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God is quite clear about what He considers true religion.
James 1:26-27
Stand firm in your faith in hard times, encouraging one another.
1 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Those in Christ are encouraged to talk to God about anything and everything, anytime. That's how to get peace in stressful times.
Philippians 4:6-7
"Come here! Stop working so hard. Take a break. Let Me refresh you. Hook up with Me. Learn how I work. Let Me do the heavy lifting."
Matthew 11:28-30
The two greatest commandments, Love God and Love Your Neighbor; yet the world despises God and opposes men.
1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
God knew His lost little lambs would need a special Shepherd. He sent His Son to guide and provide.
Psalm 23
If God has entrusted you with the Truth of His Gospel, then speak it boldly and live like you are His.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
As we await Jesus' return, we must work to serve God by serving others, sharing the Truth with confidence.
Serve God as You Wait for Jesus
When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight..Jeremiah 15:16 NIV
Psalms 1:1-3
Only our best will do for God....and those we minister to.
Titus 3:12-15
Those whose faith, no matter how small, is in God will find their faith tested so it can grow.
James 1:2-8
God cleans us up, gives us a new beginning, and sees us in our "Sunday best."
Titus 3:1-8
2 Chronicles 16:8-9
James 3:13-18
Romans 11:28-32
2 Timothy 3:14-17
2 Corinthians 8:1-2
Lamentations 3:31-33
2 Peter 1:3-4
Romans 2:12-16
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Destined for Affliction
1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5
Evangelizing is vital, but don't forget to disciple!
Audio from the author
Published July 9th, 2016; Updated July 9th, 2016
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The Fellowship of Caring
The Fellowship of Caring
When Paul could bear the separation no longer, he was willing to stay alone in Athens while he sent Timothy to them - "to strengthen and encourage" them ....Why? Because these believers were the fruit of his labor, his hope, his joy, his glory. He did not want their faith to be shaken so that he could proudly present them to Jesus at His return. Paul was willing to suffer anything for them: persecution, flogging, imprisonment, being hindered by satan from coming back to them, being left alone in Athens. But he was not willing to leave them alone. strengthen: Strong's # 4741 stērízō (from stēringks , "a support that fixes, plants down"; akin to 2476 /hístēmi , "to stand," having a duplication of the primitive Gk root /sta , "to make stand") – properly, set fast (fix); give support to secure (firmly establish); solidly plant (which eliminates vacillation). encourage: Strong's #3870 parakaléō (from 3844 /pará , " from close-beside" and 2564 /kaléō , "to call") – properly, "make a call" from being "close-up and personal." 3870 /parakaléō ("personally make a call") refers to believers offering up the evidence that stands up in God's court . Paul had been torn away from them "in person but not in heart", and had preached the gospel to them. He didn't want his persecution or any affliction they would bear to cause that word to be taken from them. He recognized the importance of " up close and personal" fellowship and encouragement. I am struck In this passage by Paul's heart for the church at Thessalonica. The unbelieving Jews had chased them from Philippi to Thessalonica to Berea, Paul had finally ended up in Athens alone, leaving Timothy and Silas in Berea--but even so, instead of focusing on keeping himself safe, we find him here longing to get back to the people at Thessalonica who had so eagerly embraced God's word when they heard it. In fact God's word is now working in them to the point that they are being persecuted by the same folks that drove Paul and Silas and Timothy out. This so concerned Paul that he sent a brother believer also appointed by God to check on them to make sure that they're not buckling under the persecution because he recognizes that it's not the Thessalonians that are the enemy but this is Satan's work. Satan seeks to hinder the word. Satan seeks to hinder the messenger but he cannot stop the work of God. Paul was so concerned for the Thessalonians that he sent Timothy to support them, to make the sure the roots of the Word implanted in them were firmly fixed and would stand fast because he knew the affliction was coming. He sent Timothy to also walk close beside them during the time of affliction. Q1. How am I discipling others after sharing the truth of God' Word with them? Do I strengthen and encourage, support and walk beside them during troubled times?
1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5
Paul Longs to Visit Thessalonica
Paul longs for face to face fellowship
But since we were torn away
from you, brothers,
for a short time,
in person
not in heart,
the more eagerly and
Manner #1
with great desire
we endeavored ... to see you
face to face,
Manner #2
because we wanted to come
to you—
I, Paul, {wanted to come} again and again—
but Satan hindered us.
Paul Sends Timothy in His Stead
It is \all about the faithful, the believers
For what is our hope
or joy
or crown
of boasting
before our Lord Jesus
at his coming?
Is it not you?
For you are our glory
and joy.
Therefore when we could bear it no longer,
we were willing to be left behind
at Athens alone,
our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ,
and we sent Timothy, ... to establish and exhort you
in your faith,
that no one be moved
by these afflictions.
Paul Checks on their Faith
Faith requires followup
For you yourselves know
that we are destined
Content #1
for this.
Content #2
For when we were
with you,
we kept telling you beforehand
that we were to suffer affliction,
just as it has come to pass,
and just as you know.
For this reason,
when I could bear it no longer,
I sent to learn
about your faith,
for fear that
somehow the tempter had tempted you
and our labor would be
in vain.
When we stand before Jesus at His return, the only thing worth bragging about are those whom we have discipled and with whom we have shared God.
Our best efforts, no matter how strong we are in the Lord, how grounded in His Word, can be thwarted by satan.
So many times we get this wrong. We think (even if in our subconscious minds) that as believers we are destined for greatness, to live lives of prosperity. We expect to live the New Jerusalem life while still on this sin-dominated earth. Paul says otherwise. He knew that as a follower of Jesus--and one who dared share His knowledge of God with others---that his true destiny was a life of affliction and persecution. He knew satan would work overtime trying to stop him in his tracks. And he made sure the church at Thessalonica knew that, too, not wanting them to have any illusions about the consequences of the choice they had made to follow hard after Jesus.
Satan hinders (v. 17) and satan tempts. That's what he does. So having once heard the Word and accepted it as Truth, we must be all the more careful to examine ourselves, to have other believers hold us accountable, so that our faith can hold strong.
In spite of being chased out of Thessalonica, or being stopped by satan from visiting that church again or of being left alone in Athens, Paul does not despair. He sees the church at Thessalonica as his hope, his joy, his crowning glory and he will proudly present them before Jesus when He returns.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.