Standing Strong In The Faith
The deep desire of seeing others standing fast in the Lord should be what drives us in terms of ministry and caring for others. Our faith during times of trouble and how we handle it will help someone else believe that they can make it too.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing alright? Oh, I trust so. My heart goes out to so many of you whom I know personally; I’ve either heard from you by letter or card, or talked on the phone, and I know that you have some needs and some trials and some heartaches, and I think about that as I start these broadcasts. In other words, I think about the people to whom I’m talking. It’s not just talking into a microphone. You’re there, aren’t you? Bless your heart, and I’m grateful.
We’re looking at 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 3. Paul said, “I told you before that we’re going to have trouble. Yea, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” But our Lord Jesus said, “In the world, ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have already overcome the world.” So the circumstances are part of a package of victory that God has already arranged; purchased for you with precious shed blood on Calvary’s cross. Look at it that way and you’ll find that your attitude is a lot different. Instead of saying it (as is so natural to all of us) as “why does this happen to me when I’m such a nice guy,” instead of questioning the why, you’ll look up to the Person in whom your trust is based and you’ll say, “Lord, this is part of what you have for me; bring me through with victory and teach me what you want me to learn.”
So, he said, “I couldn’t stand it any longer and I sent Timothy to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter tempted you and your labor was in vain. But now Timothy came and brought good tidings of your faith and love, and that you have good remembrance of us always,” and so on. “So we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith, because now we really live if you are standing fast in the Lord.” I read that whole passage there because it all hangs together, doesn’t it?
What ought to drive a Christian, particularly a Christian worker, pastor, evangelist, missionary, Sunday school teacher, in relationship to other people? He said, “I couldn’t stand it any longer,” (Verse 5). What ought to drive a person? A deep desire to be sure that the person or other persons stand fast in the Lord. Now, he said, “We really live” (Verse 8) “if you are standing fast in the Lord.” Now this is not unusual. Paul said in another epistle, “Stand fast in the Lord, dearly beloved. Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.” There are a lot of different phrases: stand fast, hang on. The way we’d put it nowadays it would be “hang in there.” He says, “Now I’m really living if you stand fast in the Lord.”
What should really drive me in terms of my interest in other people and in Christian work generally? Should it be the effect I’m having? Should it be to be considered successful in my missionary work or Sunday school teaching, or evangelism, or whatever it may be? Should that drive me? Should it not rather be, as we look at this passage, a deep, driving, burning concern that people should first get to know the Lord, and second, that they should grow up in Him and stand fast in their faith? Never shaken up by their troubles or circumstances, but looking up to Jesus and standing firm: that should be the driving desire of our lives. Do you follow that?
You see, that makes a great deal of difference. It has to be admitted that many of our Christian work activities tend to be performances. God isn’t interested in our performance. He’s interested in our faith and in our love. He said to Simon Peter, “Simon, Satan hath desired thee that he might sift thee as wheat, but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” He didn’t say that your performance fail not, or your willpower fail not, or your courage fail not, because Peter failed in all of those. But He said, “I have prayed for you that your faith fail not, and when thou art turned again, strengthen thy brethren.”
And after the resurrection, when the Savior spoke especially to Simon Peter, He said, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these?” And He asked the question three times. Why? Because the Savior looks for faith and the commitment of love primarily. He knows that your track record is not going to be one hundred percent perfect. You’re not going to bat a thousand in the game of life. You’re going to have your problems because you’re a human being. But He wants to know whether or not you really trust Him, whether you really love Him, whether you are really committed to Him. That’s what He wants to know. So Paul said, “I couldn’t stand not to know whether you’re really standing fast in the faith, so I sent Timothy.”
Well, he said “When Timothy came back and brought good news of your faith and love, and that you have good remembrance of us always, greatly desiring to see us as we always to see you; therefore, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress.” Comforted by your faith!
Small thought here. Let me stop long enough just to nail this down in your thinking. Your trust in God can help somebody else to make it spiritually. One of the important reasons why you should never give up your commitment to Christ and trust in God, never give in to complaining and discouragement, why you should always trust in your Lord…do you know why? Because your trust in God, your faith, your “Hallelujah anyway” attitude is going to help somebody else to make it. Somebody else who may be deeply discouraged, somebody else who may be terribly tried and tested, someone else who may be just on the verge of giving up, may see what’s happening in your life and say, “I’ll trust Him one more time.”
Oh, beloved, you have no idea how important your commitment to Christ may be, not just for your own sake, but for the sake of those who watch you. Do you know there’s somebody who wants to be just like you? Fellows, there’s somebody who combs his hair like you do and ties his tie as you do, and has taken on some of your gestures and mannerisms because he wants to be like you! Ladies, there’s some lady who fixes her hair just as you do, and wants to be like you. That’s a fact! Every human being has what we call a “public.” Every human being has one or more people who emulate him or her and try to be like him or her.
Because that’s true, you and I should give serious thought to the importance of always trusting our Lord actively, without giving up. Paul said, “I was comforted by your faith and your love.” Comforted over you in all our affliction. How? Comforted by your faith, “because now I really live if you are standing fast in the Lord.” Somebody is watching you today, beloved. Someone is listening to you today. Someone is observing how you react to the stresses and pressures of life. Yes they are! Oh, don’t give up trusting, don’t give up obeying, don’t give up praying, turn your faith often toward heaven and ask God to keep His hand on you. Why? Because somebody else is gauging their life spiritually by what they see in you. “Now we really live,” he said, “if you stand fast in the Lord.”
Now, Verse 9: “For what thanks can be rendered 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. Now may God Himself direct our way unto you, and may the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you, 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.” There’s another reference again to the second coming of Christ.
Now go back aways; I read again a portion because it sort of hangs together. He said, “Now we really live if you stand fast in the Lord.” So he said, “What thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God night and day, praying exceedingly that we might see your face and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?” He said, “I really don’t know how to describe how wonderful it is to know that you’re going on with the Lord. I don’t know how to say any adequate thanks to God for the joy that you’ve brought. But all I can tell you is that I’m just praying night and day that God might help me to come see you so that I can help you to go on and grow in the Christian faith and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith.”
Now he said, “May the Lord God Himself and our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ direct our way unto you.” Pray about your schedule. So far, Paul said in Chapter 1 that he wanted to see these people but just didn’t have a chance. In Verse 18 of Chapter 2, he said, “I would have come to see you more than once, but Satan hindered me.” In Verses 10 and 11 in chapter 3, he brings the subject up again; he said, “I do want to see you,” and then he utters a prayer: “And now may God Himself, our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ direct our way unto you.” Pray about your schedule and accept God’s delays as well as His directives. When you can’t go to a place that you want to go to, when you can’t accomplish something that you had planned, take the delays and the detours as part of God’s provision.
When I first came to the college, I was full of plans to expand the college facilities and get more facilities for more students, because back in the 1960’s, everybody was knocking at the college door and wanting to get in, as you recall. But God slowed me down, and for one reason or another, I never was able to get started in building a lot of buildings until later on when we did some improvements, and got some playing fields and a new dormitory and a new science building and all of that. But oh my, what a comedown it was for yours truly when I prayed so hard that God would help me do all these things in the early 1960’s, and nothing happened. And yet, what God was doing was slowing me down so that I wouldn’t sink the thing.
Two colleges in our county folded up during those years because they did exactly the thing I was trying to do and God wouldn’t let me. They expanded too fast. And so, take God’s delays and His detours as part of His perfect plan. Don’t fight them; use them. Amen? Alright, I’ll come back to this the next time we get together.
Dear Father God, we love Thee and we worship Thee. We ask forgiveness for the times we’ve been impatient, and we pray that You will help us to accept Your timing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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