Wednesday, July 2, 2008

SOAP Study - 7/2/08 (1 Thess 2:1-8)


1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

"For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to pleae man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed--God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gosepl of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us."



"You know we came to you for a reason. Inspite of already having suffered in Philippi, we still came to you to share the Gospel. We share because of our faith in God. We even shared it with you while you were going through your own conflict. What we shared was not false and we never had the intention to deceive you. God has given us the responsibility to share His Good News, and this is what we do. We do not do it for any other reason. We don't do it to please people, but we want to please God who is constantly testing our faith. It should be obvious! We didn't come trying to say things that would flatter you, how could our message be misunderstood for flattery. We didn't come to try and get money from you. God is our witness! We weren't looking for a bunch of followers who glorified us!! I suppose we could have demanded this since we are Christ's apostles, but we didn't. Instead, we came to you gentle like, like a mother who takes care of a new born infant. We love you guys so much that we not only shared the Gospel with you but we stayed and gave our lives to you. That is how much you mean to us!!"

What is God saying?

I love this passage. More than anything I see the example of how we are supposed to devote our lives to doing what God has designed us for. Paul and his companions just got through being persecuted in Philippi. If it was me I'd be a little hesitant on going to another town. I might even reason to take a break, but here is Paul, so consumed with what God has called Him to do. Even though his mission in Philippi might be seen as a failure (which is not the way he ever looked at it) he immediately goes to Thessalonica to start the sharing all over again, and to top it off it seems that the people he encountered in Thessalonica were going through a bit of trouble themselves! Nothing should get in the way of sharing God's message of forgiveness, love and hope.

It doesn't stop there though. Paul goes on to say that there could have been a bunch of motivating factors for why they decided to stay. Here was a group of people suffering. What a perfect opportunity for someone to come in and take advantage, but this was never Paul's intention. In fact, he saw an opportunity to offer hope. His motivation was not selfish (unless you want to call his love for God selfish). His motivation was God and those he lovingly worked with. There should never be selfish motives involved when sharing the Gospel.

Not only was there love for God, but after being with these people he fell in love with them. His motivation spread!! Now he was doing what he was doing for God and them. I am aware that there are people who view themselves as "evangelists" and their only goal is to get into a church, do their thing, get people saved, and get out. Paul was an evangelist, but he couldn't just go in get people saved and leave. He had to stay and invest himself into them. He grew to love them so much that he had to be sure they were headed in the right direction before he left. Sharing the Gospel is a process that requires sacrifice and commitment.

What is God saying to me?

I'll be honest. There are times when I feel like it would be so much nicer and easier to be closer to my family in Washington, or just do my job on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights and that's it. I think "Hey Lord, look at what I am doing. I'm teaching on Sundays and Wednesday, I take kids to camp and Mexico, and once in awhile I give a little advice. I'm doing great aren't I!!!" My motivation is me.

What it all comes down to is attitude. I am constantly blown away with the attitude Paul had. If anyone was near perfect it would seem to be Paul. Now we know this isn't true because he was pretty honest, and just darn blunt at times, about himself, but his motivation to do what he did had nothing to do with himself. I have to ask myself, am I doing what I am doing because of my love for God and people, or are there other reasons for me doing what I do?

There are times I think, I'd love to be out of ministry. I'll be honest. The problem is I get a little scared. I've invested all this time and money into becoming a pastor. This is what I know. What would I do if I weren't a pastor anymore? What job could I possibly get that provided for my family? I guess I'm stuck.

What I am discovering is that when I start thinking like this I have allowed myself to wander from God and consequentially, from my motivation. This last month has been such a great month. I really believe God has used this blog to help me wander back to Him. I am finding renewal. God is renewing my desire as a pastor. I am doing ministry, not for me, but for Him and for those He has called me to minister to. I want to be like Paul who was an imitator of Christ. I want to experience a growing motivation in me that mirrors the motivation of Jesus.


Where does it all begin? It begins with my personal relationship with Christ. It begins in the simple developement of habits. There are two habits in particular that I am thinking of. Reading/studying God's Word and praying/talking with Him. In short, spending time with Him. The more I spend time with Him the more I feel myself changing.

I started blogging these SOAP studies last week. I can't tell you what they have done for me. My motivation at first was to set an example for the teens in the leadership class. My motivation then turned to being held accountable by those who read this blog. Now my motivation is the growing closeness I feel to God. I am not anywhere near the closeness I want, but the little taste I am getting makes me crave more.


Father, I am almost embarrassed to write this prayer down today. I am sorry because I have not been disciplined in spending time with you, but I thank you for the encouragement today. It is my desire to grow in my relationship with you, and it is my desire to do ministry that is motivated by this relationship. I know that the effectiveness of what you have called me to do is proportionate to my closeness to you. May my effectiveness grow as my motivation grows. May my motivation grow as I grow closer to you. Thank you for hearing my prayer.

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