how the message came. Now last week when we talked about the method, we talked about the God who seeks, the gospel that saves, and the life that wins. What Paul does here in verse 6 is he really dives into the gospel that saves. He takes one verse, and he talks about the message of the gospel that had transformed these people in Thessalonica. That's what we're going to focus all of our attention on today…The Message. Last week was The Method; this week is The Message. Remember from last week we know the message came. It says it right up there in verses 4 and 5, "Not simply with words, but it came with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction." When the message of the gospel came to these people in Thessalonica, who prior to this were not Christians, who prior to this were not living godly lives, wholesome lives, the kind of lives we would suspect as we talked about previously in week one, who prior to this were not living any kind of God-honoring life, but when the message came, they were transformed by God's method. Part of that was through the message. Paul says at the beginning of verse 6, "You became imitators of us and of the Lord." Last week we ended by talking about the life that wins. Paul says it again here in verse 6, "You became imitators of us." Because Paul and Silas and Timothy and others in their group lived the kind of life that wins, these people in Thessalonica began to imitate Paul and Silas and Timothy and the other people that were in Paul's group. And because of that, they began to imitate the Lord because that is who Paul and Silas and Timothy were focusing on. Then it says, "In spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." There are certain things in life you have to believe as core principles. You probably were taught your core principles and your core values by your mom and dad, maybe. Your mom and dad probably tried to teach you the core values and core principles. We end up learning most of them on our own, don't we, as we find ourselves in the bar ditch, and pulling ourselves back up onto the highway of life over and over and over again. We always remember what Mama told us, or what Daddy told us, or what Grandma and Grandpa told us. As you develop as a human, you begin to get these core sets of values. You begin to get things you stand on, and no matter what happens, you will not let those core values go. As Christians, and as your faith in Christ develops, what I've noticed is I've begun to develop some spiritual core values in my life as well. I believe all Christians who seriously study God's Word, who seriously apply themselves and try to become disciples of Christ just like we do in life, we do in our spiritual life as well. We develop these core values. One of my core values, one of the things that is central to my faith, one of the things I can never get away from, one of the things I always come back to is this…there is nothing more powerful than the blood of Jesus Christ, nothing in the world. There is nothing more powerful than the Error! No property name supplied. Cowboy Fellowship Church 2 Jourdanton, TX


gospel message of what Jesus Christ did for us through the blood that was shed for us on the Cross. It's a core value of my life. I believe there is nothing too big that the blood of Christ cannot overcome. I believe there is no enemy the blood of Christ cannot defeat. There is no obstacle that it cannot push through. There is no sinner who is too dirty for the blood of Christ. There is nothing in all of the world that is too large, or too big for the transforming message of the gospel and what Jesus Christ did for us through His blood. What Paul says here is, "In spite of your suffering, you have continued to stand." These people were being persecuted. We're going to get to it later, so I don't want to spend a lot of time on it today. They were being persecuted in awful ways, horrible ways. They weren't just being laughed at. They weren't just not being invited to the lunch table at work. These people were being threatened. They were being abused. We don't have great detail about the persecution, but it's not too much of a stretch to imagine their lives were probably being threatened...heir family's lives, their children's lives, all of that here in Thessalonica. Paul says, "In spite of severe suffering, you continue to stand. You continue to believe in this message we brought to you." At the core of who they were, they believed in the gospel message. They believed there was nothing the blood of Christ could not overcome, and Paul says, "In spite of that severe suffering, you stood the test." Now we don't have severe suffering in America today when it comes to the gospel. We don't have severe persecution in the United States. A day may come when it knocks on our door. A day may come when severe persecution and severe suffering for the gospel of Christ finds each and every Christian in this country. It could happen. Don't think it can't, but as of today, it's not here. Our in spite of is not in spite of severe suffering. Before I was a Christian, I rejected the gospel of Christ not because of severe suffering. See the people in Thessalonica were trying to scare everybody away from Christians. They were trying to say, "Hey, you don't want to do that. You remember what happened to old Joe. Yeah, remember what we did to his family? Yeah, you don't want to go there and become one of those Christians. We'll burn your house down, too, man. You remember what happened to that little boy when he was on his way to school. Yeah, you don't want to become a Christian." That was a severe suffering. We don't have that here today. We can't relate to this. We can't comprehend it. But let me give you some of Pastor Pete's in spite of's. Some of the things that in spite of these things the gospel still prevailed in my life. 1. In spite of selfishness. It's in your outline if you want to fill it in‌in spite of selfishness. Galatians 6:8, "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." Before I knew Christ I was selfish. Remember that sermon a few months ago? Meitis. I had it. I had it bad. Really bad. Man, I know all about meitis from experience. Meitis is something that had infected me, and I was sowing to please my sinful nature. It wasn't about Christ. It wasn't about God. It wasn't about doing things that would please Him. It was about doing things that Error! No property name supplied. Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX

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would please me, and it was leading me to destruction. All I was reaping as a harvest was destruction. I was selfish. Despite my selfishness, the gospel won. Despite me, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of what the blood of Christ had done for me in my life prevailed. In spite of who I was, in spite of what I was, in spite of us, the gospel still comes. How about this one‌ 2. In spite of distance? Ephesians 4:17-18, "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts." Do you remember a time when your heart was hard toward the things and the ways of God? Do you remember a time when you felt the loneliness of the separation because there was a gap between you and God? I remember the time. I remember feeling there was no way. I mean I believed in God. I knew there was a God there. I just looked across that gap and said, "How in the world am I going to be restored to a relationship with that God?" There is too much gap in between. The distance is just too far. I can't work my way over it. I can't jump over it. I can't swim across it. How do I get there? In spite of the distance, the blood of Christ bridged the gap and salvation won the day. Or how about the third one‌ 3. In spite of sin? Really if we want to get down to the root of the problem, sin is the issue. The distance between God and myself was sin. The selfishness I was practicing in my life came from the root of sin, and it had infected and penetrated my life. I had fallen short of the mark. I was messed up. I was dirty. In spite of my sin, the gospel still had the power to save my soul. In spite of who I was, and in spite of the distance, the gospel still won. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." I want you to turn to the book of Ephesians, chapter 2. We're going to read some verses out of there. You may want to mark these and come back to these later and really dive into them. Ephesians, chapter 2. While you're turning there, listen to that passage in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death." Nothing else, death. "But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." See we have all sinned, and we've all fallen short. We've all messed up. We're all dirty. In spite of our sin, the gospel still saves us. If you don't believe me, look at Ephesians 2. Let's read verses 1-2, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient." In spite of being dead in my transgressions, in spite of being dead in my sins, in spite of being disobedient, the gospel still saves. Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 3-5, keep going, "All of us also Error! No property name supplied. Cowboy Fellowship Church 4 Jourdanton, TX


lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." Jump down to verse 8, Ephesians 2:8, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." In spite of all of this, in spite of being dead in my transgressions and sins, in spite of being disobedient, in spite of my sinful nature, in spite of my desires, in spite of my thoughts, in spite of being by nature an object of wrath, according to Ephesians 2:3, it says it right there, and I know it to be true in my life, in spite of that because of His great love, and because of the overwhelming invasive power of the gospel, salvation still came to my life. Not because I did anything to earn it. Not because I did anything to deserve it, but because the gospel has the power to save no matter what your in spite of's are. What are your in spite of's? Why are you thinking, The gospel can't save me? I tell you, it can in spite of whatever you think in your mind. Whatever the devil has convinced you of in your soul, the gospel can and will save you in spite of whatever false thing you have begun to believe because there is nothing more powerful than the gospel. In Thessalonica it was in spite of severe suffering that the gospel overcame. In America, in your life and in my life today, it's in spite of something else, but it doesn't matter what it is because the gospel will always win because there is nothing more powerful than the gospel. It wasn't just in spite of the severe suffering though. He says they also welcomed the message. Welcomed the message…the Greek word for welcomed here is dexamenoi. There are different levels of welcoming, right? I mean somebody comes to your door, let's say it's an unexpected visitor. It's somebody you really didn't want to come to your door. I'm not going to say any names. I'm not going to say any groups of people, but let's say it's Sunday afternoon. You're not expecting a visitor. You get the ring at the doorbell. You look out the blinds, and you see somebody standing there you do not want to see. You go, "Ah man, oh." You go over to the door. "Hi, what's going on? Yeah, come on in. Yeah sure. Go ahead. Really fast. Do your deal. Whatever." You've never done it. I know, but I have. Now let's say you're sitting there on a Sunday afternoon, and an old friend from 10 or 15 years rings your doorbell, somebody you love, somebody you cherish, somebody that just happened to be in town, somebody who flew into San Antonio for business, and they just decided to drive down and surprise you or something. You open that door, man, and you're like, "Ah Jimmy, my buddy, come on in here, man! Let's cook up some steaks. Help yourselves. Take the best seat over here in my recliner." You sit there and talk. You welcome them. You embrace them. That's what this word means. This is not the lowest form of welcoming. This is not a half-hearted welcome. This is not a, "Hey, the gospel is here. That's good news. Ye-haw." This is a full embrace. It means to grasp it with force. It means to hold on dearly to it. It means to wrap your arms all the way around it, and take all of what it is and bring it into yourself. It means to welcome the gospel with everything you have. It makes sense. It makes sense because these people in Thessalonica had experienced the power of the gospel. Error! No property name supplied. Cowboy Fellowship Church 5 Jourdanton, TX


Remember, it didn't come simply with words. It came with power and the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. They had an experience with the blood of Jesus Christ that had transformed their lives and they welcomed it in spite of severe suffering. They welcomed it with everything they had. See our God is not a God who forces us to worship Him. He could if He wanted to. He could force us to bow our knees and sing praise to Him all day long. He could turn us into little spiritual robots and make us worship Him the way He deserves to be worshipped, but that's not what He desires. See God desires people who will worship Him in spirit and truth out of a pure and contrite heart. He desires people who will bring their worship as a gift and as an offering to Him. See real worship, true worship, authentic worship can't be forced on anybody. It has to be voluntary. That's what's going on here. These people voluntarily welcomed the gospel. They embraced it with all they had. God doesn't force Himself on us, just look at Romans 2:4, "Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" It's the love and the kindness and the patience of God that leads us toward repentance. It's not threats. It's not power. It's not, "Get down here and worship Me right now, or else." It's His love and His kindness that leads us to repentance. Listen to the words of Jesus Himself in the book of Revelation, chapter 3, verse 20, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me." How many of you have seen Cops? You know bad boys, bad boys, what you going to do‌ Yeah, that one. Sometimes people think God is like the guys on Cops that He is going to roll up to your house in a SWAT truck at 2:00 in the morning while you're down asleep, and He is going to get the angels all out of the back of the SWAT truck, and one of them is going to walk up there with a shotgun and blow the deadbolt off your door and kick it in, throw in some flash grenades...boom, boom, boom! Run into your room, jump and pounce on top of you, screaming and yelling. The kids are crying, everything else. Throw the handcuffs on you and haul you off or something. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone invites Me in, we'll have a bite. If not, I'll just keep standing there and just keep on knocking. He'll knock loudly, believe me, but He is not going to kick the door in. You have to welcome the message and embrace the message as the people in Thessalonica had. Listen to Titus 3:3-7, "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures." I know this isn't speaking to any of you, but might as well put my name in this verse. "We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Error! No property name supplied. Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX

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Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." These people understood the power of the message of the gospel, and they embraced it with everything they had. They welcomed it. They took it in. They grabbed onto it really tightly with force. They were not going to let it go. They didn't do this thing halfway. They didn't do it because it was the popular thing to do. They didn't say, "Hey everybody is going to church, we ought to go, too." They didn't do it because they thought they could make some business connections over there. They didn't do it because this was the fun thing to go do on a Sunday morning or a Saturday night. Remember, it was in spite of severe persecution. They did this because they welcomed the message. It wasn't like, "Oh man, let's say the prayer. We don't want to go to hell. Yeah, let's say the prayer. That's good. Okay. We're clear. We'll just go to church. We'll show up every now and then, make sure God sees us there, and then we'll be cool." No, when this thing came, it came with power. It came with the Holy Spirit. It came with deep conviction, not just with words. They embraced it with everything they had. They welcomed the message into their hearts, and into their lives. Then he says they did it with joy. Curious thing about joy and happiness I got to thinking about over the last two weeks. Joy and happiness are not the same thing. We've started to convince ourselves for a long time that happiness and joy are the same. If we're happy, we also have joy, and if we have joy, then we're also happy. It's false. It's really not true. Happiness and joy are two completely different things. They are two completely different animals. I was thinking, I was wondering, Do you think the Thessalonians were happy? Doesn't say they were happy, but it says they had joy. They welcomed the message, and they did it with joy. See happiness is about feeling good. It's an emotion. We want to feel good. We want to feel right. We want to have a lot of money so we can be happy. We want to have a bigger house so we can be happy. We want to be famous so we can be happy. We do lots of things in our families just to keep the wife happy, or the husband happy, or the kids happy. I know none of you does anything just to keep the kids happy. We do lots of things at work just to keep the boss happy, don't we? There is nothing wrong with happiness. I'm not trying to tell you you shouldn't be happy. There is nothing wrong with being happy, except for this. Here is the one problem, the only problem I can find with happiness...it doesn't last. It fades away. You can do everything in your power to make your boss happy this week, and he'll be unhappy next week. Right? You can make that kid happy for a minute or an hour, or maybe‌ Nah, probably not. But a minute, or an hour, and then it's gone, and they're unhappy again. You can make your husband or your wife happy for a little while. Whoever it is, whatever it is, your neighbor, you just fill in the blank. Happiness though disappears. It leaves us. Do you want to know why? Because happiness is an emotion that is contingent upon your circumstance. You're only happy when the circumstances line up and you have the things that happiness needs to make you happy. You Error! No property name supplied. Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX

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can't always have those things no matter how rich you are, no matter how famous you are, no matter how good of a person or a Christian you are, you will not always be happy. It will leave you. It will fade, and that's why we live our lives in these emotional roller coasters of happiness and sadness. This wasn't about happiness; this was about joy. See the problem with happiness is found in 1 John, chapter 2, verse 17, "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." Happiness is about earthly things and earthly circumstances. All of those things pass away. When we look at this young church, they're facing extreme persecution. They're facing great hardship. From the book of Acts in Acts 17…remember I told you to read Acts 16-19? In the book of Acts, in chapter 17, we find they're being persecuted from both the Jews and the Greeks. They're getting it from both sides. I don't think these people are happy, but they still have joy. When it came to joy, they were full of it because there is a different between happiness and joy. The difference is this…where it comes from. Happiness comes from things here on earth. My son is happy if I give him a glass of milk instead of a glass of water. That's an earthly thing though. It fades. It passes away. It leaves us. Joy comes from a different source. It comes from a different place. Listen to 1 Thessalonians 1:6 again, "You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." You should underline that…joy given by the Holy Spirit. Joy comes from the Holy Spirit, not from earthly circumstances and earthly emotions. Joy comes from God. If you don't believe me, you want a backup verse, read Romans 14:17, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Happiness comes and goes, but joy is eternal because it comes from an eternal source, the Holy Spirit. These people were full of joy. The people of Thessalonica chose joy over happiness, and in doing so, they found something most of us never will because we are unwilling to forsake happiness for the sake of joy, which is better by far, but we are so concerned with being happy for a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a week that we lose sight of the joy we could have if we would just tune into the power of the Spirit of God. Oh these people were not happy, but they were full of joy. As we close today, you might be asking, "Well what is the message?" We've talked all about the message, but what is the message? What is this message you continue to talk about? I'll tell you, it's just this…Christ came and died for your sins just like He did mine before you deserved it, before you earned it, before you could do anything because you can't to get it. He came because He loved you, and He was patient with you, and kind. He has continued to pursue your life and despite your sin and despite how dirty you are, He came to save you and His blood can overcome it all. There is a verse in the book of Acts, it is Acts 4:12 that I believe says it just about as good as one verse can. Here is the message, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." If you come to know this Christ, I Error! No property name supplied. Cowboy Fellowship Church 8 Jourdanton, TX


promise it will bring joy to your life that you have never experienced. If you will welcome the message of the gospel into your heart, and take hold of it and embrace it as these people in Thessalonica did, I promise it will save you of your sins in spite of your sins. It will save you in spite of who you are. It will save you in spite of distance. It will save you in spite of what you've done because there is nothing more powerful than this message right here that He came and died for your sins and mine. Would you pray with me? If you're here this morning and you've never given your life to Christ, as we bow our heads to pray, I'm going to ask you to say a prayer. We're not going to ask you to stand up, come to the front, go to the back, raise a hand, nothing like that. All I ask you to do is call out to God and embrace this message, the message that Christ came and died for your sins. The blood of Christ can wash them away and cast them as far as the east is from the west. The blood of Christ can bridge the gap, no matter how far that distance may seem, for there is nothing more powerful than the gospel. If you're here today and you do not know Christ, this is your hour of salvation. Simply say, "Lord, it's me. I come into this place, and I confess I'm a sinner. Lord, I know all about that distance. I thank You that You could bridge the gap. By faith this very morning, I ask You would come into my life and change me from the inside out. Lord, I embrace this message. Forgive me of my sins, and give me the great gift of eternal life. I thank You there is nothing more powerful than the blood of Christ that still to this day has the power to save people like me despite who I once was." Father as we close this morning, we pray we could be people like these in Thessalonica, people who in spite of whatever gets in our way would allow the gospel to prevail, people who would welcome the message, Father, not half-heartedly, not a little bit here and now and a little bit more later. Father, but people who would embrace it totally, fully, completely, and people who would do it and focus on joy instead of happiness. Father, I know when we focus on the joy that comes from You, You will bring happiness to our lives. God, I pray You help us as we study Your Word to continue to learn these truths. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen. If you just said that prayer with me, we want to give you a round of applause and welcome you to the family of God. If you're a visitor with us here this morning, we want to have you fill out our visitor's form if you don't mind. Give us some information there. You don't have to fill it all out. Some of it may not even apply to you, but fill that out. Let us know you were visiting today. Let us know who brought you or how you heard about us, all that information is very helpful for us as a church. On the backside, there are some check boxes. The very top one says, "I'm committing my life to Christ today." If you said that prayer with me at the end of the church service, check that box that says, "I'm committing my life to Christ today." We'll get with you this week. We're not going to make you do anything or sign up for a Bible study or anything like that. We just want to know you made that decision. There are some other boxes there. You can give us a prayer request. Error! No property name supplied. Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX

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If you've not been baptized, if you've been saved, if you've called on Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but you haven't been baptized yet, you haven't fully embraced that thing He says we're supposed to go and do next, why not next weekend? Saturday night, Sunday morning we're going to do it both times. Check the box that you want to get baptized. We'll get with you on that this week, and we'll make that happen for you as well. Whenever you've filled out all the appropriate information, you can just tear it down the seam, something like that, you can take all your notes and your announcements home. Drop this in one of the milk cans all the way around the church where we drop in the tithes and offerings. You'll see other people putting stuff in. Just drop that in there and we will get with you this week. Thank you so much for being here. Don't forget about the teaching seminar next Saturday morning. If you want to come, you need to sign up for it today. If you sign up, please, please, please come and be a part of it with Dr. Yount next Saturday morning. God bless you guys. Y'all have a great week.

Error! No property name supplied. Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX

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The Message  

This is the third sermon in the series on 1 Thess.

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