My telephone rang. It was during the historical days before cellphones, caller ID or automatic voice mail transfer. In those days I would pick up the telephone and answer it.
“Hello,” I half-heartedly gave my greeting. After all, I was busy. My desk was full of open books, my writing pad was half used. Pages of lined canary paper were filled with my writing as I prepared a Bible lesson.
“Hey, this is your old Prof. I don’t want anything. I just want you to know that I love you.” There was a click when he hung up the telephone.
He was one of our generations most celebrated motivators. During my seminary years he poured his life into our lives as his students. Over the decades of subsequent service, he kept in touch and cheered me on. His influence in my life is immeasurable.
Previously, the Apostle Paul made it clear that the salvation of the Thessalonian believers was a result of His sovereign election. We were helpless and He acted to save us. One of the purposes of our salvation is that we would share in the glory of Christ. This means that as Jesus is in the presence of the Father and basking in the fellowship of all that God is, we too will enjoy that celebration someday as well.
All of the intricate theological mysteries of this epistle are a result of what God has done for those He loves. This love is complete, devoted and firm. It is real and will not diminish over time nor lose any of its sensational details.
While Jesus and the Father are identified separately, it is clear that the Apostle views them as one. In the expression of love, this separation actually enhances the intensity of love for believers. Both persons of the Godhead agree about this love. Further, while they are one, their love is manifested in double capacity.
Emerging from God’s amazing love is His gift of grace to all who follow Him through faith. Emphasize the word “gift”. The grace is what is given. God initiated the giving and He chose the gift to be given.
Grace is God’s amazing favor generously poured out into our lives. When we would never have chosen Him, He still chose to love us. Not only were we incapable of choosing God, we actually hated Him. We rebelled against His laws, acted selfishly disrespecting His name.
In spite of our woeful treatment against God, He counted our sin with His gift of grace. We did not earn His grace. Nor did we deserve it through some kind of mysterious merit. Rather we should have by all standards of justice; we should have been judged and judged severely.
Instead of treating us as we deserved, He showed us His mercy. He did what we should never have expected. God loved us first, before we ever loved Him.
Then, He gave us even more. Not only did He resolve the issues of sin from our past, He did more. On top of the relief of forgiveness, He also gave a new hope for the future.
The word encourage is the same term for the Holy Spirit when He was referred to as the Comforter. This suggests that the idea of “comfort” is in the Apostles’ mind. Having a sympathetic companion gives anyone who is facing difficult trials encouragement to persevere.
Metaphors continue during hard times. The reference to “hearts” is that part of our being that is in touch with our feelings and desires. If we can be cheered on in that place of our lives then we can make it through troubles.
Facing trials successfully does not mean that we merely rest or take it easy. Rather, we who follow Christ should still be about doing what He has called us to do. Our activities express our obedience to Him.
Furthermore, the words we speak reflect our true faith. If we are claiming to be faithful but are constantly whining and fussing, then something is clearly amiss. Instead, our words ought to be a display of confidence in the Lord and hope in Him.
Never allow your prayer life to become perfunctory. When our prayers our only a part of our routine or religious habit, then we have not been paying attention to the Spirit in our lives. Have a meaningful conversation with the Lord in your prayer life.
Pay attention to your prayers for others. This is especially true for those that you grow as disciples. Trust God to deeply touch their lives when they enter into trials. They will face difficult times. It is inevitable. However, God’s help through you will be just as certain.
LAPP (Life Application): Keep hope alive with a vital real relationship with Jesus Christ. He is not so far away that He is not as real to you as your closest friend. This reality will serve you well when you face trials.
Then, come alongside a friend who is under stress. Bring them comfort through your loyal presence, encouraging words and God will you both. Too often we forget that as we walk in obedience to the Lord, we could very well be God’s answer to someone else’s prayer.
Thanks for joining me on this journey to live the Scriptures.