Community. Discipleship. I remember a time when these were daunting words, and even considered them to be merely optional as a follower of Christ, not necessarily a necessity.
Community was intimidating.
Discipleship was only for ministers.
Clearly I didn’t take notice of Proverbs 18:1…that “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment…”.
Clearly I wasn’t spending enough time digging into the Truth of God’s Word and reading the instructions He had given us on these things. On how to live.
This is what we’ll look into this week!! This morning I was in 1 Thessalonians (which I absolutely love, btw!).
Let’s jump into 1 Thessalonians 1… 🙂
1 Thessalonians 1
1Paul and Silvanus and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
2We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,
- Who is giving thanks to God for me? Who is making mention of me in their prayers?
- Who am I giving thanks to God for? Who am I making mention of in my prayers?
I don’t know about you, but I feel comforted knowing that there are people praying for me!! I need to have those people who I can ask to make mention of me in their prayers. And I’m not talking about just a quick mention of me in their prayers, but someone that will pray fervently on my behalf. Someone that will lift my name up to the throne room of God in their prayers. Do I have someone/some people like that?
And likewise, we need to have those people in our lives that we are giving thanks to God for and mentioning in our prayers! That we are intercessing for on their behalf. Who am I fervently praying for?
4knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; 5for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
6You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
- Who am I imitating? Am I imitating someone who is imitating the Lord?
- Who am I spending time in the Word with?
1 Corinthians 11:1 says… “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
Philipians 3:17 says…“Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.”
In order to be imitating someone, to be following someone’s example and observing someone’s life, we have to be spending some time with them!! Just grabbing coffee or lunch once in a while won’t give us a chance to see how someone is living, how they deal with difficult situations. How they react in good times and bad times. The disciples spent lots of time with Jesus, and were able to watch how He dealt with people, how He prayed, how He had to get away to spend quiet time with God. (But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16)
- So, who am I spending enough time with to be able to learn and grow from the pattern of their life?
7so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
- Who am I being an example to? To whom have I said, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
- Is the Word of the Lord “sounding forth” from me?
Verse 7 says “you became an example to all the believers…”. This sounds to me like discipleship!!
They didn’t just lead people to the Lord and walk away. They led people to the Lord and then gave them an example of how to live by spending time with them.
Life is hard!! Following Jesus is not always easy!!!
We need to have people guiding us down the path of righteousness. People that have gone before us on this path.
We need some help for those times when we don’t know which way to go. Someone to tell us to stay on the path because stepping off the path is dangerous and deadly.
As we begin a steady walk down the path of righteousness, we need to grab a hold of someone else so they can follow us! Not because we have it all together, but because we are following Christ. Because our eyes are fixed on the Way that leads to life. Because His Light is leading our way and His Light shines bright enough through us to lead others.
9For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
God’s Word transforms us, renews us, guides us.
Conversation with Him (prayer) grows our intimacy with Him and allows Him to align our hearts and wills with His.
Relationships with other believers are vital. We need people to walk through this life with…people to guide us and help us grow in Christ. We need people who are imitating Christ to imitate, and we are needed by others!
We need to know that it is not us, but Christ in us that is the Light for their path. We will stumble, and they will witness our Father picking us up. They can see the grace that God has given us and know that the same grace is offered to them. And then they will grab someone else’s hand and pull them along the path….
The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Father, You are our Great Shepherd. You provide all that we need, You give us rest and renew our spirits. You restore us and guide us for Your name’s sake. Please forgive us for the times that we have strayed. Thank You for the gift of community. Thank You for the people that have gone ahead of us and have faithfully followed You, so we can imitate their walk as they imitate You. Place people ahead of us that we can follow, and we humbly ask that others would see Your Light in us and follow us as we follow You. Not because of us, but because Christ is in us and has equipped us with the Holy Spirit in us and the Living Word of God. We ask today that You would guide our steps and mold our hearts to be more like Yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you…”