Today’s reading in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, found in 1 Thessalonians 2, was so good. Paul starts by saying that despite opposition, they were still able to spread the gospel to them and they share their heart, that they are not trying to please people, but to please God; that they are not looking for praise from people, rather they are showing people gentleness and love. He talks about how he wants to be a support to them like a father would be to his child, “encouraging, comforting and urging [them] to live lives worthy of God…” (v.12) He then talks about how they also thank God continually, todays verse. How they were now suffering for Christ from the Jews because at this time the Jewish leaders thought Jesus was a false prophet and they didn’t want his teachings to spread, our application tells us. He makes mention that he couldn’t get back to them because Satan blocked their way. I feel it’s important to touch on this from our application as well. “Satan is real…many of the difficulties that prevent us from accomplishing God’s work can be attributed to Satan”, but he ends on a positive note that the Thessalonians were important to him. And I loved how our application closed this out, “no matter what ministry God has given to you, your highest reward and greatest joy should be those who come to believe in Christ and are growing in him.”
In our verse today, I love how Paul says that they are continuously thanking God. This is huge. These are men who have been chased out of cities for spreading the gospel and being persecuted for their beliefs. This makes Christ so real, these guys are going out and risking their lives for Him. Paul, once a persecutor, had a full on encounter with Jesus that changed his heart and I think the books of the Bible written by him are so impactful because of his past, his experience with Jesus and then becoming a follower of Christ. God continually works in the lives of believers and “Paul knew that God’s words were not mere sermons or documents but a real source of transforming power. The Bible you hold in your hands is full of real and living power. Its words are transforming lives all over the world every day. Read it. Encourage fellow believers to read it. Encourage non-Christian friends to read it. All who do so, truly seeking to learn, will be touched by its power. They will never be the same.” (application)
And if for nothing else, for that alone we can give thanks, continuously. List out one other thing that you can continuously thank the Lord for, even on bad days? Also, journal out a way that reading the Word of God, your Bible, has transformed your life and/or your relationship with the Lord.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Paul, Silas and Timothy, that despite the persecution, they fought to get the good news of Jesus spread, that even encounters with Satan couldn’t stop them for encouraging new believers. Thank you for this message that shows the need for boldness in our faith, help us to have that in moments when we feel pressed, help us to talk about you even if it’s not the norm, help others to come to know you and love you. We pray for your word to end up in the hands of non-believers every where. We pray you help us to be encouraging, comforting, gentle and live lives worthy of you Lord. Help us to keep a posture of gratitude for all that you do and in times when we are feeling looked down upon or even persecuted in our faith, I pray you give us the strength and hope that we need to keep going and following you! I pray in the ministries you have placed each and every one of us in, that you help us to reflect you and be a support for those growing in you. It’s in your good and powerful name we pray, AMEN!