Oh the riches of God’s Word! I am continually amazed at the depth and contemporary application of the Bible. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 Paul gives a litany of commands for the people at Thessalonica. I compiled them into 10 exhortations for easy recollection. F.F. Bruce comments that Paul may have been seeking to provide material in this format for a catechism of some sort for the people to easily remember and study.
I label them “Gospel Exhortations” because I know how I respond to lists in Scripture. “Give me a list so that I can check off things and feel better.” “Give me a list so that I can do things that will make God love me more.” Often I feel like we confuse the order. The way we should (I think) respond to lists in Scripture is first to realize that we can’t do these things. This initial reaction leaves us with a helpless feeling that hopefully leads us directly to the cross. Because of the cross, because of my redemption from slavery, because of grace, I can live and obey.
The opposite of Gospel Exhortations would be keeping the law, which we all know cannot be done. So, when you read this list, understand that this is on the other side of the cross and should not be a ladder that is climbed expecting to find self-earned righteousness at the top. Whatever we accomplish is because of God’s progressive work of sanctification in our lives, not our own efforts.
In this blog I want to simply list the Scripture and the 10 points. Lord willing, I can go through and write 10 separate blogs on each point. We’ll see…In the mean time, read over these exhortations and pray that the Holy Spirit would speak and that you would respond in faith.
1. Admonish the Unruly (v.14)
2. Encourage the Fainthearted (v.14)
3. Help the Weak (v.14)
4. Be Patient with Everyone (v.14)
5. Don’t Repay Evil with Evil; Seek After What is Good for All (v.15)
6. Rejoice Always (v.16)
7. Pray without Ceasing (v.17)
8. In Everything, Give Thanks (v.18)
9. Do Not Quench the Spirit—by despising prophesy (v.19-20)
10. Examine Everything Carefully—by holding fast to the good, letting go of the evil (v.21-22)
If you follow Ross King you probably already know about his newest project Soul Speak. It is now available on independentbands.com. If you are new to Ross’ music, I encourage you to pick up the new album and consider looking at his other work (click on music) as well. Ross is a true believer that puts down on paper and in the studio what is happening in his life. I appreciate his friendship and his Christ exalting music. Here is what he says about Soul Speak:
“Soulspeak is my newest worship project. I recorded it at The MixLab, my studio in College Station, TX. I like this record a lot, and I hope you will, too. The project includes 10 brand new songs, as well as 2 re-recordings and 2 covers. In my opinion, this is the best worship CD that I’ve ever done. I hope you enjoy it.”
Ross also serves as a pastor at Community Church in College Station, TX.
I am continuing to enjoy teaching through Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica with the people at FBC Liberty on Wednesday nights. Tonight we will be looking together at 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13:
Paul’s main point in these verses: Appreciate and Esteem your pastors highly because of their work, and you will live in peace.
Verse 12: We request that you appreciate those who labor among you.
a. Diligent Labor: this literally means working to the point of exhaustion.
b. Oversight of the Flock: literally standing over the flock and leading, guiding them along the path of righteousness.
c. Teaching / Instruction: Instructing in the truths of God’s Word.
a. Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
b. Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
c. NOTICE THE PLURALS!
Verse 13: Esteem Them (Pastors, Elders) Highly:
o 1 Peter 5:1-4 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
o This seems like an odd place for an exhortation on peace?
o He seems to be saying that when the elders (pastors) relate to the congregation in this way and the congregation submits to their leadership, peace is the result!
This needs to be on your mind when you call a new pastor…
1. Plurality of Leadership
2. Someone who exhibits these qualities: Able to teach the Word to the people…Able to oversee when people get out of the flock and lost in the woods…
3. Your response should be in appreciation and esteem! So, when you talk to you children about the pastor, you should make it a point to build them up…to other people in the congregation…build them up…when the opposite happens, the work of the church in hindered.
May function dictate status and not vice versa in the leadership of our churches!
If you are reading this blog, let me say thank you. Thank you for your patience over the past few months. I’ve been out of the blogosphere for many reasons. But, now, I’m back, and hopefully will be blogging more faithfully than before. The purpose of this blog (besides sprucing up the looks of Mercy Swimming) is to update many of you on God’s recent work in the life of our family.
1. We are transitioning out of a 4 year ministry at The First Baptist Church of Liberty. My time at FBC has been God-ordained and extremely crucial to my spiritual welfare. I cannot even begin to note all of the changes in my life that God has wrought in my time at FBC. He has solidified a vision for ministry deep in my bones that I would have never expected 4 years ago. However, He has also confirmed that that vision is not the same as the current one here at FBC. I praise God for His mercy to me, my family and this church and I will miss these people greatly. They have been very supportive and helpful to me and a joy to pastor. Perhaps the greatest achievement that the Lord granted here at FBC was my relationship with Keith Strahan. Keith is one of the most special people that I know. It has been a joy to see him grow and minister at FBC. We have grown to be very close and I could not be more thankful for our friendship. I think of him as a son and a brother. He is a son in that I have been able to disciple and mentor him in many ways (although I have probably learned more from him than vise versa). He is a brother in that I know he would give his life for me or my family and I would do that same. It will be hard to see him leave for England in the fall, but it will also be sweet to see him flourish as God reveals His plans for this vessel of mercy. I’m so thankful for Alethia Ministries, (our internet interview ministry recently founded) which the Lord will hopefully prosper and use to minister to pastors and the saints across the Houston area and beyond!
2. God has not only given me a vision for ministry, but not without faithfully providing a people who are willing to come under that vision. God has opened a door for our family to serve at Baptist Church of the Redeemer (Redeemer for short) in Sugar Land, Texas. Through my relationship with Jim Hamilton and Billy Newhouse, God has prepared a perfect opportunity for a healthy, growing and God glorifying work in the Fort-Bend area. These two men have been such an encouragement to me through the past years! How merciful of the Savior to allow me to labor alongside two of my friends for the sake of the Gospel!
I cannot say enough about Jim Hamilton. He serves at Redeemer currently as Interim Pastor of Preaching. Dr. Hamilton’s current full-time job is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at the Havard School for Theological Studies (SWBTS), in Houston. I have had the honor to sit in his classroom, pick his enormous brain, and learn from his commitment to the Messiah for 3 years! I never would have dreamed that the Savior would allow me to serve alongside of my mentor in the local Church. What an honor!
Billy Newhouse and I met four years ago or so in line to register at Southwestern. Through God’s kind providence, we were in probably 90% of all classes together in our time at SWBTS. We have grown close and seen the Lord unite our vision for church and ministry that honors Him. Billy is by far the most humble human being that I know. That may change now that he is married to the beautiful Stephenie! Billy and Stephenie were married on Saturday, July 1st in one of the most moving and encouraging services that I have ever been apart of. They are so happy and right for one another. Alicia and I are so excited to see how God has brought them together and what His plans will be for the future! We will be serving alongside Billy and Stephenie at Redeemer as well. Billy has a heart for the local community and a love for the people at Redeemer and the community. So far you can see why I title this blog Mercy Swimming–it is all that I do–swim in the deep oceans of mercy that the Savior pours out every day! Thank you Jesus.
3. God has given me a desire, much through the example of Jim Hamilton, to teach. I was not sure how that part of my life would develop until about a month ago. The Lord has begun to open doors through friends at private schools for teaching opportunities. However, nothing seemed to fit my gifting and our situation, until the Lord opened the door at Fort Bend Baptist Academy . FBBA was expanding their Bible faculty and creating a position for an 11th grade Bible teacher. The course will focus on Hermeneutics (Bible Interpretation) for the first semester and Systematic Theology for the second semester. So, basically if I were going to design a school, class, location (in Sugar Land) this is what I would have come up with. God’s oceans never run dry! I will begin teaching August 10th! Please pray for me that this transition would be a good one and that I could not smile for the first month. (Everyone says that is how you show the students that you are serious, but I like to smile!) We’ll see!
I am so thankful for the Lord’s provision in our lives. I must say that my life would be in shambles if it were not for the beautiful love of my life Alicia. She has been so supportive over the last semester at Seminary and through this summer. My wonderful children have been patient and obedient for their mom while Daddy has been busy. Alicia brightens up our house with her humor and smile. I’m so thankful for a helpmate to come home to who supports me, warts and all! The oceans just keep getting deeper and deeper.
I look forward to sailing them with you! Thanks again for reading!
Let the Name of God Be High in the Hearts of His People!