1 Thessalonians 4 (6)
Pray Psalm 126.4.
Bring back our captivity, O LORD,
As the streams in the South.
Read 1 Thessalonians 4.18.
1. What is courage? How is courage related to encouragement?
2. How does encouragement affect you? Does it give you courage you might otherwise lack? For what?
I want to dwell a bit on this verse, and especially on Paul’s instruction to encourageone another.
The coming of the Lord should be both a source of encouragement and a toolfor encouraging others. But what is encouragement? Why do we need it? To what does it lead?
The NKJV chooses the word comfort here, and this is one meaning of the Greek verb παρακαλέω. But whereas comfort suggests something like, “There, there, it will be OK, everything’s going to be all right,” encourage, which I think fits the context better, carries the sense of “Take heart! The Lord is coming! Let’s press on and get this old world in shape to receive Him!”
I believe encouragement is the most important relational skill any believer can master. And I believe this because I’m persuaded that what believers need most of all in this life is courage, the courage that comes from knowing the Lord, resting in Him, and drawing on His strength for seeking His Kingdom and glory.
Courage is that disposition of the heart which enables us to overcome fear, doubt, lack of experience, unbelief, and our natural self-protectiveness to follow Jesus into a Kingdom-and-glory way of life. Think of courage like Peter, stepping out of that boat, his eyes fixed on Jesus, walking obediently toward the Lord to walk obediently with Him. This is what courage does. This is why God has sent His Holy Spirit – the Encourager (Greek: παράκλητος) – to dwell within us. Courage to persevere through trials, setbacks, tribulations, disappointments, hardship, want, and lack of trust comes from the Spirit, Who brings us into the presence of God and His glory, liberates us from whatever is holding us back, and transforms us from the inside-out to be more like Jesus (2 Cor. 3.12-18).
It pleases the Spirit, in His work of encouragement – of giving us the heart to follow Jesus obediently – to use us in one another’s lives. One tool we have for encouraging one another is the knowledge that Jesus is coming again. Other tools are also available to us, but in our text, Paul is emphasizing just this one. Jesus is coming. We will live with Him forever. All sorrows and disappointments and hurts and pains and fears will cease, dissolving so completely that we won’t even remember what these things are. A day of everlasting rest, peace, joy, and being with Jesus is coming!
Encourage one another with these words.
1. Encouragement includes, but is not the same as, affirmation. Explain.
2. The root of the idea of encouragement is to “be called alongside” another person. God has called us to come alongside one another so that we might grow in Jesus, persevere through the trials of this life, and realize more of His Kingdom’s presence, promise, and power. What can you do to improve your skills as an encourager to the people in your Personal Mission Field?
3. Are there areas in your life where you need more courage to follow Jesus? How can your fellow Christians encourage you in these areas?
If he is about to descend, on what account shall we be caught up? For the sake of honor. For when a king drives into a city, those who are in honor go out to meet him; but the condemned await the judge within. And upon the coming of an affectionate father, his children indeed, and those who are worthy to be his children, are taken out in a chariot, that they may see and kiss him; but the housekeepers who have offended him remain within. We are carried upon the chariot of our Father. For he received him up in the clouds, and “we shall be caught up in the clouds.”Do you see how great is the honor? And as he descends, we go forth to meet him, and, what is more blessed than all, so shall we be with him.. John Chrysostom (344-407 AD), Homilies on 1 Thessalonians 8
Give me courage to persevere in obedient faith, O Lord. And today, help me to encourage…
Pray Psalm 126.
As you pray, remember those believers who are sorrowing for one reason or another. Pray that they and you may have the courage to persevere in the midst of trials, and pray that you will continue to sow the Good News of the Kingdom throughout your Personal Mission Fields. Thank God for the joy that awaits us all when the Kingdom of Christ finally and fully comes on earth as it is in heaven, at the return of our Lord Jesus.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 126 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns!)
When God restored our fortunes all, we were like those who sweetly dream.
Our mouths with joy and laughter filled, made Him our constant song and theme.
Then the astonished nations said, “The Lord has done great things for them!”
Indeed, great things our God has done, Whose Name we praise, Amen, Amen!
Restore our fortunes, Lord our King! Let grace like flowing streams prevail.
All they with tears of joy shall sing who sow while yet they weep and wail.
They who in tears of sorrow sow and cast their seed on every hand,
With joy shall reach their heav’nly home, and bring the harvest of their land.
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.
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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).