February 2, 2020
1 Thessalonians 2: 17 - 3:10

Grow: Assess Spiritual Growth

This sermon will start on 
February 2, 2020
8:20 am
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Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the seeds, according to the will of God. For we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom you for new he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son. In order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers, and those whom he predestined, he also called and those whom he called he also justified and those who be justified, he also glorified. Oh, I love that you have not left us and I love that you sent your Spirit to dwell with us. You even said Jesus said, something better is coming. As you ascended into heaven, you sent your very Spirit to dwell with him as you're so close. That you know the deep recesses of our hearts the deepest longings and desires and pains and brokenness and struggle. You know them so much that you can actually articulate the words that we don't know what to say to the Father sitting on the throne. You're fat close, that you give us the words to say to you Father God, I gift that is that you hear the prayers of your people and you even help us pray those prayers. Oh God, we love that about you. Thank you for never leaving us. Thank you for making a way for us, to be with you, to love you to know you. But thank you for continuously making a way for us for continuously freeing us for continuously hearing us for continuously loving us for continuously changing us to become more and more and more like you. Oh, you have not left us for a second discover that refresh us today. As we open your world would we be conformed to the image of your son today? We pray these things in your name Jesus Christ. Amen.

Well, good morning, Cottage Grove. It's good to see all of you. My name is Sandy. I'm one of the pastor's here at church and I want to welcome especially those of you who are new, we often don't say hi to you, and I'm doing that today. Hello, if you're new and your guest, it's great to have you and in fact, we're trying to make you feel more and more at home if you're new here and trying to discover if this is a church that you can be involved in. And so behind you and that kind of cafe space where you get your liquid energy you can, you can go we have a welcome space back there and we set that space up so that if you want to know more about this church that's like a location you can go to so we have someone from our welcome team there who can meet you know, you get some of your information, give you a free coffee mug, yes. which is exciting and also give you information for our foundations, class foundations of Cottage Grove is our class for those of you who are interested to figure out what in the world is this whole thing about? So we're going to pop the hood of Cottage Grove we want to tell you more of who we are history, what we believe what we value. What does it look like to be involved in the regular rhythms of this church.

We just wanted to be an easy way for you get to know people this, this place kind of gets big. There's a lot of folks around here. So we want to try to make it feel a little bit smaller for you. And we've designed that class to know people and kind of know who we are. So go to that welcome space. And you can just get to know more about our church and find ways for you to get more and more involved. We also one of the places in your back pocket on February the week of February 16. Rather, we're going to be starting our men's and women's equipping classes once again. Yes, very exciting. Some of you have been involved in who's been involved in a men's or women's class here. Cottage Grove. Amazing. Yeah. So awesome. We for the gals. Women's equipping happens on Tuesday evenings now happening in the basement. It's great. It's this gals coming together and loving each other getting to know each other and then just being saturated by equipping from the Word of God. And for us dudes wake up real early six o'clock in the morning, and we come together and have coffee. Yes, I've been really working on pastor recap to bring us donuts. So that's still kind of kind of my goal. Ryan Kennedy as well, he's not here yet. I'll make sure maybe I can convince them that that is a blessing manna from heaven for fellas at six o'clock in the morning. So starts February 16. This study this semester is on looking at the common thread throughout the entirety of Scripture. We want to talk about biblical theology, we want to just help us understand how does that actually work? What does that look like to just trace that the meta themes of Scripture all the way through so that's what this round is going to be like? It's it we do it like a like, like in basically like a seminar type format. So so it'll happen for about four weeks, four to five weeks, and we come together, if you can commit to it, you can do it, especially you dudes. It's just a month of waking up early. Some of you do it on a regular basis to go work out. You can work out your mind and your love for Jesus together. So we can do that as well. So yeah, keep that in your back pocket. You can look at more info in the program and then next week is when we are starting our foundations of the gospel class I've been talking about that past few weeks is what it's happening next week. If you haven't signed up, go for it if you want to know about the basic building blocks of understanding the gospel, and then therefore being able to talk about the gospel with people who you live around you work with, you're in the dorm with whatever it may be that class, please sign up for it. It's open to everybody in our church. So those are announcements. I'd like to now to turn to First Thessalonians chapter two starting in verse 17. We're continuing our series on discipleship, talking about just this framework of building authentic relationships, which we talked about last week, assessing spiritual growth, which is this week and then setting transformational goals which will be the next two weeks but this Sunday, we're talking about assessing spiritual growth. That's what this morning is about. And I believe that as we continue to work through this stuff in First Thessalonians we're going to get more and more insight to this. Well as you guys are turning the been processing through for some weird reason. My grandmother Lynn, my great grandma Lynn was from Oklahoma City. She lived it Yeah, okay, there she is, just loved my family like way too much. My especially my dad and his two brothers, my uncle's just grew up loving them, feeding them all that type of stuff that we that my dad and my uncles like lived down the street from her too. So, grandma land, bless her soul. She was, you know, 90 pounds soaking wet and live to be about 95 years old, which is crazy. So loved her like crazy. She was awesome. It was a privilege to get to know a great grandmother. But here's the factoid about grandma Lynn. She was a worrier. Like, okay, so we moved up to Iowa, and for like an Oklahoman, Iowa is the most terrifying place in the known universe because there's this horrible dreadful things starts with an S called snow that exists all over the place. And grandma Lynn would incessantly watch The Weather Channel for just waiting for the next round of awfulness to hit us so that she could then to start dialing the phone making sure we are live making sure we prepared that we had water for the next nine months. Then we were all good to go like loaded up constantly, constantly, like just calling us over and over again. Because she was just super worried about us. She had deep concern for us because she loved us so much deep concern for us. This woman loved us. And she was so concerned when our well being and her mind was at stake. And she would not rest until she knew that we were okay. Cottage Grove, we have a God in heaven, a lord in heaven who deeply loves us, and is so concerned for our well being that it prompted him to not call us to not simply just give us a call to not simply send a letter to not simply send an angel on his behalf to check up on us. No, he came himself to the earth to ensure that not only were we okay, but to ensure that we could actually be saved from the horrible thing that was wrecking our well being sin itself. So it was his deep concern and love for us that prompted him to check up on us and ultimately redeem us.

In discipleship, we follow the footsteps of our Lord with that exact same thing. That it is out de out of deep concern that we check up on one another, which is why we believe the second component of discipleship within this framework is assessing spiritual growth. So with that, I want you to stand up with me and we're going to read first Thessalonians. It's a bit of a longer passage today. But I want us to read all of it together. Because I believe that this this gives us a powerful snapshot. So we're going to go from chapter two verse 17, to chapter three, verse 10. Okay, so let's read this out loud together, written from the ESV The words are put on the screen as well. But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person, not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you, I, Paul again and again, but Satan hindered us for what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at is coming? Is it not you, for you are glory and joy. Therefore, when we could bear it no longer we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone. And we sent Timothy, our brother and God's co worker in the Gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions, for you yourselves know that we are destined for this, for when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand, that we were to suffer affliction, just that it has come to pass. And just as you know, for this reason, when I could bear it no longer I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain. But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love, and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us as we long to see you, for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction, we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live if you are standing fast in the Lord, for what Thanksgiving can return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly, night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith. Let's pray. Jesus asked that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart would be pleasing to you Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. God would you be glorified this morning from the sermon that is this impacting the reality that your affection for us, prompted the assessment of us Scott and we follow in those footsteps as we try to make disciples. So, God would you be made famous this morning we put these things in Christ's name, amen. Yes Can Be seated.

Susie, main idea this morning from this taxes we're talking about discipleship, is assessment flows from affection. Assessment flows from affection, our assessment of other spiritual condition, which is integral to discipleship. I've seen Where's where each other at on our journey and following Jesus Robin intentional relationships we know we're going to care about where our spiritual conditions are with one another. Well, all of that flows from a deep affection that we do have for one another. You can't separate those two things. Yeah, that's why you cannot have a proper discipleship without building authentic relationships like we talked about.

Last week, but what is the inevitable next step, that affection inevitably what comes next is assessing where each other are at. And we see I believe Paul is showing us prescriptively just a model for what that possibly looks like. And I think it gives insight into how we therefore go about assessing one another's spiritual growth. So, two points for you this morning. Concern leads to assessing spiritual health is number one. And then number two, comfort results from assessing spiritual growth. So concern leads to assessing spiritual health and comfort results from assessing spiritual growth. So start with this first point and thinking about that affection flows to assessment. I'm sorry, assessment flows from affection. So comfort leads to assessing spiritual health. Here's what's Paul's concern. And it was this and you read the story about what was actually happening in Thessalonians from Acts chapter 17. So you can check it out. You can look at it. It was rough. Paul showed up. He preached the gospel many believes the Gentiles, Jews and Gentiles all came to faith. But it came to a point where a Jewish mob showed up because of just how threatening this new believer this new group of believers were to the institution at hand, especially the Jewish ones, that they dragged all of these new Thessalonians believers into the rulers in front of the Council of rulers at Thessalonica. And the Jews charged them with this is what the text says in Acts chapter 17. These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also. They are all acting against Caesar saying that there is another King Jesus. When you proclaim Jesus Christ as the King, chaos is going to inevitably come to the world around you. When you proclaim that Jesus is king, chaos is going to happen. Because that's this racking. It's turning everything upside down. We as as followers of Jesus Christ, turn the world upside down when we're authentically following him?

Allegiances are shift ethics are brand new purpose living life is totally different when you follow Jesus it turns the world upside down. It totally does. Now what's happening to these disciples in Acts chapter 17? Things got so bad though. The persecution got so bad that the believers had to smuggle Paul and his partner Silas out of the city by nightfall. He's got that bad. So while there is this bubbling, new gospel work happening happening and Thessalonica, Paul was torn from them, he says, taken away from them early because of what had happened. So here he is existing in Athens and just longing to see what the world is going on with a beautiful church that got it started. What is happening to them what is going on with them? So that's where we get to this section and First Thessalonians Paul is describing his his pain for not being with them, his concern for them, his love for them is all being expressed. So let's unpack that he wanted to return to them he was saying, for he had a deep love for the church. He said that his desire was to see them face to face, face to face, his his desire, his love for the Thessalonians resulted in a deep concern for them. For us, our love for others results in a deep concern for them.

Love produces concern. Love produces concern. And in fact, when a concern is lacking, love is actually doubtful. So when I hear my son Lincoln, like crash in the other room, and I kind of say this, and Sherry's fine I just you know, hearing screaming is going to be all right. I just I think it's all okay, I'm not gonna I'm not super worried about it actually, that the love for me as a father is not putting question because when you hear a concerning noise, you're running it love is causing you to say, if my loved one is harmed, I shall do everything I can to make sure that they are okay. Right. Love produces concern, when that's lacking. There's actually some doubtfulness within the authenticity of the love itself. We are concerned for others because we love them. And that's what's true about Paul here as well. And the text says this and this was kind of confusing in the ESV. But he said I Paul, again and again, that interjection right in verse 18, because we wanted to come to you I Paul again and again, what's literally being said, there's I'm trying over and over and over and over again.

Want to see you face to face? We're trying to get there. I'm trying over and over and over again to get it done. This concern Paul had for them was jacking him up. He wasn't able to sleep. He wasn't able to think right, he needed to get to them and ensure that they were okay. His love for them was that deep. So therefore his concern, was that profound. Right? his concern was that profound Paul said that the reason though, he wasn't able to be with him, do you see it in the text? The reason?

Okay, was this. Satan hindered us. Satan hindered us. I'm going to be honest, I don't think that excuse is going to work for me if I'm coming home late from work, they violate Satan hindered me. That's what happened. It's not going to fly. It's not a great excuse. But that's literally what Paul is saying here. I'm unable to get to you. Not because of logistical issues, not because I couldn't get my travel agent like setup, not because like the car didn't start. I couldn't get to you because Satan hindered me from doing so.

Scholars actually believe what is going on, at least on logistically what was happening. And what you read from Acts 17 is that there was a legal ban and fines given for the Christians coming together. So so the Thessalonians rulers to present prevent this thing from happening. We're finding Christians making it illegal. That's what we're seeing with what was happening in with Jason and the rest of the believers and Acts chapter 17. a logistical reason and policy No, no, no, no, no. That's a spiritual reason. I know what's happening beneath the surface here. I'm looking at the world through the lens of the spiritual battle that we are actually fighting that even when I could explain this logically through legal means, human means whatever I know what truly is going on. Satan is blocking me that word hindered is what the same word that would be described as when militaries would destroy the road to prevent an advancing army from coming towards them. Satan is putting road spikes in the road, preventing me from getting to you. These creating blockades. Preventing me from actually seeing you face to face and here is why Satan is threatened by the unity of the church. Satan is threatened when we are authentically building relationships with each other. Satan is threatened when we're striving to authentically live in community together. Satan is threatened because of this. Jesus said, the world will know that I am the Lord that I came for you that I love you by how they love one another.

So when the Christians are actually living this authentic community together, you are waging war against the spiritual Dark Forces of the year. So church, if we're saying, we are having 2020 be all about discipleship. We have a target on our backs, from the enemy himself.

You realize no framework is going to get this done. You realize No, great programming is going to get this done. You realize no discipleship, like tool kit is going to help get this done. You realize no really great conversations efforts. goodwill is going to get this done. No, you can fight spiritual darkness with human means you have to fight it with spiritual tools.

Prayer Cottage Grove is going to be the fuel by which this actually gets accomplished. Are you getting on your knees daily now asking the Lord Jesus Christ to say, empower me by your spirit, to build authentic relationships acquit me through your word, to actually assess spiritual growth helped me by the power of your spirit, to actually begin setting transformational goals and God I need you to protect me through that entire process. Because we are not battling against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and powers and principalities of the air. discipleship is an act of war against Satan. So let's fight this battle with the proper tools. The Lord Jesus Christ has given us spiritual ones, the Word of God and prayer. Let's get that done. Paul's laying that out.

This is a spiritual thing that's happening here. But this whole concern even though Satan is preventing it from happening and making it clunkiness, it's an act of war. Paul's loving concern still leads him to assess their spiritual well being. His deep concern for the well being losing sleep over it knew that things were rough assessment flows from affection. He's worried about their spiritual well being. So look at this in the text. He's saying this in verse five for this reason why I could bear it no longer ice I sent Timothy specifically which you mentioned in verse one, to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.

So he's aware of how deeply terrible this persecution has been. And he's aware of the potential of their faith being wrecked as a result of it. He's aware about all of this. So he therefore did everything that he could to send out, Timothy, he's not just assuming that they're okay. assuming it's pretty easy. When you're noticing that somebody's struggling, the easy thing to do is just assume that they're fine. I just assume that the doubts are done with I assume that that same struggle is gone. I assume that they're no longer having issues in their marriage, I assume that they're no longer lonely anymore. I assume that they're probably doing fine. So they got that new job, I assume, I assume I assume. Here's the reality. We can never have assumption, replace assessment and true discipleship. We can never have assumption replace assessment and true discipleship. We can never assume we must assess. And that's what Paul is doing here. He says Timothy, even if he can't go final sent him to go check you out. I'm not going to assume you're fine. I'm going to make sure that you are I'm going to send them to assess what truly is going on. So for us practically super practically. What does that actually look like for us honestly, it's asking hard questions. It's asking hard questions. It's having a relationship with someone, we're not just going to assume they're fine. You're going to ask questions to assess if that is indeed true.

You're going to ask questions about what they're believing. You're gonna sit down with your friend and say, Tell me what you understand about the gospel. Tell me what you think about God and His love for you. Tell me what you think about humanity and where they're at. You're actually asking theological questions, hard ones, you're going there. You're actually asking that stuff. Because you're not just assuming that they're just fine and their relationship with the Lord. You're going to make sure that they are. Are you going to find out if they're not? You're going to ask questions about sin struggles, who now we get awkward. That's a recap said a couple weeks ago, that's like an assault against the Iowa niceness when you're actually asking this question. What are you doing by yourself in your room at night?

What bitterness? Are you holding against individuals? When we open this text together and all of these sins are laid out? Which one are you struggling with the most right now? You're actually asking how are you doing? Brother, Sister? How are you actually doing? What sin struggles? Do you have to ask about their beliefs? We ask about their sins. We ask about their spiritual disciplines, which really say, are you reading your Bible on a regular basis? Not out of a legalist not out of like making sure you're following the rules, knowing that that's the lifeblood of your like vitality with the Lord. And that's the only thing you can do to wage war against the spiritual forms of darkness is for saturated by the word of God. How is your prayer life? Are you talking to the Lord on a regular basis? Are you actually having deep times in prayer where you're talking to the Lord or does he feel distant to you? Do you feel like he's not listening to you? When you're listening to even just the the worship today, do you believe the words that were coming out that he's a way maker that he can get things done, that he listens to your prayers. Do you believe that? Are we asking those questions? So our theology, our sin struggles, our spiritual disciplines, and fruit is the fourth big category of questions we should be asking. are you growing in your relationship with the Lord?

Are you growing in your love? For those who don't know him? are you sharing the gospel with people? Are you actually desiring to be generous with your money? Oh boy, if you want to destroy relationship talk about money are you going to are you longing to serve our community? Are you caring about the things of mercy and justice in this world? Are you longing to say noticing and yes to righteousness? Are you seeing the fruits of the Spirit bubble up? From your life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control? Do you see those things coming out? Practically? Do we ask hard questions?

That's what it means to assess spiritual growth for we don't know where somebody is at. Unless we ask. That's a big task for us got a job? Let me ask you that question. With someone you're close to? Are you asking hard questions? Are you asking hard questions? So that's for us. We're doing the assessing. So what about for us who are being assessed? When things are flipped? When things are difficult, because someone's actually like saying some hard things for us? Well, I think one thing we need to know is this. It is human tendency to hide. It's human tendency to hide. We saw with our forefathers in the garden, when Adam and Eve took the fruit, the first thing that happened was what they hid from God. You can trace the biblical narrative and you see we as sinners, we hide our sin. We try to conceal it. We try to try to try to make sure we put up a good face. We don't want to answer the hard questions correctly.

We do not, because we're vulnerable in that moment we've been caught in that moments, we try to hide and lie in the midst of that moment. And enjoy knowing something. Sin is very much like the moldy bread in the back of your fridge. It thrives in darkness, dampness, and out of sight. It spreads actually, when it's like that, that is a perfect environment, to have sin, start with something small, and for it to fester and destroy the entire loaf of your life. But if you bring it into the light, as Jesus Christ is in the light first, john says, then we can actually have fellowship with one another and God cleanses us Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness that mold can't survive when it's in a consistent environment, under heat, and the proper invite all that type of it gets killed actually in the midst of that so we with our sin, need to kill it by actually being authentic when someone asks us the hard questions, we can't hide. Instead, we actually have to bring it out to the light. And then we also have to believe this when someone is asking us a hard question. Then when someone asks us a hard question, it's motivated out of affection.

We don't believe that very often do we? We think it's out of judgment. We think it's out of wanting to get us. We think it's out of wanting to have something against us. We think it's there maybe wanting us to get ours or whatever. But the reality is, if we're finding ourselves in an authentic relationship, hard questions are asked out of affection for you, not to attack you. Woof. It's hard to believe. But we have to just keep our minds sharp in our hearts at bay to be able to know that we know that we know that in true discipleship hard questions are asked out of affection.

And that's also a check for those of us who are asking the hard questions to make sure. Are we actually asking them out of affection? Or do we want to make them squirm? Do we like them getting theirs? Do we want to just prove ourselves to be more like, righteous than they are? Is it out of pride that we're asking this question? So notice it is crucial for authentic relationships to be the atmosphere when spiritual growth is being assessed? Because no matter where you are in this conversation, affection needs to be the name of the game. Are you asking them out of affection? And are you receiving them with knowing that affection is motivating it? That's the environment. When this discipleship can actually flourish. When affection is the thing that's driving all of it, that's what Paul is doing here. This this affection is what has prompted him to send Timothy and his his tone there, his environment there all of that was just bleeding with affection for his love for the church as well. So crucial for us. Okay, but this is also of mass importance for us to see of Paul's deep concern for the Thessalonians. And this is this, this shows us the method by which we sometimes have to go about assessing spiritual growth. Okay? Look with me in the text.

For you said this in verse one and verse chapter three and chapter three. Therefore, we can bear it no longer. We were willing to be left behind it Athens alone. And we sent Timothy, our brother and God's co worker in the Gospel of Christ to establish and CO and exhort you in your faith, that no one may be moved by these afflictions, for you ourselves know that we are destined for this. The crazy reality of all of this was that Paul was willing to be left alone for their good Paul was willing to be left alone by himself, sending Timothy who is bringing him comfort, encouragement and strength, so that comfort, encouragement and strength could be given to those who he loved.

Loving affection often results in our welfare being at stake for the good of their welfare. That our concern and our love often results at the expense of our good to ensure that they're good is set. Paul is demonstrating that he's shown that affectionate concern that prompts assessment will often be at the expense of our own well being.

My brother in law is an anesthesiologist up in, in South Dakota, and his his his time in med school was rough, very hard, very difficult, like suffered through like depression difficulty all sorts of major major horrible things. Well he finally like and so I mean hey med school students in this room y'all are experienced something that not not many of us can get through but you just know you're not alone. It happens to everybody you get even my brother in law can say you'll get there so steady, strong, but this will happen. It got so bad. My father in law found out about it. And my brother in law was trying to keep Andy His name's Andy it's confusing for my son Lincoln. He just thinks all humans are males are Andy so uh, but he, so Andy struggling and my father in law hears of this So Brian decides on a whim, he was living in Phoenix at the time, bought a very expensive plane ticket, hopped on the plane at a moment's notice when he found out that it was this bad.

And within hours he was up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with my brother in law, I'm sorry, was Iowa State Iowa University at University of Iowa with my brother in law and spent the weekend with my brother in law talking with him. Ministering to him, helping his son work through difficult things. But what happened was my father in law had to spend money, had to disrupt his job had to actually exhaust him, because he had plenty of stuff to do. But instead he exhausted himself for the good of his son. Don't you see that when we have deep affection for one another, that it will often be at the expense of our own energy, our own comfort, our own money, our own time, our own welfare, it could sometimes even cost the very livelihood of ourselves, that that we need to be able to bear burdens for one another. Don't you understand? Sometimes the burden that you bear to take on the good of the other will sometimes cause you to have soreness of your back because it takes so much weight upon you to carry it for them. But I need you to know it is not out of your strength that you get that done. That is actually because there is somebody who saw your pain. You saw your brokeness read so much concern for you that he decided at the expense of his own welfare that he would come and that he would take all of your burdens, all of your sins, all of your brokenness, all of your struggle upon himself. Jesus Christ did this on the cross Cottage Grove, at the expense of his own good. He loved you so much that he died in order that you could live that he was crash so that you could stand up, that he was forsaken, so that you could be accepted. Loving affection is so at the cost of the good of ourselves for the good of the other. Jesus Christ did that for us first. And he empowers you to live that radical, selfless, costly love, just like he did.

What a beautiful God we serve to empower us to live like that. This loving concern also brings forth deep comfort. That's a love of the latter half of this and this is the latter half of this sermon. That comfort results from assessing spiritual growth. Assessment brings comfort to those who are doing the assessing. Okay? So it's it you also get comfort when you're assessing people and this is what we see with Paul here that it says in verse six now that Timothy has come to us and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and longed to see us as you're longing to see you, for this reason, brothers and all of our distress and affliction, we have been comforted about you through your faith. For we live if you are standing fast, in the Lord. Timothy's report of observing their spiritual growth that he upset that he assessed brought comfort to Paul, in the midst of his own affliction. It brought him comfort. Not only were they doing okay, there were thriving this bright encouragement to Paul in the midst of all this, we live, he says there there direct well being, their well being rather directly affected Paul's well being. So you're knitted together in discipleship and a very mysterious way where you ride the roller coaster of what the other is going through. That's why the text says that we weep with those who weep, and we rejoice with those who rejoice.

But in discipleship, we live vicariously through the wonderful, same sanctification that we're observing as much like what I'm doing with my little brother will, so I brag on them all the time. So you guys haven't heard this, but I'm going to tell you now because it's the best. my little brother's a freak. He's an amazing runner. I will never be like him in a million years. I'm okay with it. His first marathon he qualified for the Olympic trials. So I'm going to go watch him in February, down in Atlanta, once in a generation opportunity. See your own can do something that really only you know, a handful of humans in the world could possibly do. So, total freak Guess what? Absolutely feel like I'm not fast. And some strange reason, like all my family were showing up. And like we did this is exactly how we feel like this. This is us. Like, we're crossing that finish line. What's great is we don't feel like death though he does, but we feel great. We, we we live vicariously through people. I mean, whether it's our parents, like they live vicariously through us, whether we're parents now we live vicariously through our kids, your sports team, you're gonna ride or die. Like it's gonna be horrible on Tuesday, when we all come back as a staff, or it's gonna be the greatest day of your life. So but we want we ride vicariously with what's happening through people, because the Lord Jesus Christ has united us that deeply with one another.

So when someone wins, we collectively win. When someone succeeds in victory over sin. That's why we celebrate like crazy. When someone believes in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of their sin and are baptized, that's why we say we celebrate, for this is a win, not just for that person. But for all of us. We're all knitted together like that. That's why we're called a body. So when someone a part of our body is strengthened, it helps the rest of our body grow in strength, and when part of our body is hurting, the rest of our body feels that pain.

That's why we ride the roller coaster. When we tend to friend's wedding, and we're crying with them, in joy, as we see the couple come in our unity and marriage together. And then we weep with them when the marriage falls apart. That's why we celebrate like crazy when the prayers of a son or daughter and the gift of pregnancy is given. Because we've been praying for that longing to see that happen. And then we cry like it happened to us when that child is lost through miscarriage it's the body of Christ that rides that roller coaster together in a community like no other in the world.

But we seek to know each other like that. We seek to assess each other like that we seek to be in each other's business so deeply not so that we have something against each other, but so that we can ride the roller coaster with one another, so that we can authentically bear each other's burdens so that we can be comforted by us when we're observing the amazing miracle before us. But so we can also bring comfort to those who are struggling to those who are needing extra faith who are those who are needing hope in the midst of despair, we strive to authentically assess where each other's at so we can authentically comfort one another in the midst of all of it. We see this at the very end of this text. And it's what Paul did this I'm going to conclude this is what Paul did with the Thessalonians. He assess them. He knew exactly where they were sent Timothy process through it, it was powerful. And then this is what he said at the very end. He said, we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith. He said this to them. I'm praying for you on a regular basis.

I know exactly what's going on. I'm praying for you be encouraged. What encouragement is that when a brother or sister comes up to you asked about how you're actually doing? You authentically answer the question and they say to you, I'm praying for you this week. Knowing you're being flanked like that, that's one of the most encouraging things we can say to one another. I'm praying for you. But what is immensely more encouraging as well, Paul actually did. Not just saying I'm praying for you, but actually doing it. And not just actually doing it, doing it right there on the spot. So we conclude this entire thing was saying I'm praying night and day. And then he writes a prayer forum. And it doesn't right here within the text itself. Now make God my May our God and Father Himself and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. May the Lord make you increase in abound in love for one another, and for all as we do for you that he may establish your hearts, blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all of his saints. Prayer is immensely comforting to all of us, no matter where we find ourselves, but let's just not say we're praying. Let's actually pray. Let's Let's not say I'll put you on my list. Let's actually check off the list right then in there and do it right in that moment. Let's do that thing with our co worker who's going through major issues and not do the nice Christian Hallmark II thing of saying, hey, just want you to know I'm praying for you say I'm going to do this awkward thing. Can I pray for you right now? Can I just like that might be weird. I don't know where you are in your relationship with Jesus. But But I'm just gonna do that. I tell you what. You want to do some radical discipleship, pray right there on the spot for people.

That's a shifting Cottage Grove and to us truly living this thing out of truly comforting those No matter if they believe in Jesus or not, prayer is the powerful tool we get to use along with the Word of God to wage war against the spiritual form of darkness, as we see to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and then the Father and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Guys, I desire us to be a church that authentically lives this out, assessing where each other are at for the good of, of comforting one another, but also this, of having the opportunity to remind one another of the ultimate comfort that we all need. In fact, Jesus Christ, called the Holy Spirit of God, the Comforter, that he's the one who truly knows where you're at. He's the one who truly knows your pain? He's the one who truly knows the struggles that you have. And ultimately what we need to be able to do is reassessing spiritual growth is pointing one another to the ultimate comforter that we all ultimately need. It's actually not each other where that best a mirror reflecting the greatest comfort we could ever find is being in the arms of the Comforter himself. And then and then I want you to stand with me. We're going to continue in worship together. I'm gonna pray over us.

Father God, I ask that you help us be a church because of our deep affection for one another. Be willing to do that hard work of asking hard questions, assessing where one another is a so that we can be vessels of your grace, like Paul was to the Thessalonians, exhorting one another and encouraging one another and charging one another to walk in a manner worthy of God who has called us into his own kingdom and glory. Oh God, we have a mighty comforter who dwells within us. That's your spirit, who comforts us in our time of God, you never left us nor forsake us. But Jesus, you came for us because he loved us that much at the expense of your own life. But you just kept on going in your grace and sending us your spirit to comfort us in our time of need. That as we assess our spiritual growth, and we're comforted by that, by that deep concern for each other and that comfort that we find in sharing what we're truly yet pointing us to the ultimate comfort which is you, Jesus and your Spirit. God do a mighty work in this place and I know that there are people in this room who do not know the true comfort that comes from trying to find comfort and things that empty, that will fail them that will not stand up to the pressures of this world. God would that comfort Spirit convicts reports today and convince them a new Jesus oriented Lord of all. They believe the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. We ask that you would do mighty work in this place. I pray these things in Christ's name, Amen.

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