Hello, welcome to the Foundations Podcast for Wednesday 13th June. This week we have been moving through 1 Thessalonians and today our passage is chapter 3 verses 6-10. So far this week we have been thinking about relationships. On Monday we started by exploring what it means to invest in people and have significant relationships. Yesterday was about strengthening and encouraging others.
Yesterday we heard the reasons for Paul sending Timothy to Thessalonica, to encourage and strengthen the Church there. Paul tells us right at the start of this passage that Timothy has in fact been to Thessalonica, spent some time with the Church there and has now returned to Paul. He has clearly shared a lot of positive things about the Church as Paul is effusive in his praise and delight. The thing that we’re going to look at in today’s passage is the direction in which encouragement travels in relationships. Paul is clearly massively encouraged by hearing of the Church in Thessalonica. It’s natural perhaps to presume all the encouragement should be flowing the other way, from one of the leaders of the early Church to this new collection of people working out what it means to follow Jesus. But that’s not what’s happening here! Paul is being encouraged in a transformational way. He’s not just been given cause to smile for a few seconds, but hearing of this young church has really made a difference in his life. This then is the focus of today’s podcast. If yesterday was about how we can strengthen one another, today is a timely reminder that we can all do this. We can all make a difference in the lives of the people we meet.
How does this apply to us now? Lots of people feel that they can’t be used by God. Maybe in general, maybe in specific situations. Maybe we believe that God can bring change in a person but deep down our aim is to get them in front of a great preacher or a church leader. The truth in this passage is that we can all be used to make a difference. Not only is this a young church that is encouraging one of the most influential people of their time, but this is a Church that in the last verse Paul implies has much left to learn. Now this could be a particular fault or issue or it could just be the normal development of faith that you would look for over time.
I lead STC College, our discipleship year. Something we see every year is people coming to be trained up in order to be sent out into the world. Of course we do train people, both in understanding of the Bible and much more. However what we really want people to see is that their ability to make a difference in the world isn’t linked to how much they have learnt. They will still have questions. They will always have more to learn. God isn’t limited by this though. The only thing that dictates whether He will use us to bring transformation is our availability, our openness to His promptings. Not our skills or knowledge. Our story is of value. Our testimony is powerful, the things in our lives that we point to and say this is what God did and is still doing. This is partly why the most encouraging people to hang around with are often new Christians! They don’t necessarily have a full understanding but they recognise that God is bringing transformation in their lives. Now of course this doesn’t mean we get to coast along in life. As we focus on what God is doing in our lives He will highlight and address the areas that we need to work on. Just as Paul doesn’t focus on what needs to change but first of all talks of how inspiring the Thessalonians’ faith is. This all goes back to Monday’s podcast, we can all have relationships of significance, whether we see the change and transformation instantly or not.
The response to this podcast will be different for each of us. However as a response to this encouragement that we have all heard, try to take a few moments today to think on this question: What is my testimony of God’s goodness in my life?
Thank you God that you call each one of us to follow you. Thank you that you call us to lives of significance. Thank you for our testimonies, our stories. Please help us to have the confidence that you can use us to strengthen and encourage anyone that we meet. Guide us today we pray. Amen.
READING: 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10
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. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 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? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.