Love in Affliction – 3-24-22

“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” 1 Thess. 3:12-13 NKJV


Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen


Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of First Thessalonians chapter 3 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Concern for Their Faith

Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.

Encouraged by Timothy

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you— therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.

For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, 10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?

Prayer for the Church

11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.


Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”


Today’s short reading concludes the greeting narration of encouragement, reminder of the truth, and actionable expression of love.
Once a thought Paul was driven by duty and supernaturally compelled to WORK at making disciples, and because he is short with word and very direct, we miss all the flowery adjectives where people hide love and feelings.  Without those adjectives and without a healthy understanding of love – you could easily miss the driving force of Paul’s ministry.
Even in Acts, Luke very matter of fact like states this happened then that happened – and here I am explaining and it’s all very emotionless.  On the same note – we are always told we should not chase feeling and let feeling guide us because serving God is not always big emotional high’s (the way the world often defines love).
But on the flip – There is a LOT of emotion, love, heartache, emotional victories, etc. included in serving the Lord as Paul did. Paul loved immensely and it is his love that drove him. Paul learned to see people the way God sees them.
Let’s pause and think about it. Really think about it. Do you see people through the eyes of God? I admit I do not see all people that way – when I am busy about my way around the store – I do not even look at most people, I am looking for what I need so I can get out to there. Thankfully, I pay enough attention that God has been able to use me sometimes in stores to minister to someone else. But when God goes into that store with me, he sees every person. He sees their hearts and needs and is working out a plan to turn them to him and provide for them, if they would just accept it. He is also working out a plan for other Christians – and for you and for me. God is people focused. And Paul was people focused.

So when Paul starts this chapter with sharing his concern for their faith – he is saying how much he loves them and therefore does not want to see them fall into eternal damnation. Like the previous chapters, and our discussion of how many Christian haters were in the city of Thessalonica – this is still addressing the fact that these Christians are being raised up in the lion’s den, surrounded by hungry monsters. That must be scary – they watched Paul run for his life and those vipers (as Jesus called them) followed Paul to Berea; so Paul fled again and went to Athens.
Many of the churches were born under threat and saw Paul flee and understood the very real threat – what makes this church different is Paul did not have time there with them to give them a solid foundation and some perspective on how to deal with the persecution. So in verses 1-5, Paul shows us that he addresses their fears with LOVE, POWER and a SOUND MIND. Paul left Timothy (and in Acts 17 we know he also left Silas and went to Athens to wait for them).

Paul is the Biblical authority on trials, tribulations, hardships, temptations and such. First, he wrote the most about how to deal with them in a godly way. Second, he had firsthand experience. This is true of all the Apostles and many other believers in the first century church, but we have Paul’s writings about it to help us.
Here Paul is concerned that “no one should be shaken by these afflictions” (verse 3). Paul is an excellent example of godly leadership. But – you and I live in a day and age where preachers do not preach repentance, hell, or even the power of God – it is just a weekly self-help meeting. It is so bad that many believers I have spoken to have not been able to find a church that hasn’t compromised and speaks repentance and our uncompromising and living God, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. There are now at least 2 organization in the USA trying to help connect believers with churches and pastors who do not negotiate with evil (do not compromise to keep the income levels).
One is America’s Frontline Pastors – which starts by vetting the leadership to ensure the kind of support Paul tried to offer.  
But – it doesn’t all fall on people with pastoral degrees and licensing. We already saw that we should be praying for one another, praying for the church (the body of believers all over the globe), and praying for our Christian leadership – as Paul started the book sharing that he prays that way. So, what are we doing to ensure our brothers and sisters, and the ones we have taken under our wings to disciple, aren’t shaken by these afflictions (which also now include the pandemic and threats and rumors of war)?

By verse 6 we learn Timothy and Silas had returned to Paul and filled him in. It basically says “Timmy told on you! But it was all good! It makes me miss you all the more and I want to come visit. I am glad to hear you want to see us too!” And this is about as sweet, florally and poetic adjectives that Paul gets into. Oh the tender display of affection – because we humans are probably 80% emotional beings. We do need to know comfort, love and care.

“For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.” Verse 8
Well, this is some odd wording, toss into such sweet feels. I do think the translation is a little wonky but when we pull out the lexicon and review it – I think there are really a couple points in this verse that we can grasp.
One is Paul’s focus on relationship – how we interrelate – we live if you stand. It is all connected. Remember it is Paul who brings us the concept of all of us being a body.
The other is that it is Life or Death! Both the choice to believe or not is a life or death choice and our interpersonal relationship to each other as a body will dictate the life or death of the body.
God made us in the Garden of Eden to fellowship with Him – sin separated us from Him. We needed to get back but we did not know how. So God made a way, through Jesus, so we can have a relationship with Him, and saved from eternal damnation created for satan and not for us. Paul learns God’s heart and is not just people focused – but Paul understands the important of relationships and being relationally minded. Paul even shows that he believes it is a matter of survival. (We will see more to support this claim when we dig into his other letters.)

Whenever Paul thinks about people his letters blossom into prayers for them! Verse 9, thanking God for them! Every Thursday, on Facebook and Instagram I post a verse on being Thankful, and remind us to be filled with gratitude. It is designed to be shareable – less of me and more of just the pure word, uncut.  We must remember to be thankful and remember to be relational and remember to pray and remember to this and that and there is so much to remember! I know. So I designed this so that through repetition and teaching, and through prayer and supplication, it will become natural as God works to change you and make it natural.

And Paul’s gratitude continues to overflow into a more formal prayer for the church, which when we read we should pray, praying for our local churches, each other on here, and the whole global body of Christ:

“Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” Verses 11-13


Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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