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empty Posted: March/April 2008
Rev. Stephen J. Thurston Be Assured
Rev. Stephen J. Thurston
Pastor, New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church
President, National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.
Chicago, IL

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power; and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Many New Testament scholars agree that First and Second Thessalonians are the culmination of the nine church epistles. The first four, Romans, First and Second Corinthians, and Galatians belong together because they distinctively emphasize Christ and the Cross. The second three, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians belong together because they distinctively emphasize Christ and the Church. The final two, First and Second Thessalonians belong together because these epistles emphasize Christ and His Coming. In the first four, faith looks back to the Cross and is strengthened. In the second three, love looks up to the heavenly Bridegroom and is deepened. In the final two, hope looks on to the Consummation and is brightened.

As Paul writes of this hope in Christ Jesus, it is an assurance that offers satisfaction guaranteed. It is the guarantee that God gives us, as His Children, that we will find satisfaction out of any situation, circumstance, and any relationship. The dictionary parallels assurance with confidence. To be confident is to be certain. To be confident is to be free from uncertainty. Another word that is synonymous with confidence and assurance is “coolness.” To be confident is to be cool concerning a given situation. God blesses us and favors us with an attitudinal adjustment, which frees us up from worry, nervousness, and unsettledness.

With the assurance that God gives to every believer, we can literally live a happy and fruitful life. We can live beyond depression. We can remove a disparaging disposition. We can live beyond arguing and fussing and fighting. According to Paul, God has given to each of us much assurance. What every true believer needs is an attitude adjustment, that we can be assured. We can live such an assured life until our lives can be pleasant. Our lives can be joyful and happy. Our lives can be reassuring, and we can bless others around us. To adjust our attitudes and to become assured consider the four R’s.

Paul delivers a great message of inspiration. There is power in the Word of God. The Word of God is alive. It is living and active. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the mind. The ultimate God sent the ultimate Word, to express the biddings of The God that rolled up His sleeves to work with mankind. It is the dynamite that breaks down the walls and that softens the sinner’s heart. The Word came to us in the Holy Ghost. When the Word of God is alive in us, then the Holy Spirit takes control. The late Rev. F. C. Johnson once said concerning the word of God, “God is the greatest director that I have ever seen. He can direct us through our storms, through our trials, through our pains, and our problems. He can direct us through the valley, on the mountain; in the sunshine, in the rain, in our hurts, in our heartaches. God can direct us everywhere we need to go.” Yes, God’s word comes to us with power and the Holy Ghost. The Good News came in power and had a life changing effect on the Thessalonians. They believed the word, obeyed the word and their lives were changed. Without the power of the Holy Ghost the Bible is just a collection of interesting facts. But when the Holy Ghost dances on the words of God they become an unstoppable force in the lives of the believers. The power of the Holy Ghost changes people when they believe the Good News of God. Our eyes are opened and convince God’s church that we can’t make the journey of life without our road map. Without the power of God the words are just words, are meaningless, and little to no change can take place in those who see or hear them. Praise God! His word comes to us in the power of the Holy Ghost. Our prayer petitions should include the utterance of words like, “Lord Take hold of our mind that it can be transformed, changed from within, and renewed daily.” Yes, it is true that the seat of our attitudinal disposition toward life is in our minds. If the Holy Spirit keeps our mind, it will be evident by one thing, perfect peace. Peace to go to sleep at night. Peace to deal with our problems. Peace as it relates to other people. Peace as it relates to obstacles, difficulties, and confrontations. We can have peace. We can rest, relax, and calm down. We can be cool knowing that we have this blessed assurance. The church at Thessalonica had a dynamic witness and model converts for this very reason. Namely, they had the assurance of God, a satisfaction guaranteed. In chapter one, Paul looks back at their conversion. They really had felt the Power of God, and the Power of the Gospel. Paul looked back at the model church’s characteristics. They had the work of faith, labor of love, and steadfast hope. These true believers had the greatest benefit known to man. The Holy Spirit dwells in us to keep us stable and in great spiritual health. The Holy Spirit is the key ingredient in being assured and being cool under fire. The great truth of the Holy Writ is that the Holy Ghost will take up residence within us and will be our constant companion throughout our lives. Since we live in an unstable world, we need a stable presence to withstand a wicked society. Be assured of this—the Holy Ghost will fix our minds to think straight, have peace, and serve and please our heavenly Father.

As Paul exhorts and comforts this young church he challenges them to put less confidence in their abilities, and more confidence in the abilities of the Master. They were overwhelmed by the persecution that they had to face and the sorrow of being oppressed by zealous Jews (like Paul before his conversion). Roman authorities were ruthlessly beating and stoning believers for their belief in God. The word from the Lord assured the Church that God would see them through even on the backdrop of such pressure. We too have to hold up the blood stained banner as we contend with the pressures and weightiness of life. Just as the first century Christians had to carry the burdens of living for God, we too have to carry our crosses. With hope of knowing that it is in our job description to hold on to God’s unchanging hands. It is in God’s job description to bear the burdens we must face in a world of uncertainty. Yes we all have burdens but it is God who holds us up when all others fall by the way side. When we have an attitude of assurance, we can have relief. The weight of this world comes upon us; situations we weren’t expecting, things that are difficult come out of nowhere. Situations come, knock us down, take the wind out of our sails, and cripple our spirits like a category five hurricane. Taking our eyes off the Christ and being caught up in the Devil and his tricks is making it difficult for the Church of God; plotting to stand in our way of the prize. The enemy and his angels come upon us and get under our skin and in our minds, in an effort to disrupt our “peace that surpasses all understanding.” We are not equipped of ourselves to handle the onslaught of the deceiver. Nor are we able to hold up the burdens of this world because we are not exempt from pressures of this life. Why attempt to handle the burdens of this world on one’s own? How many times has a little talk with Jesus lightened our loads? Our relief is in our release. A lesson worth learning—turn it over to Jesus and get it off of us, and let the one who moves the world bear the burden. “Tell the Master of our trouble, He will hear our faintest cry, and answer by and by. Take our burdens to the Lord!” As the pressures of this life weigh us down only Jesus can change us in the midst of uncomfortable situations. Relief will not come from the eloquence of speech or the superiority of wisdom. No it will come from the full Word of God and the full Power of the scripture.

Paul and his companions faithfully delivered the word to this young group of believers at the church at Thessalonica. They had not been born again Christians for long. In fact, they stood firm in the midst of their trials only because they learned and depended on the strength of the third person in the Trinity. It is important to note that they remained faithful to the Lord in the absence of Paul and his companions, but in the presence, power, and the dynamic movement of the Holy Ghost. This is the only way we can stand confident in withstanding the slipping, sliding, and stumbling that we all do without His guidance, comfort, and teaching. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we all require a greater power than ourselves or a higher power to do, “all things through Christ that strengthens us.” Without the power of God, we all would fall flat on our faces against the spiritual landscape of this day and time. One verdict and one verdict only—victory is ours. Whatever we go through, will go through, and are going through requires relying on God to produce victory. Victory over the dark side of life, the ups and the downs, and the failures and defeats we all endure. Steeples across the globe tell the story of How “we made it over”, and testify that we have overcome by the blood of the Lamb.

The record of the Scriptures is literally littered with one experiential set of evidence right after another. It is a known fact that if a judge must make an adequate decision relative to a legal confrontation, he needs evidence. That is why our souls should shout and love what the Hebrew writer says when we hear him saying, “faith is the substance of things hoped for.” Every time we get up in the morning, if we don’t have anything else, we should have a whole lot of hope. Our hope is built upon nothing less than Jesus and His blood and all of His righteousness. We don’t care who comes around, we dare not trust the sweetest frame, but we are going to wholly lean on Jesus name. “On Christ, the Solid Rock, we stand. All other ground is just sinking sand.” We hear the Hebrew writer saying that “faith is the evidence of things you cannot see.” We don’t know what is going to happen within the next moment or in the next day. We don’t know what is going to happen in the next week, month or year. We are sure that He who holds our tomorrow is more than able “to keep that which has been committed unto Him.” There is enough evidence in the Word of God that our God is able, not just to do impressive exploits. God is “able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than I can ever ask of Him or I can think in my own mind.” Listen to the evidence—God walked with Moses across the Red Sea. That lets us know He is able to see us through when we are caught between the Devil and the deep Red Sea. We’ve got somebody who makes the waters roll up and walks us across on dry land. Daniel declares He will meet us in a lion’s den!! David declares, “God will make our enemies our foot stools.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago. What must we do when the fire is turned up on us? They said, “God will get in the fire with us, and we can walk around in fire and still be cool.”

There is a woman with an issue of blood. She touched Jesus’ clothes and He touched her back. That is evidence. He is able to touch us. He will make a way. He will lead us. He will guide us. Our forefathers, foremothers, especially my father would sing with all confidence, “Have we any rivers that we think are uncrossable? Have we ever had a mountain we just could not tunnel through?” God specializes and He can do what no other power can do.”

All can be assured in the Name of Jesus as a direct result of obtaining revelation. The word of God came to us in the power of the Holy Ghost. Praise God for the relief that is provided to the born again Christian. The Gospel of Jesus Christ releases us from the pressure of this mean and cruel world. Furthermore, God’s people gain reassurance the endless resources given by the work of the third person in the Trinity. Yes, these young Christians that Paul and his fellow laborers of the kingdom instructed gained the arrogance/confidence to rejoice in the face of hardships. Why?

Their troubles didn’t diminish their praising God for what he had already given them, was going to give them, and what he was doing for them in their present moment. That is where the arrogance comes in. Satan and his angels don’t want us to rejoice when we’ve got trouble. They want us to cry when folk are all against us. They want us to hang our heads down when they are lying on us. They want us to give up; they want us to turn around.

We thank God with our assurance; we have holy arrogance. We are not going to “let nobody turn us around.” We are not going to let any situation stand in our way. There is “no weapon formed against us that shall prosper.” We are going to praise God. We are going to rejoice. If we have to cry, we are going to thank Him. If we have to weep and wail, we are going to give God the glory. We are going to shout hallelujah. He never promised us a rose garden, or that every think would go our way, and we would not have hard days. He promised he would walk with us, talk with us, and work out everything to our good.

Don’t let anybody steal your joy, because “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” We thank God that “after all we have been through we still have our joy.” We know the road gets stony sometimes, “we still have joy.”

We are satisfied with Jesus. He will make a way for us. He will keep us. He will rock us in the midnight hour. He will hold our hands.

Stand of the assurance—the revelation, the relief, reliance, and rejoice—We make no apologies! We have holy arrogance with this. We know that our Redeemer lives. We know what doors he has opened for the church of this day. We know where he has brought us from, and the ways he has made for His church.

Rev. Stephen John Thurston is pastor of New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago where he has served in this capacity since 1979. He was elected the 14th President of the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., in September 2003. Rev. Thurston is a graduate of Bishop College in Dallas, Texas and has received several honorary doctorate degrees. A renowned national and international speaker, Rev. Thurston has published, ATTITUDE—The Paint Brush of the Mind: Impacting the Life of the Church through the Be-Attitudes of God, a collection of twenty-six sermons that offer a practical and biblical guide to dealing with life. To order email:

Copyright© 2007 Stephen John Thurston. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission

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