Sermon Overview & Prayer: "Appreciation and Affection"

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1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 SERMON PRAYER POINTS

These written prayers, are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer.

1 Thessalonians 5:12 "We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves."

And I am deeply grateful for the significant differences between the congregation in Northampton and SGCL. However...one day we too will rehearse together before the Lord, the Head of the Church, all that has taken place between us in our service of the gospel together.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the love, respect, affection, and care that we share with one another and with our pastors. May this only continue and deepen. And thank you for yet another reminder that our time together, though rich, is brief in light of eternity. May we humbly and faithfully build together this day, so that that we have no regrets on that day.

As they wait...for the return of Christ, this is how the gospel that creates the church continues to shape the church. Paul knows you can’t have a healthy church if there isn’t a supportive relationship between a congregation and the pastors who serve and lead them. This isn’t optional, it's critical.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, remind us again and again of the entailments of the gospel – grace, mercy, love, holiness, forbearance, forgiveness, covenant commitment. Strengthen us to make these not only the description and dynamic of our relationship with Christ, but also with one another. Please show us where any of these might need greater attention and more specific application.

And then Paul describes how this congregation should view their leaders.

John Stott - Captures this exhortation under the headings of “appreciation and affection.”

What informs and inspires this appreciation and affection is not their title or office but the pastoral work they perform and provide. This appreciation and affection...need to be earned.

PRAYER: Lord, please prompt us to pray for or pastors as they keep watch over our souls, having to one day give an account to you.  Protect them from the adversary who desires to smite the shepherd. Protect them from the pride of position, and encourage them with the privilege of emulating the Savior as servants. And help us to make their labor a joy!

First, they are those “who labor among you” (v12).

A pastoral team must combine these two aspects of leadership: “over” and “among.”

PRAYER: Father, we acknowledge with sadness, the grieving effects of the covid pandemic on our being “together” or “with” or “among”. For our pastors, as well as for us, give us creative and meaningful ways to maintain care, fellowship, and unity.  What we can’t do “in-person” help us to do, through many means at our disposal, to stay caringly connected.

Second, they (note a plurality of men and not a single man), “are over you in the Lord” (v12).

Ed Clowney - The elder has authority; he is called to exercise a shepherd’s oversight. Christ the Chief Shepherd has called him to exercise a shepherd’s care. But the undershepherd is not a stand-in for the Lord. He presents the word of the Lord, not his own decree, he enforces the will of the Lord, not his own wishes.

And finally, they “admonish you” (v12). Sometimes the pastoral task will take the form of admonishing. To admonish means to remind, warn, correct. A pastor who cares enough about you to risk his relationship with you in order to admonish you is a gift to you.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to be a faithful steward of the means by which our pastors bring us your Word, whether in public settings or in personal conversation.  Help me to be not only receptive, but to eagerly pursue instruction, observations, and, when necessary, admonition and correction. May I receive such admonition as an expression of your faithfulness to discipline those that you love.

This command (“Be at peace among yourselves”) is related to verse 12-13a.

When church members appreciate their church leaders for the pastoral tasks they perform and provide the result is peace in the church. And in our tumultuous time, the display of this peace in the church and by the church is desperately needed.  This peace between church members and their pastors reflects the transforming effects of the gospel and can only be explained by the gospel.

PRAYER: Father, as Sovereign Grace Church, by the power of the Holy Spirit, strengthen our love, our loyalty, our unity, and our faith. And as we dwell together, cultivating these precious gifts, please command your blessing.

And may our love for one another, display to a shattered and fragmented world, that we are indeed disciples of Jesus Christ.  We pray in his name and for his glory. AMEN

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:

In closing his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul teaches that a healthy church requires a supportive relationship between the congregation and the leaders. In these verses, he gives the Thessalonians two imperatives: 1) maintain appreciation for your leaders, and 2) keep peace with your leaders. The gospel has delivered them into a new community as the family of God, and Paul urges them to lovingly respect their leaders, not because of their title or position but because of their work for the good of the church and for the glory of God. A church thrives when leaders are happily toiling for the church and where members feel affection for their leaders. There is no place outside the church where the peace that is described here can be experienced. We must strive to uphold these imperatives for the advance of the gospel.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What does this passage tell us about the peace that God desires for his family, the Church?
  2. Pastors are meant to be over and yet among their brothers and sisters. In what ways does this model of leadership point us to Jesus and his gospel?
  3. In light of this passage and a culture where division is prevalent, how should the Church look different than the world?
  4. CJ said that this passage was “preventative and not corrective” for SGC Louisville. What are some ways that we can protect the environment of peace within our church?
  5. CJ mentioned that pastoral admonishment can often provide pivotal moments in a Christian’s life. These might come in the form of individual conversations or sermons or other means. Share with each other moments when God’s grace came in the form of a pastor’s admonishment.