After reading this letter several times, the verse that speaks to me most strongly is 5:17.
What does it mean to “pray continually?” I’m not exactly sure, but I want a life that reflects this habit.
I find that I can start the day off praying consistently. I’m a morning person. But as the day wears on, I lose focus and get caught up in how best to respond to challenges.
Roberts Wesleyan College’s seal includes the Latin phrase “Ora et Labora,” prayer and work. This seems to be a wise approach. I get this order backwards all the time. I try to fix a problem and then pray to the Lord as my backup plan.
Lord, I pray that you’ll teach me to go to you in prayer as my first response to a challenge. Then and only then should I participate in the process of creation.
I’m in awe, Lord, that you allow humans to create. You created the universe. Now that we’ve been created in your image, we get to participate in creation, too! That’s so cool!
Paul visited Thessaloniki on his Second Missionary Journey.
The letter lists Timothy and Silas as coauthors. I’m familiar with Timothy, but who’s Silas?
Glimpses #151:The Explosion of Christianity in Africa: An Unprecedented Spread of the Faith describes an overall picture of the growth of the church in Africa. But the statistics seem misleading to me. There’s no way a nation can be over 90% Christian, unless you define the term “Christian” very loosely. I’m not a fanatic, the sort to say only people of one particular denomination are going to heaven. But I’m enough of a realist to know that fewer than 90% of churchgoers are really Christians.
Is it reasonable to expect God to reward every 3 weeks of work?
Why doesn’t God move more quickly here in the United States? A new church plant takes months, usually years, to get well-established. I wonder if the churches I’ve heard about in Africa and Asia grow more deeply and quickly? This will be an interesting online search…
Should I seek quick payoff opportunities, or is there value in struggling in difficult circumstances? Where is the dividing line between godly, hard work and foolish, unwise use of energy and resources?
Ultimately, I realize that Paul’s successful experience in Thessaloniki is well outside the norm. I’m encouraged when I realize that even when things get off to a poor start, and I need to quit a task because of resistance from other people, God will use my effort to accomplish his goals.
The trouble is that I want to accomplish my goals, not God’s.
After reading Acts 17:1-11, you’d expect the church in Thessaloniki to get a bad report. But Paul gives the church there some of his highest praise.
And how amazing that after such a brief and difficult start, a thriving church took root.
It would be awesome to see such dividends after only 3 weeks of work in a new city.
It is my goal to complete the 9-year “long-range Bible study program” suggested in The Navigator Bible Studies Handbook. Welcome to one humble Christian’s spiritual journey.
II. Paul’s Personal Experience
III. Timothy’s Visit
IV. Future Events
V. Practical Advice
First Thessalonians is an encouraging letter. I would be honored to have someone say that “Your strong faith in the Lord is like a breath of new life. How can we possibly thank God enough for all the happiness you have brought us?” (1 Thessalonians 3:8-9, CEV).
I highly recommend biblegateway.com if you are interested in reading this book in several different translations. Here are my favorites:
New International Version
Contemporary English Version
New King James Version