Are Your Ears Burning? They Should Be!
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
† In Jesus Name †
May you realize the grace God our Father and the Lord Jesus have given you, and may that grace be so evident that those around you, and even far away speak of God’s work in your life!
Is the word ringing out?
Did you ever walk into a room and suddenly everyone stopped talking? Or walk by a group of people and they all started staring at you? Or get back to the office and find out that 4 or 5 people needed to talk to you?
There is even an old question that asked if you notice this kind of behavior,
Are your ears burning?
Well, looking at the church in Thessalonica that Paul was writing too in our epistle reading this morning, their ears should have been burning. People were talking to them, and it was a wonderful thing!
I pray that people are talking about us in the same way!
Here how Paul described it,
wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it, 9 for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. 10 And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead!
Do people know that you’ve turned away from idols and false gods? Do they know of you look forward to the second coming of Jesus?
Are they so in awe of God’s work in your life that they speak of your trust, your dependence, your faith in Him?
How did the people of Thessalonica end up with their ears burning… as they should have been….
And how can we see that happen in our lives?
How can our dependence on God become so strong that it is remarkable, that people talk about it?
I mean, that is a good thing, if I were to invite someone to come here, and the people already knew how strong our faith was, how we set aside ungodly rubbish in order to we look forward to eternity in the presence of God?
So let us investigate what else Paul said about these people!
We know God..
He says in verse 4, “We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.”
It all starts there, and I know this to be true about you as well.
I said it last week this way,
The Lord …
Who loves you
Is with you!
For that is what it means to be chosen, to be called. It is to dwell in the presence of God, to dwell in the glory of God.
God loves you, as He did the people in Thessalonica, He chose you to be His people. We need to know this, not just with our minds, but deep, deep in our souls, in the places where we wonder how God could love us, and so traumatized by our past, we wonder why He loves us.
It is in those dark, anxious broken places, that God is there… even when we can’t see Him, can’t feel His presence. When He is revealed there, we realize that He is willing to pick us up, no matter how many pieces there are, that life begins to be transformed.
Hear something else Paul says… and we understand that it is reality too.
6 So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. 7 As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia.
despite the trials and tribulations, despite the pain that is endured as God heals us. As God transforms us, as He did Paul, into the image of Jesus.
Imitation – reborn like Paul was reborn like Jesus (POWER)
That word behind “imitate” has another meaning. It means to be born, to begin, completely new, completely different. We talk about being baptized, being born again, that is the same concept here. To die to our sin, our past, our self-centeredness. To die with Jesus, in order to be raised to this new life, this being born again, in Jesus.
Just like Paul did, and Peter, and so many millions who God has join to Jesus, and to His death and resurrection.
This is why the preaching of Jesus has power, as Paul said in verse 5,
“For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true”
It is the power, not just to any old miracle, but the incredible miracle that is the reason that God our Father sent Jesus His son into our lives, to live among us, to die for us, and to share that death and the resurrection with us.
One pastor, Chris Gillette’s mentor, Robert Webber, calls this power the divine embrace. It’s the prodigal’s dad, coming running to him, to smother him, so excited that the prodigal is finally home.
And it is the reason behind all of this…
For when God embraces us, that is the assurance we need. That is the power that is at work, making the love of God, not some intellectual exercise, not something to diagram or diagnose.
And as we rest in God’s arms, as we are welcomed by Him, into His family, as we know His presence, everything changes. We become an example to others, some older in the faith, some younger. The word goes out, for people know how much we abandoned to be with God.
And how much we look forward to the ultimate reunion, when Jesus returns, and brings us to the throne, to see for the first time, God our Father, face to face.
This is what it means for God to give you grace and peace, to belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN!