1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5 Separated Yet Together

Service to Jesus has more than one reward.

Paul shares with this new body of believers how he longs to see them face to face again. They are separated in physical location but together in the body of Christ and in Paul’s thoughts.

Paul was snuck out of town after the Jews brought Jason before the city officials because they couldn’t find Paul. During their stay many God fearing Greeks believed along with some of the Jews. This was the beginnings of the church in Thessalonica.

We don’t know for certain how long Paul was in Thessalonica but it wasn’t for very long. We are told that he preached in the synagogue for three Sabbaths. We don’t know for certain if there was a span of time between their final week there and when the group of Jews created the riot. However long it was that Paul was with them, he made a lasting impression. At least Paul was praying that was the case.

“The wolf doesn’t howl at the door where there is no bacon.” “Where did that come from”, you ask. I was thinking about Paul’s statement about Satan preventing him from returning to visit this body of believers. We know that God is stronger than Satan yet we still have to face battles with him. Paul’s persecution is a prime example of that. But if he would have stopped preaching or started teaching an ineffective gospel, Satan would have stopped opposing him. So one could say that the proof of a life being lived for Christ is the degree of opposition Satan throws their way. If we are not hurting him, he isn’t interested in us.

That doesn’t mean that every bad thing that happens to you comes from Satan. We live in a fallen world and stuff happens. Also, when we put ourselves in situations where we are exposed to trouble, it usually occurs. But Satan does get in the way of as often as he can with those who are making a difference in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus doesn’t leave us alone in our struggles though. Paul was comforted even while being confronted. One of Paul’s biggest comforts came from knowing that what he was doing was making a difference. “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at His coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy” (verses 19-20).

I don’t believe Paul would have sat down in despair if he didn’t see steadfast followers as a result of his work for Jesus. In fact, we know that he would have contended even harder for their souls, as he did with other churches that began to follow other teachings. But he treasured the successes just the same. He rejoiced with the angels when even one soul turned to Jesus.

I noticed that Paul admitted that he was afraid and anxious over the believer’s faith. He apparently felt this way about most of the churches he planted. I’m assuming that it wasn’t a disabling fear but one that kept him on his knees instead. It also moved him to action such as, sending delegates back and forth to bring reports, writing letters to deal with issues identified, and going to bat for the Gentile body when necessary.

Likening my blog to Paul’s journeys is a stretch but I feel some of the same “fears” he did. I wonder how my words impact others. I wonder if they speak God’s heart or not. I pray that those they do touch have a true change as a result. I don’t have the ability Paul did of sending people out to check on his impact. I only have comments and sharing of what God has done to rely on. I am one who is reluctant to comment on other websites so I understand other’s reluctance to do so on mine. I have to leave it in His hands.

Father God, thank You for opening this opportunity to me to share Your word. I pray I’m sharing Your heart and not my own misguided opinions. Please show me Lord if I’m going off track. Going through Paul’s letters isn’t nearly as much “fun” as walking the parables with Jesus. I feel lost and directionless at times. I long to find the deep meaning in Your word that I KNOW is there. I also long to know that when I share what You share with me that I’m making a difference. I know that I have to leave that in Your hands. Was that “fear” Paul’s thorn in the flesh? I know it is one of mine. Thank You that You used him in spite of it. Please use me however You see fit. Make me Your instrument.

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