How Trials Shape Us
Summary of 1 Thessalonians 3. How we handle trials and affliction in light of Christ's Second Coming. The purpose of trials is to intensify my love for others, purify my love for God and get me ready to meet Christ.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes I care how you are, it’s more than a casual thoughtless greeting. I know some of you are going through the wringer, and you’re having a rough time. And others of you have gotten some real victories about which you’ve written me – and I always appreciate that as well. So I’m concerned. And those of you who I don’t know, I pray for you anyway, and ask God to bless anybody who’s listening by way of radio to this ministry of the Word of God.
We’re sort of hitting the high spots and recapping some of the truths in 1 Thessalonians before we move on to some other book of the Bible. And we went through Chapter 1, the Gospel and its effect on us in the light of the second coming. We touched on Chapter 2 the last time we got together – inter-personal relations, relationships with other people in the light of Christ’s second coming.
And the word ‘behave’ seems to come into very sharp focus at that point – you have to behave your beliefs if you’re really serious about serving the Lord Jesus, and if you’re really sincere about saying that you expect Him to come again.
Now we come to Chapter 3, and that has to do with facing trails and afflictions in the light of Christ’s second coming. Ah, you, you have Chapter 3 starting out, “Don’t be moved by these afflictions, for yourselves know that we are appointed thereto…” and so on. The chapter ends with Paul praying, “Now may God himself direct our way unto you and, and may the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, to the end that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
So there again in the third chapter you have this reference to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this reference then we think of the effect that knowing Christ is coming again and all that that event entails, the effect that that belief has on our experience of trials, and troubles, and testing, and persecution.
Now he said, “I, I was concerned about you and I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I send Timothy to establish you and comfort you concerning your faith.” The… it is such a thing, there has been concerned enough about other people to do something. And this is entirely a part, this is just under the heading of small thought here, I guess.
But you know it’s one thing to say, “Oh it’s too bad, I’m sorry.” It’s another thing to do something about it. Somebody is sick and you say, “Oh, I’m sorry.” Well, go see him. Or if the family is without the help of mother, make, make a hot meal and bring it over. Be surprised how thankful they will be when you come with all those goodies that you’ve prepared lovingly for them. Somebody’s out of a job, help him look for one. Give him some contacts that may result in, in satisfactory employment. Somebody is discouraged, give time to listen to his tale of woe.
You know, one of the cures of discouragement is just being able to tell somebody else who cares and who understands. Not that they’re going to change the circumstances, but they care enough to spend some time with you and, and listen to you.
My friend Mel Larsen who’s now with the Lord a good many years, he used to do that for me. He was editor of the ‘Youth for Christ’ magazine, and I was at that time president of ‘Youth for Christ’. And I was under stress periodically, well for different reasons – some of them having to do with people, and some having to do with money, and some having to do with the opposition of Satan in various places – you know, I was under pressure; you know how that is pastors and, and leaders. So I would go talk to Mel. And he never gave me any advice, he just listened. And then he would pray with me. And I always felt a lot better somehow or other.
Take time will you, to care enough about people, to do what’s needed? Maybe just to listen and, and, and, and pray, and understand, and care. Or maybe to do something that will, that will help remedy the situation. In this case Paul said, “Timothy, you better go and, and minister to those folk. Establish them, and comfort them ‘cause they’re going through it. And I don’t want them to get so discouraged that they quit.”
“Comfort you concerning your faith in order that nobody should be moved by these afflictions. For yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. Verily when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we would suffer tribulation, even as it came to pass as you know. Now I said I cared so much about you that I just sent Timothy to know how you were getting along, lest by some means that the tempter have tempted you and our labor be in vain. Well Timothy brought us good news,” he said, “and so we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith. For now we really live if you stand fast in the Lord.”
What do you make of that? Paul cared enough to do something about somebody else’s distress. And when the good news came that they were standing fast in their faith in Christ it said it comforted Paul in all his affliction and distress. He went through it, didn’t he? Many of these epistles were written in jail. And there wasn’t any comfort there, there wasn’t any privacy there. There was nothing except being chained to a Roman guard. But he said, “When we heard the good news of your faith and love, and that you have good remembrance of us and you, you wanna see us, then,” he said, “I was comforted over you with in the middle of, in the midst of all my affliction and distress. For now I really live if you stand fast in the Lord.”
What is going to encourage you the most ultimately? It is to see people with whom you have prayed and, and whom you have led to faith in Christ – it’s to see them standing firm in their faith and growing in the Lord, and going on to be stalwart Christians.
I saw just the other day on the television program that somebody was presenting, a young man who after he left high school and went on into college felt definitely called to establish boys’ homes – homes for boys. And the question was asked to him, “Well, you could have been a professional football player, and you could have made millions of dollars, and you could have had, had your name be a household word, and be famous. What about that? Now you’re dealing with some hundreds of people.”
“Oh,” he said, “the payoff is to see a young person grow up and have something to live for because of faith in Christ, and really amount to something. And his family going on for the Lord,” he said, “that’s, that’s worth it all.”
Well there you have it, see. What’s, what’s really worthwhile in your life? I venture to say that the reason behind the malaise that some of us feel, we’re, we’re unsatisfied, we’re uncomfortable with almost everything. We complain about almost everything. And, and we just are sort of fed up of life, and nothing seems to matter. (Laughs) Does that come anywhere near where how you feel today? Maybe for someone it does. I venture to guess – this is just a guess now mind you – that that condition could be remedied if you had led somebody to the Lord Jesus, and could see that person or those person going on with the Lord, and growing up in Christ.
Paul said, “Now we really live if you are standing fast in the Lord, that’s the key,” said he, “to, to making me feel like I’m really living.” You want to change your mood? Lead somebody to Jesus. You want to continue to change your mood? Disciple that somebody and help him or her go on with the Lord – it’s that simple. You’ll find that the effort you spend to, to put in time with another human being, first in leading him or her to Christ, and then in discipling that individual so that he or she can go on with the Lord.
The, the effort that you put forth in that kind of activity is going to pay out a thousand-fold. Your own mood will be lifted, your horizon will be brightened, life will seem worthwhile when you see other people going on with the Lord. Remember what Paul said, “Now we really live if you are going on with the Lord. Well,” he said, “May the Lord make you to increase an abound in love, one toward another, and toward all men, even as you do, we do toward you. To the end He may establish your heart’s unblameable and holiness at the coming of our Lord Jesus.”
You’re going through testings. What is the, what is the, the real bottom-line let us say, to use the accounts term, of the purpose for all of these. He says, “I want you to increase in love and abound,” – that means ‘spill over’ – in love toward each other, and toward all men. You’re going to troubles, is it possible to love the people that are, that are bugging you, and bothering you, and prosecuting you? Yes it is. The love of God is shared abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us.
This is part of the miracle of the Christian life. Now if that happens, then God goes on to establish your heart unblameable in holiness because Jesus is coming. The purpose then of the trials, is to intensify my love for others, to purify my life before God, and to get me ready to meet my Lord. It’s quite a mouthful isn’t it? And that’s that third chapter then, of 1 Thessalonians.
Incidentally, you want to give joy to somebody? Let them know that you appreciate them and would like to be with them. He says, “What thanks,” – this is the first line – “what thanks can we render to God again for you? For all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes, before God. Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith.”
If you really want to, to enjoy yourself, and if you want somebody else to be blessed, let this attitude show up: ‘I value you and like to be with you’. You’d be surprised what that will do in opening the door for a witness for your Lord. You don’t barge into somebody’s life and say, “Now I’m going to be a blessing to you, my brother.” No, no, people will stay away from you by the thousands (Laughs) if you do that. But give that genuine, that genuine impact of appreciation. ‘I value you as a human being and I like to be with you’.
There’s a tradesman with whom I am good friends. I hope some day to win him to the Lord Jesus. And then we had a conversation involving picking up some shirts that I had had laundered. Well they weren’t there at the shop. He said, “I’ll take them home, and you may come get them at my house.” “Oh,” I said, “that’s a lot of bother for you.” He said, “Listen, I’m doing this so I get a chance to talk to you.” (Laughs) Well I was blessed to death. You know that’s awfully nice, isn’t it? If you want somebody to be blessed, let them know you appreciate them and like to be with them.
Dear heavenly Father, today oh may we value people, may we go through trials victoriously, may we be ready to see Jesus, in His name I pray. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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