1 Thessalonians 3, Highs And Lows Of Caring For People
1. Caring For People Will Require Tradeoffs And Sacrifices (v1-2)
2. People You Care For Will Suffer And Be Tested (v3-5)
3. Caring For People Will Weigh Heavy On Your Heart (v1-5)
4. Caring For People May Bring You Much Comfort And Joy (v6-10)
5. Rely On God To Take Care Of The People You Care For (v11-13)
1 Thessalonians 3, Highs And Lows Of Caring For People
1 Thessalonians 3, Highs And Lows Of Caring For People
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Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:00:00]:
As we look at first Thessalonians, chapter three this evening, I've titled the message Highs and Lows of Caring for People. Highs and lows of caring for people. Thessalonians both first and second Thessalonians are interesting letters from the Apostle Paul. Very personal and not so much about men mystery know, like when he's writing to Timothy or Titus or not heavy doctrine, like when he's writing to the Ephesians or to the Romans. Very personal that he is writing to the Thessalonians. It was a people that he had been with just for a short time, just about two weeks he was there in Thessalonica, and so he just barely had a chance to get to know these people. And yet during this time, something happened with Paul and the people of Thessalonica where their hearts were really knitted together. In One Thessalonians, chapter two, verse eight, paul says affectionately longing for you.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:01:07]:
We were well pleased to impart to you not only the Gospel of God, but also our own lives because you had become dear to us. Paul talking about his time, his short time there in Thessalonica with them, you can see the care that he has for them. He talks about affectionately longing for them. That was not while he was away, that was while he was there. They had this affection for them already, just being with them for a few days. And so the affection was so strong, the longing to have that fellowship with them was so strong. He says, we were well pleased to impart to you not just the gospel. We didn't just show up and preach a message, but also our own lives.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:01:57]:
That there was a real knitting of our hearts together, a real giving of ourselves in response to the affection and the longing that we had for you because you had become dear to us. And so the Thessalonians are people that you could clearly say Paul cared for them, his heart was for them, he was concerned about them, he wanted the best for them. Paul loved the thessalonians. And the first couple of chapters here of First Thessalonians really deal with that and just kind of walk through the love that he has for them and his response to the work that God had done in their midst while he was there. But here in chapter three, as he continues to kind of recap and recount stuff, he's not necessarily writing anything new, he's not introducing any major doctrine, he's just expressing what's on his heart and what he's been going through since he has last had this time with them or since he had left their midst. And as we walk through this chapter, we'll see it's a little bit of highs and lows that Paul is experiencing as a result of his care for the Thessalonians. And so five points we'll walk through this evening as we work our way through the chapter highs and Lows of caring for people, things that we probably know, but need to be encouraged in and refreshed in and understand. As people were seeking to follow Jesus, he encouraged them to count the cost, right? And as we endeavor to care for people, it is reasonable for us to count the cost.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:03:47]:
There's highs and lows. There's going to be some exciting and wonderful days and moments because you have cared for someone, because you have poured out yourself toward them and loved them. But there's also going to be the lows as well. And those are things that we need to accept. They come with the package, it's worth it in the end. But at the same time, we cannot be blind to the reality and think that everything is going to always be just amazing and without problem. No, as we walk with the Lord, there's going to be highs and lows as we seek to love people, as we seek to minister to those who are around us, as we care for people, there's going to be highs and lows as we serve them and minister to them. And so we're going to start in verses one and two for point number one.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:04:41]:
Point number one is caring for people will require trade offs and sacrifices. When you care for people, you can expect it will require some kind of trade offs. And there's going to be some types of sacrifices that you will have to make because of your care for them, because of what it is going to take for you to express that care and concern for the people that you have upon your heart. Think about this as we look at verse one and two. Again. It says, therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God and our fellow laborer in the Gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith. Here we see the Apostle Paul make a trade off. He is sacrificing on behalf of the thessalonians a trade off, it's when you exchange one thing for another thing.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:06:02]:
It'd be nice to have a cushy, luxurious amount of money in the bank, but you might trade that for a nice car in the driveway, right? There's always going to be trade offs. Yes, you could obtain that thing, you could take that day off and the trade off is you will see that in your paycheck, right? There's going to be these trade offs that we make in life, and we're always making trade offs. I like to remind people every time you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else. And maybe that something else is a good thing to say no to. So it doesn't hurt, it's not a bad thing. But every time you say yes, I will do that, I will go there, yes, I'll be involved in that. Yes, I will take part in that. Yes, I will follow that yes.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:06:51]:
You're also saying no. If you say yes, I'm going to the Dodger game, you're saying, no, I'm not going to the angel game unless it's that one time of year where they are in the same place at the same time. Right. But you say yes to one thing, it's a trade off. And here we see Paul. He has to make a trade off. What is he trading? He's trading Timothy. He is accepting the idea of being alone.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:07:25]:
We thought it good to be left in Athens alone and sent Timothy. I could have had Timothy with me and that would have been great. I could have really used him in Athens. But I made a trade. I decided it'd be better for me to be alone and to feel the aloneness apart from Timothy. I thought it would be better to miss Timothy in order to send him to you. Now, if Paul could have, he would have kept Timothy with him and sent Timothy to Thessalonica. If Paul could have, he would have just taken Timothy back to Thessalonica.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:08:14]:
But those were not options, those were not choices. And so he had to make a choice, he had to make a decision. He wanted the Thessalonians to receive the benefit of Timothy, but the trade off was going to be that he was going to have to miss Timothy and he was going to have to be alone. Now, this is a little bit more clear what Paul is going through here. As you go back to Acts Chapter 17, which has kind of the root of the establishing of the church in Thessalonica and all the things that Paul is responding to in this letter. In Acts Chapter 17, verse one, you find him arriving in Thessalonica. This is on his second missionary journey. He's not a brand new rookie, right? He's been around the world a little bit and done the missionary work.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:09:07]:
It's quite a few years later now and so he's back out on the road, he's visiting the churches that they've established now. They get to Thessalonica, a new area and he's in Thessalonica for about two weeks, as you do the math there in Acts Chapter 17. Not very long to be in that place. The next place he goes to is corinth he's there for about a year and a half. So two weeks versus a year and a half. You can kind of see how it's not a lot of time. He's there for about two weeks. And verse four tells us of Acts 17 that many people believed, they were persuaded, they believed in Jesus and it caused the Jewish people there in Thessalonica to become jealous.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:09:53]:
Verse five and six tells us. And so they gather a mob, they really come hard against Jason, one of the leaders in the church that had just been born over the past two weeks. And so they realize they got to get Paul out of town or he's going to get hurt. And so in verse ten of act 17, the brethren send Paul on to the next town. They send him over to Berea. They go away by night. They kind of sneak out of town and they go and they start ministering the gospel in the town down the road, Berea. But then those same Jews who caused the problems in Thessalonica heard about it in verse 13 of Acts 17.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:10:38]:
Those Jews leave thessalonica they go to Berea and they stir up trouble. It says they stirred up the crowds and so they're causing another problem there. They're really threatening Paul. And so the people in Berea, verse 14 and 15 tell us they send Paul on from there to go down to Athens. Down in Athens is where Paul gives that famous address on Mars Hill at the Areopagus. And then in chapter 18, he moves on out of Athens to Corinth. And it's from Corinth. Acts chapter 17 is where all this happened.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:11:19]:
Acts chapter 18. While Paul is in Corinth, that's when he writes this letter back to the Thessalonians. So the Jews in Thessalonica had caused problems, ran Paul out of town, then they ran Paul out of the next town. And so as Paul is writing back to them, he's writing back to people he didn't have enough time to start with. And so he was worried about them because, well, you could imagine someone is brand new to the Lord, just prayed the sinner's prayer. You've got two weeks with them and then you get ran off and those troublemakers are back in town, right? They're back in Thessalonica against the work of God. You would be quite concerned about those new believers and how they were doing. That's what Paul was going through.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:12:16]:
That's why he's writing this letter, because he had sent Timothy, because he couldn't take it anymore, wondering how they were doing. So he sent Timothy. Timothy has just returned. And so he's writing first Thessalonians after hearing back from Timothy how the Thessalonians are doing. But you can understand where Paul was at at this point. He's there in Corinth. He's been run out of two towns. He's very concerned for this group of people and where they're at, so much so that the way he describes it here in verse one is we could no longer endure it.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:13:06]:
We couldn't take it anymore, just the wondering about how you were doing, just leaving you alone like that to flounder in your new faith. So I had to make a trade off. I really wanted to keep Timothy with me, but I sent him back to you. I thought it would be better for me to be alone in Athens than to have Timothy with me and have you guys struggling. So I took on the loneliness and I sent Timothy to you. He's our fellow laborer. He was sent to establish you and encourage you. And by this time as Paul's writing this, that had already happened.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:13:50]:
Timothy had visited and they were benefited from that visit. But what was the trade off here? To be left alone? Yeah, of course that's a factor. That's something to consider. In order for Timothy to minister in Thessalonica, he would have been left alone. But what does that cost, what sacrifice is Paul making here? Pastor David Guzick wonders about that too. He says for the sake of the Thessalonians, paul was willing to be left in Athens alone. It cost him something to send Timothy to the Thessalonians and he thought it was good to pay that cost. What was the cost? It cost him something.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:14:40]:
He's mentioning it. As he mentions it, you can interpret and understand from Paul. We decided it was going to be good to be left alone. There was something there that they were missing because Timothy was missing. Were they missing the labor as they were going about from town to town? Of course they were working to provide for themselves. And so perhaps there was some financial hurt cost that was involved, perhaps it was spiritual. There's some interesting things to consider in this because Acts chapter 18, while Paul is in Corinth, where he's writing this letter from, it tells us that Paul is there in Corinth for a while before things really begin to pick up. Acts chapter 18, verse four and five tells us that Paul reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:15:47]:
But then notice verse five when Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, paul was compelled by the Spirit and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. There was a turning point. There was a change in Paul's ministry in Corinth that happened when Timothy got back here in Acts 18 five. This is when Timothy comes back from Thessalonica and just prior to Paul writing this letter. And it's when Timothy rejoins Paul that he has this invigorating moment in his ministry. He's compelled by the Spirit and testifies to the Jews. Prior to that, he was reasoning in the synagogue. It wasn't like he was sitting there doing nothing and having no impact or no ministry.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:16:39]:
But there was a change that happened when Timothy rejoined him. Perhaps this was part of the cost that Paul's effect and his impact in the ministry there at Corinth was impacted by the loss of Timothy, the missing man, Timothy, who had to be in Thessalonica to minister to these new believers. Another commentator has a different idea. His name? Is hebert? He says Paul subdued missionary activities at Corinth before the return of Silas and Timothy seems to indicate that Paul was deeply depressed because of the heavy burden of suspense and uncertainty concerning the outcome of his mission at Thessalonica. This commentator says perhaps the cost is emotional, that there was this heavy burden, perhaps a depressed type of state that Paul was experiencing. He uses words like we couldn't endure it any longer. No longer could we take it. This was too hard to bear.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:17:52]:
He's going through something very difficult and it would have helped him to have Timothy with him, to get through the difficulty, whether it be financial or emotional or spiritual or all of the above. But he made the trade off. Ultimately. His care for the thessalonians outweighed, the hurt and the difficulty of the burden that he was carrying himself. Trade offs are something that we will have to face. It's always going to come when you care for somebody. Now, as we walk through these things, there's going to be a little bit of our hearts perhaps that say, well, this is why I try not to care for people, right? Because, yes, there's highs, but these lows, they can be painful. But of course, the Lord wants us to care for people.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:18:54]:
He wants us to minister to people. He wants us to extend the love of Christ to people. And understand that every time you engage in that and seek to love someone as God has loved us, there's going to be trade offs required. There's going to be real cost to decisions that you must make. And even when you have the best heart and motivations, there is often going to be a cost to the decisions that you make and your expression of love for those people around you. In the technology world, there's a saying, if you are not paying for something, you're not the customer, you are the product being sold. Now, I don't need you to raise your hands, but just think about it. Are you paying for your email service? If you're not paying for your email service, you're not the customer of that email service.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:19:59]:
You're the product being sold. There's advertising that is directed at you. There's those types of ways to make money that businesses are working out and seeking after. And so if you're not paying for it, you're the product, you're what's being sold. They don't just give stuff away for free, right, because they're really generous tech companies. No, it's a way to get you to give them information that they can sell to their customers who are not you. You're the product being sold. Now, that's not necessarily as terrible as it sounds.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:20:40]:
Many times you might consider it to be a fair trade, no problem. But it's a trade off. It's something to consider, am I willing to be the product rather than the customer? There's another saying if you're gathered together with your family, maybe a big family gathering, big family dinner, and you look around the table and you cannot spot the crazy aunt or uncle, you're probably the crazy aunt or uncle in your family. Every family has at least one, right? If you can't spot them, it's probably you. When it comes to caring for people, loving people, ministering to people. If it's not requiring sacrifices and trade offs for you, this is something to think about in your expression of love and your demonstration of the love of God to others around you. If it's not requiring you to decide trade offs to make sacrifices, if it's not costing you anything, don't think that it's costing nobody anything. It may not cost you anything, but it's costing those people that God has called you to love and to minister to.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:22:06]:
Again, if you're not paying for it, you're the product, not the customer. And when we don't sacrifice to love and to minister to and to care for those that God has placed in our lives, they're missing out. They're paying a price. They're missing out on what could be. They're missing out on what could have been provided they're missing out on where they could have been. And so I would encourage you this evening to think about that. Caring for people is going to require trade offs and sacrifices. It's always going to be a dying to, self, putting to death selfishness what's it costing you.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:22:56]:
And you can think about that maybe by relationship by relationship, what's it costing you. And if it's not costing you anything, maybe they're paying the price and they're missing out on the care, the love, the ministry, the benefit that they could have if you were willing to pay the price. Well, moving on to point number two, as we look at verses three through five, highs and lows of caring for people, people you care for will suffer and be tested. It's another challenging part to caring for people, to loving people, to ministering to people, knowing that they're going to go through some challenges and some difficulties. Let's read verses three through five. It says that no one should be shaken by these afflictions, for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this, for in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation just as it happened. And, you know, for this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you and our labor might be in vain. Paul, as he's continuing on, writing to the Thessalonians about what he was going through and why he sent Timothy to them.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:24:38]:
He sent Timothy to them not just because he knew they were new believers, but because he knew about the afflictions and he was very concerned about how shaken they would be as they began to suffer right away. No one should be shaken by these afflictions, Paul says, but although he knows that truth, and although he taught them that truth, he wonders, will they be shaken by these afflictions? And by shaken, he doesn't mean just a little bit like, yeah, it was a little bit unnerved, or that was a little bit hard, but he's concerned about the thessalonians turning away from Jesus, letting go of the Gospel. That's why he says in verse five he's worried that the labor might be in vain, that the seeds that he sowed in thessalonica might result in nothing, because the afflictions that are shaking them have caused them to let go. And now there is no fruit from the ministry in thessalonica. And so Paul needed to send Timothy to make sure that they knew that no one should be shaken by these afflictions. Afflictions are normal. Not just are they normal, but he says, you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. It's not just that we can expect that there will be tribulations, afflictions, hardships, hurt heartache.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:26:23]:
It's not just that. Yes, we can accept that that exists in the world, but that we are appointed. We have affliction appointments, and we all wish we could miss them, but as believers, we can't miss those appointments, and we shouldn't be shaken by them. They're appointed to us, and they're for our good. Pastor Tony Evans says, as soon as we start following Jesus, trouble starts following us. We don't have to find it. It knows our address. It will arrive.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:27:01]:
But the good news is that God intends to use it for our good. So those affliction appointments are divine. They're ordained by God to do us good, and he uses what the enemy means for evil to accomplish good on our behalf. That's why James tells us in James, chapter one, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. It's part of the deal. You want to follow Jesus. You're going to fall into various trials, you're going to have affliction appointments, and it's going to be good for you.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:27:55]:
And God is going to work good in the midst of it, and he's going to produce his character and his nature in you as you suffer. And maybe for us, as believers who've been around for a while, that's a truth that we can grasp hold of and accept and appreciate. But how does new believers handle that? Two weeks old in the Lord? Paul's like, they're going to be shaken. I got to send Timothy. They're going to suffer so much. They're not ready for this. They don't understand fully the battle that we're in. If Paul could have, he would have preserved them from the suffering, but he couldn't.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:28:52]:
None of us can. People we care for, we can count on this. They're going to suffer, and they're going to be tested. It's a hard truth. It's a real hard truth. Paul says in verse four, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation. Paul didn't know what day he would be departing Thessalonica. He's there for two weeks.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:29:27]:
We always kind of note and observe, wow, he taught the thessalonians about the Rapture when he was only there for two weeks. I mean, that's pretty impressive, the priority that he gave it, but he also taught them about suffering. Now, if you're with a new believer, you pray the sinner's prayer with them. They accept the Lord, you spend the next two weeks with them. Is this going to be high on your list of things to share with them? Make sure you understand we will suffer tribulation. It's appointed to us. Prepare yourself. It maybe is not one of the things that we want to talk about most, but it is definitely something we ought to talk about.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:30:21]:
Pastor Warren Wearsby says, we must warn new believers that the way is not easy as they seek to live for Christ. Otherwise, when trials come, those babes in Christ will be discouraged and defeated. We do need to be careful that we don't just live in the Jesus loves you and has only good things in store for you kind of gospel message. But in the reality of in this life, jesus said john, chapter 16, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I've overcome the world. And so that glorious experience that we want to have and to talk about and to tell others about is true. But it's not a promise for this life. The promise for this life is tribulation affliction.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:31:15]:
It's going to be hard, and in the next life there will be glory and great reward. But to see those that you care for suffer and be tested, that's hard, there's a price. Paul says in verse five, for this reason, when I could no longer endure it, there's some discomfort he's experiencing, there's some hurt, there's some pain that he's experiencing, knowing that they're going to suffer and be tested. Brand new believers, and he's been run out of town. He says in verse five, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you. He's saying, I know Satan is going to be hard at work trying to deceive you, trying to trick you, trying to tempt you and move you away from Christ. Paul is concerned. He has this on his heart.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:32:25]:
There's suffering, there's tribulation, there's testing, there's deceitful practices of the enemy. It weighs on his heart. Is the labor going to turn out to all be in vain? What does Paul mean, our labor might be in vain? Think about the parable of the soils. The rocky soil gets planted, starts to grow pretty fast, hits that rock beneath the surface, has nowhere else to grow. It burns up. Maybe that was rocky soil there in thessalonica paul is saying, is it going to last? Is it going to produce fruit, some 30, some 60, some 100 fold? Thorny soil. Did the seed land in thorny soil where it begins to grow, but then gets choked out by the cares of this world? Was it hard soil that wasn't even received at all from Paul's side? His labor would not be in vain, of course, because he did what the Lord had called him to. He was faithful to his plan, but he didn't want to just know, okay, I was faithful.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:33:48]:
I don't care what happens to you. Just all I care about is I was faithful to what I was called to do. That's all that matters to me. That's not Paul's heart. He cared for them. He affectionately longed for them. And so he's concerned their soil might not be the good soil. He's concerned that they might abandon the faith.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:34:16]:
There's real risk in the suffering and the testing. There's real loss that could take place. Some people suffer and are tested and abandon the faith. It doesn't always turn out that people who are turning to the Lord suffer and are tested, and they're always successful and always last. Paul doesn't know that for sure. It's up in the air, weighs on his heart. That brings us to point number three. Looking in these same verses, really just focusing on verse one and verse five, caring for people will weigh heavy on your heart.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:35:06]:
Look again at verse one. Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought, it good to be left in Athens alone. Verse five. For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith twice. Here in these verses, paul is expressing this idea of a heavy weight. His heart is heavy. He's concerned. He couldn't take it anymore.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:35:43]:
Listen, when you care for somebody, it's not always going to be easy. And sometimes your heart will carry a heavy weight. At some point in the course of life, it's bound to happen. For each one that we care about, they're going to go through a season. There's going to be some testing, there's going to be some affliction, there's going to be some difficulty, there's going to be some unknowns, and it will weigh heavy on our hearts. I want to walk you through some of the things that Paul experienced as a minister who went all over the world and suffered all kinds of persecution, did much for the Lord. He describes his afflictions in two Corinthians, chapter eleven. Challenging the false apostles, he says, are they ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:36:56]:
I am more and labors more abundant, and stripes above measure in prisons, more frequently in deaths, often from the Jews. Five times I received 40 stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. A night and a day I have been in the deep in journeys often in perils of waters and perils of robbers in perils of my own countrymen in perils of the gentiles and perhils of the city and perils of the wilderness and perils of the sea and perils among false brethren in weariness and toil and sleeplessness, often in hunger and thirst and fastings often in cold and nakedness. Besides the other things, what comes upon me. Daily. My deep concern for all the churches, the stories that Paul could tell when he says in Perils of Robbers, it makes me wonder how many times did Paul get mugged? Or how many times did someone attempt to mug Paul? Probably happened because he was in Perils of robbers.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:38:16]:
I don't think Paul is saying here there was hypothetically someone that could have been hiding behind the rock. I think he's saying, no, I got robbed and it could have been very detrimental to me. Imperils of my own countrymen. The Jewish people attacked Paul frequently. Imperils of the gentiles. Yeah, he had some raging conflicts with the gentiles and it cost him dearly and there was some physical harm that was inflicted upon him. Beaten, legal proceedings, hungry, thirsty, cold, naked, tired. I mean, Paul went through so much, but then at the end he says, but you know what comes upon me daily? You know what's always on my heart? Yeah, there was that one time I got robbed, but you know what's on my heart every day? You know what weighs on me is the deep concern for all the churches.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:39:22]:
I'm caring for people and it weighs heavy on my heart. Caring for people. What will weigh heavy on your heart? It's going to come with a price, with a weight. There's going to be the unknowns, there's going to be the care and the concern, the discomfort. Sometimes you won't even be able to endure it and you got to do something. Now, up to this point, we might think, well, wow, it's all downside. Caring for people, it's going to require trade offs and sacrifice. It's going to cost me.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:40:08]:
It's going to be difficult because the people that I care for are going to suffer and be tested and it's going to weigh heavy on my heart. Is it really worth it? Why not protect myself and not care for someone? Why not just kind of do my own thing and focus on myself? Well, there's a lot of reasons why, but that's not what the Lord did to you, is one of them. He cares for you. He experiences all this towards you. You and I weigh heavy on his heart, although he knows all things. So it's not the unknown, but the pain still of the suffering, the affliction, the tempting, the difficulty. It still weighs on the Lord. He still feels that.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:41:04]:
So he says, do that to others. That's how I treat you. That's what I do for you. I carry that burden for you, carry that burden for others. And it's not all burden, it's not all lows. As we move on to verses six through ten, paul talks about some of the highs. Here's point number four. Caring for people may bring you much comfort and joy.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:41:32]:
Caring for people. Now, I have to point it out because it's there. Caring for people may it's not guaranteed that's part of the previous three points, but it's worth the risk, it's worth the heartache, because the reward of comfort and joy that can be found in caring for people. Paul describes it here in verse six and seven. He says, but now that Timothy has come to us from you and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us as we also to see you. Therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress, we were comforted concerning you by your faith. So here it is. We find out Timothy has come back.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:42:24]:
Paul was concerned. He couldn't endure it. He couldn't wait anymore. It was such a heavy burden on his heart. He sends Timothy, which meant he was alone and he was lacking, whether it be financially, emotionally, spiritually or all of the above or some other combination. But now Timothy's back. And Timothy comes back with good news. He says, brought us good news of your faith and love.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:42:55]:
Now we got some Bible scholars in the room. What's another word for good news? The gospel. This is the gospel that Paul is saying here. It's the only time that we have this word translated, good news or gospel in the New Testament that's not applied to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The only time this is used outside of talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of salvation, the one time it's used differently, it's used here, the good news of your faith and love. Interesting. It's not just, all right, that's pretty good news. It's gospel weighted good news.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:43:56]:
It's news that impacted Paul similar to the gospel impacted Paul. It's good news. It changes everything. Timothy comes back and says, oh, they believe Paul. They're holding fast to the Lord. They love the Lord, they love you. It changed Paul's world. Notice what he says in verse eight.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:44:26]:
For now we live if you stand fast in the Lord who. I was feeling death. Paul is saying, but now we live. Everything has changed, everything is different. As we hear the good news, you have firmly grasped hold of the Lord. Paul says in verse seven, therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress, we were comforted concerning you by your faith. Paul was going through things separate from the Thessalonians again. He had been run out of berea.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:45:03]:
He was experiencing some things. In Athens, he gets to Corinth, he tells the corinthians, when I came to you, I came in weakness and trembling. You would have gouged out your eyes. It seems like there was some kind of infirmity. He was going through something, not just the heartache and care for the Thessalonians, but Paul had his own afflictions that were going on, but in the middle of whatever he was suffering, the good news that came back from Thessalonica, comforted. Paul, in the midst of his own hardships and difficulties, when he needed encouragement, the good news about their faith encouraged him and brought comfort to him. So now he has life. And again, we can't tie this for sure, but there is that change that happens.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:46:05]:
Acts, chapter 18, verse five. Then Paul is compelled by the Holy Spirit, and he begins a new era of his ministry there in Corinth, perhaps getting that good news. Now he has life. They stand fast in the Lord. Yes. Thank you, Jesus. Okay, now let's decorate. Let's bring the gospel.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:46:34]:
Now let's move forward in what God has set before us. Verse nine. For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God? What things can we render to God for you? Paul says paul says I cannot be any more thankful than I already am. This news, this good news that's come back about your faith, has brought me to maximum gratefulness. There's no more thankfulness that I can render to God because I am at max thankfulness capacity. There is such gratitude in my heart. There's such a transformation there. I cannot be any more thankful than I already am.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:47:29]:
And the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God joy is an abundance of joys. Paul here has been comforted. He has incredible gratitude. He has joy that he rejoices in before God. What a big change, what a big impact for Paul to hear the good news that they have trusted in the Lord. The apostle John writing third. John says something similar. I rejoice greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you just as you walk in the truth.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:48:20]:
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. No greater joy than to get that word back, no possible happiness that is greater than getting that word back. That the people that I have cared for and loved and ministered to have grasped hold of the Lord, walk in the truth and are seeking him and receiving from him. In verse ten, he says night and day, praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith. Maximum gratitude, joyful, rejoicing while we continue to pray that we could see you face to face. So much comfort and joy paul experienced as he heard the good news. It's a gospel level news report that he's heard changed his whole outlook on life, changed his world right side up again, hearing they've held steadfast to the faith. His thankfulness is at maximum.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:49:42]:
He's joyful and rejoicing. He's comforted in his own afflictions. He's ready to go. There's highs and lows, caring for people, yes. Burdens, yes. Hard, difficult, but there's also great reward. Sometimes we don't get to see the reward in this life. Sometimes we don't get that moment, like the Apostle Paul got, where we experience that overwhelming joy.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:50:11]:
But we can continue to trust in the Lord that that moment will come. That brings us to point number five, verses eleven through 13. Rely on God to take care of the people you care for. Rely on God. You're going to have to do that. Sometimes that's hard for us. We want to keep everything in our hands and control everything and manipulate everything. But we have to trust in the Lord.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:50:44]:
And something that we remind each other of often is those people that we care for that are so heavy upon our hearts. Sometimes it's hard to imagine. But God loves them even more than we do. Rely on God to take care of the people that you care for. Verse eleven through 13 says, now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus Christ direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. Here we get to see Paul's heart. It's a bit of a prayer, not directly quoting the prayer, but expressing his heart in prayer for the Thessalonians.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:51:45]:
He wants to be with them again, he's praying. May God direct our way to you. Again, again, you've been dear to us. We want to see you again. We want to minister to you and be part of the work that God is doing in your life. In chapter two of First Thessalonians, paul explains they've been trying to get back to them. He says, We've been trying again and again. Verse 18 of first thessalonians two but Satan hindered us.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:52:19]:
I was trying to get back, trying to get back, trying to get back. There was always the enemy, there was always the defeating of the plans. There was always a closed door. And sometimes God allows doors to be closed. And we're not able to make the impact that we want to make. We're not able to be there, to be involved to the degree that we want to be involved. And we have to trust in the Lord, we have to rely on God. God, this door is closed.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:52:51]:
You've allowed this door to be closed. If it was my will, I would open the door and walk through it to make this happen, because I care for that person or those people. But when God's allowed the doors to be closed, we have to learn to cast our cares upon him, to rely on God to take care of the people that we care. And so may the Lord make you increase. I can't go and help you and increase. And so I'm relying on the Lord. May he make you increase and abound in love. Great insights here in Paul's prayer as he prays that they would abound in love for one another and to all again, he refreshes them.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:53:37]:
Hey, remember we love you. We love you that way. And so I'm praying that God would help you to love one another and love everyone around you in that way as well. I'm praying that God may establish your hearts, that you would be strengthened and established in the faith. Specifically, he goes on to say to be blameless in holiness, praying that you would be blameless, that you would be holy and set apart for the Lord, that you would be prepared and ready for the coming of Jesus. You can see Paul wanting to help with all of this. Wanting to help prepare them for the coming of Jesus, wanting to help them resolve what is holiness and what does that look like in your life? And what things you need to remove. What? Things you need to add so that you can be blameless in holiness at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:54:38]:
How can we abound in love and how can we grow and develop in love for one another and those around us? He wants to be part of all of this, but he can't. The door is closed. God, why don't you open the door? I don't know, but I can't come. So I'm casting my cares upon the Lord, and I'm relying on God to take care of the people that I care for. I don't get to do the ministry that I want to do with them. I don't get to share with them the things that I want to share. I don't get to help them learn the things that they need to learn. Lord, you know those things.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:55:21]:
You know what they need. And so, Lord, I'm trusting you to provide what they need. They would abound in love, that they would be established in holiness, and that they would be ready for the coming of Jesus. Here we get some insight into the heart of the apostle Paul with his highs and lows. His experience in caring for the thessalonians sets a pattern for us. As we seek to care for children who come to VBS, as we seek to care for family members, as we seek to care for neighbors or coworkers, as we seek to care for one another. We need to accept the highs and the lows. It's going to require trade offs and sacrifices.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:56:09]:
Count the cost, make sure be willing to pay it. And if it's not costing you anything, think about that. Who's paying the price then? Who's paying the price? Are you willing to sacrifice for the people that you care for? They're going to suffer. They're going to be tested. That's going to be hard. It's going to weigh heavy on your heart. It's hard to watch people suffer, hard to watch people be tested. We can't preserve them from it.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:56:42]:
And even if we could, it wouldn't be good for them. The best thing that we can do, paul taught the thessalonians within that two week period. This is part of it. This is part of the plan. This is part of what we're appointed to. We can help prepare them, but we can't shelter them from the suffering and the testing. Equip prepare, use the time wisely, because people you care for will suffer and be tested. And there's going to be those hard moments, those hard nights, those heavy times, but also there's going to be those times of much comfort and joy, maximum gratitude.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:57:29]:
This side of eternity, it's still going to be limited, and we're still not going to be able to be as involved as we want to be. And so in the end, we have to cast our cares upon the Lord and trust Him to take care of the people that we care for. For trusting in eternity, we'll get to see the reward, we'll get to see the fruit, the abundance that comes from loving people the way that God loves us. Lots of stuff for us to think about and consider in here, but I'll leave that as an exercise for yourself. Think about those that God has placed in your life. There's highs and lows in caring for them. Pay the price, make the trade off, sow the seeds, and look forward to the Lord producing much fruit from it. Lord, I pray that you would help us to do that.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:58:26]:
Lord, may we be refreshed and renewed in our understanding of you and Your love for us, or that we might be able to turn around and extend that to those around us and God. Collectively, we lift up those that are on our hearts right now. Those that we care for, we present them to you. Lord, we're casting our cares upon you. Would you care for them? And Lord, we desire and we're willing, if we can be part of Your work in their life, if there's something that we can do, some way that we can help develop and grow in love, to help them be established in holiness, to help them be prepared for Your return, lord, we say, here we are. Here I am. Send me. I'm willing to make the trade offs.
Pastor Jerry Simmons [00:59:26]:
I'm willing to pay the price. Send me. Pray this in Jesus name, amen.