Ever feel like you are alone? Or maybe you are just wondering where your mentor is? Ever feel like you are just trying to figure out this Christianity thing on your own – flying by the seat of your pants, as they say?
The young church at Thessalonica must have felt very much this way when they finally received this letter from Paul.
Paul and Thessalonica
When Paul arrived in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey, it was a bustling seaport city. Situated at the junction of the great Egnatian Way, which gave the Romans to access into modern day Turkey, and the road leading north to the Danube River.
Paul began by teaching in the local Jewish synagogue (as was his custom) for 3 Sabbaths. We read in Acts 17:1-9 that violent unbelievers came to the house of Jason looking for Paul and Silas. Since they weren’t there at the time, they dragged Jason and his friends were out of the house. Though they were eventually released, the persecution did not end. It was so pervasive that Paul and Silas were sent on to Berea shortly after arriving.
While this allowed Paul and Silas to reach more people, it left behind a largely Gentile congregation of recent converts with little support in their persecution. What a blessing and joy it must have been to know that Paul had not forgotten them, but was reaching out to continue to teach them from a distance!
What would be an adequate thanksgiving to offer God for all the joy we experience before him because of you? We do what we can, praying away, night and day, asking for the bonus of seeing your faces again and doing what we can to help when your faith falters.
May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 (MSG)
Paul begins his prayer with thanksgiving. He was so thankful for the believers in Thessalonica that it gave him joy before the Father. It seems to be a pattern in Paul’s prayers. Everytime I see one of Paul’s prayers (so far, at least) I am reminded of the words of David…
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.Psalm 100:4
Acknowedge Who God Is
Next Paul recognizes and addressed God by His character – “God our Father and our Master Jesus Christ.” Paul is recognizing that God and Jesus have the ability to remove all obstacles so that they could be together again. But, he also understands that experienceing His love is so much better than them being together. And, so, Paul moves into his requests for the Thessalonian believers…
Requests for the Thessalonian Believers
- Pour on the love so it overflows – Paul is so adamant that they understand God’s love that he asks for it to be poured out so generously that it splashes everywhere and passes beyond their small circle of believers to the community around them. He asks that they would ooze with His love!
- Be infused with strength and purity – Paul knew that they were facing persecution. He knew that they would need the strength and purity of a transformed life to remain true to their new beliefs.
- Be filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father – We learn in other letters that we, as Christians are allowed to enter into the throne room of God with confidence and boldness because of the work of Jesus Christ that allows us to be adopted as God’s children. Paul asked that they would know that they can call out to God the Father in their time of need and be confident that He hears them and will answer.
Have you tried beginning your prayers with thanksgiving and praise? I know that when I take the time to focus on what I am thankful for and praising God, I am definitely more aware of His Presence with me.
I am beginning to start my prayer time with thanksgiving and praise. It is so important to remember all that He has already done and all that He is! I am asking that He fill me up to overflowing. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when I start to think of all the things I am working on in a day, but if I can only do one thing – I want to ooze the love of Jesus everywhere I go. Father, grant me the strength to remain pure so that I may enter your courts with confidence.