My Brother's Keeper
Lord God, may Your Holy Word teach and lead me today so that I can better follow in Your ways.
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5
 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.  For we wanted to come to you-certainly I, Paul, did, again and again-but Satan blocked our way.  For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy.  So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens.  We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith,  so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.  In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.  For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat's Paul's "hope, joy and crown"? What does he mean?
These verses help us see the emotional cost of preaching the Gospel (17,19; 3:1,5). Paul was no hit and run preacher; he cared deeply about the people he ministered to, even if he only spent a short time with them (17-20). Paul’s concern for fellow believers and his delight in them is a glimpse into what God’s family is about. We are our “brother’s keeper,” and Christians are our family, so we should be looking out for each other. Because Paul cared for this church, he prepared them for the hard realities of following Christ (3,4). We must be honest: persecution in some form will mark the life of a Christian (Luke 14:27), and it will either rock a Christian’s faith (3,5) or make their faith stronger, as we shall see tomorrow (3:7,8). That’s why Paul went to such lengths to support and encourage the beleaguered Thessalonians (1-5). How does your fellowship support people facing situations where they might be tempted to give up on Jesus? How do you show solidarity with Christians where believing means coping with the emotional and economic hardships of being ostracized from their community?
Identify Christians outside of your area whom you can support in their struggles to remain faithful to Jesus. Then do it.
Lord Jesus, You knew what it was like to be persecuted. Help me remain faithful under any pressures that come my way.
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