Sermon Overview + Prayer: "Dear Thessalonians"

PRAYING THE PASSAGE (1 Thessalonians 1:1):

"To the church of the Thessalonians” (verse 1a)
"The assembled people of God who have been graciously called out of the world by God through the proclamation of the gospel."
Lord, it is absolutely remarkable that you have called out a people and brought them to yourself. Thank you that you chose each of us to be a part of your church. We thank you for the joy of being your gathered people—to hear from you this past Sunday in your Word, to know your grace and your peace.
"in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 1b)
"This is where they should place their confidence—their vital union with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Paul always brings up God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in his greetings, so I pray that I want have my confidence this week in the union between myself—the church and God the father through Jesus Christ our mediator. I pray that this week I would have special grace to remember that our church is unified with our Father and with his Son.
"Grace to you and peace” (verse 1c).
“What is grace? In the New Testament, grace means God’s love in action toward people who merited the opposite of love.” - J.I. Packer
It’s so easy to get used to grace, Lord. Would you please remind me this week how amazing grace is? Help me to remember that at one time, I merited wrath, not love. Yet, because of Christ, I have never tasted your wrath and have tasted and seen your love. Thank you for your grace.
“Here is a marvelous example of Paul’s ‘turning into gospel everything he sets his hand to.’ The gospel of grace informs everything Paul writes. Even the greeting."
Help me to follow in Paul’s example and let the gospel of grace inform everything I do this week. Help me to have no other standard that I use to go about my day.
"May we be strengthened by grace, more certain of grace, more dependent upon grace, discernably different because of grace and freshly amazed by grace as a result of our study and application of this letter that begins and ends on the note of grace."
Darrell Bock said, “We lack a theology of engagement in the church, and we desperately need it.” As we embark on a journey through 1 Thessalonians, we’re going to see how the early church engaged a culture that was hostile to the gospel. In order to give context to this first verse in of the letter, we went to Acts 17:1-10a where we saw the false accusations and social pressure that the Thessalonian church experienced. Paul opens this letter by highlighting how the gospel of grace leads to tangible peace, ultimately made manifest when the holy hostility of God against our sin was satisfied through Christ.  
Discussion Questions:
  1. How does the historical narrative of Acts 17:1-10 influence your perspective of Paul’s introduction in 1 Thessalonians?
  2. What are some similarities you see between the church today and the church at Thessalonica?
  3. J. pointed out that even the mention of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy’s names would have provoked warm feelings to the Thessalonians. How can it be a comfort to us to recall fellow believers to mind in times of suffering?
  4. Paul is intentional in how he writes his introduction, “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. How does this phrase bring stability and strength to the modern church and its people amidst a hostile culture?
  5. No one has peace apart from the grace of God. How can we use this truth to engage our culture and advance the gospel?
  6. Gordon Fee said that Paul turned everything he set his hand to, into gospel. What are some practical ways we can encourage each other to imitate Paul in this means of grace?