Sermon Overview & Prayer: ""Keep Doing What You Did"


1 Thessalonians 2:13-16

Peter O’Brien (Dictionary of Paul and his Letters) – Pauline thanksgiving approximates what we understand by 'praise,' for it is broader than the expression of gratitude for personal benefits received. The apostle regularly gave thanks for God's graces effected in the lives of others. Thanksgiving is a response to God's saving activity in creation and redemption. It is always the second word, never the first.”
Father, please help me to keep my heart, my eyes, and my ears open to the innumerable ways you have surrounded me with your goodness, mercy, glory, beauty, and grace! May every reminder and sighting prompt me to express lavish thanksgiving and praise! Help me to remember that there is infinitely more to be grateful for than to criticize.

Paul thanks God for Christians who...accept the Word of God.
The Thessalonians accepted the Word of God as it really is – not as the word of men but as the word of God. In that sentence, we learn about God: that he speaks. God is the source of this word. God communicates. He communicates in the most powerful and precise way possible: he employs human language.
Lord, never let me read your Word casually, indifferently, or unresponsively. Help me to always begin my reading or listening to the Bible with the awe-filled awareness that that I am hearing the very Word of God...that the living God, the creator of all, is speaking. And may that reality inform, not only my listening, but my response.

Charles Wanamaker – The word of God that they received was not a meaningless idea or a doctrine to be maintained; it was a source of power in the lives of those who believed.
Father, as we as a church family read your Word, and acknowledge the claims it makes on us, may we recall the difference that faith and obedience to your Word have made in our lives. May our hearing, prayers, application, and instruction to one another, always be filled with faith that your word is living and active and powerfully at work in those who believe!

Paul thanks God for Christians who...imitate the people of God. 
J.C. Ryle (Thoughts for Young Men) – You must remember, we are all creatures of imitation. There is something in us all, that we are always disposed to catch the ways of those with whom we live; and the more we like them, the stronger does the disposition grow. Without our being aware of it, they influence our tastes and opinions.
Imitation means paying attention to the right things in our brothers and sisters, looking for the fruits of the Spirit in them and considering how we can learn from them to be more like Christ. We are to imitate our brothers and sisters in the church by seeing how God is at work in them and asking God to help us grow to do the same.
Lord, thank you for the precious gift of fellowship and godly examples that surround me. Show me where I can more fruitfully imitate those who follow Christ, and by your grace become increasingly like Christ as a result.
Please keep me attentive to ways I may be influenced by, and hence imitate, the world. In my fellowship with others, remind me to sincerely thank those who have been compelling examples for me to imitate. And remind me to request their observations of where my life could improve as an example.

Paul thanks God for Christians who...suffer for the gospel.
Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Our message of the gospel and our lives as Christians will continue to be opposed by the broader culture. As our culture's opposition to the message of the gospel accelerates, brothers and sisters, we are going to need courage. 
Father, may I stand strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. May my prayers, my words, my life, and my witness testify to a confident conviction that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most glorious and most powerful and most necessary of all messages to this fallen world!

Gratitude is what happens when the happiness we feel from experiencing the gifts of God meets the wonder of knowing that those gifts are the last thing we deserve. 

Paul had a habit of expressing thanksgiving, and in this passage, He thanks God for the Thessalonians, because they did three things. First, they accepted the Word of God as coming from God, not from man. Second, the Thessalonians imitated the people of God. They watched fellow believers in Judea and followed their example. Third, Paul gives thanks, because the Thessalonians suffered well for the gospel. They stood firm amid trials.


  1. Paul has thanksgiving as a habit in his life, not merely for physical blessings but also for the entirety of God’s saving work. Where does your thinking about thanksgiving differ from Paul’s? How could you imitate Paul’s habit of thanksgiving in attitude and in practice?
  2. Paul highlighted how the Thessalonians received the Word of God. What are some of the things that have been most helpful in your own reception of God’s Word as authoritative and “at work”?
  3. Imitation is a massive theme in the New Testament and for Paul in particular. Who have you imitated in your Christian life? What is your method of observation for imitation? Who or what trait would you like to emulate in the future?
  4. The Thessalonians suffered for their faith and yet stood firm. What testimonies (such as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place) have encouraged you to suffer hopefully?
  5. Where have you seen our fellow church members imitate the Thessalonians in these three areas?

    The sermon overview and discussion questions were written by Seth Moon.