The Apostolic Example

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:4
Date: 08/04/2012 
Lesson: 5
"By revealing what the true motive in ministry must be, Paul can help us all to examine our hearts and lives in light of the gospel."
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Welcome to Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church for another one of our weekly central study hours where we join together as a family here at Sacramento central and our extended family across the United States and around the world. There are so many of them that join you - join us every week and we love hearing from you. And today we have a special treat for you. Right next to me is Michael harris. He is a Christian recording artist who has had a music ministry for the last 25 years.

He's from ventura, California down south and he has an incredible testimony of how Jesus took his heart and changed him and he is a completely different man from how he used to be. Today he's here with his wife amber and he will be giving us a concert later this evening, but right how he is going to bless us with two pieces - 'i'd rather have Jesus' with 'nearer still nearer' as a medley and then 'turn your eyes upon Jesus'. Over to you Michael. Feel free to sing with me whenever you choose to, okay? You know I'd rather have Jesus. There's nothing in this world that I'd rather have other than him.

Do you love him this morning? Did you come here burdened down with the cares of this world? Well, I encourage you to turn your eyes unto Jesus and look full into his wonderful merciful face. Sing with me, won't you? Happy Sabbath everyone. Thank you Michael. What a blessing. Let's bow our heads for prayer.

Father in Heaven, we ask, right now, that you would take our hearts and our eyes and that we would see your wonderful face - that the things of this world would become strangely dim as we focus on your glory and your grace. And it is because of that grace that we are here this morning - that we are breathing. Father thank you so much for loving us in spite of ourselves. Fill us with your spirit. Fill this place.

Be with our speaker that you will be with Pastor Doug and continue to bless him with health and strength as he ministers to so many people around this planet. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study will be brought to us by our senior pastor here at Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you debbie. And thank you Michael for leading our singing today.

Beautiful. the Lord gave him a set of pipes like a cathedral. Welcome. I want to welcome those who are visiting. I know that we've got some friends from all different corners of the earth that are here today and we're delighted that you're studying with us.

I always want to welcome the big class that is watching via television, satellite, internet - and we're glad that you're studying with the class today. In a moment we're going to be getting into our lesson dealing with - lesson #5 in our quarterly. We've been studying 1 and 2 Thessalonians and in case you have wondered, the plan within the seventh day adventist church is we sort of rotate through our subjects every five years with the idea that we will cover the scope of the Bible in those five years and then we start over again - though it might be from a few different angles. The idea is, in the Sabbath school quarterlies, to cover the primary teachings of Scripture sort of from bow to stern. Right now we happen to be dealing with the books of and 2 Thessalonians.

A couple more brief announcements - we generally have a free offer - to help enhance your study. This is one I think everybody - if you've not read it, you should read it. It's called 'the surrender of self' - because that's really the core of what it means to be a Christian - 'the surrender of self' - this is a classic book by Joe Crews. We'll send it to you for free - and just ask for it, it's offer #153. When you call in, if you call, the number is 866-788-3966 - we say it because some are listening in on the radio, otherwise you can read it on your screen - 866-study-more - offer #153.

That number again is -788-3966 - We'll send you the book 'the surrender of self'. Now I mentioned last week - there's sort of an ongoing discussion right now on a pivotal issue - a number of churches have grappled with 'what does the Bible say about the distinction of roles in men and women in the church and in the family?' Our church is grappling with that right now and there's going to be some meetings that are coming up where our leadership are going to be talking about that. I think every member ought to study these things for themselves. There's a website that I would recommend, it's called '' - 'Christ or culture' - and it'll be up there on the screen if you'd like to check that out. And - now to our lesson - 'the apostolic example' - lesson #5 - 'the apostolic example' - and we have a memory verse.

And the memory verse is from Thessalonians 2, verse 4. Now, our study today is going to be focusing on the first book of Thessalonians, chapter 2, verses through 12, so we're going to get all through that if we can. And I'm reading from the new king James version. Thessalonians 2:4 - you're supposed to join me. Are you ready? "But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

" Now, you know what I'd like to do, with your permission, we've done this before? Sometimes I get carried away rambling and become hypnotized by my own voice and we don't get through all the days in the lesson - I know that happens to Sabbath school teachers across the country, but I want to at least read the verses that we are assigned today, so if you'd turn in your Bible - it's just twelve verses, it won't take long - turn to 1 Thessalonians. We're going to read chapter 2, verses 1 through 12. I'll just read it to you and you can listen - follow along - because then we're going to back up and we're breaking that up over the next four or five days' study. Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 1, "for you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the Gospel of God in much conflict.

For our exhortation did not come from deceit or uncleanness, nor was it in guile. But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness - God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.

So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the Gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the Gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory." There we go. We could close shop now - we covered our verses. At least we read them.

Now you notice in the first section, chapter 1 - Thessalonians - it was dealing with the perspective of salvation from the church. Now in chapter 2 Paul is actually saying not only do we have the teachings that we gave you, we have our example that we gave you. And he does something that's a little awkward, but he talks about the good example that they lived as apostles among the church there in thessalonica. Now, I thought it'd be a good idea to talk about 'what is an apostle?' Do we have deacons in the church? Deaconesses? Elders? Disciples? Apostles? It needs a little clarification. So people aren't too sure.

What's an apostle? Do they still exist? Let me tell you about the word - apostolos - it's a delegate; someone specifically an ambassador of the Gospel who has been officially commissioned or a messenger of Christ, one that is sent. Now, technically, you might say we still have people who are charged in a unique way by God and sent by God, but sometimes we think of them as administrators. If you're a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints - do they still have apostles? Oh yes they do, yeah. They have people that are apostles. I listen to the radio - every now and then I hear a radio preacher and he names himself as an apostle - he calls himself an apostle.

In the time of the Bible the apostles were specifically people that were charged and ordained and set aside by Jesus with a very special work. He had an intimate relationship with them. He appeared to them personally. He trained them. They lived with him - remember, they said, 'master, where do you abide?' He said, 'come and see.

' And they stayed with him. So they camped out with him with a few interruptions, for about three and a half years and he especially trained this group of twelve. Now there's a little mystery here - and I'm not the last word on this, I'll tell you right now, but when Judas hung himself, of course, they were down to eleven apostles. Peter, evidently thought that was a problem because before the Holy Spirit is poured out in acts chapter 1, Peter says, 'Jesus wanted twelve of us to represent the twelve tribes of Israel' - who were at this point scattered - but the number twelve seemed to be important. He said, 'we're missing one.

' So they looked among the men who knew Jesus - some of them - maybe the seventy disciples that Christ had sent out - he not only sent out the twelve, he sent out the seventy. Some of those who were another group that had spent a lot of time with Jesus of the disciples - and they picked two men from among those seventy and then they cast lots - they said, 'Lord, show us which of these two you've chosen to replace Judas.' And matthias is chosen. Now you never hear from him again in the Bible and all of a sudden you go to chapter 9 and - well, he appears at the end of chapter 7 - he is converted in chapter 9 - Paul appears. Jesus appears to him. Paul refers to himself - Romans chapter 1:1, "Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle.

" So even while the brother of Jesus, James - not the brother of John - the brother of Jesus, James, was an administrator - he was the ceo of the church in Jerusalem - I don't know that he referred to himself as an apostle, but Paul was an apostle. And so these were a group that Christ had especially filled with his spirit and given a special task. In that caliber, you don't really have them in the world today, but we do have church leaders that are kind of democratically chosen and - I don't know that we have exactly twelve of them - so it is a little different than when you read about the Bible apostles. And then Paul says, 'not only did we teach among you, we lived the life among you and, even though we suffered, we continued to proclaim the message boldly.' Now that's our first section for Monday's study, 'boldness in suffering' - 'boldness in suffering'. And again, we're going to read 1 Thessalonians 2, verses 1 and 2, "for you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.

But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi," - what happened in Philippi? If you read in chapter 16, Paul and silas cast the devil out of a young lady who had the Spirit of divination and that so upset her handlers that had been sort of pimping her prophecies - is what it amounts to - that they became enraged and they stirred up a riot and Paul and silas were thrown in jail after first being beaten terribly and put in the stocks and there they sang praises to God, the prison doors were opened, they preached to the jailer, he was baptized - and his household - and finally the magistrate sent them out of town. They were terribly treated. You think after going through something like that you'd be a little more quiet about preaching the Gospel, but no, they boldly March into thessalonica and they start preaching again. They would not be intimidated. Jesus said, if they don't receive you in this city, go to the next one.

' But you've got to be careful not to become gun-shy if you're persecuted or if someone makes fun of your faith. Salesman that do door-to-door work - or any salesman, really, if you're rejected once or twice do you say, 'well, I'm afraid to try again'? You can't be intimidated by that. You need to maintain that boldness because you believe in what you're doing and what you're saying. And so, being bold for Christ it's like the many martyrs of the faith - they would try to convert the people that were torturing them. Instead of denying their faith, they'd go up a gear.

They just wanted to get the message out. What does bold mean? 'Fearless and daring; courageous; requiring or exhibiting courage and bravery; clear and distinct to the eye; conspicuous' - if someone's wearing bold colors they're not kind of faded monochrome. - 'Steep or abrupt in grade or terrain, like bold cliffs.' Christians ought to be bold. Now, let me give you some verses that help illustrate that. First I want to see who has acts 4:31? We're going to get you a microphone and get you queued up.

All right, back here. Dr. Derose. Acts 4:31 - and before you read that, I want you to notice acts :29 - just before verse 31 - notice what's happening - the apostles are praying and they pray for boldness to preach and verse 29 - acts chapter 4 - it says, "now, Lord, behold their threatenings, and grant unto your servants that with all boldness we may speak thy word." Why are they praying that they won't become timid? They had been put in prison, they had been threatened, they had been beaten - saying 'do not preach in the name of this man anymore.' The disciples said, 'Lord, God forbid that we should stop after Jesus died to empower us to get this message out. Help us not be intimidated by the enemy.

' And so they were praying specifically for what? Boldness. I wonder if we need to pray for that again. All right, read for us acts 4:31, please. "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together and they were all filled with the holy ghost and they spake the Word of God with boldness." Now, another time in acts when they prayed and the place was shaken, they spoke what? In tongues. Does it say anything about tongues here? No - they pray, they're filled with the Holy Spirit, the place is shaken, but what's happening here? They're probably speaking in their regular home language but now they're speaking with boldness.

They weren't going to have the message diluted or be watered down. And so, this is a gift of the Spirit, you notice that? It's not just that God gives you the truth, he then gives you the courage to boldly share the truth. You know, I think that it's true that when you're bold in sharing the message you might invite some ridicule, you might invite some suffering, you might invite some persecution, but you will also invite some souls to Christ. People will notice when you get right out there and say it and don't be afraid. Who was it? Peter marshall - that famous preacher in the 20th century - he said, "twentieth century Christians are like deep-sea divers encased in suits designed for many fathoms Marching bravely forth to pull the plugs out of bathtubs.

" So you've probably seen some of these navy divers that had the big bronze helmet on and they had the heavy gear - they looked like they were going into space and they put all that on so they can go pull the plug out of a bathtub and he said that's how Christians are today - we've been prepared with the armour of God, but we don't do much with it. I thought that was a great word picture. All right, talking about boldness a little more, Hebrews , verse 16, "let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." You know, it's not only that we're to preach boldly, we're to pray boldly. We should pray for big things. You notice what they did in acts chapter 4? They not only were asking for boldness to preach, they prayed boldly for it.

And they asked for it right then and there and they got it right then and there. Have you ever - you ever prayed just before you said something to somebody because you don't know what to say? Did you remember the presence of God? You're talking to someone, you might see a door opened to share your faith and you're thinking, 'oh, not sure what to say.' And you pray. It happened to me this week where I was talking to somebody and I wasn't sure whether or not I should say something and I said, 'Lord, let them open this door by saying 'this and this' if you want me to broach this subject.' And right after I prayed that in my heart, they then said the very thing I was hoping they'd say. And I said, 'okay, praise the Lord!' Then I could bold in what I shared because I thought, 'that was a green light from God right there. So, sometimes if you're not sure, pray.

You can come boldly before the throne and say, 'Lord, do you want me to?' And usually the Holy Spirit is prodding you. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is saying, 'doug, don't say what you're thinking to say.' That's harder for me to control - is the prudence to not say something when you shouldn't. Also it takes the Holy Spirit. All right, let's - Ephesians chapter 6, verse 18. Now in Ephesians chapter 6 you've got the armor of God and one of the implements or part of that armor of God it says, "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints - and for me, that utterance may be given to me" - Paul is saying, 'you know, I've been beaten, I've been shipwrecked, I've been stoned because of the Gospel.

I pray that I don't become calloused and shy. He says, pray for me "that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains;" - now he's saying, 'look, I'm imprisoned by rome and every now and then people come and they interview me or I can talk through the bars on the door and I pray that I will not be afraid to tell the truth knowing that I'm going to be tried' - he was in prison for preaching and he said, 'I pray that being in prison for preaching - because I want to be released - won't intimidate me so I stop preaching boldly.' Can you understand why he's saying that? And I'm not done. "Open my mouth boldly that I might make known the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." You know love can make a person bold. If you're trying to get the president's attention to have somebody reprieved from jail or pardoned, you'd probably be a little more bold in getting to the president if it was your child. It was love for Jesus that gave Joseph of arimathea boldness.

You can read in Mark 15, verse , "Joseph, an honorable man, a counselor, which also waited for the Kingdom of God, came and went boldly to pilate and craved the body of Jesus. He Marched right in before pilate and said, 'you know that man you crucified this morning? He's dead now and I want the body.' And he was one of the priests. Do you think Jonah was a little bolder in preaching in nineveh after going through his experience with that detour through a fish? Would that make you a little bolder knowing that God - I mean if God goes through all that to get you to preach somewhere is he going to bless your efforts? And because of Jonah's boldness you have the largest revival ever recorded in the Bible. You never have a revival like nineveh, where everybody from the King to the commoner, from the children to the animals, fasts and prays and repents of their sins. I mean, they put sackcloth on the cows.

I mean, it was a big revival and he was afraid nothing would happen - and the whole town was changed. Why? I think he went in there and said, 'forty days nineveh's going to be destroyed.' That takes boldness - especially if you're a jew and you're going into an assyrian city. But the audacity of Jonah - that and his partially decomposed clothing from the fish - might have added to the weight of his message but it gave him some boldness. Somebody wrote one time, 'audacity augments courage'. An example of that would be, for Americans among us, you remember the story of captain jones - what's his name? John Paul jones - thank you very much - I almost said, 'pope John Paul'.

I didn't want to do that. I knew that wasn't right. John Paul jones - in that sea battle - his ship the bonhomme richard - was on fire - you see, I remember the name of the ship - and the british captain said, 'do you surrender now? Your ship's on fire - it's going down.' And he said, 'surrender? We've not yet begun to fight!' And the audacity and boldness of that declaration inspired his men so they jumped onto the british ship and they took it. And so sometimes that's what it takes is you need some boldness. And I think we need more boldness among the members and among the clergy to inspire people not to be timid about our message.

It's not just another one of many messages in the world, it is the message for the world today. God has committed to us the serum for the disease of the world. All right, next day - 'the character of the apostles' - someone look up for me Matthew , verse 4 - who has that? "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." Now here Jesus is talking about religious leaders that talk the talk but they don't walk the walk. Jesus spent a lot of time talking about religious leaders that drew near with their mouth but their hearts were far. They, you know, put on a pretty good show, they prayed pretentiously, and they fasted up front and all of it was for show.

Paul is contrasting the spiritual hypocrisy - the religious hypocrisy - that was so common in their age and he said, 'you saw the way we lived' - and notice he said, 'not in guile or in deceit.' How many remember when Jesus saw nathaniel coming to him - he made a declaration? He had never met nathaniel before - Philip brings him to Jesus and you look in John 1:47 - what does Jesus say? It says, "Jesus saw nathaniel coming to him and he said to him, 'behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile." - No deceit. Here is someone who is honest in the heart. He is sincere. You know, the Bible tells us that the 144,000 - by the way, which is twelve times 12,000 - listen carefully - the 144,000 basically have the same character as the apostles. It says, 'they follow the lamb wherever he goes.

' It says, 'in their mouth is no guile, no deceit.' Same thing Jesus just said about nathaniel who was one of the twelve. And so Paul is saying the apostles - one of the reasons Jesus picked the apostles - with the exception of Judas - we know that he kind of was in a different category - is they were sincere in heart. They really loved the Lord. They were not pretentious. Paul said, 'that's how we lived among you.

That's how we preached among you.' Galatians 5, verses 22 and 23 - I think you all know what that says. Galatians 5 - what's there? Fruit of the Spirit, right? "The fruit of the Spirit" - Galatians 5:22 - "is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Against such there is no law." These things were in Paul's life. Now, should the fruits of the spirit only be in the lives of apostles or should it also be in the lives of pastors, elders, deacons, Sabbath school teachers, every disciple? Every believer should have the fruits of the Spirit. Now, are the fruits of the spirit something that you manufacture? Do you buy them? Or are they fruits? By the very fact that they are fruits means that they come from the inside out.

These are things that grow from within. When the heart is converted, when we are born again, you're going to see these things start to manifest themselves. If you've ever tried to make a fruit tree a fruit tree by gluing fruit on the tree, it doesn't really change the nature of the tree, does it? Now I've done this before and I bet you have too - when you learn some kind of standard truth or biblical principle you try to make it happen in your life from the outside and it doesn't stick very long. But if you - if your work is not on gluing the fruit or taping the fruit on the tree - if your work is on grafting the tree and making sure that it's a relationship - that you're joined to Christ like the vine is attached to the branch - it comes naturally then. Is there work involved in being a Christian? It's a lot of work, but you know where the work is? It's in the relationship.

Let me ask this differently. Do good relationships require work? If you're married you know that's true. Even bad relationships require work. To have a good relationship requires work and that means you've got to invest time, you've got to be proactive, you've got to think about it, you've got to try to sometimes subdue what you want to say and listen when you may not feel like listening - you'd rather talk. And having a good relationship can be a lot of work.

It has great dividends - as opposed to a bad relationship. Having a good relationship with Christ requires planning too. It's an investment. So, for us to have the fruits of the Spirit requires work on the relationship because the better the relationship, the more love, the more fruit. If I want an apple tree to produce good apples - Jesus even uses this parable - it's not taping the apples to the tree, it's you dig about it, you irrigate it, you fertilize it, you prune it, you do everything you can to give that tree - if it has the essence of the right kind of tree - the ability to produce luscious fruit and it'll make a difference.

And we need to do that in our relationship with Jesus. I don't always feel like praying, how about you? Do you always feel like praying? Matter of fact, sometimes I need to pray the most because I'm mad - I feel like praying the least. 'I don't want to pray.' You ever feel that way? And - but usually when I feel that way and I want to pray the least, it's because I need to pray the most and that requires work to go against how you feel. Do you see what I'm saying? Sometimes I may not feel like I need to study - or want to study. I know I need to study.

And so the things where you're nurturing the relationship is where you - that's where the fruit is going to grow out of - when you're doing those things. I just went for a long drive yesterday and I was in my old truck - it doesn't have a cd player, it still has a cassette player believe it or not. Do you remember what those are? And I've got a whole lot of cassette sermons so I thought to myself just as I was getting ready to leave, 'ah, I should get some sermons and listen to some sermons on this long drive.' And I thought to myself, 'ah, nah, I'll just listen to talk radio. Ah, I'd better get some sermons. I need to listen to some sermons.

' And so I listened to seven whole camp meeting series - I listened to seven sermons during this series - and it was such a blessing. I could have listened to political radio and it would have gotten me all worked up over nothing but I'm much happier that I listened to some good biblical messages. I know that it blessed my spirit. So to have the fruits you need to nurture the relationship and that's what Paul did. Acts 4:13, "when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and they perceived that" - notice the word boldness coming up again - "and they perceived they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.

" Where did they get this spirit? Where'd they get the fruits of the Spirit? Where'd they get their boldness? They had been with Jesus. Where do we get the power today? Where do we get the sincerity? They had been with Jesus. As we spend time with Jesus, as we work on this relationship with Christ and invest in sharing Jesus, in prayer, in studying about Jesus, people will know we've been with Jesus and that's what they knew from the disciples. All right, next day - next section, 'pleasing God'. 'Pleasing God'.

And this is from 2 Thessalonians through 6 and I'll read that in just a moment. Someone look up for me acts 5:29. Over here. It says, "but Peter and the other apostles answered and said: 'we ought to obey God rather than men." Paul, he went into thessalonia and he said 'we are going to preach the truth about God.' How many different religions were there? I mean, couldn't he have used flattering words and said, 'oh, that's an interesting religious point of view. Oh, yes, I like - you've got some good things about your religion too.

' And you know you can try and make everybody happy and be diplomatic and politically correct and all that. Paul did not use flattering words, he went in there and he said, 'I wasn't interested in pleasing men. We went in there to please God, to tell you the truth, to turn from your idols or die.' That's kind of bold but that's really what he did - and they did turn from their idols. They were looking for something real. They wanted the real God.

And, again, on the same theme, acts 4:19, Peter and John are brought before the religious leaders for their faith, "and they answered and said to them, 'whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.'" So here they are talking to the Jewish religious leaders and they say, 'tell us, should we listen more to you or to God?' And that kind of was a question that stumped them because they knew that you always put God first. Jesus said, 'when you do your fasting and your giving and your praying, do it not so that men might see, but because of what God sees. Have you ever heard of evangelists when they get to town the first thing they do is set up the cash register? You know what I'm talking about? Or maybe you've heard them on the radio or seen them on tv where they've got 25 minutes for their program and 10 minutes is fund raising. That wasn't uncommon in any age, but Paul said, 'we did not come and make demands and say, 'you need to take care of us. This hotel room's not good enough.

We're staying at the hyatt' and just have everything for them. He says, 'we came and we worked among you and we basically came in sincerity of heart to preach the Gospel. We were not covetous in trying to take from you. God is a witness.' Paul was a true self-supporting missionary. And then it says, 'caring deeply'.

That's the next section. 'Caring deeply'. And this is based upon 1 Thessalonians 2, verses 7 and 8 - I'll read in a moment - someone look up Romans 12, verse 10. Who got that? Romans 12? Okay, looks like a little nepotism happening over here. That's all right, we'll get to that in just a second.

And then someone else has got Matthew 14:14 - over here. Let's get you a microphone. Hold your hand up again so they can see you. All right, let me read the verse. Thessalonians chapter 2, verses 7 and 8, "but we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.

So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the Gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us." He talks about this parental love that they felt for the disciples. Does God sometimes compare himself to our Father in Heaven? Yes. Matter of fact, it's interesting that in the last verses of our study it talks about 'and charge every one of you as a father does' and that's in verse 11 and then you'll notice in chapter 2, verses 7 and he talks about 'as a mother'. So Paul's saying 'we loved you like a mother and a father.' Isaiah 49:15, "can a woman forget her nursing child and not have compassion on The Son of her womb? Surely they may forget but I will not forget you. See I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.

Your walls are continually before me." God talks about his love for us, he says, 'I can't forget you anymore than a mother forgets her nursing child.' Now, I've been down the road and had a few children, and they were nursed. And it isn't very long that a nursing mother forgets that she's got children. Do you know what I'm saying? Matter of fact, I don't how much I should say, but I was going through the Market with Karen one day and she just heard a baby cry when she was nursing stephen, I think, and all of a sudden she had to get out of the store. You're aware that you've got a baby when you're a nursing mother. And God says, 'can they forget their infant? They might even forget - it's happened - but I won't forget you.

Not only did I bear you and I'm nursing you, but I've inscribed you on the palms of my hands. Has Jesus done that? So he's trying to tell us how much he loves us. Paul is using that analogy. All right, read for us Romans - I think you have Romans 12:10. "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another.

" Within the church Paul modeled kindness, a tenderness, an affection that we should have for one another. I heard a message not too long ago, that someone came to a church and the pastor couldn't preach his way out of a wet paper bag but the people kept coming back because the folks were so nice. The people were so kind that they were willing to endure a ho-hum sermon once a week just for the fellowship and love. And, you know, I think that's what a church is - kindly affectioned to one another. All right, Matthew 14:14 - over here I think - are we ready? Yes.

"And Jesus went forth and saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion toward them and he healed their sick." This affection, this kindness, this gentle love that the apostles had for the people, where'd they learn that? Did Jesus show compassion on people? Could they see in Christ that - was he, you know, some prima donna religious leader that was in love with himself, or was Jesus really in love with the people? And he had compassion - he cared about them. He preached way beyond the required hours and he would be hungry. He would be so tired that he would fall asleep in the boat and you couldn't wake him up during a storm because he was always thinking about others. They were going around like sheep without a shepherd. You remember when Jesus rose from the dead and he appeared by the sea to the twelve apostles and he talked to Peter and said, 'Peter, do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? And Peter said, 'Lord, you know I love you.

' And you know what Jesus said - the first time in particular? He said, 'feed my lambs.' As a shepherd cares for the little sheep that's how the apostles cared for these people. How did David care for his little sheep? When a lion came and took one, what did David do? Put his life on the line to save that little sheep. And when a bear came and took one he was willing to go and get between him and a bear - or get between the lamb and a bear - and that's how Jesus, the good shepherd, feels about his sheep and Jesus modeled that for the apostles. So the apostles came in with authority, but with a tenderness, and Paul said, 'you saw how we cared about you. We weren't trying to take advantage of you.

We were not flattering you.' And then he goes on - let me see - yeah, we read that. The last section 'not to be a burden'. I might actually make it through the lesson today. And this is based on Thessalonians 2:9 through 12. Someone look up Corinthians 4:12.

I don't think I gave it to anyone so someone in the first four or five rows. Okay, keith. Let's get him a microphone. That's 1 Corinthians 4, verse 12 and let me read the verses that we're considering. These are the last three - through 12 - this is Thessalonians 2:9 through 12, "for you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the Gospel of God.

You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly" - I'd be embarrassed to say that to anybody, but Paul could say it and he was 100% true - "how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory." All right, read for us please Corinthians 4, verse 12. "And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it;" you know, I - I think that if we no longer paid any of the pastors, the church actually might grow quicker. Now, you notice I hesitated because that would affect me. But notice - and you've heard me say this before - it's just a fact.

While I respectfully disagree with the theology of the latter day saints, and the jehovah witnesses, I think it's interesting that they are two of the fastest growing denominations and they have no paid clergy. Every member recognizes his and her responsibility to - they have to support themselves through the day but they do evangelism at their work. And they still get together for meetings and they still have time to go door to door. But everyone is sort of a self-supporting worker. And it's interesting that in the parts of the world today where the seventh day adventist church is growing the fastest, we have the fewest paid pastors.

Go figure. You just - you know what I think part of the problem is - not that there's anything wrong with pastors - I just think that what happens is the attitude of the members in the places where they have pastors is, 'oh, we're so glad you're here. We've been working ourselves to death. Now you do it. We're going to work but we're going to put it in the bank.

Now we don't have to take care of ourselves so that we have time to preach.' The more that the people see the pastor - he's the one that does evangelism, he's the one that does the preaching, he's the one that does the door to door, he's paid to do that. That's your job - I've got my job, you've got your job.' Something happens to evangelism in those churches. But if you get rid of all the pastors then who becomes responsible for getting the message out? The people do. And that may have to happen again before the Gospel goes to all the world, is for us to kind of rethink how we're doing things. Or, if the pastor's really doing his job, he's not to just be doing all of the preaching and teaching, he is to facilitate the members getting mobilized for ministry.

That's really - churches need organization. Churches need leaders. Whether it's a pastor or head elder, we need leadership. But the leadership really ought to facilitate every member to use their spiritual gifts for ministry and evangelism. It's, you know, we're living in the age of spectator Christianity, where we're so used to, you know, having a remote and saying if we don't like this church we change channels and we just watch it.

We just listen and say, 'oh, I like that one. That was an interesting illustration. I like that sermon.' And it's like we're critics of the sermon instead of having a burden for the lost. Paul was a self-supporting evangelist and he also says this here in 2 Thessalonians 3, verses 8 and 9. This is another chapter we're going to look at later, "nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge" - he's talking about their experience in thessalonia - "but we worked with labor and toil night and day" - again he talks about that - "that we might not be a burden to you.

" He says 'we didn't want to be a burden - not because we don't have authority' - in other words, biblically he had the right to come and say, 'we are here to send the message and your church - we're the apostles we have authority - and it's not appropriate you should muzzle the ox that treads out the grain. If we're out there working in the cause of God you ought to be feeding us. And they just take advantage of people's hospitality. But he said, 'no, we're not going to do that.' Didn't Jesus tell the disciples it was okay? He said, 'whatever house you enter eat whatso things are set before you.' And they went from home to home as they went from town to town preaching and they were thankful for the hospitality of the people. Now, I hope the apostles helped do the dishes.

I hope they offered to get up in the morning and go out and help milk their goats and weed their gardens and I hope they made themselves productive. You ever have company that stays for awhile and doesn't do anything? I can tell by the little laughs and smiles that you all know what I'm talking about. They enjoy your hospitality a little too much. And it was ben franklin that said, "after three days fish and company starts to stink." So, there's a Scripture that says, 'withdraw your foot from your neighbor's house lest he weary of thee and hate thee.' That's a proverb something or other - I forget - but I quoted it right. So you ought to be willing to work.

And one more verse - acts 20, verse 34, Paul says, "yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities and for those who were with me." The disciples knew how to work. They weren't afraid of it. Well, we got through the lesson. We ran out of time. I want to remind our friends who are watching at home that the free offer for today is a great book by Joe Crews - everyone should read it - it's called 'the surrender of self'.

Ask for offer #153 when you call and the number again is -788-3966 and God bless you. Keep studying and we'll look forward to our time together again next week. Thank you for joining us for this broadcast. If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at ''. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs including Amazing Facts presents, central study hour, everlasting Gospel, Bible answers live, and wonders in the word.

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