Mutual Encouragement a Blessing

1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 ESV

“Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, and as members of his body, the church, we are to care for one another and minister God’s love and grace to each other. But now please know that this love we are to have for one another prefers what God prefers, which is what is morally pure, upright, godly, honest, faithful, and trustworthy. So it does no willful harm to its neighbor. And his grace instructs to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we await Jesus’ return.

So, we are going to have the same love and care and concern for the body of Christ, his church, as what God has. And so we will exercise the same solution as what God has provided. And so we are going to nurture one another in the faith, and encourage one another to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God. And we are going to urge one another strongly to stay away from all that is sinful and to not fall prey to deception. And so we will warn other believers about false gospels and then speak the truth of the gospel.

Now, as followers of Jesus Christ, if our faith in Christ is genuine God-given faith, and so we are walking in obedience to the Lord, doing what he says to do, going where he sends us and saying what he gives us to say, we are going to be hated and persecuted as Jesus was and as his true followers have been hated and persecuted ever since Jesus died and rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven and sent his Holy Spirit to indwell his followers. So, we should anticipate this happening to us.

And we should encourage one another in our afflictions so that we do not become disheartened and discouraged and retreat and want to give up. I’ve been there before, for lack of encouragement, and because of severe persecution coming at me from multiple sources with no one to stand with me other than my Lord. But through it all the Lord taught me perseverance and that I needed to stand strong even if all turned against me. For we are coming into a time when we may have to stand alone or not at all.

For, our faith in Jesus Christ promises us that we will be hated and persecuted like Jesus was if we follow him with our lives, and if we do and say the kinds of things he did and said. Yet, some professing Christians choose to “play it safe” and to avoid all controversy, and so they don’t speak the truth in love, and they don’t share the truth of the gospel, and they don’t oppose the lies of the enemy, and so people like them, and so they are not faced with persecution and afflictions on account of their faith.

But part of our walks of faith in Jesus Christ involves suffering, first in death to sin and to self, which is daily, and then in following the Lord in obedience regardless of how we are treated in return. For we were destined to suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus, and for the sake of his gospel, and for the sake of righteousness and holiness. And so this is why it is all the more important that we are encouraging (exhorting, urging, provoking) one another to live holy and godly lives for the glory of God.

1 Thessalonians 3:6-10 ESV

“But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?”

I am very encouraged by others who are walking in holiness and in righteousness and who are living lives different from the world and who are standing for truth and righteousness. I don’t see this very often, so when I do, it greatly encourages me. For so many people professing faith in Jesus Christ today here in America are living not much different from those who make no profession of faith in Christ, and that can be very disheartening to see that, and then to not have the kind of fellowship we should have.

In my younger days, in my hometown, I had close friends who encouraged me in my walk of faith, and I did likewise with them. We would share with one another Scriptures and what the Lord was teaching us, and we had such sweet times of fellowship together. And I had that again when we moved to another state, with the same type of friends, and the same kinds of fellowship and encouragement, and I was so blessed! But then we moved again, and I have not since had what I had before, and I miss that.

For, again, now so many people have gone the way of the world and have become so worldly that it seems few truly desire that kind of fellowship and mutual love and support for one another in our walks of faith. So many conversations revolve around what is worldly and not what is of God unless someone is sick and in the hospital, and then people will pray. But when you have that kind of spiritual fellowship in the Lord, it really helps, especially when you are undergoing persecution and rejection for your walk of faith.

Full Release

An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

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