A Message Given By:
Pastor Stephen Galvano
Rochester Christian Church Ministries International
I sense in this place the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I sense that Jesus is here in person. God has a way of making His presence known in those who are hungry and thirsty for Him. You might be here and don’t sense much, because the Bible says, “Eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, neither has it entered into the hearts of men (and women and youth) the things that Christ has revealed to them.” But He can only reveal this presence by His Holy Spirit. We are full-gospel, Pentecostal, Spirit-filled, tongue talking, salvation confessing, Bible-reading, tithers, men and women of God. That’s what I declare this church is. This is who we are. And those of you who are here for the first time, we welcome you. And I sense that before you go, God is going to speak to our hearts. It’s not about us. It’s about Him.
When you come to an age such as mine, and you are not running from anything and not running for anything, you can open your heart. I know sometimes people misunderstand when you open your heart. But I know that many of you know me by now, and you know my heart is toward Christ and the body here. There is nothing else in our lives. In reading about the life of the Apostle Paul, I see him as a man I want to imitate. I know Christ is my ultimate example. But Paul says, “Be followers of me as I follow Christ.” And the mighty teachings of the Apostle Paul in a sense have transformed my thinking about body ministry and the love that we are to have for the body. We cannot love the world until the church loves each other. We need to love the body first. We cannot put on a mask in the church and then go out in the world. People want people who are REAL.
This morning I would like to share with you – “This is where the rubber meets the road.” And the Apostle Paul would have said, “BE REAL!” There is a passage in the Bible where the Apostle Paul expresses his heart like a shepherd, like a father. My desire is to reach that place where I can have a heart to love His body the best way I can. I’m not even worthy to sing, “Oh how I love you, Jesus,” because I don’t know how to really love Him the way He’s worthy to be loved. I have seen how much He has loved us. There are no words to express how Jesus loved us. We sing about Jesus being like a rose, trampled under foot, crucified and buried behind a stone. There he lied rejected and all alone. It was all for me. It was not to redeem the moon, or the stars, or the oceans, or the earth, or the trees, or the grass, or the birds, or the elephants, but it was to redeem me and show me kindness and love. The Apostle Paul in his writing to the church at Thessalonica imitates the love of Jesus. And before we go to the teaching this morning I wanted to announce that we had this discussion with the leadership a few weeks ago. Some of you are not new, but I felt I wanted to teach this to the body because I believe this the stage where the Lord is leading us. It is not accident that this evangelist preacher is here. This is an evangelistic teaching, prophetic in form, but evangelistic in practice. God is sending His people out where the world is. The church is where we come to be refreshed. But the mission field is out there where the world lies without Christ, without Jesus. And how many of you know that the world is tired of religion? How many of you that the world is tired of people that are fake?
Suppose this is a tree [pointing to a plant on the platform]. If this were an apple tree that we planted in our backyard [apples were being placed on the plant], you would expect that this apple tree would bring forth apples. So one day you plant this tree, and three years later, as Jesus taught us, the tree must produce. He taught His disciples for three years, and they knew all they needed to know to bring the world to Christ. If you have been a Christian for three years and haven’t won anybody for Christ, you had better check your fruit. So you plant this tree, and you walk back and forth every year, and three years later you come and say, “Wow, look at this fruit!” No, no this is not what you say. You say, “It’s about time you bear some fruit!” Right? This is what is expected. It is expected that an apple tree will bear apples.[A ring, watch and eyeglasses were placed on the plant.] Now suppose that this is a tree and you put this ring on here along with my watch and my glasses. You say, “Tree, you had better start to bring forth some gifts.” The tree will say, “You’re nuts! I was not built to bring forth gifts.” (This is about you and about me.) So, I don’t expect this tree to bring forth gifts such as a ring, or a watch or a pair of glasses. These are gifts. If I come in and I find gifts on the tree, I say, “This is a fake tree. This is an ornamental tree.” Christmas time comes and we adorn a tree with gifts, but then on the 26th of December, we take the tree and throw it away. The tree is useless. So, I gather from this simple illustration that a tree is made to bear fruit and not gifts. Gifts are put there by somebody else. Automatically, the moment I become a born-again Christian, Christ expects my tree to bring forth fruit, not gifts. Gifts are put upon us by Him, whenever He pleases according to the measure of my faith. That’s why I’m not impressed when a man or a woman comes with ten gifts. They are not yours. They are God’s. Somebody put those gifts there. But yet, today the church in a sense is deceived. We do not compliment a man or a woman who brings forth gifts. We are blessed when the tree brings forth fruit. How are you doing this? Show me how you have produced this healthy fruit. We have been deceived by thinking that we must go after the tree that has gifts. Are you getting the message about this? I have no power over the tree with gifts. It’s up to God to put on us His gifts. I don’t care how much I pray, how much I weep, how much I trouble. It’s God who decides whether or not to give me gifts. He will pour them upon me. However, God expects that when He passes by my tree, that there will be fruit that will bring glory to Him and people will be able to take them and enjoy that fruit of the tree. Praise the Name of the Lord!
With this in mind, I would like to read the Scripture from I Thessalonians 2:7-12. I want you to hear how the Apostle Paul approaches the believers at Thessalonica.
“But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted and comforted, and charged every one of you as a father does his own children that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
Actually what we gather from these verses, are four positives that must be in the life of each believer for the world to see our fruit and that we are fruit-bearing believers. Now if you notice from verse 1 through 6, the Apostle Paul shares four things that should not be in the life of a believer. Now mind you that when the Apostle Paul went to this church, he gathered some elders, a couple of prophets, a couple of apostles, and some teachers, and he started to witness door to door. And finally the church was established. In two weeks the church grew. He was able to appoint elders and then move back to Corinth and write the church a letter, and this is what he wrote: “When I was with you, we were not like this, but we were like this.” He explained to him how he was not. “We were not greedy. We were not deceptive. We were not people pleasers. We did not have pride. We came as a humble servant. And you received us.” Now he’s writing in the other part of the chapter, and he is saying; “Now because we were not the way we were in the world, we are telling you church to follow suit, because you have a good testimony. Your testimony is reaching everywhere because people received Christ through your life and ministry. So he’s saying, do not be deceptive. Do not be people pleasers. Do not be greedy. Do not be full of pride. Avoid these four negatives. However, he says, “Follow these four positives that you have seen in us. And now because you are building a church in the community, the community will watch you and they want to see these things in you. In that way they will come to know Christ as their Savior, the same way you have through us.” This is the teaching in a nutshell.
The Apostle Paul starts with number one in verse 7. “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mothers cherishes her own children.” Think for a moment the Apostle Paul picking up the feminine trait of tenderness. The first thing he tells the church is how we are to be to meet the needs of the people. To be concerned about the lost, we must be:
1. PEOPLE WHO ARE SENSITIVE TO NEEDS. How many of you know that mothers pick up their children’s needs, even without them expressing themselves. So the Apostle Paul picks up this trait which women usually have – tenderness. And he applies that trait, that character, that fruit to himself. I recognize from the Scriptures that the Apostle Paul at times was even in tears because he loved these people. He really cared for them so much. I don’t know about you, but I wonder how many of us as believers, people of God, people of power, people of praise, blessed people, have shed tears about somebody who was a believer, and now is no longer with us. Or someone whom you know is bound for hell, and you know that if the person does not come to know Christ, that person will go to hell. I wonder if we saints in our spirits have sensitivity to people’s needs. The Apostle Paul portrays himself as a mother. I don’t know about you, but every time I go see my mother, if I’m down, she can pick it up. “What can I do for you?” And she gives me food to feed me! She knows sensitivity. And how many of you know when a baby cries in the crib, fathers will take the baby and give it to the mother. And the mother knows what’s wrong with the baby. There must be something wrong with his ears, or his teeth, or his belly might be hurting. They know all about that. The Apostle Paul says, “Church, be like a mother. When people come to visit you, when people come to you for needs, make sure you are sensitive. Do not ignore people’s needs.” You see church, before we reach Africa, or South America, or Australia, we need to reach our own city. And the only way we can reach our city is when we become sensitive to the needs of the people, regardless of who they are. Do you know that there are doctors, and politicians and lawyers out there who need Jesus as much as the one who lives under the bridge? Do not be deceived. If you work for a multi-millionaire, these people need Jesus, and we need them in the house of God to prosper the work of God. The Apostle Paul cries. He sheds tears. I’ve seen many tearful wives, tearful women crying because they have compassion and passion towards their children. I believe Paul is telling the church today that we need to come to the place where the church needs to cry and shed tears on behalf of the people who are bound for hell. I don’t know about you, but I cry on a daily basis. I’m glad I cry in my hidden place, because people would think I am nuts. But when I read the Bible, I weep. I enjoy the Scripture. This morning as the intercessors prayed over me, weeping was coming out of me. There was joy and it was peaceful. There was unity and anointing, and something melts inside of me. I don’t know about you, but there is something majestic and decent about a person that sheds tears. I admire them. When the twin towers went down, President Bush stood before 278 million people. And he was not ashamed to shed tears for the 3,000 Americans who died because of terrorism. It was majestic.
If you can visualize the Apostle Paul leading this brand new baby church, he writes this letter and says, “Come on guys, we came to you and we were not greedy. We didn’t ask for anything. We came as a father and a mother coming to their children. Please portray the same love to the rest of Thessalonica.” Let me say to some of you men who have never wept or shed a tear. Tears are not a sign of weakness. I enjoy when a man comes to the altar and weeps before God. I remember the last few months before my father went to heaven. It was in the month of February. And we had early prayers on Saturday morning. In those days we had different pews, and he was sitting in the first pew. And he began to weep like a baby. A man at the age of 83 years old was weeping. He did not have any needs. He wasn’t crying for anything for himself. He was weeping before God for the need that was in the body, in the church, in the city. And I believe we need men in the church who will weep before your spouse, and kneel down to them and wash their feet, and say, “How can I serve you. How can I minister to you?” And before our children, we need to love our children the same way too. There is nothing wrong about shedding tears, especially when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the Apostle Paul teaches us to be this kind of people. I believe tears are a sign of gentleness and kindness and concern. Paul tenderly loved this church as a mother tenderly loves her children. There is nothing of selfishness in the role of a mother. There is always the constant giving, constant commitment. They are absolutely resistant against running away. Mothers don’t run away from their children. Fathers sometimes do, but not mothers. And the Apostle Paul tells the church at Thessalonica, “When you reach out to people, don’t run from them. Let them come to you. Receive them with love.”
Now there was a Scripture that I was shocked to hear that I had never seen in a certain way. It’s found the Book of Matthew 25:42-43, when Jesus separates the sheep and the goats. When Jesus approaches the goats, not the sheep, He sends the goats to hell. Right? And I asked myself the question, “Lord, it’s unfair. You are sending these goats to hell.” First of all, Jesus tells the sheep, “I was hungry and you gave Me food. I was thirsty and you gave Me to drink. I was naked and you dressed Me up. I was in prison and you came to see Me. I was sick and you visited Me. Enter into the blessings of God.” He didn’t say, “Oh you performed miracles. Come into God’s presence.” He didn’t say, “You who performed mighty manifestations of the Holy Ghost, come into My presence.” He was not impressed with what they said or what they had done. It was who they were. He was so concerned about whether they were sensitive to people’s needs. That’s why even in the Book of Matthew Jesus said, “Get away from Me. I did not know you.” “But Lord, we prophesied.” But Jesus says, “Yes, I honor My Word, but I cannot honor your vessel.” I hope you get my point. Then He turned to the goats and says, “I was hungry and you did not feed me.” Now I thought He would have said, “You are a homosexual, go to hell. You were a lesbian, go to hell. You were a drug addict; go to hell. You were an adulterer; go to hell. You are a fornicator; go to hell.” He didn’t say that. Please understand I don’t condone these things. According to the Bible, these people don’t go to heaven. But notice Jesus’ concern was about people in need; sensitivity to needs. “I was hungry and you gave Me no meat. I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink. For I was a stranger, and you took me not in. I was naked, and you didn’t dress Me up. I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.” And notice in verse 44: “Then they also will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to them.’ (‘You did not call someone who was sick. You did not care about the one in prison or how long he was there. And the one that didn’t have a good suit on, you did not buy him a shirt. And those who were hungry, you did not bake a cake for them.’) If you did not do it unto them, you did not do it unto Me.” Correct me if I need it, but these people are worthy of hell. And Christ is speaking to the church. We need sensitivity towards our neighbor, towards our family members, toward a stranger. Do not to impress anybody with your gifts. It’s not your job or my job. My job is to have the fruit whereby we can bless and feed the nations.
2. AFFECTION FOR PEOPLE. The Apostle Paul says in verse 8 that to reach out to the lost, we need to have affection for people. I don’t know about you, but affection is why many of our young men and women turn out to be homosexuals and lesbians. You say, “What do you mean by that?” I’ll tell you. Many of our children do not receive affection from their parents and they turn against the parents. And they fall to whoever shows them affection. I’m not condoning it. It’s a sin and you know that. God will forgive the sinner. Even though He hates the sin, He loves the sinner. Paul is telling the church here, “Please show affection.” Like the song we sing, “Oh how I love you, Jesus.” “Lord, I love you, I love you.” That’s affection from us to Him. If you are human you want affection.
There were two birds that made a hole in my house. And I was angry. They made a nest for their eggs. And the two birds come and go and come and go, bringing all their stuff. And I cleaned under there. They were making a mess under my porch. So, I was going to get the eggs out. And all of the sudden I had a check in my spirit. “Don’t do that. Why don’t you let them hatch their birds and then let them go?” And every time I go near there, the two birds are watching me. And when I come close, they want to bite my head off. They have affection for their baby birds. Now some of our politicians are putting the animals in the forest above people. You can have an abortion; it’s no problem. Buy yet if you kill a bird or a deer or if you cut a tree down, you might go to jail. Let’s put our priority where it belongs, church. We are not people of the world. We are people of God, people of faith. And we need to respect and restore affection. I believe the moment we leave ourselves behind and show affection to people you will be surprised how people will come into the house because people are hungry for affection. That’s why Paul says, “So, being affectionately desirous of you…” There was affection on the part of the Apostle Paul toward his people. Now he was speaking to the whole body.
It reminds me of Nehemiah, the prophet. The Bible says that Nehemiah was in the city of Susa, and one of his brothers came to see him (Nehemiah 1:2-3). He asked the question, “How’s everybody back home?” And the answer from his brother who came from Judah was this, “The remnant that are left from the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and it gates are burned with fire.” Let’s look now at Nehemiah 2:3 and see what Nehemiah’s response is. He made a way to leave his place of service to the king. He was the king’s cupbearer. He was like the Secretary of State in our modern age. He welcomed all the visitors and before the king or drank anything, it had to be tasted by Nehemiah. He was an important person, but yet when he heard the news, affection grew in his heart. His brother told him the people were left in Judah, and there we no walls around the city, and the enemy was coming in and out, nobody protecting them. They were living in reproach. They plant vineyards but the enemy comes and they eat them all. The walls of the city are broken down and the gates that protected them are burned with fire. What can we do? And this burned in Nehemiah’s heart. These were not just words, church; this was reality. He was for real. The Bible says he wept and fasted for three days. And then he began to plead with God, “God you told us that when we come to a place such as this, if we met You and we repent of our sins, You will hear our prayers. God, I’m standing on behalf of the prophets. I’m standing on behalf of my grandparents and my parents. We have sinned against you, God. Will you please bring restoration to your great city? Here he was giving account to a king who was pagan. He could not just leave his place or position and go build the walls. He began to pray, “God, give me favor that You will allow me to go.” Notice the Scripture. If anyone went before the king with a sad face, it was automatic death. Nehemiah knew better. So, he brought to the king and his wife, the queen, first class wine and glasses. And when the king saw him, he said, “Nehemiah, why is your face saddened? Why are you so unhappy? What’s bothering you? You are depressed. You’re not happy.” And Nehemiah says, “Let the king live forever. Why shouldn’t my countenance be sad when the city, the place of my father’s sepulchers, lies in waste, and the gates are consumed with fire.” Affection. You know the story. He went back. He built the walls; he built the gates. And the city was again restored because there was a man with affection. Let me say, church, in our streets here we need men and women with affection. In our city we need men and women with affection. In our country we need men and women with affection. And God is about to raise us up. May we respond like the Apostle Paul. “God, give me affection.” That’s the teaching that the Apostle Paul gave the church at Thessalonica. If we are going to win the lost, we need to have affection. Praise the Name of the Lord. Jesus Himself had affection for people. Why do you think many people followed Jesus? They hated the religious leaders, the Scribes and Pharisees. But Jesus was able to be touched. He was able when He spoke to look into somebody’s eyes and say, “I understand. Take up your bed and walk. I know you’re blind.” He cursed the devil. He cared. He had affection for people. He listened to people. He sat with people. He spent time with people. Praise the Name of the Lord.
Paul says we need to be sensitive to people’s needs. If God is going to save the city, his saints, his church needs to come to the place of sensitivity. It’s sad to say that sometimes we don’t even sense the needs of our sons and our daughters and our spouses and our leadership and our body. I tell you, God wants to baptize every one of us with the baptism of love. And He wants take that holy oil and baptize us so that when we see someone hurting, we can go to them and embrace them. Regardless of the past or what that person is going through, we can embrace that person and say, “I love you.” I know a few years ago, I needed somebody like this. Forgive me for throwing my personal album in, but I knew the church was going down and down and down. Everybody was leaving, even those that I expected to stand by me. One of the church ladies said, “Pastor you served the church for twenty-two years. The church is going down. We have to get somebody else here.” That’s how much they loved me. That day I took a ride and went to see my spiritual father. When he saw me, I was disturbed. I was hurting. (God healed that a long time ago.) He closed the door and told his secretary, “No calls for as long as I need.” He looked at me and hugged me. He said, “My son, I love you. Wrong or right, I love you.” I never forgot his words. We need, we need affection. And when the world sees us showing affection to each other, people will want to come in these doors. Sensitivity to needs and affection for people.
3. AUTHENTICITY OF LIFE. In I Thessalonians 2:8-10, the Apostle Paul says, “Be real! If it hurts, tell them. Do not put a mask on. Talk to the leadership. Tell someone that you can trust. Open your heart.” Don’t share your needs with everyone. They might make fun of you. But you know what people you can talk to. The Apostle Paul says here, “You’ve got some mature men in Thessalonica. Open your heart. But let’s be real about life. Let’s not hide.” I will tell you that you will be misunderstood when you weep. “Oh this poor brother, he’s still under the weather.” No, I’m not under the weather. Nobody’s under the weather. God is speaking and I know where I’m coming from. And when somebody comes to me with needs, I can sense that. And I know that the answer is not to rebuke him or rebuke her. The answer is, “Let me gather you in. How can I help you?” Paul told the church at Thessalonica, “When we came to you, we imparted life. We gave you life. We gave you the Word.” You see church, the world is waiting for people in the body to heal them. God has healed us that we might heal the wounded – not to bury the wounded. And the only hope the world has is the church. Why should we not help the people in Rochester and in the town of Gates? The hope today for the world is not in Washington or Albany. It is right behind this pulpit, right here in the church and in the life of the body of Christ. Paul was saying, “When we came to you we imparted life to you.” And I’m talking to all the teachers in Sunday school, children’s church, nursery, everybody working in the ministry. When you are working for Jesus, you are imparting life. That’s what you are actually doing. You are imparting life. You are imparting secrets on how they can make it. Like the eagle – you cannot bind the eagle. Do you know that you can soar even higher than the eagle when you stay by His side? The eagle stops at a certain altitude, but the child of God, when you stay by His side, you can be yourself, even in your misery. Your job is not to impress the world with your gifts. Be real and say, “Lord, I’m a tree and You planted the tree. I want to bring forth fruit, oh God. Whatever fruit I’ve brought forth, that’s all I can do, oh God. I have all kinds of problems. I have all kinds of negativity in my life. But Father, I want to stay by your side. Wherever You go, I want to follow. Wherever You lead me, I want to follow.” Then I can go higher than any eagle. Halleluiah! Stay close by His side. Praise the Name of the Lord!
You see, we impart life. This morning I trust I am imparting life to you. You know who you are, and you know why you are here and where God is sending you. The eagle cannot stay inside a closed cage. It was meant to go higher and higher. So, the church is to be taken higher and higher to the highest level, even higher than the eagle. Praise the Name of the Lord! We who teach the Word, we impart life to people. Don’t impart death. That’s why we need to be careful what we speak from our mouths. We have the power of life and death. Bless your sons and daughters. Bless people that you know. Elevate them. Build them up. Also, being leaders and eagles in the kingdom, Paul says, “When you teach the Word, church of Thessalonica, you are revealing or imparting secrets, and also you are imparting struggles. Be honest. If you are hurting, say, “I am hurting, but I’m going through this. I’m passing through the valley of Baca. I’m not staying here. I’m going over. Nobody is going to keep me there, glory to God! I’m coming out of that valley. So, we impart struggles to people as well. Don’t you say, “Well, praise God, I’m a prima donna. I never went through any hell like you’re going through.” Give me a break! You cannot deceive anybody. Everybody I know goes through struggles. “God help us to be honest.” BE REAL! Paul says, “BE REAL.” If you want a church that is maturing and growing and really caring, be real with people. Be yourself. Remove the mask. Praise the Name of the Lord! Paul says, “When we came to you, we also imparted to you scars.” Some of you have been scarred, emotionally and physically. So, we impart life to people. We know who the answer is. We don’t stay there. Look at Jesus, the true picture of life. “Who hath believed our report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For He shall go out before us like a beautiful rose.” A fragrant rose smells so beautiful. But then, when the enemy came, He was trampled under feet. Nobody recognized Jesus anymore. His beard was pulled off His face. A crown of thorns was on His head. Blood was coming out of His face. Nobody could recognize that it was the son of the carpenter, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. “But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we were healed.” He had to go through that for me to be healed. Some of you are saviors. You are not judges; you are saviors. For the Bible says in the Book of Obadiah, “But out of Zion, God rose up not judges, but saviors.” You will be the savior of your city. You will be the savior of the world, because God has ordained you to be a savior and not a judge in these days in which we are living. Praise the Name of the Lord!
Let me share this personal thing with you. When you share sorrow, it’s half sorrow. But when you share joy, it’s double joy. Isn’t that so? Sometimes I share with the pastors and leadership here, and I’ve opened my heart to many of you. I feel so much lighter after I share. And when I share joy, I see them joyful, smiling. It’s okay if we share our pain. It becomes a half burden to you. Don’t care about yourself by saying, “Woe is me, woe is me. I’m the only burdened person here. Woe is me.” Give me a break – all of us have woes. But don’t you know whom we have with us? Glory to God! He’s on my side. He lifts me up. The body is here and I can come to the body. If I cannot reach God personally this morning because I’m too far out, the body is here to lay hands on me and pray for me and carry me until I’m well enough to carry myself. Praise the Name of the Lord! This was the story of the early church. They had everything in common and none of them lacked anything. There were blessings all over. Praise God!
4. ENTHUSIASTIC AFFIRMATION. In I Thessalonians 2:11 Paul says, “…as you know how we exhorted and comforted, and charged every one of you as a father does his own children…” Paul says, “We exhorted you,” which means, “We encouraged you. We gave you encouragement.” Do you know what bothers me when people say, “I want to come and see you.” People say they want to talk to me, and I say, “Well, something is wrong here.” But they come to my office with a Bible in their hands. And I think, “Wow, they have a message from the Lord.” And then before they start to talk, they say, “Can we really pray?” (You see, they really have something against me.) It’s a mockery. I get so mad. So I say, “Just open your mouth and tell me what’s bothering you.” Then they say, “You don’t really want to hear me.” Let me say something church. If you want to be a blessing, encourage the brethren. There are enough demons out there to fight. In church, we need to exhort and encourage the brethren. If you are going after their demons, you are going to bring them down. If you want to bless them, say, “Brother, be encouraged. Sister, be encouraged. No demon on earth is going to pull you down. And then if you come down, I’ll pick you up. And when you fall down again, I’ll pick you up again. If you fall down again, I’ll pick you up again, until you stand on your own two feet. Then you can pick other people up.” That should be the story of the church. Jesus came to save and to seek the lost. And the lost who are saved can go out and seek and save other lost. That’s the story of the church.
So here the Apostle Paul says, “When I came to you, we didn’t come as prophets, as apostles, as teachers. No, we came to encourage you. We came to tell you that you are doing a good job. We came to tell you that we love you and we appreciate you. You are a mighty light in Thessalonica. We hear reports of all you are doing. People are coming to know Christ and the healing manifestation of God’s Spirit. Your fruit is growing. Fruit in abundance; fruit in abundance. Not gifts in abundance, but fruit in abundance. We exhorted you. We charged you as a father does his children.” I know we have fathers here. When you go see your son playing basketball or football, you need to give them affirmation. I’m not much into sports. I feel sorry for my kids! But I remember when my son, Jeremy, was playing in high school; I would go sometimes. And as much as I did not know about sports, you should have seen me standing on my feet when he would make a basket. “Come on Jeremy; come on and do it!” Now he could not hear me. But I was giving him affirmation. I know once and a while Jeremy would look at me. Our eyes would meet. He needs his father’s affirmation. My heart weeps. The church has too many teachers and not enough fathers. We need fathers in the church. Everybody wants to teach everybody. But not everybody is willing to be a father to somebody. Fathers don’t have to teach; he shows the way. “Follow me, son. I’ll lead you. Before you fall, I will fall. Before you blunder, I will blunder for you. And before you make a mistake, I will make a mistake for you.” This is because a father has a heart. He isn’t out to win the game. He’s out to lift his son up. That’s why I have a saying in the body here. You never hear me preach about, “I need money this week, otherwise we won’t make it.” No, no. I use this ministry to build the people and not the people to build the ministry. Everything in this ministry is paid for. I don’t need you to help me pay the bills. I need you to carry the vision that God has given me to reach the lost.
The Apostle Paul says, “As you know, we exhorted you. We encouraged you.” Halleluiah! Saved people need our affirmation. We in leadership need affirmation. It is so refreshing when I get a note from someone that says, “Thank you. I appreciate you. I love you.” I’m so appreciative. I save all these cards, and someday I’m going to put them together and make a book out of them. I want to do that because that is something you cannot under or over estimate. It is impossible to describe the affirmation that we need from each other. Paul says, “People need affirmation.” Many people in the world have been beaten black and blue. Some of them have been beaten and stripped to the bone. And they are told, “You are sinners and there is no remedy for you anymore. You are condemned to go to hell.” We need to know, church, that Christ is their hope. I believe with all my heart as Paul says to the people at Thessalonica, “When you teach these new believers, tell them there’s hope for sinners. There’s a future for failures. There’s forgiveness even for the saints. And we cannot leave the saints wounded. We cannot leave them to die, church. We need to stop shooting some of these people who seem to be in the way. We need to build them up.
I’ve told you many times, and it’s worth repeating, about Mother Theresa. When she was with this helpless man with leprosy, the man who was taking pictures said, “I would not do this for a million dollars.” And she said, “Me neither. I do it because I love him. Somebody has to restore him.” Your husband might need a touch. You might think he is a rebel and doesn’t understand. But he needs to be affirmed. Your wife might need to be affirmed. Your sons and daughters need to be affirmed. Your boss needs to be affirmed. Your employee needs to be affirmed. Your grocery man needs to be affirmed. Your garbage collector needs to be affirmed. That’s how we evangelize and reach the world – by affirmation.
The prodigal son – when he wanted to go, his father said, “Go. Do you want to have the goods, take them.” But the father says, “Not for too long. I love you too much.” And he stayed on his knees praying until the son returned. How do you know he was waiting? Because the moment he came from far away, the father saw him. That shows me the father was waiting day and night for the son to come home so he could affirm him by saying, “Honey, I want you back!” How many of us stand at the door of the church and say, “You’re back after three years. Welcome back!” Halleluiah, Glory to God!” Luke 15:24 says, “The son was lost, but now he’s found. He was dead; now he’s alive. Let’s begin to be happy. Let’s begin to happy because he has come home.” Are you really happy when somebody comes home? Or are you afraid they might take your place? Everyone is worth saving, regardless of their race, color, nationality, background or financial status. It doesn’t matter. God made us in His image. “And he was lost. This son of mine was dead. Oh, but I’ve been waiting. I never accepted that he was dead. But now he’s alive. I have reason to rejoice. He was lost. I found him. I have reason to be merry.” Glory to be God!
Why do we do that? It is because we are seeker of people. There is something about us as Christians that the world does not have. It’s an inner security, that when people come they will add to us, not take away. You’re not afraid they are going to take your job or your place, or God’s going to love you less. But we do all this – we affirm, we comfort, we have sensitivity to needs – all these four things that the Apostle Paul mentions.
1. We are people of INNER SECURITY. I say this publicly and privately – if somebody wants this pulpit and God sends me elsewhere, I have no problem. I’m secure. This Bible doesn’t make me secure. What makes me secure is the God in me. The same gospel can be preached in Zambia. The same gospel can be preached in Zimbabwe, in Argentina, in India, and in downtown Rochester. It doesn’t matter. We are people of inner security. Nobody is going to pull the carpet from under our feet. We know better.
1. We are people of EXCELLENCE. And because we are people of excellence, we want more people to enhance us so that the gospel can be preached. What we do in 24 hours, we can now do in 12 hours. If we can build a building in 2 years, let’s build it in 1 year. We need everybody’s ideas. About a year ago, I was asked to go and bless the Gospel House. I went there and I saw something. It took me a year. I told my son, “This brother has a ministry, a television ministry. He’s reaching other people in Rochester. Let’s link arms together. Let’s build him up. Let’s help him make his work easier. He’s a man and preacher of excellence. Let’s combine together.” That goes with any ministry that God gives anybody in the body here. We aren’t to be lone rangers. Let’s bind hearts together. Let’s do things in excellence.
1. We are people of FAITH. Please understand that we do not “stumble” our brother or sister into faith. I don’t go to the doctor because Jesus did not heal me. I go to Jesus who I know. By faith, He can heal me. If God then tells me then to go the doctor, I’ll go to the doctor. I don’t “stumble” into faith. We are deliberate. We know what we are doing. We don’t do guess work. We know by faith that we are people of faith, and what we are doing is God’s will. And when you as a man or woman of God are appointed to a ministry, you don’t go there hoping it will work. No, you know, that you know, that you are about to enter by faith into something God has told you. And God will fulfill that through you and your ministry.
Thank you, Father. Let’s praise Him for a moment. Just praise His name. God is about to raise up this body of believers. He needs faithful hearts that will obey what the Apostle Paul told the church at Thessalonica. “Lord, make me a man or a woman of sensitivity. Help me to be a man or woman of affection. Lord, help me to affirm men, women, youth and children. Because Lord, I have inner security. I strive for excellence and, Lord, I’m a man or woman of faith.” Jesus! Jesus! Just receive the word that was spoken this morning, and let God use you to be that man or woman that fill people’s needs. But in the process, BE REAL. BE REAL. Don’t worry about the gifts. God will send them. God will bestow them upon you as the need arises. Let God build your character to be moved by the feelings, hurts and pain of other people. If there is anyone who would say, “I don’t know the Lord as my Savior. But I want to receive Him as Lord and Savior today.” Pray with me: “Father, I come to you in the Name of Jesus. I thank You that You sent Your son upon this earth to die on the cross for all my sins, past, present and future. Today I come to You as humble as I now how. And I say to you, ‘Come into my life, and I receive You as my personal Savior and King of my life. I give you my life. I give you my mind. I give you my soul. Renew my mind today in Jesus’ Name. I want to serve you now, in Christ’s name.’ Satan, in Jesus’ Name, you have no right over my life. This day I choose to serve Jesus, in Jesus’ Name. I’m a Christian. I’m a child of God because of Jesus’ Blood that was shed on the cross for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!
If this message has stirred your heart to ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, we would like to hear from you, pray with you and do whatever we can to help you. You may reach Rochester Christian Church Ministries International at (585) 247-4444, or through our website: www.rccm.org.
Pastor Stephen Galvano
Rochester Christian Church Ministries International