Thanks and Rejoicing

With Paul in the school of prayer.

1 Thessalonians 3 (5)

Pray Psalm 42.1, 2.
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

Read 1 Thessalonians 3.9, 10.

1. Why did Paul want to see the Thessalonians again? What does that mean?

2. Our joy is in the Lord (Ps. 16.11). But Paul rejoiced because of the Thessalonians. Should we look to people for our joy?

In so many ways, Paul sets the bar high for all who follow him as he follows Christ (1 Cor. 11.1). In these verses we are offered some insight to Paul’s prayer life, especially for the people he served. He prayed “night and day” for them. He prayed “exceedingly” to see them again. He could not find words sufficient to express his gratitude for the Thessalonians and their faithful witness for Christ (v. 9).

We note that Paul’s prayers were continuous (cf. 1 Thess. 5.17), intense, filled with thanksgiving, and provided entry into the Lord’s presence with joy. Wouldn’t it be great to have a prayer life like that?

Paul longed to return to Thessalonica and visit the brethren there to “perfect” them in their faith. What? They were already the talk of Greece and beyond. Their witness was firm. Their courage was unstinting. They bore up under persecution. And they were an example of love and good works for all believers. That’s all very good. But it’s never good enough. There is always more for our life in Christ, exceedingly abundantly more (Eph. 3.20). We are the recipients of a “great salvation” (Heb. 2.3), although much of the time we seem to act only like it’s “pretty good” or “good enough.”

When we long to improve our salvation toward the perfection of Jesus Christ, day by day, starting each day in God’s Word and prayer and journeying in prayer and His Spirit throughout the day, then we’ll begin to know more of that great salvation which is available to us in Jesus – salvation for which we will give unceasing thanks and in which we will know exceeding joy and rejoicing.

It is the work of shepherds to lead God’s people to a more “perfect” faith, and it is our privilege to encourage one another to press on together.

1. Whom can you encourage today to know more of our great salvation? How will you do that?

2. What can you learn from Paul’s prayer life to enhance your own?

3. Do you have a sense of what is “lacking” in your faith? How are you planning to grow in your walk with and work for the Lord in the coming weeks and months?

Paul is desirous to have opportunity given him of supplying what is wanting in the faith of the Thessalonians, or, which is the same thing, completing in all its parts their faith, which was as yet imperfect. Yet this is the faith which he had previously extolled marvelously. But from this we infer, that those who far surpass others are still far distant from the goal. Hence, whatever progress we may have made, let us always keep in view our deficiencies, (ὑστερήματα,) that we may not be reluctant to aim at something farther. John Calvin (1509-1564 AD),Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3

I want to grow, Lord, and to increase in all aspects of my great salvation. Help me today to…

Pray Psalm 42.

Let this psalm teach you to hunger and thirst for the Lord, so that you make time throughout the day to seek Him in prayer. Let Him lift your soul into His joy, and linger there with praise and thanksgiving.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 42 (Nettleton: Come Thou Fount)
As the deer pants for fresh water let my soul, Lord, pant for You!
Let my soul thirst as it ought to for the Savior, ever true!
Tears by day have been my portion, tears by night have been my food,
While my foes add to my sorrow, saying, “Where now is your God?”

Now I pour my soul out in me as these thoughts come to my mind.
And I long to once again be where true worship I might find.
Oh my soul, be not despairing!  Hope in God, and praise His Name!
For the Lord, your burden bearing, will restore your peace again.

Oh my God, my soul is weary, therefore I remember You.
Let Your grace and goodness near be, and Your promise, firm and true.
Lord, when trials and fears surround me, Your commands will be my song; 
When distresses sore confound me, Your great love will keep me strong.

Lord, forget me not in mourning ‘neath my foes’ oppressing hand.
See their mocking, hear their scorning; help my weary soul to stand.
Hope in God, praise Him forever when despair on you has trod.
Look to Jesus; never, never doubt your gracious, saving God.

T. M. Moore

Where do 1 and 2 Thessalonians fit in the unfolding of God’s covenant? Our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, can help you understand the setting of all the books of the Bible, and how they fit into God’s unfolding plan of redemption. Watch the brief video introducing this course at The Ailbe Seminary (click here), then plan to register after January 1 in our Certificate in Kingdom Studies program, featuring Introduction to Biblical Theology.

Forward today’s study to some friends, and challenge them to study with you through this series on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Each week’s lessons will be available as a free PDF download at the end of the week. Get a copy for yourself and send the link to the download to your friends. Plan to meet weekly to study Paul’s ministry and prepare for your own.

If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button  at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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