Evening Bible Study
Paul and his team had been in Philippi when they got into trouble by
casting a demon out of a fortune-telling slave girl.
They were beaten and thrown into jail overnight before being asked to leave
They made their way south through Macedonia to the city of Thessalonica.
Thessalonica was the capital city of Macedonia – a major trade center and
The city of Philippi didn’t have enough Jews to form a synagogue, because
Paul found people praying near a river, not a synagogue.
In contrast, Thessalonica had a large Jewish synagogue.
Paul and Silas preached in the synagogue for three weeks before the Jewish
leaders turned on him.
Paul had seen many come to Christ, especially among the Gentiles, and the
Jewish leaders got angry with Paul. When they couldn’t find him, they took one
of the other believers, and had him beaten.
Paul and his team moved on to the city of Berea where they had more
fruitful ministry until some of the Jews from Thessalonica showed up and
stirred up trouble for Paul.
The church in Thessalonica was a church birthed in a hostile anti-Christian
2:1-20 What Ministry is about
We have a vision statement for our church:
Win the Lost
Equip the Saints
Send the Servants
It is important that we reach out to those we know who don’t know Jesus.
Once a person finds Jesus, they are “saved”, they are a “saint”, and our
goal is to “equip” them, or give them the tools to grow.
The mature Christian is one who has learned to serve. They have learned
that Jesus wants to use them, and a church’s responsibility it to encourage
them to find ways of serving God – whether it’s in doing something at church,
serving others in their neighborhood, or even going to the mission field.
I want you all to know that God has called each of you to ministry.
God wants you to serve Him.
What does ministry look like?
Paul gives one of the greatest peaks into what true ministry is all about.
:1 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in
:2 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.
:2 we were bold in our God
Ministry: Don’t quit
After the beating and imprisonment at Philippi, you might think Paul might
think twice before speaking up too much.
But he didn’t.
When you learn to say to God, “I will serve you”, you can expect that you
will be attacked.
True ministry doesn’t quit easily.
:3 For our exhortation did not come from error or
uncleanness, nor was it in deceit.
:3 our exhortation did not come from error …
The Jewish leaders might not have liked what Paul was teaching in their
They may have felt Paul was teaching bad doctrine.
They may have felt that Paul was going to take advantage of the people.
Real ministry doesn’t need to resort to tricking people into doing things.
Real ministry deals with truth and honesty.
Some folks feel they need to only show the “positive” things about serving
the Lord, as if your life will be healthy and wealthy if you follow Jesus.
That’s not the truth.
:4 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.
:4 not as pleasing men, but God
Ministry: Pleasing God
When you learn to serve others, you can fall into the trap of feeling like you’re
not successful unless everyone is smiling.
The problem with that is that some people will only smile if you tell them
what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
Pleasing people will only lead to trouble.
NKJV) —42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but
because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be
put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
There are times when God’s servants have to take a stand for what is right,
and that’s not always a popular thing to do.
:5 For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a
cloak for covetousness—God is witness.
:5 a cloak for covetousness
Ministry: Not about money
Paul wasn’t in the ministry for the money.
He didn’t come to Thessalonica to make money off the people.
The first boy says, “My Dad scribbles a few
words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50.”
The second boy says, “That’s nothing. My
Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song, they give
The third boy says, “I got you both beat.
My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon... and
it takes eight people to collect all the money!”
I guess it’s possible to make a lot of
money in ministry, but most of the pastors I know don’t make a lot of money.
Ministry isn’t about what you are going to get from people, it’s about what
you are going to give to them.
:6 Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we
might have made demands as apostles of Christ.
:6 Nor did we seek glory
Ministry: Not about attention
For some, the allure of ministry is not in the money, it’s in the glory. There’s
something very enticing about people saying lots of good things about you. It’s
not difficult to start out with the right motives, but once you taste of the
“glory”, it’s kind of hard to not hear it once in a while.
In C.S. Lewis’ Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, the younger brother
Edmund is separated from his siblings and runs into the wicked “White Witch”. She
wants to destroy the four children, and to do this she will use Edmund to
betray his brother and sisters. She tempts him with a treat called “Turkish
Once Edmund got a taste of Turkish Delight, he was willing to do whatever
the witch asked him, as long as he got more.
“Glory” is like that. Once you’ve got a taste, you can become addicted to
You will find some ministries try to do things simply for
The real test of ministry is when you do something for others, and very few
people know about it.
Would you still do it even when nobody knows?
:7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes
her own children.
:8 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.
:7 as a nursing mother cherishes
cherishes – thalpo – to
warm, keep warm; to cherish with tender love
Paul paints a picture that we see in our family on a daily basis now with
Ministry involves the heart.
I’ve heard more than a few of us pastors exclaim, “Ministry would be great
if it weren’t for the people”.
Those in leadership will tend to chuckle over comments like that.
Some leaders are very rough and callous towards the people they work with.
If you don’t care about people, then don’t get involved in doing ministry
until you get your heart fixed.
How can I get my heart for people back if I’ve grown calloused?
Try praying for them.
I find it hard not to start caring for people when I pray regularly for
:9 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
:9 our labor and toil
Ministry: Hard work
Paul had a “day job” that he used from time to time to support his
He was a “tent-maker” by trade.
While Paul was in Thessalonica, he supported himself financially by making
He also had some financial support from the little church in Philippi.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he talked about how the
Philippian church had supported him financially from time to time over the
years. It is some twenty years later that he writes…
4:10–16 NKJV) —10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for
me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked
opportunity. 11 Not that I
speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be
content: 12 I know how
to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have
learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all
things through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you
Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from
Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you
only. 16 For even in
Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
The Philippians had supported Paul after he left Macedonia
and went on to Achaia (southern Greece, Corinth).
Before that they had even supported him when he first
showed up in Thessalonica.
Paul didn’t tie his preaching of the gospel to whether or not someone would
Paul kept his financial support separate from his outreach ministry.
The big picture here in regards to ministry is this – it’s hard work.
Ministry is not about having people look up to you, but about learning to
lay down your life for others.
15:13 NKJV) Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for
:10 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly
and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe;
These people knew firsthand about Paul’s character.
:11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of
you, as a father does his own children,
:12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom
This was Paul’s goal for the people he ministered to.
He wanted them to grow up in the Lord.
:11 as a father does his own children
Ministry: Tough and Tender
Ministry is not just about being like a “mom”, it’s also like being a
There are more than a few parallels between ministry and parenting.
Sometimes ministry is like being the “tender mom”, but other times it’s
like being the “tough dad”.
Just like in parenting, you grow in ministry in how you learn to deal with
How parents handle …
Pacifier Falls on Floor
First Child: Mother picks it up, runs to the kitchen and
disinfects it by boiling in water for ten minutes. Then, after it cools down
for ten minutes, she gives it back to the child.
Second Child: Mother picks it up, washes it off in hot
water, blows on it to cool it down, and gives it back to the child
Third Child: Mother picks it up, licks it off, and gives
it back to the child.
Fourth child: Dog picks it up and licks it off. Mother
gives it back to the child.
Just like in parenting, there will be times when you need to be tender, but
there are times when you need to be firm as well. You learn it as you grow in ministry.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
Corinthians 13:10 NLT) I am writing this to you before I come, hoping that I won’t need to
deal severely with you when I do come. For I want to use the authority the Lord
has given me to strengthen you, not to tear you down.
That sounds like mom saying, “Just wait until your father
When you serve others, there may be times when you have to say the hard
thing to them.
But not all the time. Some folks feel that you’re not
doing ministry right unless you’re rebuking somebody. Balance.
:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you
received 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, which also effectively
works in you who believe.
:13 the word of God
Ministry: God’s Word
Real ministry has a connection between the people and God’s Word.
The Thessalonians didn’t view the things that Paul had spoken to them as
common words of a man, but they recognized that Paul was sharing with them
God’s own Word.
How do you view the things we study in the Bible?
There are times when I will express my opinion about things, which may or
may not be God’s opinion about things.
There are also times when I’m simply explaining to you what the text itself
is clearly saying.
Is this just an interesting idea that Pastor Rich is
Or do I sense that God Himself has something to say to me?
Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not claiming to be God’s
chosen mouthpiece – it’s this book we’re studying that is the Word of God. I’m
just trying my best to explain what’s in the book.
For those of us who teach the Bible, we ought to be trembling in fear when
We want to be careful that we’re not just giving our “thoughts” on the
subjects we discuss, but we want to be careful to be as accurate and as close
to what God is saying as possible.
3:1 NKJV) My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we
shall receive a stricter judgment.
Ministry ought to be tied to God’s Word.
If we want people connected to God, we want them connected to His Word.
:13 effectively works in you who believe
effectively works – energeo (“energize”)
– to be operative, be at work, put forth power; to work for one, aid one
Believe and Receive
There is a sense in which God’s Word is going to accomplish things whether
we believe it or not.
But there is also a sense that once we recognize it for what it is and
trust it, the Word of God that it takes on new power in our lives.
We don’t receive as much benefit if we don’t recognize it for what it is.
Are You Listening?
The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured
long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid
any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try
an experiment. To each person who came down the line and shook his hand, he
murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with
phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless
you, sir.” It was not until the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador
from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Not quite knowing what to
say, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”
The writer to the Hebrews was talking about how important it is that we be
sure that we enter in to all that God has for us. We need to be careful about
not getting sidetracked or letting our hearts grow calloused. We need to be
careful that we don’t come short because of some sort of disobedience in our
lives like some of the folks did in the Old Testament. And how do we keep our
lives on track?
(Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)
the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged
sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and
marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
powerful – energes
Comes from the same root as the word for “effectively
The power of God’s Word to work in your life will be related to whether you
recognize it and trust it.
Some people will come up to me and tell me how much the message impacted
them. Sometimes I even get notes about it.
I can see some things just bounce off people without affecting them.
Others people avoid me like the plague at the end of a service.
Some people will tell me what was wrong in my message, or about some other
problem they’re having at church.
How can this be? Though I’m willing to carry much of the blame, I’ve
learned that part of the process lies in the heart of the hearer.
I’ve sat under pastors where I’ve been unable to receive, and when I
realized that the problem was in my heart, I was able to get back
to the place where I could receive from the Lord again.
:14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in
Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own
countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans,
:15 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,
:16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as
always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon
them to the uttermost.
:14 imitators of the churches …which are in Judea
The Thessalonians were finding that they had a lot in common with the
churches back in the land of Israel.
Those churches had been experiencing persecution from Jewish leaders.
Those same Jewish leaders had killed Jesus, as well as the prophets.
Those leaders had also forbade the apostles to share the gospel with those
They were keeping people from hearing about how to go to heaven.
Just like the Judean churches, the folks in Thessalonica were learning to
persevere and follow Jesus, even in difficult times.
How did the Thessalonians do this?
I think part of their success had to do with the example of Paul before
Paul had just come from Philippi.
I imagine he still bore the scars of being beaten.
They had seen how Paul lived out his life.
Much of ministry is “caught” more than it’s “taught”.
Ministry is not about always knowing the right words, but about knowing how
to live the right life.
People in your ministry will grow in a healthy relationship with Jesus if
you are setting the example.
:17 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
:17 having been taken away from you
having been taken away – aporphanizo
(“from” + “orphan”)– to bereave of a parent or parents
Do you see the continuation of the “parenting” theme?
Paul had been grieved because it felt like the Thessalonians had been
“orphaned”, losing their spiritual father.
:18 Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but
Satan hindered us.
:18 but Satan hindered us
When Paul went on to Berea, the Jewish leaders from Thessalonica tracked
him down and made life difficult for him.
Rather than going back to check on the Thessalonians, Paul had to keep
moving further south until he came to Corinth, where he’s writing this letter
:19 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?
:20 For you are our glory and joy.
:20 you are our glory and joy
Ministry: It’s about people
Paul got much joy from his ministry.
Ministry is about working with people.
When Paul got to heaven, he wasn’t going to be proud of the buildings he
built or the cars he drove.
Paul was looking forward to introducing the Thessalonians to Jesus when
they got to heaven.
There are only two things in this room that will go into eternity:
The Word of God.
Focus on what lasts.