Monday, March 22, 2010

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13, “Thank ‘um, they deserve it…” A Bible Study Devotion.

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13, “Thank ‘um, they deserve it…” A Bible Study Devotion.

Read 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Here we find Paul writing a letter to the people of Thessalonica after they had been witnessed to by Paul, received the gospel, and have undergone some persecution. Paul discusses the great joy that it brings him to know that they are remaining strong in Christ. In verses 6-10 Paul uses these words to describe his feelings to the people that he got to see converted to Christ:

Good news. (Hearing about their faith brought him great joy)

Longing to see them again. (Paul longed for the company of other Christians)

Encouraged. (Paul was encouraged by their faith. Did the student become the teacher? )

We really live. (Paul states that now they really live because of their faith.)

Thank God for you. (Paul delivered the message to them but God gets the glory.)

JOY. (Sharing the gospel message brings you joy. Holy joy; don’t confuse with Earthly fun.)

That is a list of pretty strong feelings generated by somebody else’s relationship with God. Why is Paul so happy that someone else is staying strong in faith? If you have shared the gospel with someone and have had the blessing of seeing them come to a life saving relationship with Christ, this makes perfect sense. If you have not, this is something wonderful to which you can look forward. This was Jesus’ command right before he left for Heaven. “…Spread the message to the ends of the Earth…” It certainly was important to him… You say, “But I’m afraid to share the gospel.” (See my previous posts) Even if you are not ready for a one on one encounter, there are other methods of sharing the gospel message:

Time for a personal story… I was sitting in a men’s Bible study when all of a sudden a feeling of extreme gratitude for the guy sitting next to me hit. His name was Tom. A year before that, I didn’t know him. Two years before that the room we were sitting in didn’t exist. And five years before that this is what Tom was doing on Sunday morning: He got up at 5am because there was a lot of work to do. He belonged to a church that had less than 100 members. They had no building. They had a trailer with some church stuff in it. They rented out a spot in the local high school. Every Sunday they would bring everything the church owned to that high school and start to set up. There was modern music, so a whole band to set up, chairs, signs, etc, etc… They would spend about 5 hours to set up and tear down for a one hour service. And they would invite people so they could hear about the gift of grace that Jesus offers to those who believe in him. By the time I came to the church it had grown to about 350 people and they had their own building. Tom did all of this work before he ever knew that I existed. There were a lot of “Tom’s” that sacrificed their time, talent, and treasure so people they had never met could hear about Jesus. All of those people combined efforts to bring the gospel message to the people. They did not witness one on one, but look at the effect they had. Tom was not the pastor. He did not work there. He was just a guy with a job and a family and not enough time like the rest of us. It was not just Tom that did the work. It was not only me they did it for, but at that time in that Bible study, God showed me all the work that was done before I ever came there. I came to that church as an unsaved person. And because of the efforts of Tom and other “Tom’s,” I heard what Jesus did for me and I believed…

Tom shared the Gospel by doing his part in a large collective effort. Paul shared the gospel one on one, and by preaching. Both are necessary. Both are actions that bring great joy. In each case, through Paul, Tom, or even you, God can use your abilities to do His purpose, if you just let him.

This is very powerful… Jesus died to take the punishment for everyone. He wrote the Bible so that everyone could hear his story and see what it means to them. He started the church and told his followers to tell others so they could know what it means to be “set free.” People all throughout history have done what Tom did, and much more, so other people, that they didn’t know personally, could hear the gospel. God did all of that for everyone, but, and this is the powerful part… He would have done it just for you…

Ok, I told them, but they don’t care. What now? Check back during the week…

Written by Chris Vasecka

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