Podcast: 14 May 2020

Hello and welcome to Thursday’s Foundations podcast. It’s great to be with you again as we dig into the Bible together and reflect on what God is saying to us.

Today we start a new letter – Paul’s first to the church in Thessalonica. Today’s passage is the first five verses; we are going to focus our attention on verses two and three:
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians really is a wonderful letter from Paul to a church he so longed to encourage. That’s what we’re going to think about in today’s reflection.


Paul’s basic message to the believers there was this… ‘You’re doing well, keep going.’ And this was something they really needed to be reminded of at that point. Paul, through a report back from his co-worker Timothy, had discovered that there had been a number of recent deaths in the church and some of the believers there were asking questions about the future, about their salvation. Were they really secure in Jesus? When would He return? They were still under persecution from Jewish opponents. Indeed, that was why Paul, who had basically planted the church after preaching three sermons there, had to leave in the first place. And then there was the fact that they were missing Paul himself. It’s helpful I think for us to have in mind that this was a letter a written to a people who needed encouraging and who were living through challenging times.

And as we’ve reflected on lots of over the past days and weeks, we, although the circumstances are totally different, also face significant challenges right now. Like the Thessalonians, we could really use some encouragement. And today’s passage offers us some clues as to how, or more importantly, where we might find that.

Firstly, the encouragement to look for what God is doing. In verse three, Paul reflects on the stories he has heard from Timothy, and indeed many others, about the believers there and how they were living out their faith in Jesus. He cites their ‘work’, ‘labour’ and ‘endurance’ – these were a people who were really pressing on for God, powered by the gifts of ‘faith’, ‘love’ and ‘hope’ that Jesus was pouring out into their lives. And it’s no accident that Paul flips the order of his famous three hallmarks of the faith and lands on that word ‘hope’. He later goes on to describe this ‘hope’ as something that God imparts into believers lives, a ‘deep conviction’ that He is at work amongst them and that He will overcome the challenges that they face.

As part of my daily exercise, I often run past our church – reflecting on how much I miss gathering with you all there. But my heart is always warmed when I see the rough wooden cross we still have standing up from Easter and emblazoned on its sign that hangs around the top – the word ‘hope’. If there was ever a time we needed to know God’s hope in our lives more – it’s right now.

What brings us hope? For many, it’s hearing good news. I don’t know about you but I find I can’t cope with watching much of the national news at the minute – it generally seems to be all bad and leaves me feeling somewhat depressed.

But the gospel is good news. Paul speaks in today passage about the power of the gospel to transform our hearts and fill us with this deep ‘God will definitely do this’ hope. We need to remember, more than ever, in these times, that we are good news people. That we look for what God is doing and we feed on that. We have something called STC Stories which comes out via email each Tuesday. I love hearing about what God’s doing across our church and in the wider community. People giving thanks and singing songs on their street, students raising money for great charities, youth encouraging each other to read the Bible each day and the amount of people connecting with our under 5’s Facebook lives to name just a few. This is good news. God is moving amongst us.

The reminder from today’s passage is that we are to be a people who need to have our eyes open to see that and, like Paul, to know what is to give thanks. Thankfulness and encouragement go hand in hand. Verse two is a wonderful challenge for us to reflect on. To be encouraged we need to become encouragers. One simple yet profound way we can do is to thank God for others, for people in our community, our leaders, family and friends – and to let them know that we are doing that.

As we bring this reflection to a close, let’s call to mind one or two people right now who we could thank God for, maybe people who’ve encouraged us in our faith, people who’ve supported us already during lockdown. Let’s take the time to get in touch today and to let them know.

If we could choose to do only one thing today, let’s choose to be people who are encouragers – all the while fixing our eyes on Jesus, and being open and expectant for what God can and will do as we trust in him for all that is to come.

A prayer to close – another of Paul’s famous prayers for the church in Rome. Today let this be our prayer too.


Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in Him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

BIBLE READING: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5

Paul, Silas and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace to you.

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.