Jump In

SERMON NOTES  
July 26, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
2 Thessalonians 2
Strengthening Our Foundation 

Jump In

Today we are on our last day of our sermon series called Foundations, based on 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. During this series Paul has encouraged the church at Thessalonica to build their foundation on standing firm with Christ, maintaining sexual morality, hoping in Christ Return and trusting Jesus despite evil and persecution. Paul ends his letter with the greatest foundational element of all, and that is Prayer.

Prayer is a foundational element to our faith life. Bottom line, prayer gives us new life.

For Paul’s final challenge to the church at Thessalonica, he warns against idleness and warns those who are participating in the body but not willing to do any of the work.  Some folks in the church community in Thessalonica were slacking off. Paul called them busy bodies doing things here and there so they look busy but not really committing to the work of the community rather relying on the goodwill of others.

The church, the Kingdom of God takes all of us!

Romans 12:4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

The church is not the building; it is the people being who we are called to be, every day of the week, wherever God has us.

Start asking God to reveal to you where you are compelled, in order to make a Kingdom difference somewhere, and I believe God will reveal it to you.

 

Stand Firm

Sermon Notes
July 19, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
2 Thessalonians 2
Strengthening Our Foundation
 

“Stand Firm” 

I believe we live in a Spiritual World where there is a Chief Enemy and there are spiritual forces at play in the world. Now I do not look at every problem I have as a result of Satan. But it would be naïve of me not to think there is evil and there are spiritual forces at play.

Theme: Paul is telling us in this passage to stand firm and to persevere.

According to Gregory Boyd, the general assumption of the Old and New Testament is that the earth is engulfed in cosmic forces at play. There is evil in this world, and there is a sense in Scripture that the days before Jesus’ return will be marked by a greater reign of evil, and individuals on behalf of Satan will persecute those who follow Christ.

The grand finale of the Gospel is that there is a sure hope for the future. It is grounded in the word of Jesus, that one day evil will be no longer, Jesus will return in glory, and justice will prevail and Jesus will gather His own.

Luke 10:17–19 NRSV: The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in Your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.

While this chapter is often quite hard to understand and even harder to apply to our lives, I do believe it is given to us for a very specific reason: to prepare followers of Jesus to stay faithful to Jesus no matter what happens, to stand firm. 

 

Making the World Right

SERMON NOTES  

July 12, 2015

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole

2 Thessalonians 1

Strengthening Our Foundation

Making the World Right

Last week we focused on how Jesus would usher in an Eternal Kingdom that will be beautiful beyond our imagination. Today we will look at Jesus return but focus on the notion of a coming Judgement. According to NT Wright, God is not a petty or arbitrary tyrant, Who throws His political rivals into punishment just because they are on the wrong side.

Theme: God is the living and loving creator that must judge the world or stand accused of injustice, of letting wickedness triumph. On Jesus’ return God will finally make the world right. 

9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might 10 on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

Gehenna – “Hell”- Eleven references in the gospels (Mk 9:43, 45, 47; Mt 5:22, 29–30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Lk 12:5)

Historical and Modern interpretations on Hell.

1. Hell as a literal eternal suffering

2. Annihilationism

3. Hell is separation from God

4. “Opt Out” or “Open Door”

5. Universalism

Colossians 1:13 13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son,

I am convinced there really is “no other name.”  All who are saved will be saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), live eternally with Jesus and will be resurrected and be with Jesus in the new creation.

 

Christ Return

SERMON NOTES  
July 5, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
1 Thessalonians 4 & 5
Strengthening our Foundation

Christ Return 

Our life here on earth is merely to be a starting glimpse. There will be an eternal Kingdom that is beautiful beyond imagination. There will be no more pain, or tears or suffering; we will dwell together with our God as it was intended to be from the beginning of creation. We will experience beauty and peace.

When we live with a strong confidence that one day Christ will return, it allows us to live with purpose and hope.

Theme: Paul is encouraging them and us to wait for Christ with readiness, purpose and hope.

17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.

It turns out the notion of the Rapture is pretty new — dating back less than 200 years. There has been so much focus on this passage about the concept of the Rapture that we actually miss the point.

· One day all who have died will rise again with Jesus.

· As Jesus was resurrected so will we.

· One day the Trumpet will blow and we will all be gathered together

The Greek word “parousia”, literally means, the “royal appearing” the visitation, the “coming” of a King to His people. It is the day when “The kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of our God and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever,” as the choir sings in Handel’s Messiah.

 

Set Apart

SERMON NOTES  
June 28, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
1 Thessalonians 4
Strengthening our Foundation 

Set Apart

3For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; 4that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, 5not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

We see Paul in chapter four go right for the jugular of sexual immorality. The Greek word here for fornication is “pornea” which is a broad term that includes all kinds of sexual practices outside of marriage. In Scripture we see that our sexuality is beautiful and a gift of God. It is not something to be scared of or ashamed. Sexuality was created for the context of intimacy and marriage. But after the “Fall” sexuality often got distorted. 

Theme: As Christians we are called to be set apart. We are called to holiness.

I believe this is our calling as a church! To be people who are sent out in our lives to live counter culturally.

According to an article by Greg Bahnsan, “In all of our contexts the kind of people we are, the kind of goals we have, and the kind of rules we observe in decision-making are ethical matters and every one of our actions (whether they be mental, verbal, or bodily behavior) express an unspoken code of right and wrong. All of life is ethical.”

This sermon series is really about calling all of us to be set apart by having a biblical ethic. A biblical ethic is saying that we look at the teachings of Christ, the disciples, the Old Testament and the New Testament and we interpret those passages in order to give us a Christ centric worldview or framework for making ethical decisions. Rather than trying to make ethical decisions by looking through a confusing kaleidoscope of cultural messages we create for ourselves a biblical worldview that becomes our lense to the world. This is what anchors us when we are battered by the winds of mixed messages.

 

Holiness in the Midst of Struggle

SERMON NOTES 
June 21, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
1 Thessalonians 3
Strengthening our Foundation

Theme: As Christians live out their faith in the midst of struggle and suffering it is an encouragement to others.

According to Open Doors Watch List there are 100 million Christians in 2015 in over 60 countries that are persecuted for their faith. In the West where we have religious freedom sometimes we can forget that we have brothers and sisters whose belief in Christ comes at a great risk. Paul, when he was writing this letter, was deeply concerned for this brand new church that was suffering for their newfound faith.

Faith + Struggle/Persecution = Encouragement

Paul, Timothy, and Silas are encouraged in their suffering by watching the faith of the Thessalonians in their suffering. We need each other. We can encourage each other.

Faith + Holiness = Encouragement

Paul is shifting the conversation towards Christian Living, towards holiness. It is usually through crisis and struggle our true colors begin to show. We need to work on our foundations now and not wait until something bursts. Paul wanted the Thessalonica church and us to be strengthened in Holiness.

The Greek word here for holiness is ethical dedication, to be set apart in conduct.

Do we set ourselves apart at work?

Do we set ourselves apart in our relationships?

Do we set ourselves apart with our morality?

Regardless of how you answered, all of us need God’s help in this area. We are all works in progress. Allow this series in Thessalonians to challenge you to raise the bar.

 

Being the Real Deal

SERMON NOTES
June 14 /2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
1 Thessalonians 2
Strengthening our Foundation 

Being the Real Deal

Both of these letters of Thessalonica cover a vast array of topics of Christian living. This is why our sermon series is called “strengthening our foundation” because there is a wealth of practical teaching on what it means to have a foundation of a true Christ follower.

Today we will be walking through a few sections of Chapter two. There are probably five sermons in this chapter, so that is why it is so important for you to read and study Thessalonians on your own as well. Each section has a key priority for living out our faith.

A key priority is living an authentic life where indeed we care and we share ourselves with the very people God puts in our lives.

The second key priority in chapter two is that our vocation/careers are secondary to the real ministry of living in to who Christ has called us to be.

God calls us His child; we are saved by grace, and we are secure. We are made uniquely so we can be participants in God’s grace to the world. We are hard-wired with a purpose.

 

Primary Call:

 

 

Secondary Call:

 

 

Homework

Last Week’s Question: What is it that you are building your life on?

This Week’s Question: Are you living into your secondary Calling? What is your ministry? What gifts, talents and skills has God given you for the Kingdom of God? What is your hard-wired purpose in life? It may be a few things and not just one thing.

 

What Is It That You Are Building Your Life On?

SERMON NOTES
June 7, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Thessalonians 1
Strengthening Our Foundation
 

Strengthening our Foundation

 Many of us try to build our foundation with many different remedies, a new job, new relationships, new toys in our lives, a new house, a drastic new change in our lives. Most likely this will work for a while but eventually life will start to even erode this façade. We need to build our lives on a true foundation.

What is it that you are building your life on?

For the next eight weeks we will be studying 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. Both of these letters of Thessalonica cover a vast array of topics of Christian living. There is a wealth of practical teaching on what it means to have a foundation of a true Christ follower.

What is it that you are building your life on?

Paul knew that turning from idols and creating a new identity of serving Christ changes everything. What we worship or what we build our lives on shapes us. If our roots and foundations become unstable then everything else in our life system starts to unravel. But like the Thessalonians, we can experience the freedom of actually tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit and having a rescuer from the darkness of the world and even the darkness within ourselves. It is life changing and life giving. No longer does our foundation deteriorate with the winds of the day; rather even under pressure we can stand on the foundation of being a believer of Christ.

Homework: Reflect on our question of the day. What is it that you are building your life on? Then start praying this week, “Lord, how can I build a stronger foundation on you?” Then just listen and see what God says to you.