1 Thessalonians 3
NOT YOUR BEST LIFE NOW: We live in extraordinary times as Christians in that we have so much abundance and blessings, and much of it come to us because of the godly principles that we and previous generations of Americans live by. Although books like Proverbs say that in general things will go better when we make choices in life that align with God's ways, the Bible never promises Christians that life will be good because of their beliefs. In fact, the only promises about this life the Bible makes are quite the opposite, like the one we read today in v3, that Christians are destined for trials (literally: affliction and duress). These trials should keep us focused on the life to come, not life now.
NO SOCIAL MEDIA: Imagine how difficult it was for Paul, who had planted dozens of churches all over the Roman empire, to not really know how things were going in those churches in which he had invested his blood, sweat and tears. There were no phone calls for advice, Facebook posts with pictures of baptisms and other celebrations, or any other communications. Finally Paul can no longer stand the silence in v5, so he asked for Pastor Timothy to come back with a report on how the Thessalonian church was doing.
WAS PAUL PESSIMISTIC? All people, even ardent optimists, have a natural tendency to assume the worst situation will ultimately occur, especially when we're in the midst of a vacuum of information as Paul was with the Thessalonians. When we look at everything Paul wrote and did, there's no way he could ever be classified as a pessimist. But at the end of v5, even the optimistic Paul was worried that the Thessalonians had caved to the tempter's power. Yet, once again God remains faithful and in v6, we read how Pastor Timothy was able to bring an encouraging report back to Paul.
HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND? After Paul hears Pastor Timothy's good report, it wouldn't be surprising to read of him celebrating a bit, and then moving on to the next project knowing the Thessalonians were doing well. But that's not what he does. After thanking God for the good news (v9) and he continues to pray even harder for them (v10). An example of how Paul prayed is given in the benediction in v11-13. The point: it's good to celebrate victories God gives the Church, but we must always keep our heads down in prayer and labor for God's people that we will be equipped to face the trials that will come.
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our God and Father who brings us all good things (v11-13)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: "May God strengthen your heart so that you will remain blameless and holy in the presence of God... (v13)"
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: