Preserving Relationships

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
Date: 07/14/2012 
Lesson: 2
"True evangelism leads to relationships that can stand the test of time."
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Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. However you are tuning in and joining us, we welcome you. We're so glad for those of you who are listening on the radio, wherever you are - it's easy to listen on the radio, right? While you're driving in the car, if you're on a remote island somewhere in the vast oceans of the world, if you're watching live on our website this morning at '' or on the various television networks, however you are joining us - and, of course, those of you here, our visitors, we welcome you. Our first song is #460 - 'as water to the thirsty' - #460. This is from diana in Alaska, nola, merilyn, kenyon, and felicia in australia and also David, Christine, nola, and wendy, sesah in china, makereta in england, alex in hungary, kay in Idaho, tarcia in Illinois, dianne in indonesia, Joseph in ireland, aleia in jamaica, sherry, milta, and immanuel in malaysia, florence in Massachusetts, shiferaw and beulah in the netherlands, Joel in North Carolina, lynette in Oklahoma, rosemarie in the Philippines, darrel and John in trinidad and tobago, callie in turkey, and enessa in zambia.

We're going to sing all three stanzas. #460. Were you thinking about what you were singing there? Is Jesus - do you want Jesus as badly as someone who is dying of thirst in the desert? I hope so. I want that in my life. If you have a favorite song that you would like to sing with us, it's so simple.

Go to our website at '', click on the 'contact us' link and you can send in any of your favorite hymn requests. We are going to learn new ones and this is no exception. This is a very new one and it's a very pretty one. #387 - 'Come o Sabbath day' - #387. This is from jizelle and patrick in antigua and barbuda, valencia and abelino in belize, fernando in brazil, dave in Canada, paige and sherace in england, dorothy in india, alii in malawi, florence in Massachusetts, firanboni in Minnesota, hans in the netherlands, valia in new zealand, Ezra in saint lucia, horace in trinidad and tobago, and norman in zimbabwe.

We are going to sing all three stanzas - #387 - 'come o Sabbath day'. Beautiful. Thank you so much. We are going to learn all those songs that we don't know and there's a lot of requests that have come in. So, those of you - we are learning your songs.

Thank you so much. It is nice to learn new songs because our hymnal has so many and I'm sure most of us don't know them and there's some real jewels in there. So thank you. At this time let's bow our heads for prayer. Father, thank you so much for blessing us with the Sabbath - a day of rest, a day where we can just forget about the cares of the world and let them go and just focus on you and your love and those around us.

Thank you so much for bringing us here to worship you. I pray that you will be with each one here in the sanctuary and our extended Sabbath school family around the world wherever they are. Thank you for loving us, for dying for us, and for giving this opportunity to open up your word and study together. In Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson study is going to be brought to us by pastor harold white.

He is our administrative pastor here at Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. Welcome again. Glad you're here to worship with us this morning. All those joining us from online we welcome you also. It is my privilege to get to communicate with a lot of individuals out there watching our services and we have several members who are actually online with us because they don't live very close to a church or because of some physical problem - they're not able to get out - and so they make Sacramento central their church.

And it's a delight to communicate with many of these people month by month, week by week and it's - just glad that they're a part of our worship service. We have a free offer this morning. It's entitled 'Christ's human nature'. It's offer #703 and all you have to do is call 1-866-788-3966. -866-Study-more.

Okay? And our lesson is the second in the new quarterly entitled 'preserving relationships'. I would ask you if you would take your quarterly, pick it up and join with me in repeating our memory text that is taken from 1 Thessalonians 2, verses 19 and 20. "For what is our hope or joy or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For you are our glory and joy." Preserving relationships - are relationships important? Well, I can tell you I know they're important because the devil works very hard at destroying relationships. He delights when he can do that. He started way back in the Garden of Eden destroying the relationship between man and God.

And that was a perfect relationship until sin came in - it was a perfect relationship - and it also destroyed, or it played havoc with that earthly relationship and he nailed both in one sentence from adam, 'this woman that you gave me'. He nailed both of them, didn't he? Both relationships took a real hit that day when sin entered into the picture. It's a sad thing, but that's how it's worked. I remember back in the sixties, I think, a couple of young men by the name of Simon and garfunkel - some of you remember them - and they sang a song, the words went something like, 'I am a rock. I am an island.

Rock feels no pain. An island never cries.' Or something like that. Well, in the truest sense of the word rocks don't feel pain and islands don't cry, but I suppose their symbolism was meaning that they were a rock and - but we know individuals do cry, don't they? And we know individuals do hurt and individuals hurt and cry when relationships are broken down. So we are not meant to be an island to ourselves. We are created for fellowship - relationships.

That's what we're created for. I was listening to a little segment - I just caught part of it on national public radio - and it was interviewing a man - part of it was interviewing this man that had been, I think, eighteen years on death row. And he was telling about some of the things about death row - a lot of individuals there are confined to solitary confinement and he said when you're in solitary confinement - a lot of these individuals are there for a long time without talking or speaking to anybody and he says it's about the size of a - the room is about the size of a king-sized bed - that's the totality of the room. And he said a lot of people - there are several people that commit suicide under those circumstances. That's how demented people can become when there's no relationships, no fellowship.

We are created to have relationships and the enemy loves to break them down and tear them up and make terrible havoc with relationships. Now, in our lesson, we're talking about relationships established within the context of reaching people for the Kingdom. And by that I mean it talks about the apostle Paul and his relationships to the people of thessalonica and bereans and people in athens - these were individuals that through his labors and cooperating with God, people were brought to Christ and a saving knowledge of salvation and so he was in intense interest to see that these people would grow in their relationship with God and with one another. It's as if these people, then, were new babes in Christ - they were like his children. Parents who have children - it's kind of an automatic bond and it's the same thing when you have the privilege of leading someone to Christ - it creates a bond that is just a wonderful thing - and that was the situation here with Paul.

And the lesson points out that a gang of thugs, along with some religious leaders, came in to excite opposition. I might throw in a very important secret here - well, actually, it's not supposed to be a secret - sometimes it seems like it might be. If you want to stay close to God, here's the key - go to work for him in saving souls. Because if you lead a person to Christ and you want to see that person grow in Christ, it's - you just have this intense understanding and sensing that you better be right with Christ yourself or your influence is going to be negative instead of positive. And so, it's just something that helps you with your own relationship with God.

Paul knew that he could be a castaway - he could be lost. We should know that too. If Paul could be lost - if we turn our back on God, we will be lost. That's a simple - very simple statement. So Paul couldn't stay there in thessalonica so he wrote letters to them, which we know to be the first and second books of Thessalonians.

And as we go to Sunday I'd like to have somebody else read acts chapter 17, verses 5 through 9. Who has that one? Acts chapter 17 - back here - with foster - verses 5 through 9. We have a story of opposition brought about by simple, plain, old jealousy. Every time you have success in the Lord's work, you're going to have somebody who's not going to like it and he's going to bring in some opposition. Okay, foster read that for us please.

But the jews which believed not, moved within thee, took upon them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar and asSaulted the house of jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not they drew jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city crying, 'these that have turned the world upside down are come hither also, whom jason hath received. And these all do contrary to the decrees of caesar saying that there's another king - one Jesus.' And they troubled the people and rulers of the city when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of jason and the other, they let them go." Thank you so much. As we know, sad to say, most wars that have ever been fought in this world have been over religion, have they not? Because one group gets jealous of another group - one group thinks they're right, the other group thinks they're right and before long you have this confrontation.

And even within a church that can happen. One group thinks they're right on a particular issue, another group doesn't and before long there can be opposition. And it even happens with one individual against another. So that was the situation in thessalonica. Preaching - this new preaching - caused some of the current religious leaders to be concerned.

They thought they were going to lose their power and authority. Now, if you've ever been involved in a dispute within a church or any kind of an organization, you know it's not a fun thing. And you know it brings about disastrous results. It can have terrible effects upon God's church. It's unhealthy for God's church.

Jesus' greatest and longest prayer recorded in the Bible, John 17, is for unity and that was his desire. But if you have a group of people who rise up and attack the message - the message of truth - you're not going to have unity very quickly, right? You can always work to bring unity back but it doesn't always happen. The entire group does not come back into unity. Oftentimes there will be a breaking away of some people who separate themselves in one way or another. No matter what you say, no matter what you do, sometimes there is a split that takes place in God's church, unfortunately.

It's always sad to see people go - sometimes people get all upset and they actually, finally leave after there's a big commotion in the church. And this is - you have to take this very carefully - how I say this - it's sad to see them go but in a sense it's good to see them go. We don't like to see anybody ever go, but when they're only there to cause commotion and problems and controversy, then it brings peace back to the church. One of the most significant ways to bring conflict or cast a bad light on an issue is to distort the issue just a little bit - that's all you have to do is just distort it a little bit - and that was the strategy of these leaders that came to bring controversy there to thessalonica. And what it did then was it was this question over whether Christ was the Messiah then that was going to bring the roman authorities into the picture because they thought somebody was going to be raised up to be a king and so that worked to the advantage of these people bringing this opposition.

Diversion through distortion - that's the work of the enemy. Some of the big issues facing the church today are because of that - diversion through distortion. Distortion is such an easy thing to do. You can do it while quoting words of authority, whether it be from the Bible, the Spirit of prophecy, or even the church policy. It is often such a subtle distortion that those who are giving it actually believe it.

Brings to pass the truth of the text in the Bible that they believe a lie. There are people that believe something so much because they have an agenda to push forward that they actually believe it with all their heart even though it was wrong. That's when you have serious problems in God's church. Have people, in the past, in this church - not this church - in the seventh day adventist church, have they brought in some questions about, let's say, the sanctuary service teaching? Yes they have. And they - what they do is they get a little distortion here and a little distortion here and pretty soon they have a body of believers saying, 'all this truth - this teaching that the church has been teaching over a hundred years isn't true.

' And so in the end you have a body of people leaving the church because they begin to believe a little something different. The enemy accomplishes exactly what he wants to do in those kinds of situations. Our lesson is entitled 'preserving relationships' but preserving relationships must be based upon truth, right? Jesus is the truth. If we truly rallied around Jesus - if we all truly rally around Jesus then we would have preserved relationships. We can have differences of opinions on certain things, but if we are connected to Jesus we can work through those differences.

That's what God wants from his people. But as soon as there's someone who takes to his or her own road, you will find failing relationships. We shouldn't hurt one another in the church, should we? We shouldn't hurt one another. I've done it. I've had to repent.

I've hurt a person or two in the church in my 40 years of being a member and I've have to repent of it. It's not something we should do. We shouldn't hurt each other. I remember a song my parents used to sing, which - or at least I know they like this song - and that goes back a long time. Some of you might remember - I just remember some of the words but it went like this: 'you always hurt the one you love.

The one you shouldn't hurt the most of all.' Or something like that. Do you remember that song anybody? You always hurt the one you love, the one you shouldn't hurt at all. And that's the way it is in relationships. Relationships - people who actually love each other - sometimes they end up hurting each other and that's why marriages fail. That's why people have problems in any kind of business venture or any kind of a church.

So we shouldn't hurt those we love. We should work - in fact, I think we need to be intentional about not hurting people. Intentional - by that I mean something like this: we need to be intentional about showing our love for those we should love. Case in point - this little story - man and wife they hadn't been married all that long, but finally they got to the place where they could afford to buy a new car. It was an exciting day for this young couple - buying their first new car together.

There's nothing like the smell of a new car, right? So they had this new car and they were so excited - so happy. And they went driving in this new car and enjoyed it. Well, the first time that the wife was driving this new car all by herself she got into a fender bender and it was her fault. She was just devastated. She was crying.

She got out of the car and this other gentleman who was an older gentleman - he was really trying to be real nice to her - 'oh, it's going to be all right. We're - nobody's hurt. You know, we can fix these cars. Everything will be all right.' And she was just trying to calm down - he got her calmed down a little bit and he said, 'okay, now we, you know, we need to get our papers out and exchange information' and she said, 'yeah, yeah, I know.' So she went to the glove compartment and pulled out the papers and she opened up this folder where the, you know, the title should be and the registration and the insurance card and she saw a handwritten note in big letters and it said this: 'remember honey, in case of an accident it's you I love, not the car.' Woah, that's a good husband, isn't it? That's a case of intentional love. That's good love.

That's intentional love. 'In case of an accident it's you I love, not this car.' Well, that's how we should be with those in our church, with those whom we work for - but some say, 'well, how am I to love someone who is teaching error? I better set them straight.' Well, there's something to that. We need to try to bring people into agreement with the truth of God's Word, but it has to be done in love. Right? Jesus loved those who were hammering nails into his hands and feet. Jesus loved those who were mocking him, shoving a crown of thorns down upon his head, and because he loved them and didn't retaliate, some of those people actually accepted him as their Savior.

Had he only retaliated, nobody would have accepted it. Any time you start retaliating you ruin everything. I've done it. You probably have done it too. It just ruins everything.

But his actions, Christ's I'm talking about. Were the highest degree of an intentional love. That needs to be our highest aim. Would you say so? But we could conclude very quickly that the leaders in thessalonica had lost sight of this kind of intentional love and it is an easy thing to do. No doubt, being religious leaders, they had ambition.

They had plans, they had agendas - they had all these kind of things and - but after a while, if you're not careful, it begins to muddy the waters. Your plan and agendas and your own ideas begin to take precedence over true religiosity. It's so easy to set our own agendas. Now, don't get me wrong, we need ambition. We need plans.

We need goals. We need all of those, right? But we need all those focused upon the love of God - around the love of God. The real purpose includes helping people establish right relationships with God and with fellow believers. Now, if somebody comes forward with a different plan - as it seems that the apostle Paul did - we should study it out - it seems like he did. He studied it out.

He examined it. And if there was some truth in it he would have embraced it - he would have brought it in and embraced it. But if it wasn't truth he had to face it and that's what we have to do from time to time. We have to deal with error as we are introduced with it. And as we move on to Monday's lesson - it's entitled 'the episode in berea' and over half of the lesson continued in basically what we've been talking about - another turmoil going on because of opposition.

It brings out, though, that the persecution can be a two-way street. What it brings out in the lesson is, yes, opposition comes in, but sometimes the believers were acting in such a way that it almost aggravated this opposition and brought it to a boiling point. They were as much to blame, in some respects, as those coming in with the error. And so, it points out how the persecution that Paul met in thessalonica was malicious. There were some of the new believers that added to the problem with their unruly action.

Paul chastises them. That is something you must do if you're a true believer and you really love people. Paul loved them. He chastised them lovingly, forcefully - but now to the bereans. We have a different situation here.

They are much more exemplar to the extent that we have bookstores named after them today, right? The bereans - they were a very model group of people that really embraced the Word of God. Will somebody read a text for us - acts 17, verses 10 through 15? Who has that one? Right over here. Acts 17 - and while they're looking that up, I would just like to say that we have two different aspects here to the bereans. One, we're told about how admirable they were in believing the Word of God and the other part of this has to do with the challenge that was coming their way. So let's read acts 17:10-15.

"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and silas by night unto berea, who coming thither went into the synagogue of the jews. These were more noble than those in thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed, also of honorable women, which were Greeks, and of men not a few. But when the jews of thessalonica had knowledge that the Word of God was preached of Paul to berea, they came thither also and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul, to go as it were, to the sea; but silas and timotheus abode there still.

And they that conducted Paul brought him unto athens and receiving a commandment unto silas and timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed." Okay, thank you very much. When you have some solid commitments to the Lord you're going to have some opposition rise up. You can count on it every time. So the people of berea were good, solid, Bible-believing people - their opposition came quickly and swiftly from the other city - some of the jews came. But, in a sense, their opposition was not that bad.

It gets worse. There are worse situations. They were hit straight on and they knew what was happening but there are kinds of oppositions that are more subtle and a little more difficult to deal with. I'll give you a couple cases in point: one time, in another conference, a long time ago, actually, in a church we were going to have some meetings. We rented a shut-down theater right down in the main part of the city - it was an old theater that had been shut down - it made a perfect place for some meetings.

The evangelist had a whole bunch of screens and projectors and so it was just a perfect place. And I had just met a young man and we kind of started studying and so I invited him to the meetings and he said yeah he would come but he didn't have a ride so we provided a ride for him. Well that was good and it was exciting - we were glad he was coming, but we found out about five six nights - I don't know how many it was - down in the road that after the meetings he would go out and he found out who the visitors were and he was trying to talk to them privately on the side and tearing down everything that was being taught in the meetings. Yeah. That rascal.

We even provided him a work - a ride to the church. Well, we stopped that pretty quick. We stopped giving him a ride. But that was - that's how the enemy works, isn't it? That's right. Well, there's another situation that I found out one time.

There was an individual in a church and he was a smooth - smooth operator, let me tell you. He knew the message frontwards and backwards and first time I really had a chance to sit down and visit with him I felt an uneasiness - that there just wasn't something quite right here - it was almost like he was too smooth - and eventually it was found out that he actually was involved in these - what are they called? Pansy - or ponzi schemes, right? And he'd go around to different churches - all over - not just one state but many different states. He'd go to different churches and get these people and have them give him money for this ridiculous thing that wasn't even there - some investment that wasn't even there. And so that really hurt a lot of people. That was very subtle and insidious - the thing he was doing.

And so, opposition comes in all forms and shapes and sizes and we have to be very careful. And you recall the apostle Paul - he even had to point out a few times in his writings that you need to avoid - he actually names them - so and so because they are people that will lead you astray. Just don't have anything to do with them. Now that's a sad point when you have to say something like that about any human being. Maybe there was like - maybe that happens in our day - yes we can still pray for them, but if we hang around them and associate with them on a continual basis, they're going to hurt us and not help us.

Down through the decades - our church, of course - there have been people who have gotten off track and we call what they have done - they've made little offshoots. People that once believed, so to speak, but they don't believe everything the Bible teaches in the same way anymore. The church is not perfect but its message from the Bible is perfect and back in Bible times, which our lesson is referring to, the special area of conflict, of course, was whether Jesus was the Messiah or not. That was the big issue. Well in our day - of course that's still part of the issue - but is there a remnant message for these times or is there not? And there is.

There's not a remnant to the remnant to the remnant to the remnant as some of these offshoot groups would try to make you think. There is a biblical remnant message for the very last days in which we should all embrace and be one in unity. And so, as we move on to Tuesday's lesson entitled 'interlude in athens', we find Paul in this city. What did he do? Well, he didn't start preaching and teaching, he actually went around and studied the city. He went around and seeing, what kind of people these were, what interested them and - that's a good thing to do because he knew then how to relate to them more perfectly.

Ask a salesman if that kind of thing is important. Do you have to know your people before you can sell something to them? It's very helpful, let me tell you that. I have this relative by marriage who is a super salesman. He's a nice guy - he's not one of those pushy guys, he actually really loves people and he does things that you and I would think would be a total waste of time, but he always leads his company in sales. Because he is genuine with the people - he really knows what makes them tick and he relates to them on their level and that's what Paul was trying to do here.

He tries to relate to the people on their level - know what kind of people they were. By the time Paul is invited to address these people and he knew them well enough that he knew a good place to start was the subject of creation. Is that a good thing to do - to start on something we can agree upon? Sure. We're told that many times. Start on things with people that you can agree upon so that you can kind of develop a relationship so that by the time you come to the subjects that are not so easy maybe that will help.

But even after all that - and Paul didn't take the Bible and beat them over the head with the Scripture - but even after that they brought it to an abrupt end because they could see that he was teaching things that they didn't believe in whatsoever. Try as we might, we cannot preserve all relationships. Even though that's the subject of our lesson, some relationships are impossible to preserve. If they're not going to live and teach and believe in the truth then we have a hard time having a preserved relationship. As I went through this lesson I kept asking myself, 'why is this lesson called 'preserving relationships'? Why is this lesson called that? We're talking about all kinds of situations where relationships could not be preserved.

' Well, I came to the conclusion that even though that's true, our highest aim should be to try to preserve all relationships, no matter what the opposition is, to try to bring about some resolve. I've known of several situations where I've had to part company with an individual saying, 'I guess we will believe - we will agree to disagree.' And that's the only thing we ever agreed on - we agreed to disagree. Some place - some people I never even got to be able to say that sentence, they just didn't want to have anything to do - so we had to go our separate ways. If Paul couldn't do it, can we expect to preserve all relationships? No. Paul was an extremely learned man, but all the knowledge in the world is not enough to convert a heart to truth.

It's good to have all the knowledge and experience possible but it's still up to the Holy Spirit to change people's hearts. If we read the acts of the apostles - the book 'acts of the apostles' about Paul's experience in athens, you'll find there that there were people that tended to believe what he was teaching, but because of their intellectual pride they did not accept it. But it also says in that book that Paul's labors were not in vain, that a man by the name of dionysius, one of the most prominent citizens, along with some others, accepted the Gospel message and united themselves fully with the believers. That's on page 240 and on page it goes on to say this, "God's servants, which includes all of us, are to improve every opportunity to communicate truth to man." Some of the world's most eminent men even. "Some will acknowledge their ignorance of the things of God and will take their place as humble learners at the feet of Jesus, the master teacher.

" So yes, we are to learn as much as we can and so that we can have this kind of rapport with people in high places even so that we might introduce them to the master teacher. Well, on to Wednesday and the arrival in corinth. Between athens and corinth, Paul had an epiphany moment. Someone look up - has, I believe, 1 Corinthians 2, verses 2 through 4. "For I determine not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.

And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and with much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." Thank you very much. Paul realized that unless people can be brought to the cross, they will never be ready for the crown. Can you Mark that down in your mind? Unless people can be brought to the cross they'll never be ready for the crown. He came to that understanding.

Unless you can get Jesus in there, all the reasoning in the world won't make sense to people. Spiritually things are understood by spiritually-minded people and the opposite is likewise. You can know the doctrines - all the doctrines - frontwards and backwards, you can know the time prophecies of the book of Daniel and know the exact time when Jesus would be crucified, but unless you have been crucified with Jesus at the cross, all the rest means nothing. That's what Paul came to understand. You realize how important that is? That's the most important - I am determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified should be the theme of our lives.

Yes, teach all the teachings, teach all the prophecies, but with that concept in the back of our mind and the front of our mind, in the top of our mind and every place else in our mind. I've seen through the years that people have an - some people have intellectually accepted Bible teachings. They get excited about it - 'oh these prophecies are so exciting! How they've been fulfilled and how the things that are coming' but then the test comes that they are called for sacrifices and they take off down the road because they've never really been converted to Jesus. Converted to doctrines is one thing that won't get you through, but converted to Jesus will help you be converted on doctrines too. All doctrines are important.

All prophecies are likewise important. They both help to establish the great foundation underneath us but that foundation must have the cornerstone. Who's the cornerstone? Absolutely. Without the cornerstone you have no foundation. You have nothing else.

Paul was not blind, though, as to what would happen by even doing this - 'determining not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.' Again, in that book 'acts of the apostles' page 245 it says, "Paul well knew how his message would be regarded by both the jews and the Greeks of corinth. We preach Christ crucified, he admitted unto the jews, a stumbling block and unto the Greeks foolishness. Among his Jewish hearers there were many who would be angered by the message he was about to proclaim. In the estimation of the Greeks, His Words would be absurd folly. He would be looked upon as weak-minded for attempting to show how the cross could have any connection with the elevation of the race or the salvation of mankind.

But to Paul the cross was the one object of supreme interest." Can you say amen to that? That's right. He knew that people who would accept the truth of the cross would be cemented in truth and they would be ready for full surrender. The lesson points out how Paul did not take the same approach to every city that he went because he had to adapt to the type of personalities and people that he was dealing with. There is this concept of being able to adapt to different cultures and there is an area we have to be very careful on. Yes, we need to adapt, but all of our adaptations must not show any adaptations to the truth, right? That's kind of one of the big issues facing our church today.

We've go to be careful of this culture and be careful of this culture, but in so doing you kind of take away some of the truth that this church has been teaching for over 100 years. That's the point - we have to be very careful. We are told that soul-winning is a science and indeed it is. You study people. You work with people and you study them - what makes them tick? You see something that is said and you see a look come on their face and you know, 'wow, that's an area that they're not too excited about' or 'that's an area they're really excited about' and then you have to adapt your methods and teaching to that individual.

But, it does remind me in the end, no matter how experienced we get, it's still the holy spirit that brings people to Christ. And you know what happens? It's kind of a fine line - kind of a funny thing in a sense - you work with people and you've got a lot of experience - such as evangelists, people who have been doing this for 40 years - they've got a lot of experience but it's still the Holy Spirit, right? Well, moving on to Thursday's, which finally does get us to thessalonica, 'Paul reveals his heart' and the title of Thursday - that's the title of Thursday. Somebody has Thessalonians 2:17? Does somebody have that? Over here. And that's 2:17 and also 1 Thessalonians 3:10 and this text gives us a genuine sense of how Paul felt about the people there in that city. It's really quite amazing to me because I've been a pastor of many, many churches - quite a few - let's say maybe twelve, fifteen - and a lot of people in those churches and I have had some wonderful loving relationships, but I have always wondered to myself, 'do I love them all as much as Paul loved?' He seemed to really love people.

Okay, we're ready for those texts. "But we brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more earnestly to see your face with great desire." And then 3:10, "night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith." Thank you very much. Paul was an individual who could lay it on the line if something needed to be really put out there and bring people to a knowledge and recognition that something's wrong and something needs to be made right, but he was just as willing to share his emotional feelings for the people he loved and I think that's important for all of us. He didn't want to risk anyone whom he had labored for for being lost. He could reveal his inner emotions about his intense longing, as he says, 'I have an intense longing to see you, but even though I can't I'll write these letters and I'll put as much pathos in these letters as humanly possible.

' For what is the difference between - it wasn't just mere sentimentalism that Paul had for people, it was genuine love. But you say what's the difference between sentimentalism and love? Well, you go to webster again and webster says something like this for sentimental: "having or showing such feelings in an excessive, superficial, or maudlin way or influence more by emotions than reason." By the way, the definition for maudlin is - means foolishly and tearfully. Is there a lot of sentimentalism in this world today? Whew, you see it all the time - people getting so emotional, tearfully and - yes, we can't help but sometimes to be that emotional, but there's a lot of sentimentalism even in regards to understanding truth and the Word of God. And one of the most fearful aspects of sentimentalism versus genuine love is when what's happening is referred to the working of the Holy Spirit. It causes people to make such statements.

We sense such a deep commitment to the Holy Spirit's leading in making this decision when the decision made was totally contrary to what the Word of God says. I've had people tell me, 'oh, the Spirit - the Holy Spirit just really was poured out on me and I know now I don't have to keep - one day I can keep holy as any day. I don't care. It doesn't matter. He says you can keep Wednesday holy if you want to.

That's what the Holy Spirit told me. I had such a rich experience with the Holy Spirit. He and I are so' - that's sentimentalism. Gushy emotionalism but not based upon truth. It's important that everything we teach is based upon truth.

Well, how can one claim to have the Holy Spirit's leading when it goes contrary to the Word of God? Acts 5:32 tells us the holy spirit is given to whom? To those that obey. Thank you. That's right. Paul's love was genuine. He wasn't afraid to express his love and he wasn't afraid to always give the truth either.

When we have both genuine love and no fear for expressing the truth, then we really have the real thing and we can have wonderful emotions then. I'm excited. I have wonderful emotions that God is doing a lot of good things in this world - in the lives of all you people right here this morning. I know God is doing wonderful things for you. Does that make me happy? It makes me very happy.

So emotions are a good thing as long as it's based on truth. The lesson makes a statement about Paul recognizing that, of course, he was only human and humanly speaking, maybe he had a sense of his personal worth in the success or non-success of how well his converts were doing. Now only soul winners can understand the concept, I suppose, behind what is being said there. It is so disappointing to see someone who has embraced truth to walk away from it. It is.

I remember just very early in my ministry I had a rich experience with a young couple. They were a delight. I mean, they studied - they loved to study and they came into church and were baptized and, I don't know, three or four years later I moved to another district and then to another. It was probably about ten years - I got word that this couple had left the church. Oh, it was like a knife in my heart.

Why? How could that happen? And then it was probably at least another ten years, maybe fifteen, I got a call one day from this gentleman - I was clear on the other side of the country from where they lived - but they called me up and said, 'pastor white, we're back in the church and better and stronger than we ever were.' Now, I don't know if that has anything to do with my self worth or not, but I can tell you it brought a whole lot of joy to my heart. I mean, that was such an exciting day, I was just hopping and jumping around. It's all right to have emotions, right? As long as it's based on truth. I had a lot of emotions that day because these people I dearly love are back with it. And that's exciting.

I don't know if the average church member has heard statements like this: 'well, pastor so and so' or 'this evangelist - all they're concerned about is Numbers. All they want is Numbers. 'Oh we had fifty baptisms last - all they're concerned about is Numbers.' Well, I can understand where they're coming from and what people - why people might say things like that, but in 36 years of ministry and all the evangelists I have know and all the pastors that I've had the privilege of knowing, I think it's a very small number of people and I wouldn't be - I wouldn't venture to be the judge of who is and who isn't, but I think it's a very small number of people that I've known are not - are only concerned about Numbers and not souls. Every number to that pastor or every number to that evangelist represents a human being that has come to Jesus Christ and will have salvation because they came to Jesus Christ. Yeah, I love to keep a running tally of how many baptisms God blesses our church - but it's not for Numbers, I can tell you that.

Because it's what God is doing for his people. It's what God even wants to do more for his people. You know, our lesson brings out a quotation, I think it's on the last page actually - Friday's maybe. Let me see if I can find that - yeah. It's taken from 'testimonies to the church' volume 9, page 189 and 190.

This is a text - or quotation we should all keep in mind. It says, "if we would humble ourselves before God and be kind and courteous and tender hearted and pitiful" - what would happen? "There would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one." Can you imagine this? You know, I think God blessed us last year with somewhere around baptisms - if we were following this there could have been 8000. Woah, wouldn't that have been something? That's something to get emotional about - excited about. That's what's going to happen one of these days. All of us are going to become kind and humble and tender hearted and courteous and pitiful, right? By God's grace that's how we're all going to become.

Then it goes on to say, "but though professing to be converted we carry around with us a bundle of self that we regard as altogether too precious to be given up - it is our privilege to lay this burden at the feet of Christ and in his place take the character and similitude of Christ. The Savior is waiting for us to do this." Wow. That's pretty good, isn't it? If we are tender hearted and pitiful and courteous and kind, think what God will do for us and in and through us. That's pretty exciting stuff. The free offer for today is called, 'Christ's human nature' - it's written by Joe Crews and it's offer #703 - 7-0-3 and all you have to do is call -866-study-more or -866-788-3966.

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