Thessalonians

Week 3: Five Friday (1 Thessalonians 3)

Originally, I was turned onto this mode of carrying out the “Five Minute Friday,” by a dear friend. Marie faithfully carries out this Friday series, on her own blog. The idea is to offer five bold points, that you may read within five minutes.

Five Truths On. . . 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

(1) Because of their aching hearts, Paul sent someone to go and check on the Thessalonians. Even if they had social media back then, I don’t think it could ever do the heartfelt thing that they set out to do. Physically, they sent Timothy to be with their friends to see how they were doing. Timothy went on the motive of love and risked everything. They didn’t just “like” their status, but went to them and had honest conversations which could have involved confession, glory stories of God’s work, and much encouragement.

(2) Suffering are a part of every Christian’s life. In 3:3-4, we learn how the missionaries prepared the Thessalonians for what they would face. They were well prepared for the expected suffering. God used the brethren to help prepare them as well as encouraging them to endure. Their new life meant they wouldn’t undergo suffering without the support of the body of Christ.

… But of course you know that such troubles are a part of God’s plan for us Christians.  Even while we were still with you we warned you ahead of time that suffering would soon come—and it did (TLB).

(3) The ministers proved themselves, as they showed concern for the Thessalonians. We live in a time, where it is easy to forget about others. Even in their suffering, these ministers reached out to see how their beloved friends were doing in their faith and in their new lives founded by Christ Jesus. This shows the depth of their love for Jesus and others.

(4) Knowing the truth about their friends’ faith brought joy and comfort to the imprisoned missionaries. Once we finally know how others are, it makes room for comfort and an abundance of joy that moves our hearts nearer to God. Their faith will encourage ours, even if we seem like these great people of faith on the outside. God only knows the measure of our need to hear how God is working in others’ lives. It offers us courage and hope to see how He will move in ours!

(5) Hearing about others’ faith in Christ ought to drive us to worship our Savior that much more. The unknown of a friend’s belief in Christ will drive us to our knees, to pray desperately on their behalf. If desperation precedes joy, the worship is all the more lively and intimate.  It’s a much needed time of remembering God’s goodness and that this is the God who walks with us.

How can we thank God enough for you and for the joy and delight you have given us in our praying for you? For night and day we pray on and on for you, asking God to let us see you again, to fill up any little cracks there may yet be in your faith (9-10).

Godly Living, Thessalonians

Week 3: 1 Thessalonians 3:7

Welcome, my friends, to week 3 of our study! I am so glad you are here. Thank you for taking a few moments out of your day to read today’s blog entry in your email or possibly on the website. You will not regret taking this time to invest in your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He is the source of all hope and comfort.

The Scripture –

While I am limited in sharing at this moment due to circumstances, I want to be able to share with you our new weekly memory verse.

In the middle of our trouble and hard times here, just knowing how you’re doing keeps us going. Knowing that your faith is alive keeps us alive (1 Thess. 3:7, MSG).

The Truth Revealed –

As I face my own troubles, I can relate a bit with Paul. Honestly, the great “longing exchange” (where the longing for a close friend is mutual) is a tremendous comfort in hard times. When you are in desperate need and alone, quality companionship is one of the top desires one troubled friend could have.

When we are going through hard times, we just need someone to be there for us. . . someone who will lead us straight to Jesus Christ. It’s the exact medicine we need.

We learn a few things about Paul and the Thessalonians –

  • Paul’s Heart: Longed for the Thessalonians, and bombarded with troubles.
  • The Thessalonians’ Heart: Longed for Paul, and continually sought Christ. . . resulting in much spiritual growth even during persecution.
  • Resulting in much comfort, especially for Paul in his time of need.

Hearing others’ stories of faith in Christ makes everything much better. While the circumstances may not change, our heart are uplifted versus drowning. Our perspective changes – because we receive comfort from friends. . . friends who treat our friendship in a godly way. Encouraging us to keep pressing into Jesus, praying over our circumstances, and helping us to hold onto our faith in Jesus and His Good News.

Biblical Friendship

While we may not choose our times of suffering, God can use this time to be encouraged (or encourage others) by others’ faith and show us the kind of friends we have (or are).

The Thessalonians and Paul had biblical friendships. They sought the Lord Jesus to be honored in their lives. They wanted to help encourage one another, pray together, and continue to live out their faith in Christ.

Biblical friendships are hard to find, but are what makes the lasting change in our spiritual lives.

Jonathan and David are a classic example of biblical friendship (see 1 Samuel 23:15-18). They loved each other in a godly friendship; Jonathan made sure to be there when David needed him the most (click here to listen to a sermon on the topic). Likewise, the Thessalonians would have send word back conveying how much they care for Paul and miss him.

Biblical friendships make the difference in our Christian walk, and an important tool in our transformation.

“[Thessalonians’] steadfastness was a great source of comfort to [Paul] in his trials. . . In the inevitable trials of the ministerial office there is no source of comfort more rich and pure than this (Albert Barnes Commentary).”

Thessalonians

Week 1: Wrap Up

What was special about this week’s message? I invite you to comment below, and share with me (and other readers) about how God spoke to you in this week’s Bible study on 1 Thessalonians

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:6

“You became followers of us and the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit. Therefore you were examples to all who believe in Macedonia and Achaia… (1:6-7a, MEV)”

This is the message that stands out, to me. One of the reasons I love the Thessalonians is – because their faith was enveloped in strength. They heard the Gospel message, and kept it close even in affliction. This showed the entire world that their faith was not an empty act, but as genuine as our faith could be.

Further in the New Testament, we are reminded that afflictions help us to refine our faith. In times of great trials, we are reminded of our dependence upon God just as David was. David wrote many worship-filled songs, from the depths of the pit that trials can often be described as. Yet even in the midst of great agony, David chose to allow it to be a tool of worship. The same can be true for our own lives. In 1 Peter 1, we are reminded that afflictions are the . . . groundwork, I guess you could say, for a deeper faith in Christ.

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith… may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ… [T]he outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls (see 1 Peter 1:6-9).”

Just before we are told that trials must come and even serve a purpose, we are reminded of a great promise. 1 Peter 1:5 is one of the verses in this chapter of Scripture that I hold tightly to.

“Through faith, God’s power is standing watch, protecting you for a salvation that you will see completely at the end of things (1 Peter 1:5, VOICE).”

In the NIRV, the first part of this verse reads like this: “Through faith you are kept safe by God’s power…” Our faith is important. We have to believe that God is keeping us safe, even through the fiery trials, and that He is bringing us closer to the great salvation He has promised us! I love the picture this verse offers to me. I crave protection, and that is what God is offering to me (to us) as I continue to deliberately put my trust in Him!

Looking back on your life’s trials, I invite you to join me in deliberately seeking how God has made that part of your growing faith journey. I know, the road is hard. For me, I can see how God has stretched my faith and pruned out some of the fleshly things I once clung to. I have grown more intimate in my relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

While my faith in Jesus isn’t where I hope it will be, it is shown as genuine and experiences growth in trusting Christ through those same trials I despise. This is the work of God, through the Holy Spirit. God is working through the good and bad.

Updates

ONE Week Away – Meeting the Thessalonians

Friends, Our study is only one week away! I am excited to share this journey with you all! The study of “Meeting the Thessalonians” has been such a rich time of worship, that has led me closer to God. Honestly, God has used this study to prepare my heart and mind for the season He is allowing me to enter into. I am eternally thankful for this time of study, and that I have been able to daily commit myself to taking the time to scripture write 1 Thessalonians. As I conclude my last week of 1 Thessalonians for this study, I am thankful for this time of preparation for our study together.

God knew it was exactly what I needed. So now, I invite you, dear friend, to join me in “Meeting the Thessalonians”. This is where God is going to meet us and speak tenderly to our hearts – no matter what we are facing in our daily lives. No matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in.

Honestly, life has been tough for me lately. There was even a millisecond of hesitation of switching the study date. Fear not journal lovers (if there are any of you out there), we are pressing on and going to begin our study in one week!

While there is a lot of things I am currently facing, I also have a lot of things on my heart and mind that I believe God is leading me to share with my fellow bloggers and readers. But this study isn’t solely for me, it is for you too. God has a specific word He wants to share with you personally! God wants to meet you right where you are, even if your life seems like mine – a big mess.

Even in the mess, God wants to show us Himself. He wants to reveal Himself to us, even in times like now where life is far from perfect. These are the exact moments, where we need to draw nearer to Him. We need to experience the faithfulness and presence of our great God!

With all that said, I hope you will consider joining me for our study. “Meeting the Thessalonians” is our nine week Bible study. There will be something for each of us to read, during the weekdays. We will meet back here, during the week to grow and learn together.

As a way to prepare ourselves for this study, I advise grabbing the journal. If you can afford it, please consider purchasing the official “Meeting the Thessalonians” journal. It helps to support this blog, plus all new format to help us gain a better quiet time. The new format will be utilized in all upcoming studies. I wasn’t able to afford the journal this time around, but I am looking forward to getting one of the future ones. They look really good, and helpful to move me in the right direction in growing spiritually.

Whether you use the journal or a notebook, you will have all you need to enter into this study with confidence that you will abound in your faith and relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ!

We begin January 29, 2017. Get ready, my friends, for you are going to love all that God will show you during this time of spiritual worship!

You can find the Thessalonians reading plan, by clicking here.

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The Overcomer Life, Truth in Trials

When The Holy Spirit Speaks…

A few days ago, I mentioned things have been increasing in their difficulties. While things may seem to get worse before they get better, I am sooo thankful for the Holy Spirit. I have had many “ministering moments” lately, similar to what we see in chapter 4 of Matthew. We are reminded that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, and that’s the One who is doing a lot of comforting in my life lately. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit, making sure I know that He is with me in this!

I wanted to share a few truths, today. These are truths I am learning to hold onto in my trials. And, it is my hope that they will help you too – in whatever season you find yourself in today!

  1. Jesus promises to be here with us.
  2. Jesus promises that He knows the weaknesses we face, and that’s exactly why we can come to Him.
  3. Finally, the problems of today mean glorifying God for all eternity. I don’t understand or like my trials, but it is comforting – just knowing that God will use this for something good, something eternal, and this won’t last forever.

Psalm 23 teaches us about the sovereignty of God and how He meets us – even caring for us and pouring blessings over us in the presence of our enemies. Let’s listen to a small portion of this Scripture –

The Lord is my shepherd. He gives me everything I need… He guides me in the right paths for the honor of his name. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid. You are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me (Ps. 23:1, 3b-4, NIRV).

Hebrews 4:14-16 proclaims the truth that King Jesus knows exactly what you are going through right now. None of your family or friends may know, but God knows it all. In Psalm 139, we are reminded that God is our Creator. He made us. So, it makes sense to us – as believers in Jesus Christ – that He would know the exact trials or times of weaknesses that we are going through right now. And, He is interceding on our behalf. He is going to love us through it! He is going to make sure we know that He stands on our side! This is our blessed encouragement and a good reminder of why we can keep the faith, even in the middle of trials. In 1 Peter 1, we are reminded that trials show us where our faith is. Keep on believing, and trusting Christ!

We have a great high priest. He has gone up into heaven. He is Jesus the Son of God. So let us hold firmly to what we say we believe. We have a high priest who can feel it when we are weak and hurting. We have a high priest who has been tempted in every way, just as we are. But he did not sin. So let us boldly approach God’s throne of grace. Then we will receive mercy. We will find grace to help us when we need it.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reminds us why we can keep going and not give up. Our trials are not for nothing. Because we are in Christ Jesus, they can be used to bring glory to God!

We don’t give up. Our bodies are becoming weaker and weaker. But our spirits are being renewed day by day. Our troubles are small. They last only for a short time. But they are earning for us a glory that will last forever. It is greater than all our troubles. So we don’t spend all our time looking at what we can see. Instead, we look at what we can’t see. That’s because what can be seen lasts only a short time. But what can’t be seen will last forever.