Monday, May 18, 2020

Worship Service Recaps for May 17

We’ve done another week of worship-via-Internet-connectivity. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for this to be over.



That covers Sunday and last Wednesday! I’m still working on better distribution for those who avoid Facebook, but you should be able to view here without a Facebook account.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Encouraged: 1 Thessalonians 3

In Summary:
Paul opens 1 Thessalonians 3 giving his side of recent events, about how he reached a point where he needed to know what was happening with in Thessalonica, so he sent Timothy to check on the believers there. Here, it is helpful to remember the chronology from Acts 17, that Paul was only in town for a few weeks before being run out by the angry mob. He then went to Berea, and then on to Athens.

I see no reason to think that the recollections Paul makes here, of sending Timothy to the Thessalonians from Athens, are from any other time frame. It is, of course, possible, but the simpler solution puts the origin point there in the narrative. Of course, one should note that everything that happened in the life of Paul or Timothy is not recorded in the text, so we cannot make it an absolute claim. But let’s let the simple be the solution.

Having pointed out his personal concern for the church, he goes on to remind them of what he had told them in person—which is noteworthy, considering how little time they had together. There is something here to be considered, briefly: if you took a 3-week slice of any of your relationships and only had that to call on, what would your relationship have? Specifically, in your Christian relationships: do you go more than 3 weeks without encouraging other believers? Pastors and teachers, if someone took a 3-week slice of your teaching, how much would it help?

On track again, we wee Paul is concerned that the Thessalonian believers have been swallowed up by temptation in the absence of encouragement and teaching, even though he had warned them about the coming affliction that both he and they would suffer. The chapter ends with a benediction-type statement, a prayer that reads very much like it should be the end of the message. Paul, however, being a Baptist preacher, still has 2 chapters left to go…

In Focus:
Put 1 Thessalonians 3:7 in your focus for the time being: Paul is encouraged by hearing how the church is responding, even as he faces distress and affliction.

What affliction? Well, since Thessalonica, where Paul was run out in a riot, he’s been run out in a riot in Berea; he’s faced the philosopher’s guild of Athens and been cold-shouldered; he’s now most likely in Corinth—where he’ll be for over a year, but not without trial and difficulty.

Yet hearing from those he loves is an encouragement. Hearing from the ones he has taught is a positive for him.

In Practice:
Well, the first thing to do “in practice” is to keep the faith with what you have been taught! Not that this means we do not grow, develop, and change, but we should separate core truth from other understandings. Knowing that Jesus really lived, really died, really rose from the grave is crucial; your understanding of how to observe the Lord’s Supper is a secondary matter and can change. The first thing we should practice is keeping the faith.

The second thing we should practice is sharing with those who have taught us how we’re doing in keeping the faith. Sometimes, it’s obvious: if you are still face-to-face (or even Internet-to-Internet) with your teachers and mentors, they should be able to see it normal life. Although it’s also valuable to communicate directly about the impact someone has had in your life, you should also be obvious with it. If you are distant—send a note, an email, a card—there are ways.

The third thing we should do is keep in touch with those we have taught: how are you encouraging those who you have taught and moved away from? That’s a challenge for me, personally, as I’m wrestling with what it means for someone who has preached and taught in several churches in the last few decades: how do I make sure to reach back and encourage? Not because those churches need me, but because I should continue to carry a burden for them. (And I do. Somebody damaged the calm of one my previous pastorates, and I think I was almost as aggravated as their current pastor)

In Nerdiness: 
I have taken the assumption that Paul writes the Thessalonians from Corinth, where Timothy was able to rejoin him after checking on the church. Other options exist—and I’m not a New Testament scholar, so you’ll have to check out some of the good resources on Thessalonians for that.

I also would note John Chrysostom’s comments on v. 3 (found in The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture): Paul notes that his sufferings are the glory of the church, because God showed His love for the Thessalonians by allowing one of His servants, Paul, to suffer on their behalf. What would become of us if we thought that way? How much does God love us that someone suffered for our faith? How much does God love others that we should suffer for them?

Monday, May 11, 2020

Sermon Recap for May 10

Well, it was COVID Sunday number 8 yesterday, so here are the video files you’ve been waiting for!

Sermon only audio:

Have a great day!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Service Recaps for May 3

Well, another day of online-only church, another batch of videos to share. We did get the audio podcast back to working, so that’s there for you who subscribe.

Morning service:


Evening Service:


Also, take time to check out the back-catalog of videos on the church Facebook page here: East End Baptist Facebook Page.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Entrusted: 1 Thessalonians 2

In Summary:

In this chapter, Paul first hearkens back to his time with the Thessalonians. It wasn’t a very long visit (see Acts 17:1-9), and there was hardly time for Paul and Silas to build up the church there. They were able to win a good number of folks to Jesus, but overall his introduction to the Thessalonians was unpleasant. It was an unpleasantness that followed him onward from Thessalonica to Berea, where he had some peace there until representatives from the former showed up and started stirring up trouble.

As he recounts his time with the Thessalonians, Paul goes into his own motivations and actions during the three weeks he was there. He notes that “we were gentle among you…” and how they labored to avoid being a burden. He notes that the conduct of the ministry group was devout, righteous, and blameless. All three of these should be evident in the life of the church, especially if we are going to make a difference in the world around us.

Paul then goes on to note how the people who persecuted he and Silas are of the same mindset not only of those who killed Jesus but also persecuted the prophets of old. This is an important, though intermittent, theme in the New Testament letters: the continuity of the revelation of God from the Prophets, such as Isaiah or Jeremiah, to the Apostles. A good image is that they are the two spotlights shining on the subject, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is picked up in our doctrines of inspiration and other understandings of how God has worked: through one light shining on Christ from before He came, one light shining on Him after.

In Focus:

Taking a deeper look at 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20, we see Paul expressing thoughts about his relationship with the Thessalonian church. He recognizes that he was not able to stay as long as he wanted while also noting that he did not leave of his own free will. He notes that they made multiple efforts to come back, but there was always some form of hindrance. Paul attributes that hindrance to the work of Satan.

Why would Paul wanting to go to Thessalonica be important enough for Satan to interrupt?

If he had gone, Paul would have been able to encourage the church. He would have been able to make certain the church fully understood the Gospel. He would have been able to help the church start spreading the Gospel. He also would have helped them see the implications of the Gospel for their every day life, including modeling it on an extended basis.

Instead, he is left with ministry at a distance, with a deputized send of Timothy (chapter 3) to help out. His encouragement must come through a letter and a friend, rather than just himself. The benefit, though, is to future generations: we have very few notes of Paul’s sermons—some are present in the book of Acts. All of them are short. His letters are extended, and he uses the extra space to fill in deeper and fuller thoughts.

In Practice:

What, though, could this possibly have to do with us?

For starters, we should long for the encouragement, teaching, and modeling of life that happens in our face-to-face relationships. If we are never with other believers for these purposes, we are missing out.

Yet we should also note that God works out the details of our lives in such ways that we do not automatically expect. God uses the difficulties of our life to amplify and expand how He uses us in the world around us. So we should seek and utilize whatever opportunities we find in front of us, even if it is not the one that we wanted.

Dig in, then, and take up that which is in front of you, be it a camera, a pencil, or a small group of people who need encouragement. Go for it. God will work out the rest of the issues.

After all, we’re entrusted with the Word of God. Let’s not sit on it.

In Nerdiness:

1. “We” is fun in this passage: it could be either an editorial “we,” where Paul is primarily referring to himself but uses “we” because it sounds better; he could also be using “we” because it’s a broad reference to his entire team traveling and sharing the Gospel. I’m inclined toward him speaking on behalf of the group.
2. Paul’s statement of laboring to not be a burden (in 2:8-9) has often been used to club ministers who are paid for serving the local church or the Church upside the head. After all, Paul “labored” so as not to be a burden. A few notes: first, if your pastor is a ‘burden,’ then something’s wrong anyway; second, Acts records Paul as being there only about 3 weeks, so he didn’t set a long-term ministry pattern; third, again, if someone is burdening you and claiming it’s ministry, there is definitely something wrong.

Peace in a time of Pandemic

This is not one of those hyper-spiritual posts, where I claim that because of Jesus I have peace even in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Tr...