1 Thes. Lesson 10: Hold to What is Good :: By Sean Gooding

Chapter 5:12-22

“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.”

We live in trying times. Today as I am writing, we in North America and many around the world are celebrating Remembrance Day, the day when WW2 stopped. In Dunnville where I live, we have erected a little memorial of 128 flags to remember the 128,000 Canadians that have died in several wars. Sadly, the rights and freedoms that were paid for in the blood of not just these from Canada but countless men and women around the world are being trampled on, and I am not sure if we have the stomach to fight anymore.

Today I want to encourage you to find the good that we have around us and to hold on to it. We must use the Bible to know the standard of what is good. But if you have good in your life, good godly people, you attend a Biblical church, have a godly spouse and children, then hold on to these things and cherish them; you are truly blessed.

  • Cherish Good Pastors and Deacons, verse 12-13

Recognize those that labor among you. Take note of them.

I was listening to a video on YouTube yesterday about a pastor who is being sued by the Real Estate board because the church he pastors refuses to work with the LGBTQ organizations in their community. His church helps to feed the poor in their community, and when the local food bank decided to join forces with the LGBTQ chapter, the church withdrew and began to use their own facility to feed the people. But this was not enough; he is a Real Estate agent in his community, and he is now being sued and may lose his association with them and potentially his income because he chose to obey God rather than man.

In seeing this, I learned an interesting statistic: 68% of all pastors in North America are bi-vocational. Like me, the vast majority work a second job and take a small stipend from the church they serve. One dear friend of mine works at the local Home Depot to be able to have benefits for his family.

Often, your Pastors and your deacons put in their 40 hours at work and then put in whatever is needed at the church as well. I work as a Salesman in a car dealership, plus write here, help to pastor 2 churches, have a wife, 3 kids and a grandkid. I know countless pastors that work as Hospital chaplains and are on call for the police departments. I know some that do all kinds of jobs to help pay the bills, and their wives work. They are not living lavish lifestyles; they simply support their families while pastoring and taking care of your family. And, don’t forget the people who help cut the lawns, keep the place clean, put out the chairs, set up the audiovisuals, and on and on.

Never take for granted those that labor in our local churches, those who do it out of love for the Lord and His work. I know of a lot of preachers who retire and then use their retirement to fill in for younger preachers so they can have a break. These men are working to help and serve still. Rejoice if you have a preacher and his family who are sold out for the Kingdom. Praise God for them. Trust me; it is hard on their families.

Let me give a shoutout to my wife, who often comes in from working all night, gets a nap for 45 minutes, then goes with me over an hour away to the church in Guelph. She is there and gets no sleep as we minister to the people and often has to come home and go back to work after a few hours. If you are blessed like me with a pastor’s wife who is committed to the Kingdom, praise her and pray for her. Many preachers quit the ministry because their wives don’t want to do it anymore, and the men feel trapped and defeated, so they leave the work.

  • Cherish Peace, verse 13

Those of us who have never known war often do not cherish peace. We do not appreciate what it is like not to live in fear for your life. Over the 37 years that I have been in the ministry, I have sadly been in war-like situations in the Lord’s churches. You could feel the tension. Every business meeting was a dreadful and emotionally sapping event. One side of the room was turned against the other, and raised voices and sharp words ensued. Eventually, people leave, and the hurts stay.

If you have a peaceful church, praise God and cherish it. This does not mean that there are no disagreements but that they are handled in a godly fashion; each seeks to lift up the other even in disagreement. There is no coercion, no threats, and the work of the Lord’s kingdom is front and center. If there is unity and humility, thank God. Cherish it and work hard to keep it.

What about in your family? What about your spiritual life and your personal life? Are you at peace with yourself in Jesus? By the way, ignoring each other and avoiding each other is not peace; that is how fireworks turn into nuclear bombs that end relationships and destroy churches. Cherish humility and forgiveness in your own life; seek forgiveness, seek reconciliation, seek grace, seek love and kindness, pray for each other. It is very hard to pray for someone and hate them at the same time.

Notice we are called to be at peace among ourselves; the world is a hard place. In contrast, the Lord’s churches should be a respite from the callousness and troubles of the world. We should find people who love us, long to see us, and miss us when we are not there. We should have genuine friendships that are a balm to the hardships of the world around us. We should be able to be open and honest in a safe, loving environment. We should work hard to make the Lord’s churches a place of peace. Jesus is the Head of each local church, and He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 6:9).

There is so much in these verses, and we will not get to all of it today. But the idea is holding to what is good.

Imagine if we have churches that truly cherish the ones who served as pastors, cherish their wives and children and the sacrifices made. Imagine if we have churches that cherish the deacons and their wives, their kids as well. What if we have churches that cherish the bus drivers, the janitors, the Sunday School teachers that come tired and worn out from all their labors as well? What if we cherish the people who made sure that snow was moved from the doors, stairs and ramps?

What if our churches were safe places to hear the truth โ€“ even the harsh truths about our sin, my sin, about Hell and the finality of it? What if our churches were truly the Light on a Hill that drew all people in our areas to Jesus, or at least the ones who were looking? This is how we hold to things that are good.

All too often, we say these catchphrases, but we do not put actions to words; we do not put effort into the cause. Cherish those that do the work among you and cherish peace. Hold on to the workers, and hold on to peace; hold on to what is good.

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

How to Connect with Us

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MississaugaMissionaryBaptistChurch

Online: https://www.mississaugamissionarybaptistchurch.com/ (under construction)

Email: missionarybaptistchurch76@yahoo.ca

1 Thes. Lesson 9: The God Who Comforts Us, Part 2 :: By Sean Gooding

1 Thessalonians Lesson 9: The God Who Comforts Us, Part 2

Chapter 5: 1-11

“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.

6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”

As I mentioned last week, we will be back in this text as we explore the God Who comforts Us. Last week we talked about the return of Jesus. This event is referred to as The Day or That Day. Now the return of Jesus, as we discussed, happens in two parts. The first part is the Rapture when we meet Jesus in the air. The dead in Christ will rise first, and then we which remain will be caught up (raptured) and meet Jesus in the air.

You can re-read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, then read Revelation 4:1. If you take the context, in the first three chapters, the church age is laid out with the seven predominant types of churches that will exist and the predominant ones for each age, ending with the Laodicea church at the end of the church age. In Revelation 4:1, we see a door open in heaven, there is a sound like a trumpet, and we are ‘caught up.’ This is the rapture at the end of the church age. The second part of The Day is in Revelation 19:11 when Jesus returns WITH the saints to conquer earth, defend Jerusalem, and set up the 1000-year Kingdom. These events all make up The Day.

  • Conflicting Terms, verses 3 and 11

Destruction and comfort seem to be conflicting terms. But it all depends on which side of the grace of God you are on. Take a look at the world around us; for sure, we can see the destruction that is coming. Take a look at your own house; can you and your spouse borrow tons and tons of money without end and financially survive? Why? We all know that borrowed monies eventually have to be repaid. Yet, our governments are doing just that. They borrow and borrow trillions and trillions of dollars, and in the back of our minds, we know that it has to be repaid.

Let me explain this for you a bit because those of us who have never held a million dollars, furthermore a billion, have a hard time understanding how much money our governments burn through. According to an article from ABC7news.com, if you had one billion dollars, you could spend $5,000 per day for more than 500 years before you ran out of money. To be crazier, if you spent $100,000 per day, it would take 25 years to run out of money. If you stacked one billion dollars in one-dollar bills, it would take about 30 years before you stopped stacking. A trillion dollars is 1000 billion. This is a path of destruction, and we know that it will come; but to us that know the Lord, it is a sign of comfort. Or, at least it should be.

We can see the Bible playing out right before us, and we can have confidence in it. But we are going to suffer, you say. Maybe. But it will be for a short time. Who says we will suffer? The Psalmist says that he has never seen the seed of the righteous begging for bread (Psalm 37:25).

What will be times of catastrophic destruction for the world system will be the glorious revealing of our faith. Our faith will become sight. While they are suffering, we can rejoice that God’s word is true and trustworthy. We don’t want to rejoice in their suffering as people; this is not allowed according to the scripture, but we are allowed to rejoice that God’s word is true and reliable. This is how we truly comfort each other; we help each other to have confidence in God’s word. This is why it is so important to know the Bible, to study it, and make sure we attend churches where the Word of God, the Bible, is front and center. It is the focal point of all that is done in that church.

We can see the collapse of society happening almost in slow motion; they think that they are progressing and becoming more and more utopian, but the truth is they are creating a more hostile and broken society than any we have seen in 50+ years. When the government wants to do for people what God told them to go out and do for themselves, they create damaged and entitled people. When governments try to be God, they end up hurting the people they claim to want to help. The people doing the helping always think that they are superior to the ones being helped. This begins the destruction; they think that they are creating ‘peace and safety,’ but they are paving the way to destruction. It is sad to see, hard to watch, and a sobering reminder that God is true all the time.

  • Be Prepared, verses 6-8

There is a very famous man on TV โ€“ I guess infamous is a better term. He is on religious broadcasting, and he is always peddling ‘doomsday’ kits. Things like food rations and flashlights, and on and on. Some would call him a preacher, but I would not stain the position by calling him a preacher. He warns us to be ready for the end times. It appears that he and his listeners are going to be here for a large part of the Tribulation or maybe all of it. The idea of his pitch is to be ready. Paul, a true preacher, has a different take on being ready for The Day. He tells us here in verses 6-8 what we should do to be ready.

Do not sleep; rather, be watching and sober [in your right mind]. The word of God is designed to keep us in our right minds. We are not to be hysterical and conspiracy theorists; we deal in facts — the facts of God’s Word. As well, this does not mean not to go to sleep; rather, it means that we are ever watchful and awake to the things around us. We are to be able to assess the events of our day and come to sober conclusions based on the word of God. This then frames how we live, how we love, how we prepare for the future.

The tendency for many is to get off the grid and to seclude themselves. We watched a show about this, and it is very interesting and tempting. We can just hide until Jesus comes to get us. But that is not sober thinking; rather, we are to be ever more vigilant with the Gospel. Why? Because God is patient and loving, and He wishes all to repent (2 Peter 3:9).

We are to protect our hearts and minds; we are to have the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of salvation. These are parts of the same armour mentioned in Ephesian 6. Faith and love go hand in hand. We can become bitter and cynical when we lose our faith. Peter tells us in 1 Peter that some lose their faith so much that they deny the Lord who bought them. Yes, supposedly saved people denying the Lord. They become the truest enemies of the Lord’s churches. It is important that as we see The Day approaching that we have our faith grounded in the Word of God and that we continue to love God and love others sacrificially.

I have a confession. When I realized that President Trump had lost the last election, I could not understand it. I argued with God as to why He would stand by and allow this to happen. Why take power from a man, though very rough around the edges, who had stood for and with Israel, had promoted the Bible, and yes, even the Gospel so openly. Why? I was disillusioned for a long time. But then I began to understand more and more that all these men, Trump included, are just pieces of God’s puzzle; God put him there to advance the plan, and now He has put President Biden there to further advance the plan. My job was not to question God’s choices but to accept them and keep the faith, love my God, and love my neighbour. God is in control; it is His plan, and He will not be outplayed at the game He invented.

Then the helmet of salvation; keep your head right. We are children of God. He has our backs, and He will never abandon us; it would be the same as abandoning Jesus, and God the Father would not do that. As we wait for Jesus to come and get us, let us keep maturing in Him. Let us surrender more and more to His will and His ways; let us become more and more obedient. Let His salvation work out in and through us as we live for Him. We should not let Jesus’ return cause us to become lazy; rather, more diligent and determined to be more like Jesus. I am not this way all too often. I get complacent and lazy. I pray that you don’t.

  • Not destined for Wrath, verse 9

The wrath of God was poured out on Jesus at the cross so we could have the blessings and favor of God. We are no longer appointed to the wrath of God, and what is coming in the world is the wrath of God.

Many people say that there is the Tribulation, and then the last half is the Great Tribulation. These are legitimate divisions as per the scripture, but nonetheless, the whole thing is the wrath of God. I don’t know about you, but Revelation 6, describing the very beginning of the Tribulation events, seems very wrathful to me. We are NOT appointed to wrath. Rather, we are appointed to obtain salvation in Jesus. Well, Paul was already saved; he did not have to obtain it. So, he is not talking about salvation from sin; that had happened to him on the Road to Damascus. What he was talking about, and the context confirms, was that wrath of The Day; we are not appointed to that wrath. In Jesus, we have salvation from that wrath.

These promises are the words we need to comfort each other. These truths, these clearly expressed statements of joy, help us to get through, help us to endure, and help us to handle the few bumps and maybe even a few seemingly dangerous tides as they come. We may be hurt, some die, but we are still not appointed to the wrath of God; Jesus took that for us. The road ahead may become โ€“ well, truthfully, will become rough at times. The road ahead may be fraught with danger as the hatred for the truth becomes more and more vicious. But stand fast, stand firm, trust God (faith), serve others (love), and share the truth of the Gospel.

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

How to Connect with Us

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MississaugaMissionaryBaptistChurch

Online: https://www.mississaugamissionarybaptistchurch.com/ (under construction)

Email: missionarybaptistchurch76@yahoo.ca