Friends Forever

Friends Forever

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:13
Date: 08/11/2012  Lesson: 6
"Paul continues to praise the Thessalonians for the good things he sees in them and to encourage them amid the persecution they are facing."
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Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church in Sacramento, California in the United States of America. We are thrilled that you have chosen to and it is by no accident that you are going to open God's Word with us this morning to study his promises and his praises and his everlasting love together. We're thrilled that you are joining us. To begin this morning we are going to sing hymn #250. We are learning new hymns - this one's not new but it's kind of new to people around the world because there's only four names that requested it.

It comes from selma in barbados, the gison family in Canada, katerina and jeff in germany, and sandy, vern, and pastor keith in North Carolina. Hymn #250 - 'o for a thousand tongues to sing' - we're going to sing all six stanzas. If you have a favorite hymn or a new hymn that you'd like to sing with us on an upcoming presentation, I invite you to our website at 'saccentral.org' and there you can click on the 'contact us' link and you can request any hymn in our hymnal and we would love to sing that with you on a coming presentation. As you know, we are learning new hymns and today is no exception. Hymn #9 - 'let all the world in every corner sing' - and we are going to sing - oh, it's only two verses - I'm not there yet.

It's only two verses and this comes as a request from elias in California and hervin in florida. Hymn #9 - 'let all the world in every corner sing'. You know, as we were just singing that I was thinking, while this song is being sung - let all the world in every corner sing - that's exactly what's happening. Amen! Because I know that across the world, as we are studying together, you are singing praises to our Lord and we are so grateful and we know that you are going to be blessed by joining us. Let's pray.

Our Father in Heaven, what an incredible honor and privilege it is to come before you to open Your Word and to learn about you and how much you love us and how much you gave and how much you are continuing to do in each of our lives individually and collectively as a church to send - the message of hope that we can go to heaven with you and live forever. Lord, we're looking forward to that day where hope will spring eternal and we will live with you in peace and harmony with our brothers and sisters around the world that have accepted you and that love you like we do. So Lord, please bless Pastor Doug as he brings us Your Word today. Please just open our hearts and minds that we can be vessels to share your love and your hope with others. We pray these things in the precious name of Jesus, amen.

Before Pastor Doug comes up and gives us our lesson today, we have an exciting report from the afcoe in the Philippines presented by the Amazing Facts evangelist lowell hargreaves. And lowell is the afcoe Philippines director so he's going to come up and give us a little presentation. Good morning and Happy Sabbath. I believe many of you are familiar with afcoe but are you familiar with pafcoe? That's Philippine afcoe. And if you'd like to learn a little bit more about what we're doing in the Philippines, you can visit our website which is 'pafcoe.

org' - afcoe with a 'p' in the front. You can see here on the map our location is right in the middle of the Philippines on the island of panay. Here is our first class. We began this year in the spring. In February we had 25 students and we're teaching five aspects of evangelism there in the Philippines.

We're teaching public evangelism, personal evangelism, literature evangelism, health evangelism, and child evangelism. My daughter has been doing child evangelism for some years and so she is leading out with that. This is a picture of our class helping out with our evangelistic series. Part of the training is to work with us in a public series, so this is our class up there helping out with the program - the evangelistic program - learning how to do evangelism. When we finished that series, of course, we had a baptism and then we had another month of classes and after that we sent our students out to do their own evangelistic meetings.

It's a little bit different from what we do here in America. We have three months of classes. The fourth month our students get to go out and do their own evangelistic effort. Some of them - it was with a little bit of fear and trepidation that they were going to go out and preach a four-week evangelistic series but they went. This particular student you're seeing in the picture only got a fourth-grade education yet he came to pafcoe, went through our training, brought 15 people to the evangelistic training meeting who were baptized.

He and another person went out and did a series - this is a picture of the group - you'll see on the far right is the student that had the fourth-grade education. Next to him is his partner. We sent them out two by two so one night one would preach, the next night the other one would preach. And I remember this student he told me one night, he said, 'my computer crashed.' He sent me a text. And then the next night he sent me another text - he said, 'the sound system failed.

' What was the most amazing miracle out of the series that this team did - they were having - this is the rainy season when we were having these student meetings and so almost every time they had a big rain, the house where this team was staying in flooded. And one day they were out visiting and while they were visiting it began to pour down rain and the lady - this man's wife - she knew that when it rained it flooded in the house and she remembered they had two borrowed video projectors on the floor - these were the projectors they used for the meetings. So she began to pray, 'Lord, work a miracle. Save those projectors.' And she had a hard time getting home because none of the taxis wanted to go - it was raining so hard. So when the rain finally slowed down she got a taxi, went home, and when she got to her home the water was ankle deep in her house but the projectors - they were in two different areas - the two projectors were both sitting on a dry spot on the floor.

When she picked them up the projectors were dry, the floor under the projectors was dry - beside one of the projectors was a violin in its case - it was soaked. They mopped up 50 buckets of water. God worked a miracle to save those two projectors. You're looking at a picture of our oldest student at pafcoe - that's the one on the left. This lady is 66 years old.

She came to pafcoe, learned how to do public evangelism, she went out - there's a picture of her with her partner - and she did an evangelistic meeting. It was interesting, the church where she was holding her meetings they said, 'what is this old lady going to do? She's never going to hold out for four weeks.' And night after night she was up there preaching and her voice seemed like it got stronger and stronger. At the end of the seminar this lady, with her partner, twelve people were baptized. Praise the Lord. Of those 25, 23 graduated - two are still finishing their homework.

What was amazing was of the 25 students who came to pafcoe, only five of them could pay their own way. You understand the Philippine economy is not as strong as ours - the other 20 were sponsored by someone else. And what was amazing when they got there, some of them - of course they had their tuition ongoing - when they finished the pafcoe training, everybody's tuition was paid. And what was even more amazing - you know how much those evangelistic meetings - we had 20 evangelistic meetings happening - these were done by our students along with some staff. Of those 20 meetings - you know how much it costs for each of those meetings? $600.

00. Praise the Lord for what he can do! Of the first session that we did in pafcoe we had over 400 people baptized as a result of our student meetings and our meeting so we praise the Lord for what he's wrought in Philippines. If you'd like to learn more, you can learn a lot more at 'pafcoe.org' - you can read our reports - see our pictures. We are so thankful that God is opening the way for afcoe to expand. One of those places is the Philippines and we're thrilled to be involved in what God is doing.

Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Appreciate that lowell. Lowell is here today with his family and they work together as a team and if I'm not mistaken, Michael also did an evangelistic program while you were there in the Philippines. Well, you know, this is the pattern that Jesus taught us, really.

Jesus spent three and a half years especially training twelve men who then went out and did evangelism. He also trained another beyond that, but focusing his attention on individuals and discipling them and then they go out and they do evangelism - that's how the Gospel spreads exponentially. And so, we're very excited about what's happening in the Philippines and other parts of the world with afcoe right now. Well, we thought it'd be appropriate, during Sabbath school, to have a little mission report and so that's what that was and that's exciting. I want to welcome our class.

If you're joining us today, this is central Sabbath school. We're continuing our lesson on and 2 Thessalonians. In a moment we'll get into lesson #6. We have a free offer as always. Today the offer is a book - this is an inspiring book and it's called 'deathwatch in siberia'.

Have any of you ever read this before? No? I see a couple of hands that have. Aw, this is an inspiring book. If you really want to be encouraged - a true story. 'Deathwatch in siberia' - ask for offer #114. It talks about persecution in our lesson today.

This book talks about God delivering and providing through persecution and how people can even witness through persecution and just call the number - -study-more. That's 866-788-3966. We'll send you a copy of that. I want to welcome, also, our extended class - people who are watching from around the world or part of the internet right now and glad you're studying with us. Our assignment for today is we are going to try and cover the parts of 1 Thessalonians that begins with chapter 2, verse 13 through chapter 3, verse 13.

And so we've been biting off different pieces of 1 and 2 Thessalonians and that's where we're at right now. Thessalonians 2, verse 13 and if we succeed we'll get through chapter 3, verse 13. Our memory verse for today comes from 1 Thessalonians 3:13 and I've got it here in the new king James version if you want to read along with me. Are you ready? One more time it's Thessalonians 3:13. Here we go, "so that he may establish your hearts, blameless in holiness, before our God and father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

" All right. Well, the lesson today is 'forever friends' or 'friends forever' I should say. And I'm going to start by just beginning to read through the verses that we have. Stop along the way - I'll be asking some of you to read some of the other verses that we have connected with it and see what we can learn. Under the first section, 'the Judean example' - if you'll start with me, take a look at Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 13, "for this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you receive the Word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God," - all right, stop there for one second - 'for this reason we also thank God without ceasing.

' What does Paul say we should do without ceasing? Praying without ceasing. Now, part of that prayer without ceasing is, evidently, thanking God without ceasing. Somebody look up for me Ephesians 1:15 - 16. Did we give that to someone? Right over here. Ephesians 1 - and we'll get the microphone ready for you in just a second and I'll tell you a little story.

I've heard this story told a couple different ways, but the way I read it this week is there's a little church in germany and there's a stone lamb carved on the church and the reason for that is that when some of the masons were building this very tall church there at this town in germany, one of the workmen fell some distance and he landed and everyone rushed down to see if he had survived the fall. Well, it turned out that as they were building it there were some sheep grazing right at the foot of this tall wall and one of the workers had landed on a lamb. Normally he would have died but the lamb broke his fall. But it also broke the lamb and so the lamb, basically, gave its life that the workman might survive - which is, of course, what God's lamb did for us. So in gratitude this workman carved out - I guess - an image of a lamb and put it on the church - as a way of saying his thanks to the lamb.

Well, we should never cease to give thanks to the lamb, right? All right we're going to read next - I think it was Ephesians 1, verses 15 and 16. Jolyne? Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:" 'do not cease to give thanks' - now do you think that means the apostle Paul went around on his knees constantly praying and chanting 'thanks'? Or did that mean - what does it mean to pray without ceasing? What does it mean to give thanks without ceasing? Doesn't it mean to have an ongoing attitude of prayer - being aware of the nearness of God? An ongoing attitude of gratitude - being thankful for what God is doing? And so that's what he's talking about. That's what every Christian should have. And when Paul thought about the church in thessalonia and the sacrifices they made, the persecution they endured, Paul was constantly thanking God for their commitment. It was so encouraging.

You know, I've done a bit of evangelism as I've traveled and every now and then I meet people who were baptized many years earlier and to see them actively involved in the church or in soul winning - there's people I've baptized that are evangelists now, they're pastors now - and you know, I just constantly thank God for that. Admittedly I don't go around chanting thanks, but I always am thankful when I think of that. And I know lowell knows how that feels. How long have you been in evangelism now? Twenty years doing public evangelism. And I know you've been with Amazing Facts since I've been with Amazing Facts and that's been 18 - 17 years - so isn't it exciting when you go back and you see churches that you've planted or souls that you've reached and - I know that's how Paul felt - you know, just praise the Lord for people who are grounded in the truth and he was thanking God for them.

We're not done with our passage though. "For you, brethren became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus." The title for this day's study is 'the Judean example'. He says, "you're imitating the churches of Christ that were in Judea' - "for you suffered the same things from your own countrymen just as they did from the Judeans who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets and have persecuted us and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the gentiles that they might be saved so as also to fill up the measure of their sin. But the wrath of God has come upon them to the utmost." All right. Now, in the lesson, the author there says this is a verse that has often been abused for anti-semitism and he's right.

We need to be very careful to make a distinction here. I tell you what, somebody please look up - well, I'll read it - acts chapter 8, verse 1 - I don't think I gave it to anyone - I want to read it. Acts chapter 8, verse 1, "now Saul was consenting to his death." - Who's Saul? Paul. Who wrote Thessalonians 1 and 2? Paul. This is in acts talking about after the stoning of stephen "Saul was consenting to his death and at that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and samaria, except the apostles.

" So there was a great persecution in Jerusalem. It then spread from Jerusalem to Judea. Paul took the persecution of the church to damascus. And so, there were jews, not all the jews, but there were jews who were extremely angry and threatened by the religion of Christianity because they thought it was going to eclipse their faith. And do you remember what they ultimately did to Paul when he went back to Jerusalem to worship? You can read about it in the book of acts - they saw him in the temple, they said, with a gentile.

He didn't bring a gentile in the temple, they were wrong. And they incited a riot and tried to tear him limb from limb - it was the Romans who ultimately came in and saved him - and as Paul went from town to town, some studied and believed like the bereans when he went to the synagogue there - they were noble. Some towns they were divided - in thessalonia some of the jews believed - some became very angry and they stirred up others. Some of the Jewish converts believed. It wasn't universally that all jews were the enemy, but some of the jews were great adversaries and they went to other cities to persecute the Christians who were preaching because the jews had their synagogues scattered everywhere and what was happening is they saw that where the Christians went the synagogues began to embrace Christianity and they converted.

They were losing their franchise. It's kind of like - probably a rough illustration but - everywhere walmart sprang up k-marts began to struggle. You understand the analogy? Everywhere the Christians went where the jews had established a synagogue, the synagogues were inviting them to teach and preach and they said, 'you're stealing our sheep' and they became very angry - sometimes violent. Sometimes they'd bribe other people to stir up a mob. And so Paul is talking about that attitude and that group.

Paul is not saying all jews everywhere have rejected the truth. Let me tell you why that's patently not so - the early church was all Jewish so you can't say that, you know, the early church was anti-Jewish, they were jews. The whole Bible was written by jews with the exception of a brief chapter written by Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel and some other sections that you might find in Ezra where it's giving a decree by artaxerxes or somebody. The Bible is, basically, percent written by jews. The early church - when pentecost - the Holy Spirit is poured out - how many of them were jews? It says, 'there were dwelling in Jerusalem at that time devout jews out of every nation under heaven.

' The jews who were scattered around the roman empire they came - they were the converts to Christianity - and for the first three and a half years the apostles did not even go to the gentiles. Jesus had said, 'go not in the way of the gentiles. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' And so the early church was all Jewish. The pastors were Jewish, the deacons were Jewish - you know that - the elders were Jewish, the conference presidents were Jewish - they were all Jewish. But as they spread out, there was a civil war among the jews - some embraced Christianity, some didn't and they were very venomous against it.

And they, you know, even followed Paul to other towns. When Paul got to rome and he began to preach to the jews there he asked, 'have others come?' And they said, 'no, nobody came and complained about you.' And so the negative report had not reached. So Paul is just talking about that element of the jews that were fighting against it. And when it says, 'wrath has already come upon them' - well, you remember what happened to the temple in 70 ad? What did the Romans do to the Jewish temple in 70 ad? It was destroyed. Have you ever read the book 'Great Controversy'? That's the opening chapters.

I'm wondering if you've read that book - we'll get you one - you need to read that. But the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 ad was pivotal and prophetic. You remember Jesus said in about ad 'this generation will not pass away' - speaking of not only the end of the world, he was talking about the temple where 'there was not one stone left upon another that would not be thrown down.' He said, 'this generation will not pass away until all these things be fulfilled. A Bible generation is about forty years - that's why the Israelites wandered for forty years, because they did not believe the positive report that came back. Ad - Jesus makes the prophecy about 30 - 31 ad - 70 ad the temple is destroyed.

But before the Romans destroyed the temple the favor of the Jewish nation began to decline and they started having their privileges withdrawn and wrath and persecution was going on them. You remember in the book of acts one of these caesars chased all of the jews out of rome - that's before the temple was destroyed. They started to become a persecuted people and Paul was saying 'because they are resisting the Gospel they are already experiencing God's protection being withdrawn.' And so, that's what he's referring to here in this verse. All right - and there's other passages where you look at - for instance in Matthew chapter 23, verses 29 through 38 - where Jesus talks about them filling up the measure of wrath that was coming upon them - that Paul is alluding to that. John 4:22 - just to keep balance here, how important were the jews? You know - and this is something that, for me, the jury is still out a little bit.

A lot of prophecies in the Bible that talk about Israel - for instance, in Romans when it says, 'all Israel will be saved.' Does that mean God saves people based on their blood and their dna? Or when Jesus said, 'many will come from the east and the west and sit down in the Kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the children of the Kingdom will be in outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' What did he mean by that? When Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, where the rich man is feasting but poor Lazarus is at the gate desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table - Luke chapter 16 - what does he mean by that? To the Jewish nation great treasure, great feasting, banquet was given - great truth was given. Jesus said to the woman at the well - I'm sorry, to the samaritan woman, 'you worship you do not know what. We know' - speaking of the jews - 'what we worship.' She was saying, 'should I worship on Jerusalem or should I worship like the samaritans on mount garizim?' He said - notice - 'for salvation is of the jews.' Now it doesn't mean salvation is for the jews alone, it means salvation is of the jews - meaning God - Paul says, 'God has committed to Israel the oracles of truth.' God had given them the truth. If you wanted to know what truth was, he had given the Jewish nation the truth in the Scriptures. In the ark of the covenant was the Ten Commandments.

He had given that nation the truth. Does that mean everyone in that nation is saved? No. It meant they were the repository of the truth. Has God given the seventh day adventist church a truth for our time? Does that mean all seventh day adventists are saved? Does it mean all people from other denominations are lost? No. But he has committed the oracles of truth, I believe, for this day - the three angels' message - to this people.

But if we're feasting on it and we're not sharing it with the people that lay at our gates, we may find that when Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sit down in the kingdom, we're in outer darkness even though we are children of the Kingdom by membership or by birth. Jesus, John the baptist, the apostles spent a lot of time warning people against thinking because you have a Christian heritage or a Jewish heritage that you're saved by your heritage - God has no grandchildren. Do you know what I mean by that? Some people might say, 'well, I'm a third or fourth generation.' Or 'I'm a pure-blood jew.' God's not going to save you back on that - based on that. First of all, that's racism when you think about it. God has - God is no respector of persons the Bible says, but all men everywhere who believe are invited.

Isn't that right? Whosoever will. So, while it's wonderful that you may have a Christian heritage, or it might be wonderful that you've got a Jewish heritage - God's not going to look at your blood type and decide whether or not to save you. 'Do not think to say within yourself that we are children of Abraham.' John the baptist said 'God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.' Or if a person thinks they're a jew, 'he that is Christ's is Abraham's seed.' Paul said it is not circumcision in the flesh, it is circumcision in the what? In the heart that matters to God. And I can go on and on and on citing examples in the Bible that emphasize that it doesn't matter - you can't point back and say, 'because of my blood, my heritage God's got to save me.' If you're disobedient and you're not following the truth - you're not saved based on your birth certificate or your parents' membership. Now, your parents may pray for you and that'll help, but ultimately you must make a decision.

All right, now the thing I told you I'm still not sure about. I'm looking prophetically - I know where spiritual Israel fits in in the last days, but I believe that Israel - literal jews - God still has a work for them. Can't deny - you can't deny that God has obviously done something for the Jewish nation that he's not done for any other nation in that after they have been dispossessed no less than three times - the time of Jacob they left their land but they came back. In the time of the Babylonian captivity - they left the nation - they were taken away but they came back - they returned. And then for the last nineteen hundred years they came back but they were reestablished as a nation - maintained their identity, they still have their Scripture, still have their language - no other nation has done it even once, let alone three times.

And I'm still looking for God to do something marvelous specifically among the Jewish people with them embracing the truth in the last days. There's already a lot of messianic jews, but I think there's going to be something beyond that - that he has a work for them to do. Anyway - all right, enough for that. 'Paul's hope and joy' - Thessalonians 2 - we're going to read verses 17 through 20. Now someone look up for me psalm 33:18.

Where do we have that? Over here - we have that? Let's get you a microphone. Hold your hand up so they can see where you are. Okay. And before you read that I'm going to read 1 Thessalonians :17 through 20. "But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire.

" Have you ever heard someone say, 'I'm with you in spirit - I'm with you in heart'? Paul is saying, 'you know I'm constantly thinking about you. I'm praying about you.' Now, when I tell you I'm with you in spirit, what does that mean? I can only - it means you're in my thoughts, you're in my prayers. I can only be with you in spirit. When Jesus says, 'behold I am with you always.' Is that the same thing or is that more? That's more. Can Christ really be with us? Is sometimes Jesus with us and we don't know it? When he walked down the road to emmaus with those two disciples in Luke chapter 24 was he really with them? But they didn't know it.

Sometimes he's there in the background and we don't know it. Or he's on the shore at Galilee and we don't know it. Christ says, 'I'm with you wherever you go.' So he really is - through the spirit - with us when we have his spirit. "Therefore we wanted to come to you - even i, Paul, time and again - but satan hindered us." Is God's will always done? Some people - even some religions say, 'whatever happens, it must have been the will of God.' I argue that's not true. Why would we pray 'thy will be done' if it's done anyway? Because it isn't always - was sin God's will? The Bible says 'God is not willing that any perish.

' Will some perish? Not everything that happens in this world is God's will. Not everything I do and you do is God's will. That's why we've got to pray that we'll be surrendered to his will - that our wills will be melded in his. Here Paul wanted to do something but the devil was fighting. Have you read there in Daniel chapter 10 where Daniel's praying and the angel comes and tells Daniel 'satan resisted - the prince of persia is resisting but Michael went and labored with him.

' And there's a battle that's going on between good and evil all the time. And the idea that sometimes God always gets his way - or God always gets his way is not really biblical. Paul's saying 'satan hindered us.' "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." All right, we're talking a little bit here about hope and joy. So read for us psalm 33, verse 18. Psalm 33:18, "behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his mercy.

" Thank you. How big a role does hope have with the Lord? Paul said, 'there's three great things, what are they? Corinthians chapter 13, faith, hope, love - 'now abideth faith, hope, love.' Somebody look up for me Peter 3, verse 15. We've got a hand over here. Peter 3, verse 15. We'll get to that in just a second.

Talking still about hope - "and now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you." That's psalm 39, verse 7. Where is our hope? Can we - is our hope in a better economy? Well, I kind of hope it gets better, but that's not where my hope rests. Is your hope in perfect health? Well, I hope I have good health as long as possible but, you know, if you live long enough, something's going to happen to your health. Is that right? Where is our ultimate hope? Our ultimate hope is going to be in Jesus. All right, read for us please - what did I say? - 1 Peter 3:15.

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meakness and fear;" you know, people are looking for hope aren't they? You've heard the expression 'hope springs eternal'? And we ought to be ready to disseminate hope. Peter tells us sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. We should ask God to help us experience sanctification and 'always be ready to give a defense'. How can you always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in you? Well, that means you need to constantly be brushing up on the script. And here's the script.

So for us to defend the script always be ready. We need to be just in the word. You know what I found? I've often found that in my personal study just - it seems that something I happened to read that day - whether I'm going through a regular reading program or I accidentally read something in preparation for an article or sermon - later that day I'll meet someone who needs that very verse out of thousands of verses in the Bible - they need that very verse that I read. Have you found that before as you study? You think, 'wow, what a coincidence.' Not that there's coincidences with God but that happens so often. Timothy 1:1 - Paul, speaking about this hope, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope.

" So the hope that we're sharing is what? the Lord Jesus is our hope. Why is our hope Jesus? Because without him we don't have anything. Somebody said one time, 'life with Christ is an endless hope. Without him it's a hopeless end.' Life with Christ is an endless hope. Without him it's a hopeless end.

And that is true. Titus 2, verses 11 to 13 - I'll get someone to read that for me. Now you didn't know I was going to do it and nobody's got that so who wants to read that for me? You've got to find it real quick. Titus 2:11-13 - we've got someone over here - and we're talking about hope. And, you know, he also talks specifically here about the hope about Christ's return.

Now, you'll find in 1 and 2 Thessalonians they speak frequently about that hope of Jesus' coming but we have a real hope, are we ready for that? Go ahead. "For the grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying unGodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and Godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." So what is the blessed hope? You know we sing that song 'we have this hope' - talking about what? The second coming in particular, right? He says that great - looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior - and because we look for that - notice - 'denying unGodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and Godly.' You don't hear that very often. People say, 'you know, because we're saved by grace, just live like everyone else and thank the Lord that you've got eternal life. That's not what Paul teaches. Paul says, 'if you are an adventist' - now my friends out there - I know I've got a lot of non-adventists watching this study and we're glad you're watching - I had one of them walk up to me two days ago and people, sometimes, they almost feel like they've got to explain - 'I love your program - I'm not a member of your church but I love the program.

' But we know a lot of people are watching but anybody out there - it doesn't matter if you're a baptist or you're a presbyterian or even methodist - if you believe in the second coming, you're an adventist. So people who believe in the imminent return of the Lord, what kind of lives should they be living? Denying unGodliness in this present age it says, 'we should live denying unGodliness and worldly lusts' - a lot of that going on - 'we should live soberly, righteously' - how should we live? - 'Righteously and Godly in this present age.' Boy is it hard - if it was hard back in Paul's day is it possible it could be even harder in our day? But because we think Jesus is coming soon what kind of lives should we be living? Righteous, Godly, sober lives looking for - we're living in a way that we believe that he's coming back. If you're getting ready to meet a king and you're standing at the station waiting for him to arrive or you're at the airport terminal and you're waiting for him to walk down the gangway and you've put on your best clothes so you can greet the King, maybe the King is delayed a little bit, every now and then I'd probably look in the mirror and dust off my shoulders - make sure I've got no dandruff or lint or anything - I don't have much dandruff because I have nowhere to hold it but - you know, wouldn't you want to just make sure that because we're waiting for the king we ought to be living as though we're waiting for the appearance of the King - that's our blessed hope. Hope is something that is - it's just out there in the future. That's our blessed hope.

And our hope is a real hope. Some people have false hope and that's very sad. I don't know if you still remember this heaven's gate fiasco a few years ago - 1997 this character marshall applewhite and some of his accomplices, they had spent years telling everybody that they were somehow reincarnations of Jesus and that they were in communication with aliens and that a ufo was coming to pick them up and they sort of comingled Scripture - believe it or not - they comingled some Scripture with star trek. God was speaking to them through star trek and they actually got enough followers that sacrificed all their earthly belongings that they believed that when the hale-bopp comet came by that hiding in the tail of the hale-bopp comet was a ufo getting ready to pick them up but they needed to shed their earthly bodies and so, as a result, 39 of them committed suicide following this lunatic. And they all dressed up in their black costumes and they took some concoction of cyanide and alcohol - I don't remember what it was but I know it included alcohol - and they couldn't believe it - the police came into this house and here were all these people - 39 of them.

And they must have been sincere - they sacrificed all their earthly wealth, committed it to this organization - were spreading the word that the ufo is coming to pick them up and they put on their garments and their white new tennis shoes and they laid out and they folded their hands on the their chests took their poison and died thinking a ufo was going to beam them up. Oh, talk about the bad influence of television. They died in a false hope, didn't they. How sad. Is our hope - some people are wondering - 'my Lord delays his coming, have I believed a false hope? Is Jesus really going to come back?' That's a valid question though, I mean, the new testament says, 'surely I come quickly.

' Two thousand years? That doesn't seem quick to me. If I say 'I'll pick you up pretty soon' and two thousand years go by, you're going to think I'm late. Keep in mind, a day with the Lord is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day - so that's just two days for him. When Jesus said I would come the first time - speaking of his first coming - as man's sacrifice it took four thousand years but did he come? When Christ promised - God said that the Messiah would come and every Jewish mother from the time of Abraham - they kept thinking 'how long? When will he come? Is it my son? Is it my son? Maybe it's David. Maybe it's Ezra, maybe it's Jeremiah.

' They all wondered 'when is the Messiah coming?' It was two thousand years from the promise made to Abraham until Jesus came the first time. Jesus said, 'I will come again.' We're right about curtain time now. So I think he's coming. He's never - he said, 'heaven and earth will pass away and my word will not pass away.' God sees things on the eternal perspective. Is he going to come? Can we trust this hope? And then it also talks about Paul's hope and joy in Nehemiah 8, verses 8 through 12.

It says some of the people were mourning when the temple went up and he said, "for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow for the joy of the Lord is your strength." You know the best thing a Christian can do to advertise what they believe is to have joy. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Okay, I need to move along now. Go to 1 Thessalonians 3 - now we've reached 1 Thessalonians 3 - I'm going to read verses 1 through 5 and this is under 'Timothy's substitute visit' and I want to remind our friends that we're beginning to become more consistent in posting the notes - if you see anything valuable in our notes - the various teachers will post the notes at the 'saccentral.

org' website and you're welcome to glean whatever you would like to glean there. Thessalonians 3, verses 1 through 5, "therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in athens alone, and sent Timothy our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the Gospel" - notice Timothy - he was like Paul's brother, he calls Timothy his son. He's a minister. He's a young pastor of God and 'our fellow laborer' - Paul had laid hands on Timothy, he'd be what you call an ordained pastor - "and our fellow laborer in the Gospel of Christ, to establish you" - did Paul need someone to go with him when he traveled? I think most of the time - who wrote Paul's letters, Paul? Or did he have a scribe? Paul had a scribe didn't he? Why did Paul have a scribe? You know, Paul talks about the affliction that he had - a thorn - very possible that thorn that Paul had was poor eyesight. Why would we say Paul had poor eyesight? What happened to Paul after he saw Jesus? After Jacob wrestled with the angel he limped the rest of his life, isn't that right? And when Paul was blinded by the vision of Christ scales fell from his eyes and he could see again but, evidently, awhile after the vision wasn't perfect.

Because you notice when Paul was being tried by the high priest he derided him and they said, 'are you reviling God's high priest? And Paul said, 'oh, I didn't know it was the high priest.' He was standing right in front of him in uniform. And then Paul, when he does write a letter he says, 'behold with what large characters I'm writing.' Paul, when he wrote, he had to write great big characters - like people who get the telephone with each number that big so they can see it. That would be me. I'm ready to upgrade to a large print Bible now. And so, Paul was a little bit handicapped - and I could give you other examples in the Bible where it seems clear he had problems with his eyesight and they didn't have glasses back then.

Paul was a little bit handicapped so for Paul to send one of his aids - now - he says, 'we are being left' but it sounds like he was left alone because silas also was gone so Paul worried so much about them he said, 'I could no longer endure it. You know, we love you so much we need to know how you're doing. We know you're being persecuted by the others. We want to make sure your faith is strong. I'm sending Timothy back to not only encourage you but so he could bring a report.

' "To encourage you concerning your faith." Can we encourage each other in the faith? Are you an encourager for others in their faith? "That no one should be shaken by these afflictions." Notice, some afflictions shake. Matter of fact, before I read any more on that - someone read Thessalonians 2 - this is another book in Thessalonians - we're not getting to it today, but there's another reference I just want you to notice. Thessalonians 2, verses 1 and 2. Who'll read that for me? Mike? Let's get you a microphone right here. We'll talk about that.

Have you heard the expression 'the great shaking'? You know you separate the wheat from the chaff by shaking and sometimes a person's faith is shaken. Sometimes they go through a traumatic experience and think, 'why would God let this happen?' And their faith is shaken - or sometimes false doctrines will come along and a person's faith is shaken. There might be some earthquake that shakes their faith so to speak - we'll talk about that in the sermon later. All right, go ahead, read that for us - 2 Thessalonians 2 - I said what? And 2, yeah. 2 Thessalonians 2, verses 1 and 2, "now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.

" This is a remarkable verse - notice Paul uses the word shaken again there - a remarkable verse because most people point to the verses in the Bible that talk about the imminence of the Lord's coming or the nearness of his coming, but here's a verse in the Bible that Paul says, 'do not be shaken regarding the soonness of his coming.' People were saying, 'any day now. Any day now.' And Paul's saying, 'settle down. I haven't sent a letter saying that.' So Paul was telling them that they needed to occupy - they needed to stay busy until the day of the Lord did come. Don't let their faith be shaken. And, again, notice he's writing to the Thessalonians.

Someone was going through their ranks saying, 'any day now the Lord's going to come. We can quit our jobs. We don't have to harvest our crops.' I don't know what they were saying, but encouraging irresponsible behavior saying the Lord is coming right away. I'm back - I'm reading again Thessalonians 3 verses 1 through 5. In verse 3 "that no one should be shaken by these afflictions;" - Peter said, 'do not be - don't let your faith be shaken as though - when the fiery trial comes to try your faith as though some strange thing has happened.

' Sometimes afflictions shake us. "For you yourselves know that we are appointed to this." - Are we appointed where there's going to be trials? "For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter - the devil - had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain." Tempted them what? To give up their faith. Because of what? Afflictions and tribulation. Do you remember when Jesus tells the parable of the sower? Some seed falls on the shallow earth and it springs up.

But because it has no depth - when there's trials - or even the seed that falls among the thorns - it's choked out. It shrivels up. And sometimes things shake our faith so that we're unfruitful. God said that would happen. Matthew 24:9 - who has that verse? Someone - I gave it to you.

Right up here - Matthew 24:9 and while we're getting you the microphone I'm going to read Matthew - no, I tell you what, I'm going to read acts 14:21. Acts 14:21 - I'll read through verse 22. Paul speaking here, "and when they had preached the Gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to lystra, iconium, and antioch." - Notice - "strengthening the souls of the disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'we must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God.'" But wait Pastor Doug, I thought we were going to be saved from tribulation. Doesn't the Bible say the Lord is going to rapture the church out of the world so that we won't have to go through tribulation? Or did Paul say we are saved not from tribulation but through many tribulations? Were the children of Israel in Egypt when the plagues fell? Yes. Did God protect them especially through the last seven plagues? Will God's people be in the world when the tribulation happens - the seven last plagues? Yes, but he protects us, he saves us through - not from - through the tribulations.

Jesus warned the disciples there'd be tribulation. Read for us Matthew 24:9 please. Are we ready? Go ahead. "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake." Now let me read verse 24 - same chapter - verses 19 through - "woe to those" - Jesus is speaking. Red-letter edition.

- "Woe to those who are pregnant" - speaking of the second coming - "woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath." - Evidently God's people are still keeping the Sabbath in the last days - "for there will be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be." Now Christ refers to Daniel - if you're wondering what tribulation this is, in Daniel chapter 12, it says, 'in that time Michael will stand up and there will be a time of trouble such as there never has been.' So there is a tribulation that happens to the church during the dark ages. Great persecution during the dark ages, but there's also a great tribulation during the last plagues and during the small time of trouble in the last days - that is future. Will God's people be in the world during that time? Yes, but he saves us through that tribulation. Oh friends, you know what? I think it's happened again. You're going to have to read the remaining few verses in Thessalonians chapter 3 - I ran out of time.

Timothy comes back and he gives a positive report. They're so thankful when he says, 'the church is strong in the Lord.' And when you read in chapter 3, verse 6, Paul says, "but now that Timothy has come to us from you and brought us good news of your faith and your love" - so the church of thessalonica survived and thrived. Out of time but I want to remind our friends - we'll send you this free book - very inspiring - 'deathwatch in siberia' and ask for offer #114. Call the number 866-788-3966. We'll send it to you for free and it's just to encourage and inspire you in your faith.

God bless you friends, we'll look forward to studying together again next week. In six days God created the heavens and the earth. For thousands of years man has worshiped God on the seventh day of the week. Now, each week, millions of people worship on the first day. What happened? Why did God create a day of rest? Does it really matter what day we worship? Who was behind this great shift? Discover the truth behind God's law and how it was changed.

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