"Our Spiritual Walk"
As we finish our walk through these admonitions, we will center upon the need to stay spiritually fit by our walk in the Spirit, our testing of questionable issues, and the sanctification that comes from God.
Our Spiritual Walk
(1 Thes. 5:19-28)
A. It is so easy to get out of shape. I think I have laziness down to a science. I can sit and eat better than most people I know. But every now and then, I realize that I am out shape – like when I bend down to tie my shoes and am out of breath by the time I stand up. So I got me a gym membership (which I only use on occasion) to help me get into better shape. I have even been given one of those watches that count your steps. But I didn’t like that it never went over 500. You get my point – being out of shape is easy, getting into shape is difficult.
B. Now honestly ask yourself how good of shape are you in spiritually? How do you judge that? Do you determine how many steps you take by how much you read and meditate on God’s word? Do you swim in the spiritual water of prayer? Do you eat healthy by centering upon worship and coming around the Lord’s Table? Spiritual health is not as easy for me to tell as physical, but I do know when I am spiritually out of shape. How do I know? I struggle with sin more often and lose. I allow evil to fill my heart and mind more frequently.
C. Paul closes out this letter to these newer Christians with some short reminders of what it means to be spiritually fit.
I. The Fire of God
A. Paul tells them in verse 19, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” Think about that wording and how Paul describes God. Think back to Jewish understanding of the tabernacle and then the temple. There was a special fire that was kept going all the time. That fire is somewhat metaphorical for the devotion of those who served before the Lord. In order for that fire to burn it had to be nourished with the proper care.
B. When the Holy Spirit came upon those on the day of Pentecost, Luke records that it came upon them as “tongues of fire.”
C. God is called “a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). He appeared to Moses through a burning bush (Ex. 3:2). His glory was before the people as a pillar of fire (Ex. 14:19).
D. So here we are listening to Paul tell us “Do not quench – put out – the fire of God’s Spirit.” So let me tell you several things: (1) you can (2) you shouldn’t and (3) don’t complain about God not working in and through you if you are throwing cold water on God’s Spirit.
E. If I want my spiritual walk to be strong then there is one thing I know I must do. Let me take you to Gal. 5. In this letter to all the churches in the region of Galatia, Paul says to them (READ Gal. 5:16-18, 22-25).
F. I challenge you to spend some time thinking about what it means to walk in the Spirit.
II. Listen To God’s Voice
A. Paul keeps the challenge about the spiritual walk going by telling them part of the way God speaks. He uses the word “prophesy.” Listen to our text (1 Thes. 5:20-22).
B. I put these verses together because they are single thought. On the heels of being told to NOT quench the Spirit, Paul also says “do NOT despise prophecies.” One translation says, “Do not despise inspired messages” (TEV). Peter tells us no prophecy of scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. Instead, Peter says, that they spoke from God, carried along by Holy Spirit.
C. The easiest way for you and I to understand the voice of God is through the written word of God. Peter puts scripture and prophecy together as the word simply means, “to speak the oracles of God.”
D. Every person here as access to word of God. Most everyone has a printed Bible in the home or with them. You have it on reading devices. There is no reason for you and I to not hear God’s voice speaking to us. Don’t despise the inspired message by forsaking it.
E. The more you know God’s word, the easier it is for you to test everything. When you test everything you can keep what is good and avoid ever kind of evil. Why do many of us sin frequently? Because we despise prophecy. Paul is speaking to young in the faith Christians who did not have access to the written word like you and I do. They relied on copies of letters like this one and the miraculous gift of prophecy that some in the church may have possessed. So God begs you to open the book and your heart and learn how to walk – holding on to the good, moving away from the bad.
III. The Holistic Approach
A. Let me draw your attention to Paul’s words in verses 23-34. I like Paul’s holistic approach to God’s work in me. God himself, the God of peace, will sanctify me. That being said, God takes my whole being – spirit, soul and body – and keeps me blameless before him until the coming of Jesus. God is faithful. End of subject. God’s got you covered as long as you walk with Him.
B. I love the confidence we as Christians carry. The faithfulness of God is so much greater than my personal perfection. I will take God over me any day on getting something done. Paul reminds me that God sanctified me. Paul reminds me God will surely do it.
A. Jesus is calling you today. God is speaking through me and his word and you are here listening. Let’s God call you to himself. Maybe you have wandered from the family of God and you need to come home – come. Maybe you have struggled with a sin that held you captive and you are need of a family that will lift you up in prayer and walk beside you as you seek to repent – then come. Maybe you have never put on Christ, been baptized into Jesus and received God’s Spirit – then come.
B. Jesus is tenderly calling today. Won’t you hear that voice and come as we stand and sing?