I am currently in a time of life that is rather confusing, and, therefore, I am learning a lot about trusting God and seeking His will for me. Having just finished going through Colossians, I decided that the next logical move was 1 Thessalonians (a book I had honestly never really studied that deeply). As I worked my way through 1 Thessalonians, I marked it up, as I do normally when reading scripture. I want to take this time now to share my notes and thoughts from my reading and what the Lord is speaking to me. But first, prayer!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day, for the people reading these words right now, and for the opportunity to be able to come before you now and marvel in your wonder. Lord, please bless the words I am about to say; let any words that are not of you to be forgotten by anyone that reads them. Father, please continue to grant discernment in the decisions we are each facing. Bless our relationships with others and please help us to draw nearer to you every day. God, please forgive us of our sins and help us to grant the same grace to those that have wronged us. Thank you, Father, for your many blessings. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.
- 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our payers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote this to the church in Thessalonica, I wonder how many members of that church were surprised to hear that the apostle that they were receiving word from was actively praying for them, that Paul was recognizing their individual labors, love, and endurance…? It is motivating, at least for me, to know that someone I respect thinks highly of the kingdom work that I am doing. Not only that, but it is an honor to know that someone else is praying for my endurance and hope in the work I am doing for Christ Jesus.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:4
…we speak as though approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. Wow… sometimes I forget the magnitude of what it means to be ‘entrusted with the gospel.’ When was the last time you thought about that? That we, sons and daughters of Christ who understand the Word and have been baptized in the glory of God, have the duty to spread the gospel.How often I miss opportunities to share the good Word… Not even just that, there are so many times that my conversation is not seasoned with love and grace as I know it should be. How often am I quick to anger? How often do I fail to love others as I know Christ loves me? Too often… but maybe that is because I lose sight of who I am truly trying to please: God. Paul hits the nail on the head with this one. Knowing that God is the author of my story and that I have the courage and passion to spread the good Word, I will please the Lord when I focus on the gospel in every moment of every day and every conversation.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:6
We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else…Oh how often I forget this… I have fallen short in this area so frequently that it feels like a norm for me to try and seek assurance and confidence from other people. In actuality, I need to be going to God for guidance and wisdom, especially in the decision-making process: feel a call on my heart, ask God, read Bible, talk to God, seek advice from mentors, talk to God, read Bible, talk to God… make decision.So what if people don’t agree with my decision? So what if they don’t understand? So what if they want to tell me I am wrong? If at the end of the day I am bringing glory to God’s kingdom by the decisions I am making, does anything else truly matter?
- 1 Thessalonians 2: 19-20
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory.
We will glory in the truth that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again to save us from our sins. With this truth we are unstoppable in the eternal world.
- 1 Thessalonians 3:7
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.
This reminds me of James 1:2-3 which reads: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Putting this back into context though, Paul is building up the people of Thessalonica, acknowledging their distresses and hardships and explaining the encouragement their faith brings to the kingdom of Christ. I know it brings me comfort when my trials and tribulations serve as encouragement to someone else, whether they can help someone to stay on the path of God or it provides an opportunity to pray together and trust on God, some of the best encouragement comes from distress and persecution.
- 1 Thessalonians 3:12
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.We all have those days where our cup is low and we need to dip into other’s for encouragement, love, and strength. Paul does a great job of putting a visual to the companionship necessary to ‘do life’. We cannot harbor hatred or anger towards a brother or sister, for when we do, we do not bring heaven to earth through our interactions. If that is our mission on earth, then why do we not focus on it more?
- 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12
…Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Wow… first of all, these words have been on my heart for a while now (long before actually reading these verses…). I have felt the call of the Lord telling me to ‘live a humble life’ in order to bring glory to His kingdom. Of course I know I can do that anywhere, that it is all about my heart, but wow, these verses really struck me.We don’t have to be Bible beaters, in fact, that helps literally NO ONE. (Does it help when I say ‘literally’? Figurative people don’t really exist… but whatever, the emphasis is there). Instead, whatever we do, as long as we are modeling our actions and speech off of Christ, we will be able to win the respect of outsiders so that they may see Christ in us.
Love. Christ lived his life out of love for others. He did not force anyone to follow him, but he did ask his followers to pick up their life and follow him. If we live our lives loving people and pursuing Christ, it’s a win.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
We don’t always get it right. In fact, I know recently I have been getting it wrong in a lot of the relationships with the people I care about. I have been hurting and pushing people away, without even realizing it because I have been that self-absorbed. Everyone has a lot going on, I know that, but if we all focus on building each other up, then everyone will be cared for! Mic drop…
- 1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
“Hope, be patient with everyone…” -God (always)Essentially, when we focus more on others than ourselves, we will build the kingdom. AND, if everyone approaches life with this mentality, then everyone (including ourselves as individuals) get poured into! We are not meant to do life alone.
Find people to pour into. Find people to pour into you. And do life with others!
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Amen! No other words necessary…
The promises of 1 Thessalonians are found through encouragement and love for our brothers and sisters. Our lives are for Him! Find comfort in knowing that there are people praying for and loving you. Christ be with you, brothers and sisters!