Note from Jesus
Dear Child of the Father,
While Paul was in Corinth, he waited anxiously to hear how the new believers in Thessalonica were doing. The Thessalonians had made a huge change when they became Christians, as he wrote to them:
[Y]ou turned toward God and realigned your life to serve the one true living God — leaving your idols to crumble in the dust — and how you now await the return from heaven of His Son, Whom He raised from the dead — namely, Jesus — our rescuer from the wrath to come.
In addition to the huge change in their lifestyles, the Thessalonians had endured some hardships because of their faith:
You took to heart the word we taught with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, even in the face of trouble.
Since Paul was prevented from returning to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18), he sent Timothy “to strengthen and encourage” them in their faith (1 Thessalonians 3:2 NIV) and report back to him on how the Thessalonian Christians were doing (1 Thessalonians 3:5). Paul was relieved that in the face of real suffering for Me, these new believers in Thessalonica were remaining faithful to Me and still thought favorably of him, My apostle.
As Paul began the first of his two letters to the Thessalonians, he affirmed My new disciples. He thanked God for these new brothers and sisters in Thessalonica. His thanksgiving was not generic appreciation for new believers, but he was genuinely excited about their signs of true Christian maturity — faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13). In his letter to them, he said:
Your actions on behalf of the true faith, your tireless toil of love, and your unfailing, unwavering, unending hope in our Lord Jesus…
To affirm them further, Paul then reminded these new believers that he knew God had selected them. He emphasized three things that show they were chosen by the Father:
- The way the “life-empowering, Spirit-infused message” had come to them.
- The way they (Paul, Silas, and Timothy) as messengers from God had come to them — they had lived “transparently” as great examples of My lifestyle for the Thessalonians.
- The way the Thessalonians had come to be a great example of outreach and faith to other churches.
How important was it for Paul to start with affirmation? Extremely important!
Remember that the Father affirmed Me right after My baptism by saying:
“You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
(Luke 3:22 NLT)
The Father gave Me assurance that I was His beloved Son Who brought Him joy, and He did this immediately before I faced a time of testing from the evil one. I faced struggles with the evil one, but I had been prepared by My Father! Paul is doing a similar thing with these new believers facing hardship, troubles, and sufferings.
Paul had some very important doctrinal and moral truths to communicate to the Thessalonians and also some things to correct in them. However, he spent over sixty percent of this letter affirming them, praying for them, and stressing how important his relationship with them was to him. Despite all that they lacked in their understanding about morality and My return in glory, Paul began with an affirmation of their progress in their faith and confirmation of his love for them.
Paul’s emphasis on affirmation is important for you to notice. As you encounter new and struggling disciples, I hope that you will remember his example of affirmation. The evil one is always sowing seeds of doubt in new believers’ hearts. When hardships and troubles come, new disciples can easily doubt their importance to Me and the growth of the kingdom. They need affirmation that they are loved. They need to be assured that faith in Me is the right choice. They need to be reminded that the sacrifices they are making and the hardships they are enduring are worth it. This affirmation is especially important at the earliest stages of faith.
I don’t want the evil one to steal away new believers’ joy at being My disciples. I don’t want Satan to use hardships and suffering to lead My new disciples to fall away from Me. I don’t want the cares of the world to keep them from being effective in their discipleship (Mark 4:13-19). Please affirm new and struggling believers and help them stay on track in their lives of faith!
Verses to Live
As Paul begins his first letter to the Thessalonians, notice his emphasis on what these new believers are doing right! He is thankful for them. He sees the good work they have done and the great example they set even in the face of hardships. He reminds them of how they turned their lives around to follow Me. Paul begins with affirmation!
Paul, Silvanus [also known as Silas], and Timothy to the church gathering in Thessalonica, those living in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus the Anointed. May grace and peace be yours from God our Father and the Lord Jesus the Anointed.
We always thank God for all of you in our prayers. Your actions on behalf of the true faith, your tireless toil of love, and your unfailing, unwavering, unending hope in our Lord Jesus the Anointed before God our Father have put you consistently at the forefront of our thoughts.
O brothers and sisters loved by God, we know He has chosen you. And here is why: what you experienced in the good news we brought you was more than words channeling down your ears; it came to you as a life-empowering, Spirit-infused message that offers complete hope and assurance! We lived transparently before you so that you would know what sort of people we truly are. We did it for your sake, and you have modeled your lives after ours just as we are modeling ours after the Lord. You took to heart the word we taught with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, even in the face of trouble. As a result, you have turned into a model of faith yourselves for all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. In fact, not only has the message of our Lord thundered from your gathering into Macedonia and Achaia, but everywhere we go, your faith in God is talked about so we don’t even have to say a thing! You see, they go on and on telling us the story of how you welcomed us when we were introduced to you; how you turned toward God and realigned your life to serve the one true living God — leaving your idols to crumble in the dust — and how you now await the return from heaven of His Son, Whom He raised from the dead — namely, Jesus — our rescuer from the wrath to come.
(1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)
Response in Prayer
O Father in heaven, use me to bless new believers. Open my eyes to see their need for affirmation. Help me as I seek to seize my opportunities to affirm them and encourage them in their faith. Use me to be Your voice to them, so they know that they are Your children, that You love them, and that You are proud of them. Use me to bless new Christians. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.