1 THESS 3 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.
Timothy’s Encouraging Report
6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 7 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
Last night I once again appreciated the privilege of worshipping together with fellow Christians. What a privileve it is to be able to serve God not only as individuals, but as His body, the church.
Serving God, worshipping Him, being devoted to Him in prayer and study is so freeing when things are going well. When we are on top of the proverbial mountain, praise naturally flows from our lips. Our hearts are full of God’s best for us.
The test of real devotion, however, comes in the shadow of the valley, when very little is going well. Richard Foster refers to these dry seasons in our lives as “the dark night of the soul”. These are times when life is a struggle, when persecution hits and trials are many. These are times where relationships struggle, bank balances worry us, work pressures overwhelm us. Where, in those moments, is our faith, our hope and our commitment to Jesus.
In Paul’s absence, the Thessalonians continued to experience persecution. There’s was never going to be an easy journey of faith simply because of where they came from. Rather, they would have to endure persecution and trials and continue focussing on Jesus; on their new found faith in Jesus.
Paul heard reports from Timothy of their endurance and praised God for them. He prayed that God would continue to strengthen their hearts so that they would continue living holy lives in the presence of God.
A CALL TO ACTION
If you are enjoying a “mountain top” experience right now – I praise God with you. Enjoy the moments of worship and devotion that often come as a natural response to God’s goodness. But be aware, that the valley’s will come and that what you learn on the mountain top is put into practice in the valley.
If you are struggling with a few things (or many things!) at the moment – know this: God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is always faithful, always gracious, always loving and He always cares for your every moment. Don’t allow the difficulty of your circumstance to rob you of the pleasure of perceering in the presence of God. Rise up! Hold your head up high and praise God regardless.
Be encouraged, too, by this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QemZQKKJbRU
A PRAYER TO PRAY
God thank you that you are always faithful. Thank you that as my circumstances and experiences in life change, you are consistent, always worthy of my worship and devotion. Help me through the good times to thank you, and through the bad times to praise you and rely on your strength for Your glory. Amen.