Your Work, Labor & Endurance – through Faith, Love & Hope

1st & 2nd Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 1:3 – We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.


Work Produced by Faith

Faith is defined as having a firm belief, complete trust and confidence in something. As a Believer, our faith is determined by the extent of which we believe that God is who He says He is and that His son, Jesus the Messiah, was born of a woman, lived a perfect life, died on the cross for the redemption of your sins, was raised to life, is currently sitting on a throne next to his Father, waiting to return again to reign in the Kingdom. IF you and I believe all of that – then our day to day life will be a compilation of evidence of acts done in faith and by faith. 


James makes the claim in the third chapter of his letter “to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (James 1:1) that “in the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (3:17). And in verse 26 of the same chapter, James writes, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead”. 


The Thessalonians didn’t just accept the gospel message, they acted on it. Jesus was both their Savior and their Lord, meaning that they were obedient to the call on their lives. They were doing the work that God had prepared in advance for them to do (Ephesians 2:10). Likewise, when we accept the gospel message for ourselves, we have to respond. Jesus tells us in the book of Luke that we must take up our cross (do the work) and follow him (9:23). 

Labor Prompted by Love

Mark 12:30 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength”. Have you ever wondered why these four domains are identified? Have you ever loved someone so much that there isn’t anything you wouldn’t do for them? You sacrifice all that you have in order to serve them, sacrifice for them, and labor for them. In the following verse, we’re told to love our neighbors as ourselves. Sacrificing ourselves for family members and close friends is one thing…serving and laboring for others beyond our closest relationships is quite another. 


This is why we’re told to love with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength – because it’s not easy. Sometimes loving another is labor. It’s hard work. It’s humbling ourselves by putting our own desires off to the side in order to honor others. But it’s what we are called to do. And it is possible if we lean into the strength that is provided through our faith in Christ. 

Endurance Inspired by Hope

One of my favorite types of exercise is a 20 minutes HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout. I like it because I don’t have to do it everyday, it’s quick, and efficient. And I get to rest for almost half of the time during the “down” intervals. If I were ever called upon to do something that took longer than 20 minutes, I would be gassed! I do not have the endurance for it. And I have no enthusiasm to train for it! 


Walking out your faith knee deep in “works produced by faith” and “labor promoted by love” is not for the faint of heart! It’s not a one time deal. And unlike my HIIT workouts, it’s an all-day, everyday kind of commitment –  for a lifetime! This requires an endurance that cannot be faked nor manufactured. The only source for the necessary fuel to keep this faith-centered life going is HOPE. A hope that has a foundation on the love God has for us. When we stay zeroed in to that – we are able to dig deep and and go the distance. As Paul says in his second letter to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. We can have a FULL life that gives us the endurance needed to do the good works. 


The Christian life is not for the wimpy. In this single verse out of 1 Thessalonians, we are told that we must work, labor, and endure. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t seem very comfy. It’s not a life of luxury and indulgence. The ONLY way that we will be able to sustain this day to day living is doing so out of Faith, Love, and Hope. May these virtues fill your heart today.

-Bethany Ligon

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1st Thessalonians & 2nd Thessalonians.

Tomorrow we will read Acts 18:19-19:41.

Great Hope

1 Thessalonians 4

_1 Thessalonians 4 16

The fourth chapter of 1st Thessalonians speaks of sanctification, how we are made clean and pure by Jesus.  Having been sanctified we have great hope.

Application: All Christians should memorize 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Friends for eternity (such as Paul, Silas, Timothy, Paul M, Esther, Jerry, etc…) have great comfort in the resurrection.

Paul & Esther

Peace

1 Thessalonians 3

1 Thessalonians 3 8

The big three are faith, hope and love.  Chapter three is all about growing stronger in faith. (vs. 7).  Esther and I have been watching all the very small things God has been doing through each day to show His love to us.  Things such as sending rain after the baptism tonight instead of during.  Things such as God’s gentle spirit blowing the door shut to the tabernacle as we write this devotional.  Things such as the enormous peace in the stone chapel as we prayed very early in the morning.

 

Application: As Christians, we can endure all persecution, and still have faith God loves us as we obtain perfect peace with both God and other friends.

 

-Paul & Esther

 

The Friends are Opposed by Satan

1 Thessalonians 2

1 Thessalonians 2 2b

In the second chapter (v 18) the friends are blocked by the enemy.  Esther and I, as we prepared for Camp Mack, found all sorts of odd things happening as people did and said strange things to try to hurt our mission.

 

Application: Sometimes, the stronger the opposition, the more you know you are doing God’s Will.  No matter what happens, God gives great peace to friends in Christ.

 

-Paul & Esther

 Friends

 1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thess 1 2
The first verse of 1 Thessalonians tells us what this wonderful letter is all about: Friends: Paul, Silas, and Timothy had become extremely close spiritual friends. These three spiritual friends prayed together, worked together, and became very close to the people in Thessalonica. The first chapter should be read with the concept of two or three gathered in the name of Jesus praying and loving others in a particular area or church. I have made many friends much the same as Silas and Timothy were to Paul.  Thessalonians is all about fabulous friendship in this life and the life to come (v.10).
Application: Everyone has to choose which friends they should have. If we seek God and ask Him for guidance, God will lead us to the right people to be around. Just as Paul, Silas and Timothy constantly sought God’s Word and His guidance, they were able to connect because God rewarded each of their daily dedication to God. We as individuals need to be in constant prayer and God will lead us in choosing friends. I also encourage you to love your friends just like God loves us.
Paul Moore – and his friend Esther

We Will Rise

1 Thess. 4-6

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I am by no means an art expert but I love walking around an art museum and observing all the different colors and variations an artist can use to awaken our senses and bring ordinary things to life. Some artists tell stories about the past or present with their works and yet others imagine the future. The future is the image that Paul details as he paints a picture of what the return of Christ will look like.
Imagine suddenly seeing the sky open up and watching as the Son of God comes down with the trumpet of God. He shouts and calls to your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have died to rise. You feel the earth tremble and see the dead rise from their graves and return to life. You watch them wake to see their hopes come to fruition and meet their Savior in the air. After all the dead have risen you stand in awe because you are finally seeing your Savior when you feel yourself begin to rise into the clouds. Here is the most beautiful piece of this image, it says in the last part of 1 Thess 4:17 that “we shall always be with the Lord.”
For us to be a part of this magnificent image we must encourage each other to stand firm in God’s word and to be alert to the difficult trials that we may face. The last half of chapter 5 gives us some ways we can do that. We are to “live in peace” with each other and to “be patient with everyone.” We are to “rejoice always” and “pray without ceasing.” Take time to consider how you can be an encouragement to others as we together await the day we meet our Savior face to face.

 

– Lacey Dunn

Say No to Cheap Imitation

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1 Thess. 1-3
When I think of the word “imitation” my mind links the word to things that aren’t so great. Think “imitation cheese product” instead of cheese carved off the block or “pleather” compared to the feel and smell of real leather. We would do well to remember that imitation isn’t reserved only for things that aren’t so great but rather that imitation can be powerful and amazing. The imitation that is spoken of in this passage isn’t of the “imitation crab” variety but instead it paints a picture of faithful and unwavering believers spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God like wildfire.
In 1 Thessalonians 1-3 we are told of how the Thessalonians were being imitators of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy and yet ultimately imitators of God. 1 Thess 2:13 NASB says, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy were not spreading their own words but God’s words. Had Paul decided to be a cheap imitation of God and not spread God’s truth the message would not have spread with such conviction yet because Paul poured his heart and life into being a true imitation of God the message did spread with that same conviction which allowed both Jews and Gentiles to hear the good news.
We live in a world where cheap imitations are the norm. If you can’t afford some designer luxury item a cheap imitation is usually available to replace it. It makes it appear like you have the real thing but you really don’t. Please understand I’m not saying go throw away your processed cheese and pleather shoes, those are just material things. What I’m asking you to do is to truly and passionately accept the love and grace given to you by your heavenly Father and to live in such a way that others can see His light in you. Don’t say you are a Christian yet live the same way everyone else does. Stand out! Be unique! Be that true imitation of God like Paul and the Thessalonians and let your light shine into the darkness all around you!

– Lacey Dunn

Greetings from Michigan! My name is Lacey Dunn and I am part of the Garden Park Church of God family in Grand Rapids, Michigan but I am originally from Missouri. I have an amazing husband, three adorable (most of the time) kiddos, an unofficially adopted 21 year old and a lazy dog. In my spare time I love to read, chill at the beach, and have dance parties with my kids.