Monday, October 26, 2015

1 Thessalonians 2:1-2

1 Thessalonians 2:1-2
For you yourselves have known, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you all has not become in vain but rather after already suffering and after being treated with insolence in Philippi – just as you all have known – we became emboldened in our God to speak the good news of God to you all in great opposition.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

Suffering.  Insolence.  These are the words that Paul uses to describe the context of his ministry.  The reality is that Paul and his associates were arrested in Philippi.  They were eventually allowed to go free, but they had to leave the town.  The church in Philippi was a tremendous success, but it was shrouded in great persecution.  In Paul we get a great lesson in context.  Paul is aware of the suffering and persecution.  It happened so often, how couldn’t he be made aware?  But it never got him down for long.  For Paul, there is always someone wanting to hear the Gospel.  There is always the next visit and the next encounter.  Paul is always on the lookout for the next person who will be willing to listen to him.  That’s what Paul is all about when it comes to ministry.  Paul can always look back and see suffering and insolence.  But Paul can always look forward and see potential ministry ahead.

Do you have a forward perspective of ministry?  How is that developed?

Second Thought:

Verse 2 ends with a word that we should recognize: agon (ἀγών).  This word means struggle or opposition.  It is connected to our English word agony.  What is striking about this word is that Paul is using it to set the context for the proclamation of the good news in Thessalonica.  How often do we think that ministry is fun and exciting and filled with great joy?  Yes, on a spiritual level it is all those things and more.  But on a physical level ministry is often filled with misunderstanding, agony, pain, suffering, and persecution.  The spiritual person would readily trade the physical agony for spiritual joy, of course.  But that does not mean that we don’t still see and feel the physical rejection of the world.  Ministry is hard.  Paul himself calls it opposition.  He calls it agony.  Being called to the Lord is a great thing, but being called to the Lord is a hard thing, too.

Have you ever know agony in ministry?  Have you ever known rejection and opposition?  How can you experience agony and rejection yet continue on in following the Lord?

Third Thought:

For me, one of the key words in this section is when Paul talks about becoming emboldened in God.  This is how we overcome the world.  The world throws its worst at us and we are emboldened in God.  He causes us to rise above it.  He causes us to rise up.  He is the strength beneath our wings.  He is the hope upon which we look.  It is easy to be frustrated and get down when we experience persecution and failure.  But God gives us the boldness in message to push through it.

How does your strength come from God?  Where are you bold in Christ?

Passage for Tomorrow: 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4
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