1 Thessalonians 3:1-4
Who do you worry over?
Are you concerned with those around you who are losing faith?
What types of appointments do you have with God?
1 Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;
2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
So Paul being away from the church in Thessalonica was longing to know how they were doing, so he sent Timothy. Paul wasn’t counting how many people he led to the Lord, but he was concerned about how they were doing. He wanted to disciple them.
Sending Timothy wasn’t easy for Paul. Paul is very close to Timothy but the job needed to be done so he sent him.
Notice what he said about Timothy. He was a brother. Of course he wasn’t a physical brother of Timothy but Timothy was a brother in Christ. He also said that Timothy was a minister of God. This isn’t what we normally think of when we think of the word minister. Instead the idea is that he serves others, but first and foremost he serves God. The last thing he says about Timothy is that he is a fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ.
Now we know how hard it is to let Timothy go. He is the kind of servant and fellow Christian you want to keep around.
So Timothy leaves and goes to the Thessalonians to do what? To establish them and to comfort them concerning their faith.
Establish means to support, strengthen or set in the right direction. To make sure they were on solid footing. He was also sent to comfort them. Comfort has the idea of encouragement. Why do you think they needed to be encouraged or comforted?
They were experiencing persecution. Remember that Paul was pushed out of town and these same people that caused trouble for Paul would certainly continue causing trouble for these new Christians.
Many people today are told that if you become a Christian and live for God, that everything is going to be great. The truth is, if you live for God, you will face persecution. That is exactly what Paul wants these new Christians to understand in verse 3 and 4.
Newly married people think everything thing is going to be perfect in their new relationship. Then after some time the reality sets in. You can tell people before they get married that things will not always be great, but rarely do they listen.
Paul didn’t want people to be moved or shaken by these afflictions or difficult times. He wanted them to continue on in the faith and not give up. He makes sure they understand that these troubles were expected or at least they should know that trouble was coming. He says that these things were appointed. In other words Christians have an appointment with trials, tribulations and testing of their faith.
Jesus told his closest disciples just hours before he went to the cross that they will have persecution. Not that they might have it but that they will have it. In other words count on it.
I think the word appointed is interesting. You can look at it two ways. One that trouble is coming and I can’t avoid it. Or that God is in control and he made the appointment. Which way is easier for you? As a Christian I know that God makes all of my appointments.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
Suffering comes to the Christian for various reasons. Sometimes we bring it on ourselves, but sometimes God allows it to make us more like Jesus. Jesus himself suffered.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered
Jesus came to do the Father’s will. He knew there were times of suffering. In other words he had an appointment with suffering, a divine appointment.
Most of us would love to have an appointment with God.
If God allows us to suffer because we are serving and living for him, then think of that time as a divine meeting that has an eternal purpose.
The symbol of Christianity is the cross not a Mercedes emblem.
The symbol of Christianity is the cross not a soft pew.
Another lesson is…
What was Paul’s biggest concern? Not to remove the difficulties, but Timothy’s purpose is to build up their faith, and to make it stronger and fill in the holes. He then wanted to comfort or encourage them to continue on.
Paul didn’t seek to criticize their faith but instead to support their faith, to set them on the right direction and then encourage them.
When you see brothers and sisters wavering or in trouble, do we criticize how they are handling things or do we offer direction and encouragement.
God didn’t expect us to live through these difficult times alone. He wants us to rely on each other and on Him.
Can you rely on others for encouragement and setting you on the right direction? Can others rely on you for the same things?
Who do you worry over? Let me know below…