The Hard work of Ministry

Bethel am: 2.12.12
Title: Get on with living or get on with dying.
Intro: always amazed how we attract folks to ministry. I wonder the type that would have signed on for this.
Luke gives a little “trip tic” review. Chased from Philippi, the Egnatian way offered a strategic thoroughfare into the main city of the district of Macedonia… A city of 70,000 with a synagogue and many interested hearers.
All of this part of the Macedonian call. What they had pioneered in Philippi, they now moved to Thessalonica.
The push into Thessalonica
He reasoned with them: His message lacking only the carelessness, and shallow application that is given to much of what is offered as biblical or Gospel presentations. Far from merely offering “Jesus as the fixer”, Paul sought to connect the prophecies of old with the present day application of a crucified, resurrected Jesus, who was not only capable of meeting the needs of personal sin, but abounds in the lavish grace only possible because of the offering of his life as a perfect substitution for that insatiable gulf of help and hope, brought about by our separation from Christ.
Explaining… Opening
Giving evidence: placing before them, to place beside
Both participles suggest a regular, consistent process by which truth is being made known.
Christ is Messiah
Christ is the only answer ( the stumbling block: that Christ must die for the Jews): Luke 24:26).
Christ is real: The historical Jesus is the real Thing.
The combination of skill, persistence, and wholeheartedness is rarely seen:
I Thess. 1; 2;
What can we draw from this?
The Apostle had created an environment where valuable dialogue was taking place.
Further, he had placed himself in a situation where he could continue to gain a Hearing: (tent making). Paul looked at his “other” occupation as neither a drag upon his life or merely an income, but more importantly, a means by which he could continually be productive– worthy of consideration for everyone looking to maximize your impact in a secular world.
That dialogue was responsible for purposeful decisions for Christ. It was productive.
That activity ultimately contributing to the intensive reaction from the crowd, and,
The reality of the mob mentality taking captive the mind, emotions, and will of a “crowd” to generate a “reaction”.

The Push back from the crowd.
A mob ensues, at the request of the Jews: as assembly of “want-a-bees” neerdowell, and the senseless. All too common for the spiritually dead to be called upon to offer support for a cause they know little of, and have no character with which to offer the situation. ( my own situation)
AT Robertson writes,
” the Agora or marketplace was the natural resort for those with nothing to do, like the court-house square today or various parks in our cities where bench warmers flock. Plato calls these fellows idlers or good for nothing fellows. They are in every city and such “bums” are ready for any job… So the Jewish preachers gather to themselves a choice collection of these market- loungers or loafers or wharf rats.” pg. 270, Robertson.

Gathering, literally, making a crowd. Finally, Robertson calls it a combination of Rabbis and rabble…
There is just enough truth in the charges drummed up by the crowd to raise the level of concern with the Politarchs: (Jesus: Luke 23:2) after all,
they did serve a “king” greater than Caesar,
and they are advocating a radical lifestyle,
and they have in effect offered a radical turn for the society turned upside down in a hopeless frenzy…
and yet the rulers seem to understand the nature of the truth about their message at work here.
Jewish hardliners… How quickly we resort to mob mentality when we are in danger of losing the rational high ground:( Sue B Kommen Foundation: planned parenthood, helping women?)
The reaction understandable when you tell people, convinced of their own righteousness that all of it is the essence of filthy rags,
when in fact they’re counting on that very righteousness to catapult them in to heaven…
And I’m talking in some cases, stalwarts of the church; been walking around working their way into the finest front row seats into heaven but haven’t got a clue on the necessity of Christ’s death as the only and full road map to get there.

Bond posted, missionaries safe.
On their departure from Thessalonica: I Thess. 2:17-18.
A progressive Christian life is best pursued cutting across the expected and the easy. How gutsy are you to live out a life that cuts across the grain?2:1-2. More generous than you ever thought you could be… More bold than you ever imagined was with you… More concerned about this church’s future than you were just 1 year ago… More excited about getting involved than you ever thought was possible?
A penetrating Christian life is best pursued by caring about those within our sphere of influence: I Thess. 2:8. How much do you care about the people you serve? Care enough to impart your life into theirs?
A purposeful Christian life is best pursued by pressing on toward Jesus, breath by breath, day by day, step by step, until we’re finally home: Living each day to the fulfillment of Christ’s glory.

Upon his departure from Shanghai, as the communists were burning the city, an unknown missionary from China Inland mission wrote,
Tonight Shanghai is burning
And I am dying too.
But there’s no death more certain
Than the death inside of you
Some men die of Shrapnel
While some go down in flames.
But most men die inch by inch
While playing at little games.

So many spend the whole of their lives, merely dying inch by inch…

I found a closing scene in the difficult film, Shaw-shank Redemption most illuminating.
Convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sentenced to life in the corrupt and ill-conceived Shaw-shank prison, just outside Portland Maine, Timothy Robbins’ character finally concludes he has tortured his own soul long enough for the crimes never committed and fulfills his desires to escape. Just before he follows through with his escape, he confronts his friend, Red, played by Morgan Freeman, who has tried to help him adapt to the hopelessness of institutional life….

Robbins concludes,
“it’s time for a choice Red,… Get busy living, or get busy dying”

Are you busy living out a life of purpose for the Lord, of just dying away, one slow paycheck at a time… The little games of life, so important at the moment, become nothing more than a slow death, playing out before our eyes.


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