Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #319 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 1 Thessalonians 3 today and our focus is on How Do We Help Those Who Are Going Through Troubles, Trials and Terrors? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Short but meaty chapter today. As we discussed earlier, Paul and Silas planted a church at Thessalonica, and stayed there for less than a month before a riot by the Jewish citizens there drove them out, and apparently, as of the writing of 1 Thessalonians, Paul and Silas had NOT been able to return and check on the church in person. And yet, somehow, someway – by the grace of God and the keeping power of the Holy Spirit, the church was still going strong and was impacting their entire region with the good news of Jesus. Unfortunately, however, they had been going through a series of troubles and afflictions, and Paul was quite worried that these would be sufficient to knock them off course – that Satan would use these afflictions to cause them to abandon their faith, or at least shake them up. So Paul, in the face of that concern, sends one of his most valuable team members, Timothy, to go and check on the church and encourage them, as we read in verses 2-4.
2 And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 so that no one will be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we told you in advance that we were going to experience affliction, and as you know, it happened. 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4
I find vs. 4 pretty interesting – even though Paul was only with this nascent church for a few weeks, one of the things that he told them was that afflictions and troubles were certain m- they were coming – they were predestined and designed by God. This truth is Christianity 101 – the very basics of the basics, and yet many churches and preachers and best selling Christian books skirt around this truth, or nearly deny it, which has causes generations of those raised in Christian homes and churches to be surprised and shook more by trials than they should be. The Thessalonians, however, were not undone by these trials, as we see when we keep reading:
6 But now Timothy has come to us from you and brought us good news about your faith and love. He reported that you always have good memories of us and that you long to see us, as we also long to see you. 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and affliction, we were encouraged about you through your faith. 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7
The Thessalonians, despite the afflictions that both they and Paul and Silas were going through – they were standing firm, which is great news, but beyond a great testimony of God’s faithfulness, I think we can take this short little chapter and learn a lot about how to help others when they are going through difficulties, trials, troubles, and problems. Let’s read the chapter, and then see Paul’s blueprint.
Here are Paul’s steps to help those who are going through very hard times – faith shakingly hard times.
#1 Paul was AWARE. He wasn’t self-focused, he was others focused, and therefore his great concern was squarely on the Thessalonian church and their difficulties. This is pretty crucial to helping others – if we are too inwardly focused – too busy looking out for #1, then we will likely be utterly oblivious when others are going through trials. I am reminded of our command in Philippians 2:3 to, “in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
#2 Paul sent somebody to help. When people are in trouble, nothing is better than your physical presence. Paul was in a situation where he himself could not come, so he sent one of his most trusted partners. Our physical presence helps when somebody is going through the ringer. We don’t have to always have the perfect words to say – just being there communicates a lot.
#3 As a leader and teacher, Paul prepared these new Christians with the right biblical understanding that “in this world, we will have tribulation, but – Jesus has overcome the world.” (John 16:33) They were NOT surprised by the fiery trial that 1 Peter 4:12 speaks of, because Paul and Silas had properly taught them the truth that trials and troubles are inevitable, and often bring good results, even though they are painful.
#4 Paul and Silas were praying night and day for the Thessalonians. Not just a little prayer, but we get the idea of praying with intensity and frequency from vs. 10, “10 as we pray very earnestly night and day to see you face to face and to complete what is lacking in your faith?” We also see this persisting prayer pattern in 1 Thessalonians 1:2, “2 We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you constantly in our prayers.” This means that the Thessalonians did not stand in their own power and knowledge – they were strengthened and undergirded by the supernatural power of God, in response to the frequent and persistent prayers of Paul. As James 5:16 reminds us, “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” God hears and answers prayers like these, and they avail – or accomplish – a great deal.
So, in summation: to help others when they are going through great difficulty, we must care and be observant – focused on their needs more than our own. We should be there, or send somebody to help – in person. A nice text is heartwarming for a moment, but nothing speaks volumes like your presence. Third, as ministers of God, we should prepare those we teach or mentor that troubles are unavoidable, and that God is working all things together – even our trials – for our good and His glory, so says Romans 8:28 and finally – we must do more than lip service prayer for those enmeshed in troubles – we must keep them constantly in front of the throne of grace by our prayers and petitions. In this way, our God might use us to greatly benefit those who are suffering.
Bible Memory passage for the month of November: John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Happy by Mike Leite https://soundcloud.com/mikeleite
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