Paul on Encouragement

by Jack Schull

Encourage More Jack Schull

1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

Apostle Paul wrote to a church he planted in Thessaloniki. In these works, he inspires a people that are living in uncertainty, to keep living by a dynamic faith in Christ and to persevere with hope, even as they were facing opposition and pressure from a culture that didn’t believe or so much care for their beliefs. Followers of Jesus Christ should live with one foot in this world and the other in the world to come. We should be fully engaged with this life AND we should also live with an awareness of eternity. Having this double perspective – gives us wisdom for our ‘here and now’. It shapes our priorities, impacts our schedules, influences our dreams and our decisions. It fuels our hearts for the gospel and for people around us to know and experience Jesus.

Followers of Jesus Christ should live with one foot in this world and the other in the world to come. We should be fully engaged with this life. But we should also live with an awareness of eternity. Having that double perspective of this world and the world to come can grow us in living wisely for God…

TRUTH:We all need encouragement – when we receive it — It’s like fresh wind in our sails.Everyone needs someone to encourage them. …often, we are good and the world is certainly good at pointing out people’s faults and telling them how they fall short or how they should improve; but we’re not very good at encouraging the souls of people.… God used Paul as an encourager to the Church in Thessalonica. Not only was Paul concerned about their safety; but he was also concerned about their spiritual growth. So he let his concern motivate his heart to stir him to action in order to encourage the people of this church. Q) How can God leverage you to encourage more around you?

1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 NLT

1 Finally, when we could stand it no longer, we decided to stay alone in Athens, 2 and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, 3 and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. 4 Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. 5 That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless. 6 But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. 7 So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. 8 It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence. 10 Night and day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill the gaps in your faith. 11 May God our Father and our Lord Jesus bring us to you very soon. 12 And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. 13 May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.

Do something. Being concerned is not enough. Our concern ought to push us into action. Paul had been convinced of the genuine conversion experience of these believers (1:5), but he also knew the importance of follow-up and discipleship. Faith needs to be strengthened and encouraged, so he sends Timothy went back to do just that for these believers.

Paul also knew that facing “troubles” because of one’s faith in Christ should be expected. Some folks turn to God with the hope of escaping all suffering on earth. But Jesus never promised that. Problems are inevitable for God’s people. Your troubles may be a sign of effective Christian living. See John 15:18-19 and John 16:3318 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. “Yes, God is love. Yes, grace is amazing. Yes, mercy is necessary. *But please don’t leave out that suffering is inevitable. God only had one child without sin (Jesus); he will have no children in his family without suffering.

Timothy came to encourage…The Thessalonians had the Holy Spirit, but they also needed a Timothy: because, in this dark, fallen world, you will need someone visible, someone vocal, and someone tangible to help encourage you in your faith. It’s one thing to have the Holy Spirit walk alongside you, but it is something else to have a brother or sister hold your hand while you are trying to make it through) how many of you have had God bring someone into your life that He has used to spur you forward in faith? To encourage you? Who are some of those folks?

At the end of this chapter – Paul writes to these believers then (and us now) praying that we be built up in love to share God’s love… (ch. 3 v. 11-13) God is the source of love, Jesus is the proof of God’s love, and believers must be the agents of God’s love in this world. God has done his part, Jesus is doing his part—the question is: are we doing our part?

Praying for and with people is important! God’s abounding love has no borders. We are to be ‘active agents’ of God’s love to all around us where we live, work, play and gather.

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