I want to share my heart personally with you this morning because we are going see Paul’s heart as we open this portion of scripture! Because this portion of Paul’s letter is personal and it reveals the true heart of Paul. Nothing excites me more than to see people growing in their walk with the Lord. Especially those who the Lord allowed me to be a part of! That excites me because it’s a privilege. This should be every pastor’s heart around the world this morning to see God’s children walking with Him. SEE MY JOY COMES.......
- When you want to talk about Him and His glory.
- When you want to learn and grow through the studying of the His Word.
- When you want to pray and praise His name in the good and bad times.
- When you want to share about what the Lord has been teaching you through your circumstances
- When you want nothing more than to see people come to the Lord through Jesus Christ.
- When you consume all your time and energy focused on Him! Because He is worth. it! And everything else seems meaningless in comparison to Him and His glory.
BUT sometimes my joy can seem to be sizzled out or distant! Because we only get to spend so much time together! Sundays, prayer meetings, special functions or visits throughout the months! But I know in my heart of hearts that’s not true! Though we all go our separate ways and have personal lives. I can rejoice in the fact that we serve an amazing God who….keeps us, sustains us, sanctifies us, secures us by His sovereign grace. That gives me peace and thankfulness for each and every one of you this morning. For Paul it was a little different! Look what Paul says in (v17) “Taken from you” denotes an understanding of “being orphaned”
It literally means “to be torn apart” A Literal translation of this verse says “we being orphanized from you” It gives you the sense of a parent is without or the loss of a deceased child or a child is orphaned from its deceased parents. This portion of Paul’s letter illuminates how he felt about this forced separation from the Thessalonians. PAUL FELT THIS WAY WITH ALL HIS SPIRITUAL CHILDREN:
CORINTHIAN CHURCH: “For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” 2 Cor 2:4
PHILIPPIAN CHURCH: “it is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:7-8
PHILEMON’S CHURCH FAMILY: “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 1:7
ROMAN CHURCH: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” Rom 1:8-10
EPHESIAN CHURCH: “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears (v31).......And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20:36-38
There are more examples of other churches that Paul founded on the word of God about his passionate heart for them. Paul loved these people just as much as the churches I just mentioned... ”He was torn from his children” The reason being..................going back to what was happening in Acts 17. Paul had no choice but to leave because the Gospel was causing so much commotion. Paul was forced from his spiritual children. Can you sense the emotion in his letter especially during a very trying time for any Christian with all the persecution?Their fellow countrymen; the religious types of their day! Not to mention the brutal behaviour of the Roman Emperor. It was almost impossible for Paul to return because of the hatred towards the gospel. Look what he says at the end of verse 17 “endeavoured more eagerly to see you face to face with great desire” Literally means “A great desire to see your face” I have a passion, I’m compelled and I have this controlling desire to see you again, I miss you dearly loved ones. This wasn’t a job to Paul but a passionate desire and care for others. See, this is humility in action seeking the interest of others. Why? As he said to the Philippians “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” Phil 2:2-5
Something happened that made this action impossible. Because he couldn’t! Why? Answer is found in verse 18 “Satan hindered us”
- Satan is seeking whom he many devour
- Satan has been doing this from the very beginning!
- Satan has been trying to tear down the church and the children of God for centuries
- Satan wants nothing more than for the church of God to fail
- Satan desires nothing more than to see corruption in the church of God
LISTEN WHAT PAUL WROTE TO THE CHURCH OF CORINTH “And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”2 Cor 11:12-14. Please do not be fooled! For Satan has deceived many into believing a lie! How? He gives some truth with much error! Paul was hindered in coming to them! Hindered (means) to cut into, detain” it’s a military term referring to digging a trench or breaking up a road. One of the countermeasures an ancient army would take against the opposition was to dig a massive trench that would prevent enemy troops from reaching its men. Another way to frustrate the enemy’s progress would be to tear up a brick or stone road so that he could not traverse it. It’s the idea when Paul gently rebuked the good people of Galatia “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Gal 5:7. It’s the same expression Peter used when he said “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Satan was making it hard for Paul to come back to them.....Again going back to Acts 17. Satan hated Paul, and anyone who bring the true unadulterated Gospel message. Paul was a marked man…because of his passion for the gospel. Paul was hated by many and many wanted to kill the apostle Paul! Again going back to Acts 17. We always have to remember that no matter what Satan tries to do, he will never have victory over our lives. Because?Jesus has conquered sin and the grave, He is seated on the Throne, He is above all things, and He is the Sovereign Lord and Creator of the universe. The Sovereign One who said “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail (succeed, win, and triumph) against it.” Matt 16:18. Despite the road block that Paul was faced with; this didn’t stop him from finding joy in the Thessalonians church! Look at (v19) Paul shows us the personal side of his heart with 3 expressible things that gave him such great joy and victory! Even if this meant being separated, hindered by Satan and his fallen angels from the people he loved and desired to be with. THIS SHOULD BE OUR HEARTS AS WELL THIS MORNING! SHOULDN’T IT? Nothing can ever separate the love that we have in Christ Jesus our LORD. If you don’t believe me then listen to what Paul writes “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:37-39. Though we are miles apart physically we are always together in spirit.........Though we all go through different circumstances of life we are there for one another. Though we cannot always be together, we know God can and for that we find rest. He is always with us to the end of this life and forever in eternity! That’s why Paul could write the words he wrote! Look what Paul writes……..
YOU ARE OUR HOPE (referring to the promise of future reward and eternal blessing)
“Hope” as the world typically defines it is a desire for some future occurrence of which one is not assured of attaining…..like most false religions. The ancient world did not generally regard hope as a virtue, but merely as a temporary illusion. Historians tell us that a great cloud of hopelessness covered the ancient world. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” 1 Peter 1:3-4. This is not our home! Paul knew, that even through separation and persecution he found genuine joy that the hope these people had was in the Lord Jesus Christ. Biblical hope is not "finger crossing", but is alive and sure because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Doesn’t this encourage your heart? Knowing that you we have born again loved ones who cannot be with us physically, but have that same hope that we have!
YOU ARE OUR JOY (our external happiness and satisfaction)
“Joy” is describes an attitude which is cheerful and glad. The world defines joy as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. But, the Bible defines joy as a gift of God, a fruit of His Spirit, which is independent of your circumstances. Luke 24:51-53 display this joy for us! “While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.” We see this expression of joy when Paul said “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” Phil 4:1. And even though he was faced with so much opposition over the gospel. This did not rob him of the joy he had in God’s children. It’s the joy that the bible speaks of as “overabundance” that could never be extinguished by Satan or anyone else. As Paul said in 2Cor 1:7 “Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” John Piper said “for the Christian things may go really bad right now and yet not rob him of his JOY. The JOY is the JOY OF HOPE. Christians set their hearts on how good it will be in the age to come and in the presence of Christ after death. This is why Christians can REJOICE in tribulation and not just in health and peace and security. Tribulation drives the roots of JOY down into HOPE. The future JOY streams back into the presence and lightens every load.”
YOU ARE OUR CROWN OF REJOICING (your eternal life is a like a reward)
“crown of rejoicing” or of "glorying", or "boasting" It wasn’t that Paul gloried in them, for they gloried not in men. Paul gloried in the Lord, for His righteousness, riches, wisdom, strength, and grace, in the person, blood, and cross of Christ. Paul gloried of them, as trophies of divine grace, as a prey taken out of the hand of the mighty, and as lawful captives delivered from the power of Satan. The Bible speaks of 5 DIFFERENT kinds of crowns or wreaths in the New Testament!
The IMPERISHABLE WREATH that celebrates salvation's victory over corruption. “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown but we for an imperishable crown.” (1 Cor 9:25)
The RIGHTEOUS WREATH that celebrates salvation's victory over unrighteousness. “the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, (2 Tim 2:18)
The UNFADING WREATH of glory that celebrates salvation's victory over defilement. “you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” (1 Peter 5:4)
The WREATH OF LIFE that celebrates salvation's victory over death “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life” (James 1:12)
The WREATH OF EXULTATION which celebrates salvation's victory over Satan and mankind’s persecution of believers. This is the wreath Paul is speaking of in this passage! (Refers to the overwhelming victory God gives His own: over sin, suffering, death and judgement). To those who are faithful no matter what the circumstance or situation may be! Nobody can take that away and Paul knew that wonderful truth! See, the crowns that God gives His servants are not like…… those crowns which were given to the conqueror, in the Olympic Games! Which were made of diver flowers, of the olive, wild olive, pine tree, and of parsley, and inserted in a branch of the wild olive tree and which quickly faded away? Peter called it an imperishable, unfading crown as we have seen earlier!
See my greatest joy is for you to see….
- Jesus as your crowning glory.
- Jesus as your crowning victory.
- Jesus as your crown of eternal blessing.
- Jesus is the reason you boast and live your life for.
- Jesus is the reason you find true joy [not happiness] in a perverse and corrupt generation.
- Jesus is the reason you love your spouse more, your children, your singleness. Why? Because Jesus is all satisfying.
Nothing or no one can ever take that away from us.......because it’s by His power and strength that we are forever His “in the presence of the Lord Jesus at His coming”. This should be everyone’s aim in the Christian life! Rejoicing over those who rejoice with us in Spirit and truth.
- The saved
- The sanctified
- The children of God
- The crowning glory of God
- This was Paul’s source of joy and happiness (v20) “for you are our glory and joy”
William Macdonald said “The saints were Paul’s glory and joy. He had invested in human personality and his reward was spiritual sons and daughters who would worship the Lamb of God for all eternity”. THAT’S MY JOY AS WELL! To know that God is doing a work in and through your lives. To know that He keeps His promises of “coming again” for His children. To know that you are worth it and your worth is found in Christ. Thessalonica, continually were a source of glory and joy to Paul. Their existence in Heaven would also be an eternal source of glory and joy to Paul, Silvanus and Timothy! So let me ask you the Sunday question! Look around at the faces in this room! Who will be in Heaven that will be your eternal source of glory and joy? Can you say with Paul about those in this Sanctuary “for you are our glory and joy.”