Advent Devotional – Thursday, December 1, 2016 – More Than Enough
3 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we decided to be left alone in Athens; 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming[a] the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith, 3 so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. Indeed, you yourselves know that this is what we are destined for. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we were to suffer persecution; so it turned out, as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith; I was afraid that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor had been in vain.
Timothy’s Encouraging Report
6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love. He has told us also that you always remember us kindly and long to see us—just as we long to see you. 7 For this reason, brothers and sisters,[b] during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. 8 For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. – 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
What does it mean to do life together at Central Church? The reality is the more I get to know people, the more I see their brokenness. It is easy to see my church family with our church faces on. It is painful, and always takes commitment – to see others as Jesus does. Then of course there is the responsibility – and I think that‘s what I fear most.
John Lennon said, ―living is easy – with your eyes closed. I smile and shake hands with some who bear burdens that would cause me to faint in despair. I can‘t help but wonder, is this how Jesus intends for us to do life together? It‘s not easy letting people see me as I am. It‘s not easy accepting others as they are. Yet, the closer I look, the more I see that under every nice smile is a person like me, burdened with doubt and fear, struggling with temptation and sin, striving to realize his heart‘s limitless potential for love, striving to trust God more.
In his first letter to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul tells us that it is God‘s will that we enter his kingdom through afflictions. He refuses to flatter us with expectations of worldly prosperity in faith. He tells us plainly that we will encounter trouble in the flesh. Oswald Chambers asks, ―Why shouldn‘t we experience troubles?
Through these doorways God opens up ways of fellowship with His Son. Yet most of us collapse at the first grip of pain. We sit down on the threshold of God‘s purpose and cry, and all the so called Christian sympathy aids us to our death bed. But God will not. He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, and says – Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine.
Thank you Father, for the gift of your Son Jesus, the object of my faith, the Savior of the world. Thank you for the faithfulness of your Church, which keeps me going despite my afflictions. Renew my confidence in your holy presence, and shower me with your love until it splashes on everyone around me.