Friday, August 05, 2011

Bible Study: Encouragement For The Persecuted - 1 Thessalonians - Chapter 2

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. At the time of its writing, early 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment among other things. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…


Take a few minutes to pray and savor 1 Thessalonians Chapter 2. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

2:1 – Did some people believe that Paul’s visit to Thessalonica was a failure. Their idolatry was conquered by the Holy Spirit’s power. See 1:5, 9.

2:2 – The gospel message was opposed in Thessalonica, but despite their previous experience with persecution, Paul and his companions brought the gospel. See Acts 16:16-40 for an account of Paul and Silas in prison. What would dissuade you from sharing the gospel? I’ve been dissuaded by embarrassment, fear of rejection, and lack of knowledge before it finally sunk into my head and heart that all I need to do is share my own experience with Christ. You can do the same. Try it today.

See Acts 14:19 for a glimpse of a stoning.

2:3 – Why would the Thessalonians think Paul was trying to trick them? Trick them how?

Apparently, many people tried to sell the gospel for profit, but Paul shared the Word of God sincerely. See 2 Corinthians 2:17.

At one point, I attempted to have a Bible study that I’d written published. I hoped it would lead to a home-based career and a full-time job of studying the Bible. Fortunately, the Lord didn’t allow this. He’s kept me out in the mission field at work and still allowed me to share what I learn from the Bible with others – the best of BOTH worlds!

2:4 – What do you think of when you read of Paul saying, “we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel”? What sort of person must that be? Are you that sort of person? What do you have to do with God’s help to become that sort of person?

2:5 – All that we do, we should do to please God, not men. Be honest in ministry. Live yourself as you preach to others. People will observe our fruit and know if we’re to be trusted.

2:6-9 – could have been a burden – does this refer to Paul’s practice of applying his trade as a tent maker to meet his needs rather than living off of the churches at which he preached? What else could he possibly be referring to in these verses?

2:6 – Praise from men can be dishonest because our hearts are deceitful according to many passages of scripture. See Jeremiah 17:9-10.

2:7 – How does a mother care for her children? How is this different from how a father cares for those same kids? We’ll look at that in verses 11-12 below. I know it’s tough to answer in this age of broken homes, but try to think of the family unit as God intended it to be. A mom is gentle, loving, nurturing, soothing, protecting.

2:8 – Are there people so dear to you that you don’t just minister to them, you have become friends? If not, what keeps you from investing in people? Do you feel like you’re on the outside of the “in crowd”? That’s me. I avoid cliques like the plague! So, I frequently find myself alone. But, we’re taught to sacrifice our lives for our brothers (See 1 John 3:16). Start to give of yourself – a compliment, a card, a gift. Draw near to your spiritual siblings. I know it’s tough. I’ve been there.

2:9 – Do you toil as not to be a burden to others?

2:10 – Do you know of anyone holy, righteous, or blameless before God? Tell them you appreciate them.

2:11-12 – This is how a father should treat his children. How does a father care for his children? How does this complement the care given by the mother?

2:13 – When you hear the Word taught or spoken, do you believe it is a Word from God? When you teach or share the Word, do you treat it with respect because it belongs to Him?

2:14 – Who do you imitate? Who may be imitating you? Are you worthy of being imitated? What one thing can you change right now to make yourself a better example for others?

Do you share your suffering with others? This is how we receive encouragement to endure our own difficult situations as well as share our own stories. Share with your fellow Christians in a safe environment.

2:15 – Those who suffer are in good company. Take a few minutes to locate and read a Biblical account of suffering.

2:16 – How has the wrath of God come upon them? Their sins will be counted against them. Who is “them”? Specifically, the synagogue members/leaders persecuting the Thessalonian church. Theoretically, anyone who suppresses the gospel and persecutes God’s people.

2:17-18 – When you face opposition, how do you know if it is from the Lord or from Satan?

2:17 – torn away – orphaned. Contrast with 2:7 and 2:11 – the parent relationships.

2:18 – Satan stopped us – Satan can do nothing without God’s permission. So, why would God allow Satan to separate Paul from the Thessalonian people? The Lord wanted Paul to write the letters! Because they were kept apart, they were unable to talk face-to-face, and we now have these letters saved for all time in our Bible. This is a perfect example of how God works all things for good for those who have been called according to His purpose. See Romans 8:28.

2:19 – We will receive crowns when we get to heaven in recognition of our earthly service to God. Watch for an upcoming article on the crowns.

2:20 – What is your glory and joy? Or should I say, “who”? Those you lead to Christ whether you are part of the planting, watering or harvesting are your glory and joy. Those whose lives you touch in His name are your glory and joy. Close your eyes. Are a few faces coming to mind?

Each chapter of these letters to the Thessalonians teaches much about how to pray for yourself and others. How have you learned to pray today?

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