A Shepherd's Care

Paul has much to teach us about shepherding.

1 Thessalonians 3 (7)

Pray Psalm 48.9-11.
We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness,
In the midst of Your temple.
According to Your name, O God,
So is Your praise to the ends of the earth;
Your right hand is full of righteousness.
Let Mount Zion rejoice,
Let the daughters of Judah be glad,
Because of Your judgments.

Read 1 Thessalonians 3.1-13.

1. How would you describe Paul’s work as a shepherd of the Thessalonians, as you see it in this chapter?

2. What seem to have been the primary goals of his shepherding? What was he hoping to accomplish?

Paul was a model shepherd of the Lord’s flock. Though separated from the Thessalonians, he did not cease either to pray or care for them. He sent Timothy to establish and strengthen their faith and help them continue in the Lord. And, upon Timothy’s return, he wrote this epistle, to remind the church of God’s grace to help them through a difficult time, strengthen them for what lay ahead, and instruct them for continuing growth and ministry.

In just a short time, Paul managed to establish a relationship of love with the believers in Thessalonica. He loved them, as they knew, and as he reminded them in chapter 2; and he was greatly cheered when Timothy reported their continuing love for him. True shepherding begins just here, with relationships of mutual love and trust.

Paul called on the Thessalonians to press on in their faith and to grow in love. We must not allow trials or persecution to shake us off the foundation of Jesus. There’s no standing still in the life of faith. Either we are moving forward to “increase and abound” in all aspects of our walk with and work for the Lord, or we are becoming stagnant and slipping. By keeping our focus on the soon return of our Lord Jesus, and encouraging one another in love, we can persevere through whatever trials or difficulties we may endure, strong in faith and growing in the Lord, expanding our witness to Jesus in all we do.

We are all shepherds of one another in the Body of Christ, so we all have much to learn from Paul’s ministry to the church in Thessalonica.

1. Do you see yourself as a shepherd to the people in your Personal Mission Field? Should you? What do you learn from Paul about shepherding others in 1 Thessalonians 3?

2. Summarize Paul’s prayers for the Thessalonians (vv. 9-13). How does this guide you in praying for the people in your Personal Mission Field?

3. How can believers help one another to increase and abound in love, blamelessness, and holiness?

Now, as the ministry of a man is inferior to the efficacy of the Spirit, and to use the common expression, is subordinate to it, nothing is detracted from it. When he says that he prayed night and day beyond all ordinary measure, we may gather from these words how assiduous he was in praying to God, and with what ardor and earnestness he discharged that duty.  John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3.10

Lord, make me a faithful shepherd of the flock You have entrusted to me. Help me today to…

Pray Psalm 48.1-14.

As you pray through this psalm about the Church, pray for the people in your Personal Mission Field, and ask the Lord to give you specific guidance for encouraging them today.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 48 (Cwm Rhondda: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah)
Great is God, now greatly praise Him in the city of the Lord. 
Holy she, His lovely mountain, great and glorious by His Word! 
God her King is great within her, He, her Stronghold ever sure! 
He, her Stronghold ever sure! 

Earthly kings, amazed and wond’ring, look upon the Church with fear. 
See them flee in dread and anguish, knowing that the Lord is near. 
For the city of the Savior God will keep forevermore! 
God will keep forevermore! 

For Your grace and lovingkindness we proclaim Your matchless worth! 
As Your Name is, great and boundless, let Your praise fill all the earth. 
Let Your people sing rejoicing for the judgment of Your truth; 
For the judgment of Your truth. 

Walk about the blessèd city, see her beauty, see her power. 
Count her ramparts, filled with glory, look on ev’ry mighty tower. 
Tell her glory to the nations: God will guide her evermore; 
God will guide her evermore!

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.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

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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Next in order of the works of God is judgment.

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