Face to Face

I don’t know if you noticed, but we can’t be with one another right now. We can’t be face to face. It’s painful to be separated from one another. In a similar way, the Apostle Paul started a church in the ancient city of Thessalonica and after several years apart from these people, he longs to be with them. In 1 Thessalonians 2:17 he says that though they are together in heart, he desires to see them “face to face.” It’s in the midst of that desire to be with them that Paul offers encouragement and hope. That though they can’t be together, they are united in Christ and look forward to the day when we are face to face with Him forever. In this series we’ll discover that same hope that binds us together no.matter.what. 

05.17.20 | Holiness to Life

by Pastor Gabe Kasper

Text | 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

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Face to Face: Holiness to Life
Pastor Gabe Kasper
May 17, 2020

Prayer: Pause for a few moments to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask that He would draw near to you in this time, and open your heart and mind to hear His Word.
Icebreaker: What is your all-time favorite bad movie?
Reading1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

Outline:
I. Holiness towards sex (v1-8)
a. To pursue the holiness we’ve been given by Jesus is to move towards things that promote intimacy with God and to move away from things that don’t.
b. Every time sexuality is taken out of God’s design, people get hurt.
Q: What is the Christian sexual ethic?

II. Holiness towards each other (v9-10)
a. We’re called to be a community that shares our resources with the same generosity we’d have with our immediate family.
Q: What resources besides money do we have to share?

III. Holiness towards society (v11-12)
a. As you step into society, be a productive and not a disruptive force.
b. We are made holy by Christ and nothing can take that away; in response, we’re invited to live into that identity.
Q: What are some examples of being a disruptive force?

Reflection/Application Questions:

1) What things in your life promote intimacy with God?
2) Is it only challenging for younger generations to be holy towards sex?
3) Can you live with less?
4) Are you a productive or disruptive force to those around you?
5) What are productive ways to engage society in this time of isolation?

Suggestions for further study:

  • 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
    • Q: How do you treat something another person entrusts you to look after?
  • 1 Timothy 6:17-19
    • Q: How should we respond to the blessings we have received?
  • Matthew 22:15-22
    • Q: How is Jesus productive and not disruptive?

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank you that because of your finished work on the cross and in the empty tomb you’ve called us and set us apart as your holy people. Lord Jesus, teach us to live into who you’ve made us. Teach us to live with holiness toward sexuality, each other, and our society. May we be your people, the people you’ve called us to be. And when we stumble and fall, may we rest on your grace, knowing that your grace will catch us every single time. It’s in your Holy Name that we pray. Amen.

05.10.20 | Faith to Stand

by Pastor Marcus Lane

Text | 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

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Face to Face: Faith to Stand
Pastor Marcus Lane
May 10, 2020

Prayer: Pause for a few moments to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask that He would draw near to you in this time, and open your heart and mind to hear His Word.
Icebreaker:If you could bring back any fashion trend, what would it be?
Reading1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

Outline:
I. Suffering challenges us (v1-4)
a. In the face of suffering, we have opportunities to grow and are challenged to change.
b. The crisis of suffering strips us down to our bare essentials, and God brings renewal and newness from that place.
Q: How did Paul change how he did ministry in light of the Thessalonians’ trials?

II. Suffering strengthens us (v5-10)
a. We rejoice in suffering because God produces growth and strength in us through it.
b. When everything is stripped away, we are taught to rely not on ourselves but on the power of the resurrected Jesus.
Q: What did Timothy find in Thessalonica?

III. We confront suffering in prayer (V11-13)
a. In prayer, we throw ourselves into the hands of God, trusting that the work of the gospel and strengthening of our faith is not our work but God’s work in and through us.
b. Suffering pushes us to seek God in prayer, long for his word, and love what he does.
Q: What does Paul ask God to do in his prayer?

Reflection/Application Questions:

1) How have you grown from suffering in your life?

2) How are you being challenged in this time?

3) What could God be producing in you right now?

4) Is prayer the main way you confront suffering? If not, what is?

5) Have you encountered Jesus in times of suffering?

Suggestions for further study:

  • John 15:18-21
    • Q: Why do we face trials and persecution?
  • Romans 5:1-11
    • Q: What does suffering produce?
  • 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
    • Q: What trial is facing Paul in this passage?

Closing Prayer: Gracious God, we trust that even in our pain you are near. We trust that even when it feels like you’re absent and far off and have forgotten us that you’re still working. Lord, we have hope because we trust that our suffering and our hurts are never wasted. So Lord, we ask that you would use the suffering and pain in the world right now, that you would use those experiences of isolation and distance from one another, those longings for connection. We ask that you would use those to grow us, challenge us, shape us, and draw us near to you. That in our hurt and pain we would remember the one who cried out in pain for us, the one who suffered for our sake that we might know life. God we ask this in the name and the power of Jesus. Amen.

05.03.20 | Word to Hearers

by Pastor Gabe Kasper

Text | 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!

17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.

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Face to Face: Word to Hearer
Pastor Gabe Kasper
May 3, 2020

Prayer: Pause for a few moments to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask that He would draw near to you in this time, and open your heart and mind to hear His Word.
Icebreaker: What are you most excited to dow with other people when we can get together again?
Reading1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

Outline:
I. The remedy of the Word of God (v13-14)
a. As the Thessalonians heard the gospel from Paul, the revelation of the Creator God was speaking to their very hearts.
b. In every moment of love, grace and patience, we bear witness to the work God is doing in our hearts through Jesus Christ.
Q: What “word of God” did the Thessalonians receive?

II. Shapes our present struggles (v17)
a. When we receive the Word of God, we are bound to our brothers and sisters in the faith.
b. In this painful time of alienation, we should look to see what God is pointing us towards.
Q: Why does Paul desire to see the Thessalonians so much?

III. Orients our future hope
a. Paul’s future is oriented entirely around investing deeply and passionately in his brothers and sisters in Christ.
b. As Christians, we belong to each other through Jesus Christ.
Q: What is Paul’s “hope or joy or crown of boasting”?

Reflection/Application Questions:

1) Do you miss the physical presence of other Christians?

2) What is God stripping away right now? What’s he pointing you towards?

3) Have you had someone care for you like Paul does the Thessalonians?

4) How have you invested in your brothers and sisters in Jesus?

5) Is your future oriented around relationship with fellow Christians?

Suggestions for further study:

  • Romans 12:9-21
    • Q: What are the marks of a true Christian?
  • 1 Corinthians 12:12-20
    • Q: What is it that unites us as Christians?
  • Ephesians 4:1-7
    • Q: How should we treat our fellow Christians?

Closing Prayer:

“Earth might be groaning
But Heaven is still singing
And I am beginning
To hum along with hope.”
– Tanner Olson, Written to Speak

04.26.20 | Minister to People

by Pastor Marcus Lane

Text | 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

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Face to Face: Minister to People
Pastor Marcus Lane
April 26, 2020

Prayer: Pause for a few moments to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask that He would draw near to you in this time, and open your heart and mind to hear His Word.
Icebreaker: What have you been up to in quarantine?
Reading1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Outline:
I. The “why” of Paul’s ministry (v1-6)
a. Paul ministers out of faithfulness, not a desire for success or glory.
b. This “why” is important for the church today, as temptation arises to compromise faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus for the sake of cultural relevance.
Q: Why is it noteable that Paul and Silas “had boldness”? (see Acts 17:1-9)

II. The “how” of Paul’s ministry (v7-8)
a. Paul doesn’t seek conflict, but looks to share the gospel with gentleness and humility.
b. When we encounter the gentleness, kindness and humility of our God, we cannot help but reflect that in the way we share His message.
Q: Why did Paul and Silas care for the Thessalonians so much?

III. The “what” of Paul’s ministry (v9-12)
a. Paul’s hope for the Thessalonians is that they reach maturity by walking in a manner worthy of God. He wants to draw them into his “why”: Jesus.
b. When our “what” is forced to change, our “why” becomes even more important. Even as ministry changes in a time of isolation, the gospel of Jesus moves us forward.
Q: How does Paul’s attitude in verse 11 reflect God’s attitude towards us?

Reflection/Application Questions:

1) Does our “why” in ministry change in light of isolation?

2) How does one be gentle when sharing the gospel?

3) Are you tempted to defend Jesus?

4) Has the way you walk with Jesus (your “what”) changed recently?

5) What’s your reaction to hearing that the gospel is still for you ?

Suggestions for further study:

  • Acts 16:11-17:9
    • Q: What is remarkable about the first people in Philippi who come to believe in the gospel?
  • Ephesians 4:1-16
    • Q: What qualities does the author say should mark our walk?
  • 1 Peter 3:15-17
    • Q: What is the reason for the hope in you?

Closing Prayer: God, we ask that you would remind us once again why we exist, why this church exists, and why our lives have been set apart. Lord, remind us once again that our “why” is Jesus: his life, that He has given over and taken up again for the life of the world. God, we ask that that “why” would shape us, that it would send us to go and love others with gentleness and self-sacrificing love. Lord, we ask that this “why” would shape us, that our lives would be so wrapped up in it that we would reflect more and more the gift of Jesus, given for the world. We pray this all in His name. Amen.

04.19.20 | Christian to God

by Pastor Gabe Kasper

Text | 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace. 

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

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Face to Face: Christian to God
Pastor Gabe Kasper
April 19, 2020

Prayer: Pause for a few moments to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask that He would draw near to you in this time, and open your heart and mind to hear His Word.
Icebreaker: What’s your favorite springtime activity?
Reading1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Outline:
I. The history of this letter (v1)
a. The context of the early church in Thessalonica was painful, dangerous and alienating.
b. Paul highlights that the church’s true context is that they are God’s people in
Thessalonica, and nothing changes that.

II. The heart of this letter (v2-6)
a. Faith, hope and love are fundamental to Paul’s teachings about the Christian life.
b. Paul’s letter celebrates the ways the Thessalonians are growing in faith, hope and love.
Q: Why does Paul attach action words to faith, hope, and love (v3)?

III. The hope of this letter (v10)
a. The ultimate hope of the Thessalonians is that whatever hardships, struggles, and persecution they face, a resurrected Jesus is coming to deliver them and heal the world.
b. Our hope is the same. Because of Easter and the empty tomb, Jesus is coming to deliver us and restore all things.
Q: Paul connects serving with waiting, something usually passive (v9-10). Why?

Reflection/Application Questions:

1) What is your context?

2) Where do you see faith in your life? Hope? Love?

3) What is the gospel doing in your life that’s worth celebrating?

4) What hardships are you facing right now?

5) How do you remind yourself of your ultimate hope?

Suggestions for further study:

  • 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
    • Q: How is this similar to the greeting in 1 Thessalonians?
  • 1 Corinthians 13
    • Q: Why does Paul consider love to be most important?
  • 1 Peter 1:3-9
    • Q: What does it mean that our hope is “living”?

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank you that because of you we know that our true context and home is in you; is in the Father; is in the God who has chosen us and called us to be his own. So Jesus, we pray that you would turn our eyes to you and find our hope in you. We thank you for the victory of Easter and we look forward to the day when your ultimate victory will be realized in this world, when you will bring about complete healing and restoration. In the meantime, Lord, may that inspire us to continue to grow in faith, hope, and love. We pray this all in your holy name, Jesus. Amen.