A Christian Catalyst

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A Christian Catalyst; NV 5/4/02 AM / 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13

OS: A In his book Led by the Carpenter, D. James Kennedy writes:

A man walked into a little mom-and-pop grocery store and asked, "Do you sell salt?"

"Ha!" said Pop the proprietor. "Do we sell salt! Just look!" And Pop showed the customer one entire wall of shelves stocked with nothing but salt—Morton salt, iodized salt, kosher salt, sea salt, rock salt, garlic salt, seasoning salt, Epsom salts—every kind of salt imaginable.

"Wow!" said the customer.

"You think that's something?" said Pop with a wave of his hand. "That's nothing! Come look." And Pop led the customer to a back room filled with shelves and bins and cartons and barrels and boxes of salt. "Do we sell salt!" he said. "Unbelievable!" said the customer.

"You think that's something?" said Pop. "Come! I'll show you salt!" And Pop led the customer down some steps into a huge basement, five times as large as the previous room, filled wall, floor, to ceiling, with every imaginable form and size and shape of salt—even huge ten-pound salt licks for the cow pasture. "Incredible!" said the customer. "You really do sell salt!"

"No!" said Pop. "That's just the problem! We never sell salt! But that salt salesman—Hoo-boy! Does he sell salt!"

Salt that stays on the shelf doesn't do any good at all.

I.       B    13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5

II.   Jesus says His people will be Catalyst.

A.   C Catalyst

                  1.            *Chem. A substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.

                  2.            * A person or thing that precipitates an event or change:

                  3.            *A person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.

B.    Negative Catalyst - an inhibitor.

C.   Notice the Catalyst is never changed. It remains constant.

                  1.            D Galatians 6:1, Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

                  2.            Unless there is within us that which is above us, we shall soon yield to that which is about us.

III.           E In our text this morning Paul gives us the Characteristics or Profile of a Spiritual Catalyst.

A.   Remember Last week?

                  1.            1:1-12, Paul thanks God the church at Thessalonica because - model church.

                  2.            work of faith, labor of love, and perseverance of hope.

B.    They were not the model church by accident.

                  1.            Only with God could it have been possible.

                  2.            Only with their receptiveness.

                  3.            Only with Paul and his group of workers playing that Catalytic role.

C.   Paul set the example so that these new Christians would do the same thing.

                  1.            Paul evidently believed that every person he reached for Christ could and should become an effective Christian worker who could do the same with others.

                  2.            Maybe in a different way, or with a different talent, but each person can be a part of the Catalytic team to create change in the lives of people.

                  3.            That is our quest here at Northview!

D.   That is why our text this morning is so important! Here Paul provides the profile of a spiritual catalyst. (4 Characteristics of an occasion for positive change for God)

IV.            F Intensive Exposure to God’s Word.

A.   Notice the text – * 2:2-4, G 13

                  1.            It wasn’t how Paul spoke, but it was what he spoke.

                  2.            As you read through Acts you find reference after reference of Paul preaching the Word of God.

B.    Why was this so central to His message?

                  1.            2 13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

                  2.            H Because God’s Word has the power to change lives!

                  3.            * John 17 17  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (God’s Word has a “make holy” effect on the lives of people.)

                  4.            * 1 Peter 2 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, (Creates growth – changes lives)

C.   I believe Northview is changing lives, and I expect lives to be changed.

                  1.            Bible-based / Bible-intensive (Bible study everywhere)

                  2.            We want to dig deep into God’s Word because that’s where the answers are, that’s where real, lasting life-change occurs, and that’s what enables us to help other people most deeply.

D.   (4 Characteristics of an occasion for positive change for God)

V.   I Living to Please God, not People.

A.   * 2:4-6 (this is a second crucial feature of Paul’s ministry that made him a spiritual catalyst. He was not a man-pleaser)

                  1.            He didn’t try to sell himself, or flatter people.

                  2.            Henry Kissinger - Superstars/Heroes – “Superstars strive for approbation approval; heroes walk alone. Superstars crave consensus; heroes define themselves by the judgment of a future they see it as their task to bring about.”

                  3.            Paul had given his life to Christ and therefore Christ was the only person he sought to please.

B.    Do you want to be this kind of person? Then you totally and completely give your life to Christ.

                  1.            The beauty of it all is that acceptance is a given. Jesus accepted the religiously unacceptable in His day and He hasn’t changed a bit.

C.   A Chicago bank that once asked for a letter of recommendation on a young Bostonian being considered for employment. The Boston investment house could not say enough about the young man. His father, they wrote, was a Cabot; his mother was a Lowell. Further back was a happy blend of Saltonstalls, Peabodys, and others of Boston's finest families. His recommendation was given without hesitation.  Several days later, the Chicago bank sent a note saying the information supplied was altogether inadequate. It read: "We are not contemplating using the young man for breeding purposes. Just for work." Neither is God a respecter of persons but accepts those from every family, nation, and race who are willing to give their lives to Him. (Acts 10:34-35).

D.   Just because Paul wasn’t trying to please men don’t get the idea that he was cold to people.

VI.            J Personal Involvement

A.   *2:6b-8

                  1.            Paul didn’t just deliver lectures on theology and go home.

B.    Deep-seated, lasting spiritual change occurs in the context of close, personal, Christ-centered relationships.

                  1.            That’s the way God made us.

                  2.            That’s a lot of what small groups is all about.

                  3.            “Community means…people who have to learn how to care for each other.”

C.   “I’m just not that kind of person.” Neither was Paul! Jesus changed Him.

                  1.            Ask God to give you a heart for people.

                  2.            Muster the faith to begin one person at a time and see what happens.

D.   Paul’s involvement with people gave him the opportunity to be a catalyst in another way.

VII.        K Example coupled together with Challenge.

A.   * 2:9-10

                  1.            He never said, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

                  2.            Paul taught people how to live for God by being a concrete example.

                  3.            We can inspire people to live for Christ by showing them what it looks like.

B.    Paul’s example gave him the authority to call others to greater commitment to Christ.

VIII.      L For there to be a Catalytic event where things are changed for the better.

A.   There must be the presence of a catalyst. This person…

                  1.            Drinks deeply of the Word of God.

                  2.            Seeks to please God rather than men.

                  3.            Gets deeply involved in the lives of others.

                  4.            Sets the proper example.

B.    That is how you get salt off the shelf.

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