TEXT:  I Thessalonians 3:11-13
THEME:  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God strengthens His saints to live sanctified lives
in His presence on the way to eternity.
TITLE:  "Keep Up the Pace In Christ"

Series A
Third-Last Sunday in Ch. Yr.
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
November 11, 1996




    1. Paul asks God to open the door for him to return to Thessalonica.

      1. It was never Paul's intention to leave Thessalonica so soon.

        1. He was forced to leave because of opposition.

        2. Ironically, it was Paul's fellow Jews who caused his trouble.

      2. It was true then as now that the Devil loves nothing better than to thwart the proclamation of the Gospel.

        1. Satan prevented Paul's return to Thessalonica, (2:18)

        2. Satan has a vested interest in making all access to the Gospel inconvenient.

      3. But in all circumstances, God is at work for the cause of the Gospel and the good of the Church:

        1. The very circumstances with which Satan seeks to deny access to the Gospel are used by God to accomplish the exact opposite.

        2. The very things that Satan intends as harm, God uses for good.

    2. God is active in our daily lives.

      1. God does not leave us without blessing and guidance.

        1. Luther's explanation to the 3rd Article of the Apostle's Creed.

        2. God keeps His promises about His presence.

      2. God is present with us always through our Baptism into Christ and the Teaching of Christ's Word.

        1. He calls us into faith.

        2. He  strengthens us to exercise our faith.

      3. ILLUS:  George Frederick Handel's "Messiah"

        1. 24 days lock himself in his London study (8/22-9/14, 1741)

        2. Words came directly from the Bible.

        3. Focused himself on Christ, His ministry, His work, His return.

        4. Servants brought meals on trays, but often not touched.

        5. When he finished  the "Hallelujah Chorus", Handel wrote "SDG" at the end of his composition.

    3. God is active in forgiveness.

      1. Only the Gospel of Christ gives us faith to exercise.

        1. ILLUS:  Pastor in a Bible class:  "If you don't feel the weight of sin, I would ask if you are truly alive.  young man answered...400lb.

        2. Through the Law, we see our sin, and in Christ we see our forgiveness.

  2. God strengthens us for the journey...Nissan Commercial:  "Life is a Journey...Enjoy the Ride".

    1. God grows in us the fruit of the Spirit.  (Gal. 5:22ff)

      1. The word "fruit" is singular since it is produced by one Spirit.

        1. The fruit, however, has a number of varieties - 9 are listed.

        2. The first such fruit is love -- central in our text-- which is always strong and active.

      2. Through Word and Sacraments, the power of the Holy Spirit grows in our

        1. ILLUS:  Man fishing at night at Gunterville Dam in the Tennessee Valley...Hung a battery powered flashlight over the side of his boat, but halfway through the night, the light went out. Massive dam with generators humming behind him, but no connection.

    2. God guides and equips us for the journey ahead.


    1. Paul knew he was only a pilgrim on earth.

      1. At many funerals we sing:  "I'm But A Stranger Here, Heaven Is My Home"

      2. We cannot properly live life in this world without and "end times" attitude:

        1. We must remember our primary citizenship is in the Kingdom of God.

        2. We cannot go where Christ cannot go.

        3. We cannot see what Christ cannot see.

        4. We cannot touch what Christ cannot touch.

    2. Paul was focused on eternal life.

      1. Paul reminds the young pastor Timothy of the crown that will never spoil or fade.  (II Tim. 4:8)

        1. It is unlike anything this world can award.

        2. It is better than anything which can be achieved.

        3. It is all that we have that will last beyond the grave.

      2. It is a complete trust relationship with God in Christ alone which can give hope and peace and contentment and satisfaction with life now and forever.

        1. a.  ILLUS:  Cartoon:  two men from Mars looking down at the earth... 
          Where are they going? ...The other replied, "They are going"
          "They aren't going anywhere, they're just going."

        2. Do we have a clear focus of where we are headed?  Do our priorities in life show forth our destination?  Do our daily activities exercise us spiritually for eternal life or are we just going?




            God give His Word and Sacraments that we may be spiritually "in shape" and able to complete the journey on which He is accompanying us.  We grow in faith through the action of the Holy Spirit.  We echo St. Paul's prayer that we may keep pace as we walk in Christ's love.  May His love be evident in our lives and actions. May He strengthen us unto everlasting life.  Our Lord will come again to judge both the living and the dead.  All his holy ones will be with Him

, and by His grace, we will be found among them.   

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