God’s Word Goes Forth: Encourage One Another in Faith
1 Thessalonians 2:17—3:13: Paul writes that he hopes to visit the church in Thessalonica again. He is inspired and encouraged by the faith of its followers. Paul prays that the love of the church will help the people’s love of God to grow.
Today's Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:12a
May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow more and more.
17 As for us, friends, when we were separated from you for a little while—not in our thoughts, of course, but only in body—how we missed you and how hard we tried to see you again! 18 We wanted to return to you. I myself tried to go back more than once, but Satan would not let us. 19 After 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. 20 Indeed, you are our pride and our joy! 1 Finally, we could not bear it any longer. So we decided to stay on alone in Athens 2 while we sent Timothy, our brother who works with us for God in preaching the Good News about Christ. We sent him to strengthen you and help your faith, 3 so that none of you should turn back because of these persecutions. You yourselves know that such persecutions are part of God's will for us. 4 For while we were still with you, we told you ahead of time that we were going to be persecuted; and as you well know, that is exactly what happened. 5 That is why I had to send Timothy. I could not bear it any longer, so I sent him to find out about your faith. Surely it could not be that the Devil had tempted you and all our work had been for nothing! 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. 7 So, in all our trouble and suffering we have been encouraged about you, friends. It was your faith that encouraged us, 8 because now we really live if you stand firm in your life in union with the Lord. 9 Now we can give thanks to our God for you. We thank him for the joy we have in his presence because of you. 10 Day and night we ask him with all our heart to let us see you personally and supply what is needed in your faith. 11 May our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus prepare the way for us to come to you! 12 May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow more and more and become as great as our love for you. 13 In this way he will strengthen you, and you will be perfect and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all who belong to him.
The author of Acts reports that Paul went to Athens after Jewish leaders caused trouble for him in Thessalonica and Berea (Acts 17:5-34). This may be the trouble that kept Paul from visiting again. Have you ever been separated from a faith community that was important to you? What happened? How did it make you feel? How did you find strength during that time? Why are faith communities important?
God of community, in times when I am separated from those who provide me with spiritual support, strengthen my faith, that the love they have shown me in the past may sustain me in the present. Amen.
Those who are away from their church homes