Today, we will be reading through 1 Thessalonians, starting with the first three chapters. If you’d like to follow along, I am reading in the New Living Translation (NLT).
The love of the brethren
Let’s camp out at the end of chapter three for a bit. I’ve been reading it to you in the New Living Translation. Now I want to show it to you in the Christian Standard Bible to bring greater clarity.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 CSB – How can we thank God for you in return for all the joy we experience before our God because of you, as we pray very earnestly night and day to see you face to face and to complete what is lacking in your faith?
Can you sense the love Paul, Silas, and Timothy have for this church? As they sit and think about the church, they are overcome with joy and struggle to figure out how to thank God for such an incredible blessing.
That’s how I feel about you. When I think of the saints at NoLimits Church, I can’t help but smile. I am overwhelmed with joy that God would consider me worthy to lead this amazing congregation.
You are a blessing, and I thank God for you. When I see you, I see a perfect child of God who is called and anointed for your assignment in the body of Christ.
The purpose of the Five-Fold Ministry
I am so thankful I get to see you face to face and join you every Sunday to help you fill the gaps in your faith.
This is the role of the five-fold ministry in your life. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are all assigned to help you fill the gaps in your faith. They equip you for the assignment God placed on your life.
An unfortunate reality in the American church is that many believe they don’t need these God-appointed leaders in their life. They think they can stay home and do it alone with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is a vital part of your walk with Christ. You can’t do it without Him. But since God designed how the church works, you must submit to that structure to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will not cooperate with ungodly, unbiblical things. If you take a path other than God’s, the Holy Spirit cannot be a part. But He will be urging you to come back to God’s way.
Those who abandon the church and defy the leadership structure that God has appointed end up in a mess. They may say the Holy Spirit leads them, but they are just caught up in their own ideas.
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are leadership gifts Christ gave to the church. They help you fill the gaps in your faith and equip you for God’s assignment.
Unless you want to walk around with gaps in your faith, you must welcome and honor these five gifts. Forgive those who have misused these titles in the past and trust that God knows what He is doing.
Paul’s Prayer for the Thessalonians
After expressing his love for the church and reiterating his role in their lives, the Apostle Paul goes on to pray for them:
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 CSB – Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you. And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we do for you. May he make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. Amen.
Remember, Paul is praying this over a church that is doing really well. He has already praised them for their love and faithfulness. He told them how he is overcome with joy at how good they are doing.
Yet, he still prays that they may increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone. And on top of this, be blameless in holiness before God.
This tells me something. Even when you live in a way that pleases God, there is still room to take it up a notch. There is always a next level of glory, as it says in 2 Corinthians 3:18.
2 Corinthians 3:18 CSB – We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
If you are stalled out in your walk with God, I pray this motivates you to move along to the next level of glory. You may be doing really good – way better than you were years ago – but there is a next level.
We’re not talking about another level of pleasure for the Lord. He’s already pleased with you. He wants you to keep moving from glory to glory so you can experience more of Him.
Each level of glory moves you closer to the things of God.
When you were just getting started, you were really familiar with the things of the world. They were close. You knew all that it had to offer.
As you move from glory to glory, you move further away from the things of the world and closer to the things of God. The world becomes less familiar and God becomes more familiar.
God desires us to bring His kingdom and His will to the earth. He wants you to experience His kingdom now. Peace. Joy. Love. Abundant life. Health. Wealth. Rich relationships.
The world’s kingdom gives you the opposite. Fear. Depression. Hate. Meaningless existence. Sickness. Poverty. Dysfunctional relationships.
As you move from glory to glory, you move further away from the world’s kingdom and closer to God’s kingdom. So don’t stall out. Keep going. There is always a next level of glory.
May the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone. May he make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus.
Let’s finish reading First Thessalonians, again in the NLT