Paul never tired of praying. Should we?

The frequency of Paul’s prayers for his children in the Lord is startling.

He wrote to the church in Ephesus, “I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1.16).

To the Philippians he said, “I thank my God for every remembrance of you, always in every one of my prayers for all of you, praying with joy” (Philippians 1.3-4).

The church in Thessalonica was no exception to Paul’s continual prayers.

1 Thessalonians 1.2-3We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers,

Constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the outset, Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians included a prayer of thanksgiving.

2 Thessalonians 1.3 – We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Two Essential Themes

It should not surprise us that Paul expressed gratitude for the faith and love of the people.

That there are 528 references to faith in the Bible necessitates a full understanding of the concept.

Question: What is faith?

Answer: “Faith” is used in the following ways.

(1) Faith is God’s divine persuasion. We call it faith when God persuades us to trust him.

(2) In the first century, secular faith was a guarantee of something. Faith for followers of God is the assurance that God’s promises will be fulfilled.

(3) The Greek root meaning of faith is “relationship.” Faith is the ability to trust someone based on a relationship with that person.

I believe that each definition adds to our understanding of faith. I was introduced to the third definition while a student in seminary.

It makes perfect sense to me that a relationship is essential to trust or faith. If we know someone to be trustworthy, we are better able to trust them.

The knowledge of God enables us to trust him with more control over our lives.

Question: How can faith grow?

Answer: The third definition of faith explains how faith can grow.

The relationship between a husband and wife is a good example of how faith grows. The better a husband and wife get to know each, the better they will be able to trust them.

The behavior of a spouse will grow faith or cause it to diminish.

God is completely faithful, but sometimes our faith is tested. Suffering, illness, and loss may cause a follower of Jesus to lose faith.

The failure to nurture a relationship with the Lord will contribute to a loss of faith.

On the other hand, people who live in a dynamic relationship with God will also be people whose faith is constantly growing.

Increasing Love

There are 730 references to love in the Bible. Like faith, love is one of the most important concepts in the Bible.

Let’s apply the above two questions to love as we did to faith.

Question: What is a Biblical definition of love?

Answer: Some words that define love are affection, goodwill, and benevolence.

The best definition of love is not a word study, but an examination of Jesus’ life. Jesus perfectly defined love with his attitudes, actions, and teaching.

Jesus shows us that love is an action. It is self-giving behavior for the benefit of others.

If we are serious about knowing more about love, we do well to study the life of Jesus.

Question: What can we do to create an atmosphere for love to increase?

Answer: A vision of and an intention to love will increase this supreme spiritual trait.

It is difficult to not obtain a vision of love for people who prayerfully examine Jesus’ life and ministry. Do that daily and see what God does to your inside condition.

Alcoholics Anonymous teaches participants to do the next right thing. That is great advice for people who desire to increase in love.

Paul’s Boast

Paul was never inflated with pride in his own works. However, he joyfully boasted about the love of God and the faithfulness of the churches he served.

2 Thessalonians 1.4 – Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.

Steadfast behavior and faith are two central themes in this letter. Readers of my blog are familiar with both terms.

Steadfast in Greek is a very picturesque word. It is composed of two words and means “to remain under a load.”

The fledgling church in Thessalonica remained faithful under a load of persecution.

People who remain faithful to the Lord in good times and bad remind us of two very important thoughts.

— Why should we trust God only when times are favorable to us?

— Why should we not trust God during times of persecution and affliction?

I sincerely believe the words of the old Texas preacher, “God always breaks those whom he uses.”

I have gone through three distinct “breaking” times in my life. I hated each of them, but God used them to produce in me things that could not have been done otherwise.

We can learn from the Thessalonians and other suffering Christians how to best respond to God in hard times.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I have decided to continue our New Testament study through to the end of Revelation. Please join us in our study on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

Please send your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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