The Old Testament’s final book has a message to look forward to the coming Messiah.
Just a short background on 1 Thessalonians before I share a few of my thoughts from today’s reading:
It is thought by many scholars that this is the oldest of Paul’s letters (or epistles) to the churches.
Thessalonica was the major city in Macedonia when Paul wrote to the church there. The church had as its members both Jews who had come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, and Gentiles who had been idol worshippers. Paul planted the church during his first visit there, but was forced to leave for his own safety.
From today’s reading I want to focus on two passages.
1 thessalonians 2:19 and 20 says, “19After all, it is you—you, no less than others!—who are our hope, our joy, and our reason for boasting of our victory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes. 20Indeed, you are our pride and our joy!”
and 1 thessalonians 3:6-8 says, “6 Now Timothy has come back, and he has brought us the welcome news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always think well of us and that you want to see us just as much as we want to see you. 7So, in all our trouble and suffering we have been encouraged about you, friends. It was your faith that encouraged us, 8because now we really live if you stand firm in your life in union with the Lord.”
Paul had the heart of a pastor. As we’ve been reading through his letters, it’s clear that he dearly loves the people who are part of the church. He prays for them, he worries about them, he looks for ways that he can be a blessing to them, and he admonishes them to live lives that will be pleasing to the Lord. I hope that sounds familiar to you. I hope I could be talking about your pastor. I know my pastor is like this.
I’ve been blessed to have had some great pastors in my life. While each one has been very different in their personalities, each one loved God and the people who God put in their care. And since I have usually been very involved in every church I have attended, and most of them have been on the small side, I’ve had the privilege to get to know most of my pastors on a personal basis. Most of my pastors have been my friend as well as my pastor. And my current pastor happens to be my brother-in-law, too. We are very close.
The reason I tell you all this about my relationships with my pastors is this: Your pastor’s job is often lonely and difficult and thankless. Most pastors don’t have someone they can go to to unload his heart. They seldom have a peer to share their difficulties with. Your pastor prays for you and seeks God’s will for you. Verse 10 of chapter 3 could probably have been written by your pastor: “Day and night we ask him with all our heart to let us see you personally and supply what is needed in your faith.”
Today, I’d like you to encourage your pastor. Let him know that you pray for him (You DO pray for your pastor, don’t you?). Let him know how you have been changed by a recent sermon. Be specific. Don’t just say, “Good sermon” as you leave on Sunday. Let him know which specific words really spoke to you, and what you are going to do to put them into practice. And don’t just tell him in passing on Sunday morning. Write him a note. On paper. With your own hand. And drop it in the mail. Remember snail mail? Use it to deliver your note. And in the note, think about including a gift card to a really nice local restaurant. Most pastors can’t afford to go to really nice restaurants. Or maybe buy him tickets to a local sporting event if he likes that kind of thing.
Let your pastor know that the love he puts into your life means something. Let him see the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.
Do something so that your pastor can say to God, “Now we can give thanks to our God for you.”
In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Paul does something that probably most of us don’t do.
How often have you ever gone up to someone in your church or even just in your life and told them how thankful you were for the obvious gifts God has given them? In Colossians, Paul thanked God for the the people of the church in Colosse for their faith, for their love, and for their hope.
So many times we are quick to see people’s shortcomings. We see their failures. We criticize…if not to their faces, we do it behind their backs. Friends, that is not a good thing.
There are at least two benefits to looking for God’s blessing in other people’s lives.
Think of how it makes you feel when someone sincerely tells you what a good job you’re doing. What happens? Sure. You feel good about yourself. You feel good about the other person. And you’re encouraged to keep on doing a good job, or even do better.
If you make a conscious decision to look for God’s blessings in other people, then your own mindset does a 180 degree turn. If you are looking for good in others, you’ll begin to see that folks aren’t so bad after all. It’s easier to love them, as we are supposed to do, when we see God’s work in them.
Jesus said that the world would know we are Christians by the love we have for one another. Come on. Instead of seeing others’ shortcomings, let’s look for how God has blessed them.
Verse 4 of chapter 15 seems to be especially fitting for us today, as we look at the mess our world is in. Paul wrote: Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. The Scriptures give us patience and encouragement so that we can have hope.
Adrina Thorpe is one of my favorite singer/songwriters. I’ve known her now for about six years. She has a sweet, clear voice and the heart of a poet. Her music first came to my attention in the early days of podcasting, and she was one of the early stars of this medium. I found out she lived not far from me, right here in southern California, so I asked her to come to the Lifespring! studios in December of 2005 and do an interview with me. Since that show aired, we’ve kept in touch over the via email.
Not too long ago, Adrina sent an email newsletter out to her fans in which she told a story that brought tears to my eyes. You see, Adrina has suffered for years with a condition that causes her a great deal of pain. In her letter, she talked about her faith in God, her pleading to Him for healing, and how He has spoken to her in response. It’s a story I thought you should hear.
Brought to you by:
The Final Episode of our interview with Steven and Maryanne Abbate
Steven and Maryanne talk about how their marriage survived the loss of their fifteen year old son, Luke.
In addition they discuss how their family and priorities have changed, and their reasons for opening their lives for public view.
I have so much admiration for them for opening up their lives as they have done, but they truly want others to be helped by their experiences. And it is good to know that, even through the human frailties, God will lift us up and help us to make it through. It can be a long and painful process, and both Steven and Maryanne said that they are still working through some of the aftermath of such a great loss, you heard two people who still love God and trust Him.
Thank you again, Steven and Maryanne, for your generous gift of time to me and the family of Lifespring! listeners.
Music On Today’s Show
Trenna Barnes – Reach Out Your Hand
Adrina Thorpe – Fly Fly Fly
To purchase the songs through iTunes click here.
For more info on organ donation click here.
Music On Today’s Show
Stacy Earl – “Live and Breathe”
The 5th Quarter
Today, I have part one of another story that will grab your heart and then, I think, ultimately encourage you to praise God. It’s the story of the Abbate family. Husband Steven and his wife, Maryanne, and their children Adam, Rachel, Jon and Luke.
If you are from the Atlanta, Georgia area, or from the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina, you are probably well aware of who these amazing people are. I had not heard of them until receiving a pre-release DVD of the film that tells what happened to them in February of 2005. The name of the film is The 5th Quarter, and when I watched it, I was gripped in a way I never have been gripped by a movie.
So today, I have for you part one of a conversation I had with Steven and Maryanne Abbate.
Watch the Promo
Music On Today’s Show
Aaron Crider is a worship leader and social justice advocate. His is working with several non-profits to help raise awareness about child soldiers and issues surrounding human trafficking.
His new album, The Change, looks deeply at these issues as well his own personal struggles. Aaron and his wife have lost 3 babies and have a great testimony of faith in great sorrow.
Join me for an interview that will encourage your heart!
Music On Today’s Show
One Child Matters
Wow. 200 shows.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time waxing poetic at this point about the past 200 shows, but I would like to express my thanks to those of you who are a part of the Lifespring! family. You’re awesome.
And I want to thank God for calling me to this labor of love all the way back in October of 2004. November 13, 2004 was the first episode, and in that time I’ve had the privilege to have gotten to know many of you via email and various social media sites, some I’ve met in person, and some I’ve talked to via telephone.
Thank you all for your friendship and prayers.
I thank God. Not just for giving me this show, but for how He has brought my family and I through so much over these past nearly six years now since the show began. Some really great times, and some not so great. But through it all, He as been our rock.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.