We continue our sermon series entitled ‘Joy Bringers’.
having had to “beat a hasty retreat” from the church in Thessalonica in fear of his life. His detractors were claiming that he could not possibly care for the church having decamped so suddenly. He in turn refuted such a false accusation by highlighting three key areas: –
1 – Pain
He had wanted to stay longer but had been – “torn away from you” (literally – orphaned.) Such a severance had been painful resulting in tears befitting a bereavement.
2 – Propensity
It was not a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” The propensity to forget them did not apply, he was with them in spirit, and they occupied a special place in his thoughts.
3 – Prevention
He had been prevented from returning to Thessalonica because – “Satan stopped us” (c.f – Acts 16 v 6 & 7 where it is the Holy Spirit who stops!) How did Satan prevent Paul from returning? Here are some suggestions: –
- Some of the local Christians would have had to forfeit their bail and bear a heavy financial penalty.
- The Jewish opposition still persisted, and so there would be every chance of a second riot and further persecution.
- Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” which he described as a – “messenger from Satan” (2 Corinthians 12 v 7) was once again playing up.
- Now in Corinth, Paul had “enough on his plate” sorting out the Satan inspired problems in that Fellowship, never mind paying a second visit to Thessalonica.
The Bible does not provide us with a definitive answer, but it does offer us a timely reminder that Satan is real and that we need to be on our guard (1 Peter 5 v 8) and rather than give in to his hindrances, we need to battle against them. This was Paul’s tactic as he sought to circumvent Satan’s obstacles in three very practical ways: –
4 – He Positioned
He dispatched Timothy to Thessalonica to strengthen their faith, and he later returned to the apostle with a glowing report about the church.
5 – He Prayed
He petitioned God that he might be allowed to re-visit them and that they in the mean- time might grow in love, strength, and holiness.
6 – He Penned
He wrote them a letter from Corinth dealing with the issues that Timothy had mentioned to him.
But why was he so desperate to see them again? It was because they brought him double joy by way of: –
7 – A Present joy
“You are our glory and joy” (see also 1 Thessalonians 3 v 9.) Whenever Paul thought of them in the present, the overwhelming emotion was that of joy.
Challenge – When your fellow Christians think of you, is the overwhelming feeling that of joy?
8 – A Prospective joy
“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes? Is it not you?” On the day of Christ’s triumphant return Paul would be able to present the Thessalonians as his crown of joy, the fruit of his evangelistic endeavours.
Challenge – When you stand before Christ will you be holding a crown of joy in terms of all those you have led to Christ, or will your hands be empty?
1 – How can you differentiate between a Satanic or a Godly hindrance?
2 – How have the current restrictions impacted on your level of joy?
3 – When people think about you does that bring them joy? Why? Or why not?
Title: The crown of joy
Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2 v 17 – 20
Preacher: Chris Hughes