April 4, 2018

Yesterday we looked at three qualities in a person that the Holy Spirit was impressed with. Today we will look at three qualities that identify the Church. Hopefully this will go along nicely with  Pastor Jeremy’s sermon series on ‘The Church’.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 (NLT) — 3 As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faithful work = in verse 9 Paul says they turned away idols. That really is the faithful work of faith. When we believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls we turn away from anything else that had first place in our lives. Anything that would keep us from trusting in Jesus. Anything that would get the worship from us that Jesus deserved.

John 6:28–29 (NLT) — 28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” 29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

The faithful work of faith also means that we now respond to the Word of God by believing it and obeying it. Before we were saved we might not have thought very much of the Bible at all but now we believe it and we show that we believe it by obeying it.

I heard a testimony of a guy who said that before he believed in Jesus he would tear out the pages of the bible, just to irritate his Christian neighbor, and put tobacco on them, roll them up into cigarettes and smoke them. “Now, he said, My life is rolled up into reading and obeying that precious word of God”.

When you act on the Word of God your faith will be evident to those around you. That is the faithful work of faith and every true Church will have this quality.

Your loving deeds or another translation says ‘Your labor of love.’ In verse 9 Paul says, “Your loving deeds.” I really like that labor of love translation. Jesus said if we loved him we would obey his commandments. I guess you can obey the commandments and not love, just like I can go and get groceries for my wife and not love. What do I mean by this? Well I can grudgingly go and get groceries and everyone who sees me will see that my heart is not in grocery shopping because of my scowling demeanor. Yes I was laboring but certainly not in love. You might say, “So what you did your job.” Yes I did my job but was my attitude such that people would be attracted to come and talk to me? Was I being a good representative of Jesus? Was I giving Hilltop a good name; I mean would anyone want to come to Hilltop by observing my behavior? Did I give the wrong impression of Cleo; like she was some kind ogre that I was stuck with for the rest of my life? Did my countenance emit the message that Life Sucks, Life Sucks?

When people come to Hilltop do they see the volunteers laboring in love because they are so in love with Jesus? I believe if we can’t labor in love for the Lord Jesus would, “Give it up, don’t bother, I’ll do it myself.”

At your place of employment would people be attracted to you because of your labor of love or would they be repelled because what they see you doing looks like a real chore?

Enduring Hope = In verse 9 Paul says, “Your enduring hope because of Jesus.” The reason humanity is alive today is because each person lives with some kind of hope for a better future. Some hope for a better job, a pay raise or a promotion. Some hope that this year will be better than last year. Some hope that this year will be the end to abortion. Some hope for a better political party. Some hope for world peace or that this will be the year that their favorite baseball team wins the World Series. Some hope to graduate, find the right girl or guy, the perfect career, have enough money to pay the bills, the winning lottery ticket, and an end to cancer.

Martin Luther, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”

The key to living life is having the right hope. If you hope in man you will always be disappointed. Man cannot bring an end to trouble. He cannot bring lasting peace. Man cannot bring prosperity to all. Man cannot satisfy all the needs in the world. We must have hope in the one who can do it all and that is Jesus Christ!

The Church puts her hope for the future in Jesus. The Church knows that somehow Jesus will work out all things for good to those that love him(there is that labor of love again) and are called according to his purpose(there is that work of faith). The Churches hope is that Jesus is coming back. The Churches hope is that the future is going to be eternally bright. And because of this hope the Church will be a magnet that draws people to this hope in Jesus. I mean don’t you like to be around people who act like they are enjoying life? The Church can be the people that are really enjoying life because they know that no matter what the future holds they know the one who holds the future:)

Look at the hope of the three boys in Daniel who were facing being thrown in a blazing hot furnace. To those watching the future looked pretty bleak; however the boys, because of their hope, had a different take on things.

Daniel 3:15–18 (NLT) — 15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Hey Hilltop lets exemplify these qualities of a faith that works, a love that labors, and a hope that endures. After all we are The Church. Let’s be a quality Church instead of just doing enough to get by.

I heard a story about a Christian the other day. An unsaved man said, “I don’t know much about that fellow’s religion, but if I ever get religion, I want his kind.”

Benjamin Franklin, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the low price is forgotten.”

May people leave with a good taste in their mouths after having been to Hilltop.

Psalm 42:11 (NLT) — 11 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!

Be Inspired Hilltop!