1. Soon after the church at Thessalonica was started, Paul was forced to leave
a. Unbelieving Jews had created problems for some of the members - Acts 17:5-9
b. Paul and Silas had to be sent away by night - Acts 17:10
2. In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul reflects upon their abrupt departure
a. How it created an eager desire to see them again - 1 Thessalonians 2:17
b. How Satan had hindered them from fulfilling that desire - 1 Thessalonians 2:18
c. Prompting him to ask the question: "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?" - 1 Thessalonians 2:19
3. We do well to ask ourselves the same question
a. What is our hope? For what do we long with desire and expectation?
b. What is our joy? What gives us true happiness and satisfaction?
c. What is our crown of rejoicing? What provides the highest degree of joy in our lives?
4. Is our answer the same as Paul's? Should it be?
A. WE READ OF HIS DESIRE TO SEE THEM
1. He had been taken away from them - 1 Thessalonians 2:17
a. He is referring to his necessary departure - Acts 17:10
b. He uses a word that implies a painful bereavement, like a child taken away from his or her parents (Barnes)
2. He had been away from their presence only a short time - 1 Thessalonians 2:17
a. Exactly how long, we do not know
b. Probably no more than a year, if not months
3. He endeavored more eagerly to see them with great desire - 1 Thessalonians 2:17
a. Note the repeated emphasis of his longing to see them
b. His desire likely heightened by the manner in which he had to leave them
B. WE LEARN WHAT PREVENTED HIM
1. He wanted to come to them time and again - 1 Thessalonians 2:18
a. Either from Berea or Athens
b. But he was hindered
2. It was Satan who hindered him - 1 Thessalonians 2:18
a. He attributes the persecution by his fellow Jews to Satan
1) It was the unbelieving Jews who were hounding him
3) They were possibly his thorn in the flesh; the messenger of Satan alluded to in another epistle - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
C. WE DISCOVER PAUL'S Hope, Glory, and Joy
1. The Thessalonians were Paul's hope, because he hoped to see them at the coming of the Lord - 1 Thessalonians 2:19
2. They were his joy or crown of rejoicing, in anticipation of seeing them in the presence of Jesus - 1 Thessalonians 2:19
3. They were his glory and joy - not just in the future, but in the present as well - 1 Thessalonians 2:20 (you are our glory and joy)
4. Paul's Hope, Glory, and Joy were his brethren in Christ, especially those he had taught and brought to the Lord.
A. FOR SOME CHRISTIANS, IT MAY BE:
1. Their possessions
a. Their hope is in the acquisition of material things
b. Their glory (pride) is in what they have obtained
c. Their joy (happiness) is in the pleasure such things give them
d. But such things are perishable and susceptible to theft, they draw us away from God; therefore it is folly to have them as our hope, glory and joy - Matthew 6:19-21, 24
2. Their jobs
a. Their hope is in the advancement of their careers
b. The glory (pride) is in how far they have come
c. Their joy (happiness) is in the money, power, or prestige they have obtained
d. But our jobs and all that they bring can be fleeting (especially in today's job market, with frequent downsizing and lack of company loyalty to employees); they shall one day come to nothing - 2 Peter 3:10
3. Their families
a. Their hope is what their families may become
b. Their glory (pride) is what their families have become
c. Their joy (happiness) is in the relationship they enjoy with their families
d. While certainly more noble (and rewarding) than possessions or jobs, even our families are limited in the joys and glory they can bring; death ends our relationship as family, and if they are not Christians, what does that do for our hope - Matthew 10:37; 12:46-50
B. FOR ALL CHRISTIANS, WHAT IT SHOULD BE:
1. Our hope should be to see each other in heaven!
a. To see each other with Jesus in the presence of the Lord at His coming
b. What a wonderful occasion, what a glorious reunion!
2. Our glory should be seeing each other in the presence of the Lord!
a. Serving the Lord faithfully now
b. Being glorified together with Jesus when He comes - 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12
3. Our joy should be the happiness coming from our working together in the Lord!
a. The joy experienced by John when he saw others walking in the truth - 2 John 1:4
b. The joy Paul experienced when told of the faithfulness of the Thessalonians - 1 Thessalonians 3:6-9
1. Our Hope, Glory, and Joy should be in that which is eternal
a. Otherwise we are setting ourselves up for eventual disappointment
b. Our possessions, jobs, even families cannot provide true hope, glory and joy
1) At best, what they offer is temporary
2) At worst, they provide much disappointment, and draw us away from God
2. Since much of our Hope, Glory, and Joy, both now and in eternity, is through our brethren
a. It is important that we nurture and strengthen our relationships
b. It is imperative that we seek to bring others to Christ, including those in our physical families
c. Such effort not only brings us closer to each other, but to God, and produces that which lasts for eternity! And then we shall truly be able to say to each other, you are our glory and joy.
-- Don Treadway, September 2009 --