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We are encouraged and energized by those led to Christ.

Encouraged and Energized by Those Led to Christ!

We are encouraged and energized by those led to Christ.

But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 3:6–8)

Ministry to the Lord is always engaging. There is never a lack of excitement when serving the Lord. One of the remarkable things about ministry is the many people you meet. Many of the people that you serve alongside become dear friends. In fact, we are often reminded in the New Testament that we are more than just dear friends. We are family. Thus, there are many joys and benefits to serving the Lord. One of those benefits is the deep relationships formed with other fellow believers. We are encouraged and energized by those led to Christ.

This week’s text recounts a relationship between Paul and the believers of Thessalonica. Yes, there were many battles, trials, and tribulations for Paul and the believers in Thessalonian. We know that Paul was forced to flee the city due to great persecution. Since that time, he has been concerned for those who did believe. With Timothy’s report, he was relieved knowing they were standing firm in their faith. It encouraged him greatly, knowing their faithfulness to God.

The Report

It is always refreshing to hear reports from those you have ministered to. Timothy’s report brought back the following great news. First, they continued to have great faith and love for the Lord. This news stands out the most. There is no greater joy than to hear that those you have led to the Lord continue to abound in their faith and love for Him. Second, just as he often thought of them, they, too, thought much about him. I would imagine that those thoughts came with prayers. As a result, Paul remembered and prayed for them. By the same token, they remembered and prayed for Paul. It is good to lift each other up to the Lord in prayer. Third, the Thessalonican believers desired to see Paul just as much as he wished to see them. Each longed to be in the other’s presence to rejoice, praising God for His faithfulness.

The Result

What was the result of this excellent report by Timothy? Note the Holy Spirit says he was “comforted.” Paul was encouraged. Obviously, Paul knew the scope of persecution these believers were facing. Such knowledge naturally led to his concern for their spiritual well-being. Now, as he heard Timothy’s report, he was greatly encouraged. God was with them. They were growing. Yes, the affliction and distress were real. They endured much. Yet, the trying of their faith fertilized their spiritual growth. It strengthened their faith in the Lord. They were living testimonies of James 1:3-4.

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:3–4)

There was an additional by-product of their testimony. Note verse 8 of our text.

For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 3:8)

Paul was invigorated by their report. It provided new energy. He was now ready to “stand fast in the Lord.”

As I stated at the beginning, one of the great benefits of ministry is the positive reports of growth by those you have ministered to. It is good to hear how God is using them. There is no doubt that each of us is a simple instrument of God. Yet, as human instruments, we also become personally involved in the lives of others. Seeing a soul come to know Christ and receive eternal life is a beautiful experience. It encourages and energizes us to hear the testimonies of their faithfulness. Aftwards, we can invest ourselves in their lives, helping them grow spiritually. Then, if they remain faithful, as did the Thessalonian believers, we rejoice when they persevere and become valuable instruments for Him. Our investment is His investment. Our reward is His reward. He takes pleasure in those who faithfully serve Him. We, too, take pleasure in seeing others in whom we invested our time serve Him as well.

Let me challenge you to seek out those who led you to Christ and those who disciple you. Take the time to tell them about your faith in the Lord. Let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them. If you will, you provide them with the encouragement they need. It will also energize them to go forward for the Lord. They will be reminded of this great principle found in 1 Corinthians.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Satan’s Opposition to the Gospel is Real!

Last week, in our continued study of 1 Thessalonians, we learned how much the world opposes witnessing for the Lord Jesus Christ. In this week’s verses, Satan’s opposition comes to the front.

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:17–18)

The Holy Spirit reveals Paul’s continued desire to return to Thessalonica. Even though things ended badly, Paul still longed to return. You will note that he “endeavored the more abundantly” to see them with “great desire.” Yes, he was not there with them physically, but his heart remained with them. The word “endeavor” connotates having a keen interest, an intense desire, or an impatient expectancy. In other words, the thought of returning to Thessalonica consumed Paul. There was unfinished business there. Thus, he did everything he could to return to them and finish what he had started.

O that believers have the same overwhelming interest in the souls of others. Too many times in our witness, we encounter opposition. Facing opposition is a given when it comes to witnessing. As we do, we become discouraged to the point of quitting or giving up. We do this, especially with those people closest to us and love the most. We share the gospel with them. They raise their objections loudly, and we immediately abandon hope. Instead, we must develop the same intensity that Paul exhibited. Christ himself said men would hate us even as they hated Him. However, we must not quit. Instead, we must understand that God can do all things and, with His love in our hearts, determine to return to the unlovable by sharing the gospel’s good news.

Scripture teaches us that believers face three enemies during their journey on earth. One of those is our own flesh and its desires.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5:16–17)

A second is this world and its belief system, which seeks to ignore God.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15–16)

There is a third enemy. This enemy is Satan.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8–9)

In this week’s text, the Holy Spirit speaks about Satan’s opposition to Christ and the gospel. Even though Paul had an overwhelming desire to return to Thessalonica, Satan hindered him. Satan stood in the way, preventing Paul from fulfilling his passion. Note that Paul tried “once and again.” In other words, it was Paul’s intent to go back to Thessalonica on multiple occasions. Yet, it was Satan who hindered him. The term “hinder” simply means preventing an endeavor’s progress or acocmplishment.

Satan is God’s adversary. He is not God’s equal. Yes, he is powerful, but his power is only a tiny fraction of God’s. It is a fact that Satan is limited by God’s authority even now. The book of Job is a testament that Satan cannot do more than God ordains. Despite all this, Satan’s objective is to oppose God at every turn. As believers who desire to see God’s kingdom expand, Satan also stands ready to oppose us. That is why the Holy Spirit warned us about him in 1 Peter. We must always remain sober and vigilant. Satan seeks to “devour” any believer who stands for the Lord. It warns us again that we must remain faithful to God through obedience to His Word. God’s Spirit works in and through us as we obey, helping us overcome all three enemies. There is no doubt the struggle is real. Paul himself testified about how real Satan’s opposition was to him and the furthering of the gospel. Here is the one thing we must remember.

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

God is on our side! We can overcome with His help and the power of His Spirit. Determine to be a witness for Christ. Recognize the enemies that oppose us. Submit and rely on God’s power in overcoming those enemies.

Following Christ

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:” (1 Thessalonians 2:14)

In many church hymnals, there is a song with these words as its chorus.

“Follow! Follow! I would follow Jesus!

Anywhere, everywhere, I would follow on!

 Everywhere He leads me I would follow on!”

Early in Christ’s ministry, He approached some fishermen who were mending their nets. He told them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

Every person who accepts Christ as Savior is called to follow Him. Winning people to the Lord is about following Christ. We are called to share the gospel’s good news with all we meet. In doing so, those who hear and believe are also called to follow Him and do the same. Followers of Christ produce more followers. It is God’s method of multiplying and adding to His kingdom.

However, in our text this week, there is an added element. The Holy Spirit noted that these believers “became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are Christ Jesus.” In other words, the already established local churches in Judaea became living examples for these new believers. Local churches must produce more local churches. Furthermore, each local church must be an example to other local churches.

I often remind our people that local churches are comprised of people. Our church is not the building or even the property we meet on. As a local church, we are believers committed to following the Lord Jesus Church. Thus, we must be great examples to other believers and churches.

What is a follower? In the Greek text, the word “follower” means an imitator. A follower copies the words or behavior of another. Therefore, if we follow Christ, we are to imitate His words and behavior. Our text references the local churches of Judaea. Consequently, it stands to reason that local churches must be filled with people committed to imitating Christ.

The song I referenced at the beginning of this blog has these words for its third stanza.

“Down in the valley or upon the mountain steep,

Close beside my Savior would my soul ever keep.”

Following Christ is not an easy task. Christ, Himself, warned us concerning following Him.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Matthew 10:22

The local churches and believers of Judaea suffered much persecution at the hand of the Jews. Their valleys were long and deep. Yet, into those valleys, they went knowing that Christ was close to their side. They became beautiful examples to the local church of Thessalonica as they did.

We must never overlook the fact that people are watching our lives. How we handle persecution, opposition, and difficult circumstances speaks volumes to those observing us as Christ’s followers. We must be obedient to His Word, trusting His care as we go through such trials. There is no doubt that if you take a stand for Christ today, you will be mocked for it. The pressure from American society to conform to the world’s standards is immense. Yet, we must not give in. Instead, we must simply follow on! As we do, God promises His grace will be sufficient to help us through each challenging situation. Let’s determine to be the same kind of examples the Judea believers were to the Thessalonican believers. Let’s follow Jesus anywhere and everywhere, no matter what comes our way!

God’s Word – The True Foundation of Witnessing

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

This week’s verse provides two fundamental principles concerning our witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. However, before we get to those principles, note that the Holy Spirit, through Paul, expresses thanks. God is thankful to us when we are obedient to His Word. I don’t know about you, but it makes my heart glad when God is grateful for my actions. The Thessalonican believers gladly received the Gospel as Paul preached to them.

Two principles stand out to me as I read and study this verse.

First, our witness must come from God’s Word, not our own. This verse places a significant emphasis on the “word of God.” The Holy Spirit notably testifies that the Thessalonican believers “received the word of God.” However, they did not receive it as “the word of men.” This implies that Paul preached nothing but the “word of God.” For a person to fully accept Christ as their personal Savior, they must first accept what is said as coming from God and not from men. For that to happen, as witnesses, we must rely on God’s Word as the foundation for our message and witness. We must speak plainly about what Scripture says about a person’s sin nature, the penalty for sin, and how Christ paid the penalty with His own body and blood upon the cross of Calvary. It is unacceptable to add to or take away from the plain truth of Scripture. Much confusion surrounds today’s gospel message due to man’s attempts to add his opinions and ideas. Such a gospel message no longer becomes the truth of God’s Word but a polluted version tainted by sinful men.

Second, I see this principle. God’s Word is truth. In fact, His Word is the only source of truth today.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7)

“Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And thy law is the truth.” (Psalm 119:142)

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17)

I encourage you to make studying God’s Word your daily priority. If you will, the truth of God’s Word will reveal the lies of men. People are inundated with man’s philosophies, opinions, and ideas, from news agencies to social media. The only way to cut through all the noise of men is by spending quiet moments with God. As you do, it will enable you, through His Spirit, to speak the truth to others as you know and use His Word.

When it comes to witnessing, the only things need are a submissive heart, the truth of God’s Word, and the power of His Spirit. Nothing more is required or needful. God always uses His people to speak His Word through His Spirit. The most important thing for us is to submit to Him through humble obedience to His Word.

Understanding Biblical Influence

It is said that everyone has influence, good or bad, upon others. People are watching you whether you want to admit it or not. What you do and what you say influences many people. For that reason, the Holy Spirit reminds us in our text this week how we must be careful in our witness to others.

“Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:10–12)

Perhaps the one thing we often overlook in our daily walk before others is that it is also a walk before the Lord. Here we see the Holy Spirit noting that they, the Thessalonicans, were “witnesses” of Paul’s efforts to share the gospel with them. The word “witnesses” means someone who sees an event and reports what happened. In other words, they watched and noted all that Paul did and said. More importantly, God was his witness as well. Consequently, we must be concerned each day with how others look at us and with a conscience understanding that God is also watching.

There are two areas of consideration regarding our walk and our influence on others. Note the first is found in verse 10.

“Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:” (1 Thessalonians 2:10)

This first area deals with our actions. Paul was careful to act holy, justly, and unblameable. A quick word study of each trait reveals the following. The word “holily (holy)” is to behave with moral and ritual purity. The second trait is “justly,” meaning to act following righteousness in the sight of God.

And last but not least is the word “unblameably.” It means to take action without guilt or in an irreproachable way. In other words, we must carefully live our lives each day in a manner right before God and others. We must competely obey the principles of God’s Word. When we do, we can act favorably so that God can use us as effective instruments for Him. The only way we can manage to live holy, just, and unblameable is to live God’s way.

The second area deals with our words. Consider verse 11.

“As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,” (1 Thessalonians 2:11)

During Paul’s time with the Thessalonians, the Holy Spirit notes that he exhorted, comforted, and charged them. Each of these is a word of communication. To exhort is to earnestly support and encourage a particular response or action. Comforting others involves words designed to alleviate sorrow or distress and lend emotional strength to others. Additionally, a charge, in Greek, means to bear witness. Thus, we see that Paul exhorted them to accept all Christ had done for them. He presented Christ as the only One who could bring true comfort to their life of misery. In doing so, he was a compelling witness offering firsthand authentication of how Christ can completely change a person’s life.

To be effective witnesses influencing others to Christ, we must possess the same components in our life. Every day must start with complete surrender to the Lord and His will. There must be a daily commitment to obey Him and His word. If we do, our actions can be holy, just, and unblameable. Furthermore, the words we communicate should flow with words pointing others to Christ. We must always encourage others to acknowledge their sin, the penalty of their sin, and point them to the Person Who paid that penalty so they might live eternally free. As we do, we can show them the true comfort that comes from knowing Christ and living under the influence of the True Comforter. Each day is another day to witness for Him.

How To Solve The Biggest Problems With Parenting


Parenting is never easy. It can be one of the most difficult, if not, the most difficult jobs in the world. Every parent dreams of raising the perfect child. We hold them in our arms as babies.  We have visions of them growing up talented and  successful. Yet it doesn’t take long before those dreams and visions crash around us. We soon realize that our job is much more than we bargained. Immediately, we begin looking for encouragement and advice on how to parent. And, guess what? There is a wealth of information available today on the subject of parenting. Unfortunately, ninety-nine percent of it is worthless, especially for Christian parents.

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My wife and I were missionaries for nine years. As missionaries, we spent a considerable amount of time on the road travelling from church to church raising support. One of the many roads we travelled was Interstate 95 that runs up and down the East Coast. Of course, when driving south on I-95, we would inevitably end up behind folks driving big RVs heading for Florida. We would see many different kinds of signs or vanity license plates attached to the back of these RVs. However, one the best was one that said “I’m spending my kid’s inheritance.” I couldn’t help but imagine the scene a few years down the road when the children of that particular couple is sitting in the lawyer’s office about to hear their will read to them. As they eagerly awaited to know what they are going to receive as part of their inheritance,the lawyer pulls out the will and… Read more…