Upward and Forward

This is a second letter written to the new church in Thessalonica. When Paul wrote his first letter that we read through right before our Easter study, there seemed to be some misunderstanding over it and when Christ was returning. Some of these believers had grown idle in their living, to the point where some had quit their jobs and were simply waiting for Christ to return. We can understand why based on our current world culture. Persecution was getting worse and worse and so they believed “this has to be it, this has to be when he is coming back” Have you ever felt yourself saying this? But, no one knows when this day will come, no one, so as much as we want to believe, this has to be it, we have to keep going, and that’s what Paul is saying in this letter. Don’t grow idle waiting for him, work to further his kingdom while you wait. God wants as many people to know him and join him in eternity, “being prepared for his coming means spreading the gospel, reaching out to those in need, and building the church, his body…see clearly the reality of his return and your responsibility to live for him until that day.” (application)

Now that we have the background set in place, let’s read through this chapter together:

Paul, Silas and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What do you notice about how Paul starts this letter? (verse 3)

What two things does Paul say they boast about? (verse 4)

God is _______ . (verse 6) We know that God is going to make all wrongs right when he returns.

Look at verses 11 and 12 with me for a moment, Paul mentioned “his calling” What do you think our calling is from Christ?

I believe it is to look more like him, and it doesn’t happen overnight that this is a process, we can grow closer to him each and every day, learn more about him and become more like him, I don’t think this “calling” ends until he returns. Our application says, “to be worthy of this calling means to want to do what is right and good. We aren’t perfect yet, but we’re moving in that direction as God works in us.”

I want us to reflect on today’s verse, verse 5. As hard as it is to say, I don’t think anywhere in scripture does it say that it will be easy to follow Christ. In fact the New Testament talks a whole lot about persecution, including this letter, so much so that they believed Christ had to be coming. “As we live for Christ, we will experience troubles because we are trying to God’s people in a perverse world. Some people say that troubles are the result of sin or lack of faith, but Paul teaches that they may be a part of God’s plan for believers. Our problems can help us look upward and forward, instead of inward, they can build strong character and they can provide us with opportunities to comfort others who also are struggling. Your troubles may be an indication that you are taking a stand for Christ. When you do so, you are experiencing the privilege of showing that you are worthy of God’s kingdom.” (application) Have you experienced this? A trouble or hardship that came upon you, but it forced you to turn to God? That you came out of it so much stronger? Maybe God even put people in your life that needed to know you’ve been there for comfort and encouragement to them? Write down that story and the ways the Lord moved.

Heavenly Father, we know that your word say that in the world we will find trouble, but that you have overcome the world. Help us despite what the world looks like to continue to press into you. Help us to see our struggles as a way to grow closer to you. Help us to see what it is that you want us to in every situation. The struggles don’t feel good God, you know that, the world seems further and further away from you, but I pray for this community that our hearts only grow closer and closer to you; we want to be worthy of your kingdom and on that final day hear you say that you are proud, help us to work towards that while we wait for Christ to return. In your loving and just name we pray, AMEN!

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