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Echo Evangelique

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8:30am Bible Study
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The Encouraging Testimony of Timothy about The Thessalonians

Text: I Thessalonians 3: 6-10

Key Concepts:

  • Is your faith evident during this time of affliction?
  • We must emulate our Thessalonian brothers in responding to our current tribulations
  • Even in dire times, God is still God and He is still good.

            Paul showed concern and pastoral care for the Thessalonian Christians, he described himself as a spiritual father who is abruptly separated from his children. He grieved over it as one mourning the death of his child. The circumstances were beyond his control, he had no other recourse but to flee from the Judaic Jews’ persecution. Paul and his missionary team (Timothy and Silas) invested their time in teaching the flock the Word of God. They endeavored to establish the new Thessalonian believers in the faith. While away, Paul continued to think about and pray for them, while harboring the hope of being able to see them face to face. He wanted to be with the people and to impart to them God’s wisdom and the encouragement to continue to grow in the faith. Despite his attempts, he was not able to return due to the devil’s interference. This was agonizing to Paul (I Thess. 3: 1-2).

            What so concerned Paul about not being with Thessalonians? There was a mutual bond between him and the people; they cared for each other deeply. The Thessalonian Christians were facing persecution, afflictions and adversity. He had warned them ahead of time but when they began to experience persecution; Paul wondered if their faith, as new believers, would endure. We were not expecting our separation from each other either, though our circumstances are different from Paul’s, but how are you doing? How are you handling the situation?  How goes your faith in the midst of this pandemic?  Are you questioning and doubting God or are you submitting yourself to Him? Are you trusting God or are you letting fear and anxiety overwhelm you? How are you doing with the children in the home? How is your marriage? Are you worshiping together as a family? Are you holding on to the faith you said you had? The Thessalonian believers were facing visible and invisible enemies, in a different context, but our reactions must be like theirs. Like Paul, we are concerned that the tempter will use this situation to weaken your faith, to make you doubt and cause you to be so shaken you forget everything you know about God. Reconsider the lessons about tribulations, trials, afflictions and the need to persevere and endure.  What is your testimony right now? Are you totally discouraged and affected by every rumor? Or like those with no faith, are you asking, ‘where is God’? Or are you able to say that, “in spite of the pandemic, confinement, horrible news and increasing number of victims, our God is still good, and we still trust Him”?

            Paul sent Timothy to inquire about the state of the Thessalonian believers’ faith. He came back with a very encouraging report, so much so it caused Paul to offer thanksgiving to God. Indeed, the church did not bow to temptation and the pressure of persecution; they kept the faith, remained strong and faithful (I Thess. 3: 6-10).  The text is outlined in this manner: verse six contains Timothy’s testimony about the Thessalonians. Verses seven and eight show Paul’s response to Timothy’s report. Timothy’s report made had such an impact on Paul that in verse nine and ten, he had an exclamation of joy, thanksgiving and prayer. Timothy shared four good pieces of news with Paul: the believers’ deep faith, their sincere love, their fond remembrance of Paul, and finally their equal desire to be with the apostle. It is remarkable how the Thessalonian demonstrated the authenticity of their faith during a time of persecution. Their faith was a living one and thus evident in difficulty. When it is most difficult to be faithful, to remain strong in conviction and loyal to God, that is precisely when it is most necessary to do so. The Thessalonians used the little knowledge that Paul and his team had imparted to them to live by faith. They did not learn in vain. Is your faith firm in the midst of this storm? Are you panicking, falling apart, or are you thriving in faith?

            How did the Thessalonians develop such a faith? Their faith was based on the bible; that is the faith every Christian should have. Authentic biblical faith is able to sustain us through hard times. It is not positive thinking, nor presumption, neither is it arrogance. What is the definition of faith? There are two words/concepts that are crucial to the definition of Christian faith, both from the context of the Old and New Testaments: Belief and trust.  Apart from these two words, what you understand as faith is superstition and magical thinking. Belief refers to believing in the person of God. It is not simply about believing in God’s existence but believing in Him and His Word. Your faith should be about your knowledge of God and His Word. This is not about ‘name it and claim it’ or about emotions or about ordering God around. The God of the bible does not take orders from anyone. He is sovereign. He acts according to His will, wisdom, purpose and plan. You may choose to use magical words to try to sway Him, but you would so in vain. To believe in someone, you must first know the person, and in the case of God, believe His self-revelation (Rom. 10:17). Indeed, He’s revealed Himself in creation; and as Creator, He has the right to dictate creation as He pleases and to use creation to accomplish His will. Creation is submitted to Him and He alone has full control of the universe. He alone has allowed this pandemic to happen and He alone can preserve whomever He chooses to (Exo. 33:19). Because we trust His sovereignty, we trust that nothing that happens is outside of His control. Knowing He is in control, we can be sure there are no accidents in the life of His children. Even when we do not understand His deeds, He has a purpose in them. Having put our belief in God, knowing who He is, that He has a purpose and that He is in control, now we can trust Him. We can trust that whatever He chooses to do, that His purpose is best for our lives. We believe Him so wholeheartedly that we can rest the weight of our lives on Him. The same God we trust in good times, we need to trust in bad times. The description of faith in Hebrews 11:1-2 is based on knowledge of God and His Word. The basis of hope and trust is on the knowledge of God (Heb. 11:6). It is the assurance that we can trust God even though we’ve not yet seen the things He’s promised us fulfilled, even when circumstances may dictate otherwise.

Those in the Hall of Faith (Heb. 11) demonstrated their faith by trusting God in persecution, in afflictions, in agony, even in dying. The evidence of faith is seen in their endurance through suffering and sacrifice. They were looking forward to their inheritance in God. They trusted till the end.  The word of God does not guarantee that calamities will not fall on the children of God. We obey Him because we know who He is, we trust and love Him. Because the Thessalonians believed and trusted God out of love, they also loved one another. How is your love demonstrated in this time of crisis? Have you thought about those who are less fortunate? Those who live alone? In painful times, the Thessalonians were able to show love for one another. Faith leads to love as well. Reach out to those you can and help however you can. Paul was joyous to know that they were serving faithfully, but that they were loving and encouraging each other. We learn in such dire circumstances that we must depend on God’s sovereignty but also depend on each other as brothers and sisters. What testimony will be rendered about you? These times are difficult, and our faith is being tested. We may experience sadness and fear sometimes but when we are afraid, we must choose to trust God (2 Cor. 4:8-9). We need to keep acting responsibly but no matter what happens, in the end we will be able to say, “Give thanks to The Lord for He is good, for His mercies endure forever.”     

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Roslindale, MA 02131
Phone: 617-323-3107
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