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There were no chapter divisions in the original text of the New Testament. They were arbitrarily inserted by the translators over the years. This is one example where a better choice might have been made because the flow of pastoral passion is almost interrupted by the change of chapters. It's not possible to be a true Pastor or leader without this kind of passion for those they seek to lead. It was true of Jesus. It was true of Paul. It was true of Peter. (1 Peter 5/1-3)

By the way, did you notice that a reference is made to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of chapter 1 (v.10)? The same is true at the end of chapter 2 (v.19). This is also true at the end of chapter 3 (v.13). And chapter 4!! And (you guessed it!) chapter 5 (v.23). More about that in our next session.

[1]  PRESSURE  (Vs.1-5)

What was happening to that fledgling Church back in Thessalonia?  That question was constantly in Paul's mind - day and night. Were they standing strong against the pressure of persecution? Paul has already acknowledged how these new believers were in his thoughts and prayers almost every waking minute (2/17). The intensity of his concern is seen in 3/1 and 3/5. He eventually sent Timothy back to Thessalonia to see how they were holding up under this pressure.

Question: What do you know about Timothy? What words are used by Paul to describe him? Also read Acts 16/1-5 and 2 Timothy 1/3-7. How would you describe him to others?

The pressures and trials are neither accidents or punishments. They are part of the "package deal" of becoming a disciple of Jesus and walking with Him.  (Read John 15/18-20;  John 16/33;  Romans 5/3,4; James 1/2,3; 1 Peter 1/6,7)

Question:  Timothy was sent by Paul back to this new Church for a number of reasons (vs.2b-3). Can you identify 3 listed in the text?

Again we see Paul recognizing the influence and activity of Satan (v.5); this time he is called the tempter and is well able, it would seem, to utilize persecution and suffering to shake the faith of believers - new believers especially - to the point where they give up on their faith in God and so Paul and his team would feel that their visit proved to be useless, empty and ineffective.

Question: Can you illustrate from your own experience a situation in which you felt under attack from the tempter which was designed to make you give up?

[2]  PRAISE  (vs.6-9)

It sounds like Timothy was hardly through the front door before Paul was sending this email of praise!! He was so delighted with the news about the two key dimensions of faith and love.

FAITH - this is the Godward aspect of their new life        LOVE - this is the human aspect

Read  Galatians 5/6 - it is obvious to Paul that these two 'graces' are the key to relationships - both horizontal and vertical. It's also obvious that the steadfastness of these new believers breathed new life and hope into Paul and his group. Whatever the Jewish leaders had in mind by persecuting the Christians, it back-fired and strengthened these itinerant preachers rather than weakened them.

[3] PRAYER  (vs.10-13)

It's always instructive to listen to the prayers of others. Few activities tell us more about a person than how they pray. Listen to the prayer points that Paul prayed for these young believers and discuss their relevance for us today.

a. That we may see you again - this is further evidence of the depth of relationship Paul had with them.

b. That we may supply what is lacking - imagery = mend, equip, make ready - encourage more growth

c. That God will clear a way for us - remember 2/18? - Satan had erected a roadblock

d. That your love may increase and overflow for each other - there can never be too much love.

e. That God will strengthen your hearts - a blameless and holy life is only possible by the Holy Spirit.

FINALLY...

Trials and tests in life can draw us closer to God or drive us away from Him. They can make us better or bitter. It all depends on whose voice we hear and heed.

Question: What is the key point that has caught your attention as you have worked your way through this study? Is there some specific action you need to take?

What fits into the following categories if you take the session seriously?

a) Information (knowing)

b) Participation (doing)

c) Transformation (changing)

 

 

 

 

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