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The Secret of Paul's Success (3 of 10)
Dr. J. Gerald Harris
I Thessalonians 2:1-12
A businessman happened to be staying in a hotel where a group of ministers was holding a conference. The next morning was very cold, and as the businessman approached the dining room he noticed the ministers gathered around a blazing log fire in the dining room. He was very cold and tried to get close to the fire, but the ministers blocked the way. The businessman sat for a few minutes shivering in the cold. Suddenly he shouted, "Last night I dreamed I was in hell."
"Really," said one of the ministers. "What was it like?"
The businessman replied, "Not much different than right here. I couldn't get near the fire where all the ministers were in the way."
I feel like those of us who are preachers are sometimes stumbling blocks to others. That was not the case with the apostle Paul. His ministry was full of power because of his own personal credibility and character.
I came across a statement this week which I believe is applicable here. It is a statement by Peter Kuzmic. And this is what he said: "The problem today is not that we lack a credible message, but rather that we so often lack credible messengers whose lives are irrefutably in harmony with the gospel, and who are thus able to carry it with authenticity and power."
In our lesson for tonight we're going to discover that the apostle Paul had great credibility practically everywhere that he went, and that was especially true in the city of Thessalonica.
Let's look at the conduct of this man of God, the apostle Paul. First of all, let me say that
I. PAUL'S CONDUCT WAS CHARACTERIZED BY AN UNSELFISH LOVE
Paul had great success in Thessalonica, partly because of the way he related to people. I think most of us long for success today in relating to people, but yet we so often fail in doing so.
Let us learn how to relate to people for Christ's sake. Let us learn how to reach out so that the lost can be convinced of our sincerity. Let us make every part of our church a means to win others to Christ. Let us be especially committed to making our Sunday School classes our outreach centers...where we reach out for Christ's sake as well as reach in to those already in the class.
Ralph Nabor says this in his little book Witness, Take The Stand! -- "When a class lets a full year pass without reaching a single person for Jesus Christ, it has forfeited its excuse for existing."
The Scripture tells us that in relating to others, reaching out to others must start with love. The key to Paul's approach is found in verse 8 where he says, "...you had become dear to us." The word "dear" is a translation of the Greek word "agape -- God's love." This chapter describes the vital nature of love.
Now the first thing that we notice is that Paul had a love for the Master. Do you know how I know that? I know that because no matter how much Paul was persecuted, he continued to demonstrate faithfu ...
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