25 June 2018

Hello and welcome to a new week of Foundations Daily. My name is Liam and I’m part of the team here at STC. It’s a real privilege for me to get to share a thought from the Bible with you each day. Thank you for joining us!

Last week, our Student Church Leader here, James Brown, finished off Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. This week, we start 2 Thessalonians. If you’re part of the church family here you will know that we’ve been exploring this letter at our morning gatherings as part of series on ‘Building Community’. In terms of the letter itself, it’s thought to have been written very soon after Paul’s first letter to the church. And like many of his letters, it’s addressing some specific issues which have been reported back to him. More on that as we dig into the short but powerful letter itself.

REFLECTION:

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve recently been studying this letter as a church. One thing I took, and there were many, from the first talk we had on this letter by church family member and university lecturer, Casey Strine, was this idea that… what we do with our life matters. And actually, in reading this letter, we can see that through what Paul says to this faithful church community in the port city of Thessalonica… we too can be encouraged but also challenged in how we work out our faith on a daily basis. That what we do with our life matters. Not just for now, but eternally. Paul, in writing this letter, is answering many of the Thessalonians’ questions – and they did have many – by essentially answering one big one; the one question that we all ask at some point… what should I be doing with my life?

Paul writes in verse 3, “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.”

When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, he said this…’It’s to love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. Jesus qualified this further when he commanded that his disciples, after he had just washed their feet, on the night before he would go to the cross,… to love one another as I have loved you.

That’s our purpose. To love others, as Jesus loves us. Straight forward and easy to do? Of course not, but here’s the simple encouragement for us today…it is possible. The Thessalonians were doing it back then. We can do it now!

The Thessalonians love for one another was increasing. This is something that Paul had prayed for (See 1 Thessalonians Chapter 3). He had prayed that despite the persecution they were facing, and they really were facing violent persecution from the Romans, the Greeks and even some Jews, that their faith in Jesus would grow, as would their love for one another. And they were doing just that…and they were doing it well. These people were remarkably faithful! And Paul is saying here in today’s focus verse that not only he and his co-workers should or can give thanks and praise to God for the Thessalonians, they were obligated to, they were required to – such was the love they had for one another.

How does this encourage us today? Paul is saying here that this small but growing community of believers had got it – despite their confusion about many other things – they had got it. They knew what living the Jesus life was all about. They had received and experienced God’s love and were sharing that with each other, and even more remarkably with the people who were persecuting them. They were putting into practice what Jesus commands each of us do. To love one another, as he loves us.

Paul thanks God for this community and the way they were doing just that. When God sees us live this way, he rejoices equally in that too. Today, as we read this passage we should be encouraged. This is what Jesus wants us to do with our life – whatever age or stage of life we’re at. Whether we’re a teenager at school right through to those in their later years. Whether we’ve been a Christian for a day or for seemingly all of our life – this is what we are to do with our life.

And it’s this, putting into practice that commandment, to love one another as Jesus loves us, that we’re going to explore a little bit more this week. I’m excited to see what God says us about this. I hope you are too!

PRAYER:

Jesus, we thank God for this little church in Thessalonica. God, we thank you that they were growing in love for one another despite the major challenges they faced. Help us Lord to be encouraged by that, as Paul was. And equip us, teach us, show us Lord, as we dig into your word this week, how we might also grow in that same love also. Amen.

READING: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-7a

Paul, Silas and Timothy,

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

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: he will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.