Summary: As we are following Jesus and sharing life with one another, we need to do all that we can to help each other grow in faith. You can make the difference when someone around you is struggling. Someone else can make the difference in your life when you are
Helping Each Other Grow
Intro: Paul has been telling his friends in Thessalonica how much he misses them and wants to be there with them. Chapter 3 began with Paul saying how they just couldn’t stand it any longer and had to send Timothy to them to see how they were doing and to strengthen and encourage them in their faith.
-We pick up with v.6 today and find that Timothy has returned with some good news! The Christ followers in Thessalonica are doing great! Their faith is intact! They are doing life with God!
-Have you ever had something like this happen? Maybe you had a chance to speak into someone’s life about Jesus and you weren’t sure if they really got it or not. But later you find out they are growing in their faith and following Jesus wholeheartedly! It is both exciting and humbling to be able to get in on what God is doing across the street and around the world! We can’t really take credit for another person’s growth, but we can thank God that He let us in on it and is working in their lives!
-I can remember about 20 years ago when we were youth pastors in Nebraska. I taught the youth SS class and led worship and led Children’s Church and did Royal Rangers and did a Youth Night. There were many times when we wondered if we were doing any good there. When we left Nebraska, one of the teens took it really hard and in his disappointment decided to walk away from God. But God wouldn’t let him go that easily. A few years later we heard that he was involved in ministry. And today he is pastoring a great church near Ogden, Utah. Another girl who we ministered to literally hated me while we were there. She was angry at God for letting her best friend die, and she took it out on us. A few years ago I received a letter from her apologizing for how she had treated me while we were there, and that she had made things right with God. How cool! I gave them what I had while I was there, but God had been with them their whole life and I was just one influence He was sending their way. Exciting! Humbling!
-So as we are following Jesus and sharing life with one another, we need to do all that we can to help each other grow in our faith. You can make the difference when someone around you is struggling. Someone else can make the difference in your life when you are struggling. Let’s look at some thoughts on how to grow in our faith and how we can help others grow. First, realize that…
1. Faith and Love are the best responses to hard times
1 Thessalonians 3:6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.
-Trusting God and loving Him are two of the most important things you can do! Without trust, it is impossible to please God! And without love for God and man, none of my works will make any real, lasting difference.
-Faith is so important to a Christ follower. It can help us overcome our trials, which we all will face. One of Paul’s concerns back in verse 3 was that these new believers might be unsettled by their trials. So, what kind of faith are we talking about?
Faith in God’s Character—that He is good and makes no mistakes
Faith in God’s Word—that it is true no matter what happens to us
Faith in God’s Purpose—that He is conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ
Faith in God’s Promise—that He will never give us more than we can bear
Faith in God’s Presence—that He is with us in the darkest moments of life
Faith in God’s Power—that He can deliver us from every temptation (Brian Bill)
-And faith isn’t always about having the right answers and being able to make sense out of everything. Faith is trusting God when you don’t really have any answers. Why do bad things happen to good people? I don’t know! I’ve just learned that it comes with the landscape. It is part of the journey. It is not part of God’s plan to spare us from all suffering. However, He can and will use the trials we face to accomplish His purposes in our lives.
-And it is God’s plan and desire to draw us close to Him in a loving relationship that keeps on growing. The greatest command in Scripture is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and strength. And love is only commanded because love is possible! We can learn to love God as we let Him love us and begin to respond to His love.