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Israel 2014 IFL 396Some of the sites in Israel are splendid to the eye.  The Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee are like that kind of tourist highlight.  Most likely the Valley of Jezreel that is guarded by Megiddo should also be included in this.

Those who are fortunate to make it down to the Red Sea and relax at Elat would chime in for that location as well.  Swimming in those crystal clear waters or lounging on the sea-shore with many recreational guests taking advantage of the water and sun would nod in agreement.  Elat is a resort for modern-day Israelis.

Then, there are historic and prophetic sites.  The Western Wall or the Wailing Wall is such destination.  My soul is always stirred when I walk to the Wall.

Every year that I have help to guide a group to the Holy Land, someone always asks for an explanation of the significance of this place.  Yes, the wall itself is remarkable, showing the different historical seasons of occupation in this land.  Others point out the quality of its construction and longevity of this kind of engineering feat of massive stones cut and then placed without the benefit of power equipment. There is much more, however.

The Temple was located on the other side before it was destroyed.  That means that the Holy of Holies was located near that place as well.  This would mean that the ark of the Covenant was near this place.

The ark was where God met the nation of Israel.  On the cover of the case surrounded by two angels God accepted the blood sacrifices of the nation of Israel.  Thus, it is not the wall that is special but the location of the wall that gives worshipers a special reason to come here.

If you stand close to the wall, then look  immediately to your left, there is an arched opening.  Archaeologists have been uncovering more of the wall.  Inside there is an approach to a massive stone in the wall that is believed to be adjacent to where the Holy of Holies was situated.

It is a huge stone standing out in comparison to all of the other stones in the construction of the wall.  How it was ever moved to the location let alone moved into place is a marvel of engineering and craftsmanship that remains a mystery.  Nevertheless, let your worship spontaneously express itself at this very special wall.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Have you ever wondered what kind of spiritual life we need to live in order to capture the attention of God’s chosen leaders?  Our pastors who lead us and know God so closely, what kind of Christian life encourages them among the many who are in their congregation?  No, it’s not like we are trying to gain any selfish attention, instead how can we encourage them by our lives?

Paul gives us a clear picture of what captured his attention as an Apostle.  As a shepherd of God’s people the lives of other believers that became part of his prayer routine is what captured his attention.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful wind under our wings to have our spiritual leaders praying specifically for us not because of need but instead due to our lives being an encouragement to them?

In verse one Paul acknowledges his resolve that Jesus is God as is the Father.  From that conviction he greets the Thessalonians with the salutation of divine grace and peace.  God’s covering in our lives through these two blessings brings all of life into balance.

What follows this greeting is mind-blowing.  The Apostle Paul is grateful for the lives of the Thessalonian believers.  This impression isn’t just a casual afterthought rather their living examples have impacted so much that his prayer life begins with them.

Paul is amazed at the work, labor and endurance of the Thessalonian believers.  Yet, it is essential to note that these productive lives did not accomplish these feats by human strength.  Rather, each was a generated by a link to spiritual discipline.  The work is connected to faith.  Their labor is an expression from their love.  Finally their endurance is fueled by hope.  All three focus on their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is nothing about Paul’s attraction to these saints that is easy for anyone to copy.  That is he is not speaking about a walk in the park or a time to sip a pleasant beverage under an umbrella.  Instead, he is highlighting their hard work.  They are diligent in living their faith.  Toil does not cause them to shrink back.  Instead, he marvels at their work ethic as it is an expression of their rigorous faith.  He commends their tireless effort.  Faithful living is rarely easy; rather, it is energetic, hard toil and calls for a kind of exertion that causes the body to ache.

Nevertheless, this kind of spiritual lifestyle is encouraging to our leaders.  We can capture the attention of our spiritual leaders with our fervent life of faith, love and hope by how passionate we are in our service.  Work hard for the Lord.  Put you shoulder to the wheel.  Let your faith be rigorously spent each day that God gives us as a gift.  This active faith life will encourage our spiritual leaders so much that their prayer life will be adjusted by it.

1 Thess. 1.1-3

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