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It's about AD 51 as three itinerant preachers enter the city of Thessalonica. Little did the people of that city know what was about to happen that would impact their world and confront them all with a choice.

Paul, Silas and Timothy had established a small but vital church in Philippi and now they wanted to do the same here in Thessalonica. It was no surprise to these three evangelists that the unbelieving Jews mounted a flurry of opposition just as they had done in Philippi.

[1]  THE BASIS OF THANKSGIVING  (Vs2,3)

Question: What would you feel if, having planted a new fellowship, you were suddenly forced to leave town without any warning and with no opportunity to prepare those new believers for what lay ahead of them? What thoughts and feelings do you imagine were in the heart and mind of Paul?

We can only imagine Paul's sense of relief and thanksgiving when Timothy reported on how well the Church was doing. They had been without Pastoral experience and yet they were in quite good shape -  spiritually speaking! 

Read 1 Thessalonians 3/1,2 and 3/5-8.

It would seem that Paul's fear - while understandable - proved to be groundless.

Question: Are you inclined to be a "panic merchant"? Do you tend to believe and accept that the "worst case scenario" will happen to you and those about you?

As Paul recalls those formative experiences, there are three qualities that stand out for him and for which he gives thanks. They are in v. 3

  • Your work produced by faith - true faith always issues in works (Read James 2/14-21)
  • Your labour prompted by love - "labourious toil" - sacrificial effort energized by love
  • Your endurance inspired by hope -"stickability" based on future hope, goal or reward

Work, labour and endurance motivated by faith, love and hope. Is it possible to have the outward activity without the internal empowering?  Yes.

Read Revelation 2/1-7 

Note what the Lord Jesus sees as He looks at that Ephesian Church. They had work, labour and endurance (the same three Greek words used in 1 Thessalonians 1/3). What they didn't have was faith, love and hope.

a) To try and work without faith leads to frustration - doubts undermine faith and uncertainty sets in

b) To try and labour without love leads to burnout - labour minus love = duty and obligation

c) To try and endure without hope leads to depression - perseverance without hope = weariness

[2]  THE BASIS OF ASSURANCE  (Vs. 4-8)

"We know that God has chosen you...."  How can Paul be so sure? The reason for such certainty is because of what Paul and the other team members had witnessed as they brought the Good News to this city. There was a fundamental change in the lives of these new believers.

(a)  The Gospel was received (v.5) The Gospel came not just with words but with Holy Spirit power and conviction.

Question: "Too much preaching these days is 'word only' and we see little of the power of the Holy Spirit." Do you agree or disagree with that observation? Why? What would Holy Spirit power look like to you?

(b)  The lives of people were renewed (vs.6,7) "You became imitators of the Lord and us..." This is a primary evidence of the activity of the Holy Spirit. A further evidence of the authenticity of these new believers was their commitment in spite of the severe suffering that resulted in their acceptance of the Gospel.

Question: Have you experienced any kind of suffering as a consequence of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ? Has your decision cost you in terms of relationships, employment opportunities, personal ridicule etc.

The lives of these people were so changed that they became the pattern or model or imprint for all other believers.

Question: What would your Church look like if everyone in your Church modelled their lives on you?

(c)  The message was repeated  (v.8)  The Gospel did not stay with them. They resisted the temptation to turn inward

[3]  THE BASIS OF HOPE (VS.9,10)

It seems that many others in the outlying regions were recognising the power of the gospel to change lives. This radical change is summed up in three phrases. These people

  • Turned to God from idols - conversion involves turning away and turning towards
  • Served the living and true God - activity that proved them to be servants
  • Waited for God's Son from Heaven - but continued to serve here on earth

Question: Can you identify the past, present and future aspects of v.10?

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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