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Genuine Christianity - Studies in 1 Thessalonians - 8

A Genuine Help

Today we're studying 1 Thessalonians chapter 3 verses l to 10.  When Paul was forced to leave Thessalonica it was because of persecution.  The Jews were so incensed that it was no longer safe for him to stay.  Paul had his share of suffering.  He knew that he had left a turbulent situation.  He was concerned to know just how the new Church in Thessalonica was going on.  Paul says in verses l and 2, "So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens.  We sent Timothy to strengthen and encourage you in your faith.  I sent to find out about your faith". 

Timothy brings back the good news of the believers faith, love and patience even in the face of suffering.  In this passage of scripture we're taught how to handle suffering in our lives.  Suffering comes to us in many ways.  There is the opposition of Satan.  It can be in the form of persecution, or rejection, ridicule, contempt, and apathy.  It can come from friends and even family members close to you.  Paul says in chapter 2 verse 14, "You suffered from your own countrymen".  But you can come through it.  How?  By Growing in strength. 

Verse 1 says that Timothy was sent, to "strengthen you."   This strength comes through the word of God.  Timothy did what he helped Paul to do on his first visit to them.  We read in chapter 2 verse 13, "You received the word of God, which you heard from us."   He brought them the word of God. 

When you hear and apply God's word it works in your life and makes you strong to face the challenges of living for Christ. 

You can come through suffering by, Receiving encouragement.  Verse 2 says, "We sent Timothy ...  to ...  encourage you in your faith".  The encouragement would help them not to be "unsettled by their trials".  We are encouraged when God gives us prior warning that we will face trials.  When they come we are not taken by surprise.  Verse 3 says, "You know quite well that you were destined for them".  To be forewarned is to be forearmed.  God tells us beforehand that trials will come.  That encourages us to remember He is in control when we do experience them. 

We are encouraged when we see personal concern.  Verse 5 says, "I sent to find out about your faith".  Many a struggling Christian has thanked God for a brother or sister in Christ who was concerned enough to find out how they were really doing in their faith.  Paul did something practical he sent Timothy to them.  It is an encouragement when someone makes practical steps to help you in your need.  It shows that someone does care.  We need to feel that loving support of each other in times of affliction. 

We are encouraged by: Perceptive insight.  We read in verse 5, "I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless".  God gives us perceptive insight so we know what is actually going on behind the scenes.  Although God permits your trials, they are part of Satan's strategy to wear you down and get you to give in.  Knowing this encourages us to see the true nature of our afflictions and to stand firm.  Ephesians 6 verse 12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against ...  the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm."  

You can help others by being an encouragement yourself.  You are called to be an encourager.  Paul says in verse 7, "We were encouraged about you because of your faith" Yes, even the great Apostle Paul needed encouraging!  In verse he says, "But Timothy has just now brought us good news about your faith and love."  

The words "good news" translate a Greek which means "evangelised".  Evangelism brings new life to sinners dead in their sin.  Paul says in verse 8, "For now we really live".  The good news of their steadfastness brought new life to Paul.  It is another way of saying that he was greatly encouraged by them. 

How can you encourage others in your Church?  By bearing spiritual Fruit.  Verse 6 tells us that Timothy, "...has brought glad news about your faith and love."   There is nothing more refreshing than to see believers living for the Lord demonstrating faith in God and a real love for him and others in Christ. 

You also encourage others by showing: Fondness.  Verse 6 says, "He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us".  Mutual fondness is vital for the health of any church.  It develops unity and fellowship.  Are your thoughts good toward your brothers and sister in the Lord?  We read in Ephesians 4 verse 32, "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ also forgave you". 

Encouragement is also given through Fellowship. 

At the end of verse 6 Paul says, "....that you long to see us, just as we long to see you".  Their hearts pulled toward each other in Christian love.  The sign of a healthy church is a strong desire to be in one another's company enjoying fellowship in the bonds of Christ.  Such a desire spreads encouragement amongst God's people.  It also helps us in our suffering.  We know that even if the world afflicts us we can find a sweet shelter amongst fellow Christians.  We provide mutual support. 

We see the result of this as Paul thanks God.  He says in verse 9, "How can we thank God enough for you."   Is your life a cause for thanksgiving in the church?  Your growth in fruit, fondness and fellowship will bring glory to God because his name will be praised for all that he is doing in your life and in your church. 

Paul had real joy.  We read in verse 9 that he thanks God for, "all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you."   A joyful church, even in the face of suffering, is a church growing in love and fellowship. 

Paul prayed.  We read in verse 10, "Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again".  He was encouraged on in his prayer life as he saw that God had answered his prayers for the Thessalonian believers.  We cope with affliction by becoming stronger daily through God's word, and by being encouraged, and by being an encourager. 

I trust you will aim for these goals in your walk with God.

Click here for part 9.