Share the gospel and care for believers.
To recap, Paul went to Thessalonica and shared the gospel there. In a short time, many put their faith in Christ. In an equally short time, they faced problems with Jewish leaders. Paul, his friends and other believers were confronted with oppression. Paul had to leave Thessalonica.
When Paul had to leave Thessalonica, he was concerned for the believers there. He was able to leave the city but the believers there still under oppression.
Paul prayed for them. He wanted to visit them but couldn't because he was known there. If he went, things could be worse. For that reason he sent Timothy to learn about the situation the believers were in.
Timothy went to Thessalonica and visited the believers there. He encouraged and emboldened them. Timothy returned to Paul with good news.
Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica.
Imagine that you're going to a place and there is an opportunity to share the gospel. When the Lord open their hearts, those you have shared the gospel with, will be believe in Christ. Suppose that after some time, be it your will or out of your hands, you have to leave. Wouldn't you be concerned for those you led to Christ?
We wonder what they are doing. How their spiritual life is? How they would grow in faith? Are they under oppression and trouble? What we need to do? And we think of other things along those lines.
We will be concerned about their spiritual situation. Because it may be more difficult for new believers to suffer troubles on account of their faith. They could succumb under pressure.
In 1 Thess 3:1-3 Paul wrote, ‘We do not want anyone to give up because of the trouble. You yourselves know that we all will surely have trouble.’ And in verses, 4-5: When we were with you, we told you that we would have trouble. Trouble came. And now you know what we said is true. That is why I could not wait any longer. I sent Timothy to find out if you were still believing. I was afraid that Satan had tried you too much. Then our work would have been for nothing.
How can we embolden and encourage them? If we do not know the kind of trouble they face, we wouldn’t know how to show them the way.
We’d want to know what is lacking in their beliefs. So that we can explain, teach and help them grow in their belief.
We’d want to learn if they are growing in their faith. This will encourage and cheer us.
Believers in Thessalonica were examples to those in Macedonia and Achaia.
Paul sent Timothy to the believers in Thessalonica to learn of their situation.
In 1 Thess 3:7 Paul says, Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.
We can pray for them. So, how do we pray for them?
We can pray for them to stand firm in their faith. Because when they are standing firm in the Lord, we really live.
We can pray for what is lacking in their faith to be supplied.
We can pray for the opportunity to see them again.
We can pray their love will increase and they will be holy and blameless.
What else can we do?
We can encourage them. Paul wrote a letter to the Thessalonians to encourage them. He expressed his happiness over them being the imitators of God’s churches in Judea. He said of the Thessalonians 'Indeed, you are our glory and joy.' He expressed satisfaction over their faith and love. He encouraged them on how to please God.
The believers in Thessalonica needed to progress in their faith. Paul told them this in an appropriate way. We too need to encourage our brothers and sisters in their faith.
Even if we can't visit, we can send them an email. Or once in a while, we can call them. We can ask, ' How may I pray for you?' We can pray a short prayer together over the phone. If you spend hours on the internet everyday, you can connect with them. We can put to good use the possibilities the Lord gives us. We can try to provide for their best interest. We can show how much we love them as brothers and sisters. We can show them how believers in Christ ought to live. Paul explains in 1 Thess 2:10, ‘You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed’.
We can embolden them, comfort them and encourage them on how to live as believers. As Paul says to them, ‘encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.’
We can visit them. When Paul could not visit them, he sent Timothy.
We can encourage them to stand firm in the Lord as in 1 Thess 3:8 'For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.'
In conclusion, our purpose is not limited to sharing the good news but also to take interest in them and their growth. Paul did this for the believers in Thessalonica. Let us both share the gospel and care for believers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
Bodrum International Grace Church
Pastor Engin Duran
Verses: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
Sermon date: 11 November 2012