Today’s readings are from Luke 12:49-59 and 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7
1 Thess 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. 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.
I always enjoy having people come to my home for a meal. Conversation is enjoyable and friendly, the food is usually tasty and the night flows smoothly. Imagine having dinner with Timothy the night he came back from his visit to the Thessalonians. Imagine the joyous conversation!
Timothy, Paul and Silas were suffering for their bold preaching of the gospel. What a comfort it would have been to them to know that some of their life-saving words had fallen on fertile soil and Thessalonians were living for God. I imagine, despite their persecution, they would have rejoiced over the news that the Gentiles were still thriving in their new church.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to suffer in some way because of my faith in Jesus. I read of Paul’s hardships and wonder how he was able to keep going. He was stoned in Lystra, imprisoned in Philippi, faced a mob in Jerusalem and put under house arrest in Rome to name just a few of his trials. There is probably no other human who sacrificed more or preached more than Paul. He was a man of devotion to God, dedicated to being obedient and determined to do His will. Paul must have been convinced it really meant something to be a Christian in that first century!
I decided to read more about Paul’s life and ministry and came across a study by Jim Laws, minister for the Broadway Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas. He writes in Laws Publishing about the end results of Paul’s persecution and imprisonment. It produced a man of wisdom, one who would grow stronger spiritually and with self control. He became a man of conscience and a man of prayer, concerned about his Christian influence on the people around him and concerned with the stewardship of his time, money and his body. Paul became a man who was set for the defence of his faith. He believed in and preached the reality of the kingdom of God and was not ashamed of the gospel, demonstrating his love for God’s people by preaching to them faithfully from the scriptures.
Our problems in our day to day life can be quite insignificant when compared to the suffering of Paul. Thank you God that we are free to worship and praise you whenever we like. I wonder what Timothy would report back to Paul if he had visited FAC? Would he have praised us for showing our faith and love? Would Timothy report that we would have loved to have them back so they could see how positively their words had impacted our lives and we were excitedly living for Christ? Would he have told Paul that he had seen we were an encouragement to those people around us and faithfully reading the scriptures and praying? Most importantly, would Timothy have reported that the people of Figtree were living to emulate Jesus?
We have been so blessed at Figtree by what Jesus has done for us. Let us emulate Him each day, in our prayer life, in our study of God’s word, in our consideration for others here at FAC and in the wider community. A last word from Paul in 1 Cor 10: 33 Even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.