Friday, June 18, 2010

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday June 20, 2010
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SUSTAINED THROUGH ENCOURAGEMENT
(Our faith should encourage each other during hard times)
(1 Thessalonians 3)

Even the mature Christian will sometimes react in doubt as to where GOD wants them to be, or, what GOD wants them to be doing, when they find themselves in stressful positions in life. Here in 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul adds his own stabilizing reminder that trials do not necessarily mean that one is out of the will of GOD, or, that one is experiencing GOD’s disfavor.
In the biblical Greek, the word Paul uses for “moved”, or “unsettled”, in verse 3, is “saino” (sah-ee-no), and its means “to wag back and forward like a dog’s tail”. It paints a picture of how the Thessalonican Church was going back and forward, visibly disturbed by the persecutions that they were experiencing at that time.
As a result of their suffering, Paul had sent young Timothy to visit with them to try and strengthen them, and encourage them to continue on in the faith. He wanted to keep them from becoming too disturbed by their current stressful situation, and to remind them that such troubles are an intricate part of being involved and committed to the Christian Faith.
Paul’s affections for the Christian Churches, that they planted, were also what motivated his sharing of the Gospel with them. Those affections were also expressed in the individual relationships that he was able to develop all along the way. He was not ashamed to confess a weakness for those whom he loved. He was overwhelmed by his anxious concern for the church’s spiritual well-being, and, their physical survival.
When we choose the Christian walk, we automatically come into friction with the secular world, by way of our changed behavior. Committing to CHRIST is not so much an intellectual decision as it is a behavioral one. The radical changes that one has to make in order to resist the gravitational pull of this world can be an overwhelming thing and one must learn how to tap into their new-found strength in CHRIST in order to survive.
It is paramount that one gets into, and stays into the word of GOD, as one’s faith will continue to be attacked by the forces of satan. And while trials are certain, it is how we will respond to those trials that remains a mystery to us. We honestly don’t know how we will respond to a given crisis until that crisis is upon us, and so, through GOD allowing us to be tested, we become strong in our confidence that, through CHRIST, and with the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, we can conquer all things.
Paul had experienced enough trials and tribulation to know, that, even committed Christians retain their freedom to respond, both correctly, and, incorrectly to the effects of those trials and tribulations on their lives. It was his desire, as it should be our desire that, those we care about make the right decisions when those storms come. We must always take care to remember that, JESUS continues to come to us, just as HE came to HIS original disciples, from across the storms of life, with HIS hands stretched out to save, while speaking in a calm, clear voice, that bade them to “have no fear”.
It was love and concern which motivated Paul to send Timothy back to check on the progress of the Church at Thessalonica. He had heard much regarding their recent persecutions, and his young protégé’s good report served as an uplifting joyful experience, one that Paul sorely needed to rekindle his own dampened spirits.
This passage emits the very essence of the spirit of the Christian church pastor. The most natural way we can win over another person to the faith, is by first, liking them, and then, by convincing them through our behavior, that Christianity produces the best men and women. And our great distain in the very thought of them having to meet with eternal damnation, should motivate us, to play the greatest role possible in their acceptance of the salvation gift, which is available to all mankind.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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