Every day Mary and I are praying for our family that has now expanded to include thirteen grandkids. Over Christmas, we had all 23 under our roof. When I look back on those times of ice skating, putting puzzles together, watching movies, walking, and just sitting around the fire talking, it fills me with joy and thanksgiving. We don’t have to watch a Hallmark movie to get the warmth and pleasure there is in this kind of family time.
What blows my mind is that the Apostle Paul gets this kind of warmth, joy, and thanks when he looks back on the few weeks he got to spend with the Thessalonians on his second mission trip. With his mission team, he was only in the city a few weeks, but a mixture of Jews, God-fearing Gentiles, prominent women, and some outright idolatrous pagans received Paul’s Gospel. Check out what Paul, Silas, and Timothy do frequently now that they have moved on to minister in other cities in Greece.
“We are thanking God always for you all, remembering you constantly in our prayers. Before God, our father, we remember the work that came forth from your faith, the effort from your love, and the endurance based in the confidence you have before God because of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
Note how faith in Jesus generated a new family relationship far more intimate and lasting than even our physical blood families. When we pray, we now address God as our father. When we think about facing him in the future, we don’t need to be afraid. Our confidence is in the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, and there is now no condemnation because we are intimately joined with Jesus. Our faith is far deeper than only intellectual assent. It’s a commitment from the core of our being—a commitment that activates us to work for the advance of Jesus’ kingdom, to love all those like family who join us in this faith, and to endure whatever struggles we face because our future is safe in Jesus’ hands.
Paul prayed for his new brothers and sisters in Thessalonica. I can pray for my students at SBIC. By interviewing each of them in the first class of the semester, we can discover together where our fellow students live, what they do, how they came to Christ, how they ended up at Southern Bible, what they want to get out of the class, and how they plan to use what they learn. I record each of these interviews on my iPhone. Then daily as I pray for them, I can watch the interview and pray specifically about the areas they mentioned.
LORD, use the example of Paul, Silas, and Timothy as they give thanks in prayer for those who received Christ through their presentation of the Gospel to move us to do this often when we get together with fellow believers. Thanks for the incredible time we had with our family over Christmas and move inside of me to have this same hunger to cherish time with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!