Faith and Encouragement from Past Brothers and Sisters

What a blessing 1 Thessalonians is!  I would encourage you to take the time to read through this relatively short book.  It doesn’t necessarily contain a lot of theology, but it sure contains much encouragement.  Paul, Silas and Timothy wrote this book together.  The church at Thessalonica was the second major church founded on the European continent, and was an amazing mix of Jewish and Gentile converts.

Paul and his missionary team made several outreach trip by the leading of the Holy Spirit and they did not just birth new churches, but they became involved in the lives of their converts.  1 Thessalonians 1:2 gives us an insight into how much they loved and cared for this body of believers. We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.  Wouldn’t you love to receive a letter with those kind words?  Impart Ministries is a mobile ministry and for years Darryl and I traveled like circuit rider preachers of old from church to church.  We fell in love with each church by the grace of the Holy Spirit. It was  tiring traveling, but we were always refreshed by being together with each special church.  I find myself with an aching heart to go and visit each and every church that are still very much in my soul.  So I have somewhat of an understanding of Paul’s heart in this matter.

There were some special attributes that the authors complimented this church family.  As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thessalonians 1:3 )  These folks were faithful.  They loved one another and they kept their hope alive even as verse 6 declares in spite of severe suffering it brought you.  These people counted the cost and kept on going even when it caused them suffering and hardship.  I am writing this blog to encourage us to keep on going.  Keep on walking in spite of the struggles you may be facing.  Keep on walking through the “why bother” thoughts, the “I am too tired”, “nobody else is doing this” lies.  These are lies my dear friends.  We keep on walking and running our race because of our dear Savior Jesus Christ.  We do not want his suffering to be in vain.  We want it to count for something.  Because of Paul and his teams investment in this church, they became encouragers to others.  As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece–throughout both Macedonia an Achaia. (1:7)   You probably will not know the influence you have on others till you get to heaven.  Can you imagine the encouragement they were to Paul because they stood in the face of adversity.  And then, dear brothers and sisters, you suffered persecution from your own countrymen. (2:14)  

Paul and the team moved on to other areas of ministry but they did not forget their love, care and responsibility to this church.  They tried to go back several times to visit them. Dear brothers and sisters, after we were separated from you for a little while (though our hearts never left you), we tried very hard to come back because of our intense longing to see you again. We wanted very much to come to you, and I, Paul, tried again and again, but Satan prevented us. (2:17-18)  Finally they sent Timothy to visit them.  We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through.  But you know that we are destined for such troubles. (3:2-3).
We all need strengthening, encouraging and reminding that trouble is part of this world.  I think as humans we try to avoid all trouble and are sometimes surprised when it comes.  But Jesus said that in this life we will have trouble, but I want to know that each trouble we face we do not face them alone and it will always be worth it.  Dear friends, I have heard of people walking away from their faith in this season, it grieves me deeply.  I wonder why, what happened?  Verse 4: even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come–and they did as you well know.  That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong.  I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.

We have a tempter that comes to each of us.  He is no respecter of persons, places or pursuits.  Young or old in the faith he seeks whomever he can devour.  Please be alert and on watch for his activity in your soul or spirit.  The body of Christ needs you to stand strong in this day.  Let us take hope and courage from our brothers and sisters in Thessalonica and be steadfast in His ways.  Paul and his team were fighting opposition where they were and it encouraged there hearts when Timothy returned with his good report of their standing.  God wants to use us to encourage others.  We can do it!

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