Reading – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10
This sermon comes in two parts. Here is part one:
All of us make choices all the time. Some choices we make are clearly more important than others. Let me just jump to the point: Whether or not you choose to follow Jesus Christ and obey Him as your Lord is THE SINGULAR most important decision you can ever make. It is the most life shaping choice, barring none. It impacts not only the years of your life on earth but reaches into eternity. Choosing to serve the Lord and eternally glorify Him in the joy of His presence is the central purpose for which you were created. You were created by God, in the likeness of God, to spend eternity with God, reigning forever, rejoicing in His presence and ever praising His glory. Tell me, what other decision in life carries that weight? None!
In our reading from 1 Thessalonians, we see how their choice to turn to God from idols was not simply evidence of their OWN choice, but look at verse 4 again. Read it with me carefully: Knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. (nkjv) Or, as the NIV says: “For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you.” Their choice was evidence of God’s choice! Paul basically says, “We know that God has chosen you, because you chose Him and are living under that choice! “ We see His choice of us working in our choices in Him.
Here’s our bull’s eye: Choice: God chooses you. You choose Him. Slide –
Here’s what we are aiming for. Seeking starts here. God’s choice and your choice.
God has been in the choosing business for a long time. He made us with that terribly wonderful power to choose. And here’s a sobering thought. Not all are chosen. Jesus said that specifically in Matthew 22:14, many are called, but few are chosen. Is that disturbing at all to any of you? What happens when God chooses you? What happens when He doesn’t?
Some people say, “God has chosen everyone!.” But that’s not what the Bible says. It is the opposite of what Jesus said. God does choose, but not everyone. God chose Noah. God chose Abraham. God chose Israel. God chose David. God has always been in the choosing business, and He is choosy about who is chosen.
Paul, who wrote 1 Thessalonians knew what it was like to be chosen by God. Look at Acts 9:15-16. (Read). Was Saul of Tarsus chosen? Peter speaks of the church in 1 Peter 2:9-10 and says of us: You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. Not everyone qualifies for this chosen position.
Seeking starts with BEING chosen. Saul was not seeking to follow Jesus Christ when he was chosen. Quite the opposite. But God knows who and how to choose and how to make His choices known. Did that relieve Saul of responsibility to choose? Absolutely not! Paul later said, “I buffet my body and keep it under subjection, lest after preaching to others, I myself might be rejected!” 1 Cor. 9:27
Seeking starts here. Hearing of God’s choice to sacrifice His Son for us is the call. The chosen choose God and His kingdom. Those of us who choose Christ must live out our lives under that choice. Can you choose Christ and not finish the race? Yes. God does not erase our ability to choose, but He supplies all we need to stay the course, maintaining and living under His choosing.
Now let’s transition to part two of today’s AIM lesson:
How can we take aim at this? What is the target? The target is not the choice itself, No! The target is God himself! God who is king. Seeking surrenders EVERYTHING to God as King over all.
Seeking, as the target of our mission really means seeing the King! See… King! Eyes on the prize!
Jesus came preaching these words: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand! He commanded us how to live under the King of the kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus clearly commanded us: seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And then He promised us: all these things (all we need) will be added to you.
God’s Chosen people are to AIM their lives toward God as King. We are seeking our coming King’s will as we long for His return. God uses this time of trial to prepare us for eternal glory with Him. This is not a waste!
Consider this slide I used a year or so ago as we studied the preaching of the Kingdom in the gospels and Acts.
The entire Bible is a book where God is King over everything. His kingdom is forever and ever! The King of the universe has created us in His image and likeness. He has delegated authority to us to rule the world. Ultimately God, the King, plans to give us not only authority over this planet, but also authority with Christ on His throne, forever. But this is only for those who choose Christ and live under the choice of Christ in the here and now.
I wish we would take a year to go through the Bible as a church and just seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness throughout it together!
God knows that many will not choose Christ and others that do will not continue but will turn away and shipwreck their faith. All of scripture bears this out. But there are chosen ones who make the choice and endure to the end. These receive the crown of life. These are the chosen who become the bride of Christ. These are those that share the inheritance of Christ on the throne of God in eternity. Today’s target is the choice to seek and live under God’s rule as King over all. Choose you this day whom ye will serve! Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness is foundational to this glorious inheritance that God is pleased to give to those that love and obey Him as King.
This afternoon in our groups there are some suggested activities to help us interact and share in this first seeking lesson. The guides suggest looking at two short parables that emphasize the value of the kingdom and doing a little seeking activity to make it stick in your memory. Each group has flexibility to practice choice! You can choose the activities in the lesson plan or you can make up your own. You have the power to choose! My prayer is that you will keep your AIM clearly on seeking God and His kingdom, seeking to draw closer to God and closer to one another in Christ.
Let’s close by looking at two final texts: 1 Timothy 1:12-17.
Listen to how this describes God’s choosing Paul in these verses and notice Paul’s response of doxology as He sees God as His King!
Now back up just a couple of pages to 1 Thess. 1:2-10. How do we know God has chosen us? We see it in our choice to imitate Christ, work by faith, labor by love, and endure in hope. If Paul were writing to us, here, today, what might he say about your status? Are you chosen by God? Have you chosen Christ and are you living under God as your King?