Isaiah 45-46 1 Thessalonians 3
“So, brothers and sisters, while we have much trouble and suffering, we are encouraged about you because of your faith. Our life is really full if you stand strong in the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 3:7-8 NCV)
We live in an age of instant communication, and so it’s easy to forget what communication was like back in Paul’s day. As I read this chapter, I got the impression that Paul had heard some troubling news from Thessalonica. Maybe someone visited Athens from Thessalonica and made comments about the church when he met Paul. Something troubled Paul, and he sent Timothy to check things out. Timothy checked things out and made it back to Paul. When he heard from Timothy, he was relieved that they were standing strong in their faith and he wrote them a letter to share that joy. He exulted that they stayed strong in their faith despite dealing with troubles and suffering. He let them know that their faith made his day and, in fact, made the work that he did all worthwhile since they were standing strong in the Lord.
For the follower of Christ, that should be our life goal. We should strive not only to introduce the gospel to people and see them enter a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but to see them grow strong in the Lord. Our call to evangelism is also a call to discipleship. You can’t make disciples until people come to faith in Christ. If people come to faith in Christ, though, we fail them if we don’t help them grow in the knowledge of God. Jesus commanded us to make disciples. That means our call is not just to help people convert to the knowledge of Jesus Christ; our call is to teach people how to grow in Christ. What tools do we use to help people grow in Christ? It begins with the Bible. People need to read God’s word and seek Him when they read. If you want to read the Bible through in a year, you can follow the verses I post at the top of each devotional. That’s why I post them. We need to teach people to pray. Forget the fancy words, just teach people to talk with God. Let Him know your concerns. Listen for His response. Sometimes you get that response during your prayer time, sometimes, you recognize His answer later. Finally, we need to remember fellowship. The gospel isn’t lived in isolation. We should always teach people to live in fellowship with other believers. Those are the basics of discipleship as I see them. Anything else people need to know to grow in Christ will come from those basics – but feel free to add other disciplines you think need to be included. In the meanwhile, get out there and make disciples!
Lord, there are people that need to know You and need to grow in You. Teach me to introduce people to Your love and forgiveness. Help me to teach these new converts to grow in You and become disciples.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.