We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you. 1 Thessalonians1.2,3
Only teen in church? Only spiritual one? Isolation? Bored? No nearby CU? No friends?
We give thanks – simply Paul the apostle thanks God for the brethren in Thessalonica. He gets on his knees and thanks God for them. He constantly remembers them in prayer. What were is his possible excuses? Paul had lots of free time in prison, wrong! How much free time do we have? Journeys, evenings, weekends, mornings etc
Paul saw many good things in their lives, but there’s more which is commendable:
so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord [gospel] sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Ok so what then is the application? Do you ever struggle about what to pray for people in you church? Here are 5 things to help you as you pray for them. Don’t just pray “Lord, Bless this person, this person and this person” which is fine in its own way, but it’s vague and not specific. But here are some better general things to thank God for:
- Work of Faith. Thank God for the people in your church who have faith. Remember how God has given you faith to believe and now thank God for giving Mr and Mrs Cameron (that old couple at the back of church) faith too. It’s easy to complain at someone, but very hard when you’re praying and thanking God for them!
- Labor of Love. God the Holy Spirit works in them Galatians 5. And so thank God that they work hard at loving. Excuse: “They don’t love. They scowl at me when I sit in their seat or talk about some modern song” Okay, fine then, pray 2 things that you love them more and pray that they love more. But isn’t God amazing to save people like them! Be thankful for God’s labour of love by sending His only son to die in their place. Communion – a great leveler. Coming together and saying “We’re just as bad as each other”
- Steadfastness of Hope Thank God that the people in your church have a hope of eternal life! These people have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! Just like you. The funny thing is that Christians better get used to living with each other in peace now, because they are going to be spending eternity together! But it’s God who brings us together in unity. So praise God that you both have a hope. Pray that their hope may become more steadfast. There is a really encouraging thing about the fact that we have a heaven to gain – a future. Jesus Christ “will sustain us to the end.” Christianity isn’t just you and God, but it is US. Thank God that more people can go to heaven! The Thessalonians had confidence that “He who begun a good will complete it.” Paul is thanking God for their hope, their steadfast hope.
- Loved by God God has given His love to us. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1John 3 Wow! We are children of the living God. Think about how we’ve been adopted, through Christ into the family of God. Made Sons and Daughters of the king. This immense privilege belongs also to the person who sits by you in the pew.
- Chosen by God These Christians, whether they be your small church full of elderly people or your family, or your friends – we can all see that they have been chosen by God and saved! Praise God for this! Simply because we too have been saved!
When we look at being humble and being truly thankful for the other believers we need to ask ourselves about our attitude to other Christians. When we look at our brother/sister do we see the grace of God at work in their lives OR do we look at their failures and their warts? Ask yourself “Am I more aware of evidences of grace I’ve noticed in my brother, or am I aware of the need for the change and growth?” As Mahaney says “Too many Christians are more readily aware of the absence of God than they are of the presence of God, they are more aware of sin than they are of grace”However Paul is thankful to God that He is working in the life of these Christians. So do we notice the good or the bad?
Mr Darcy was once described as a man “who never looks at any woman but to see blemish.” How awful is the attitude, how poorly and horrible he is portrayed in the book and how every girl on the planet hates the opening scenes of the book! But are we like him? Check out 1 Corinthians 1:
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We know in the book Paul seriously challenges quite a crazy church, but what are the opening words? v4 and v8 confirm that God is working in the Corinthians and that He is has given them grace. Now imagine you were to write a letter to your church, what would be the first things you would write to them? Would you encourage them? Or would you go in all guns blazing, because Paul could of done that, but he didn’t. Here are some more things that we can identify in our fellow believers to be thankful to God for them.
We will become really dry and pessimistic if we only see the bad in everyone. God really is at work, and without seeing this, our lives will become sour. There are too many Christians baptized in lemon juice, who aren’t at all thankful for other Christians. So the challenge from this weekend is:
1. To be thankful for God working in the lives of our brothers and sisters
2. To identify works of God in a Christians’ life.