Hope and Joy after Persecution and Bad-Mouthing

Have you ever been bad-mouthed? That’s when someone talks bad about you without them even really knowing you. How about persecuted? We Christians here in America don’t suffer the persecution that Christians in other countries suffer. Here it’s a little bit different. We could call what’s going on in California persecution. There churches are being fined and worse because all they want to do is gather in person against the governor’s COVID-19 mandate.

In the 2nd chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes to the church that was dealing with persecution as well as people bad-mouthing Paul. He was comforting them. Let’s read through this chapter then go over 12 points that stand out….

1 Thessalonians 2

You yourselves know, dear brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not a failure. You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery.

For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.

As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.

Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you. 10 You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers. 11 And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. 12 We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.

13 Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.

14 And then, dear brothers and sisters, you suffered persecution from your own countrymen. In this way, you imitated the believers in God’s churches in Judea who, because of their belief in Christ Jesus, suffered from their own people, the Jews. 15 For some of the Jews killed the prophets, and some even killed the Lord Jesus. Now they have persecuted us, too. They fail to please God and work against all humanity 16 as they try to keep us from preaching the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles. By doing this, they continue to pile up their sins. But the anger of God has caught up with them at last.

Timothy’s Good Report about the Church

17 Dear brothers and sisters, after we were separated from you for a little while (though our hearts never left you), we tried very hard to come back because of our intense longing to see you again. 18 We wanted very much to come to you, and I, Paul, tried again and again, but Satan prevented us. 19 After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! 20 Yes, you are our pride and joy.

1 Thessalonians 2 NLT

What Have We Learned?

  1. God gave Paul and co. the courage they needed to preach His Good News to them boldly even with “great opposition.” If you need courage to face a trial, ask God and He’ll give it to you. But, remember, you must ask with the right motives!
  2. God examines the motives of our hearts. If your motives are based on greed, pride, vanity or lust, forget it. If your motives are selfless, sincere, and humble, your prayers will be answered.
  3. Paul and co. treated the Thessalonians as if they were their own children — not holding anything back.
  4. They worked for a living so the church would not have to support them.
  5. They encouraged them to live their lives in a way that God would consider worthy.
  6. God calls us to share in His Kingdom and Glory.
  7. They accepted that what Paul was preaching was the “very word of God“. No doubts.
  8. The Word of God keeps working in believers. That’s why we need to read the Bible daily!
  9. They were persecuted by Jews who lived in their country. These Jews were of the same mindset as the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem who had Jesus crucified. Paul told us in Romans that the Good News was for the Jew first, then the Gentile. However, since these Jews failed to believe the Good News, they “continue to pile up their sins.” God will deal with them at the Judgement Day.
  10. The Thessalonian believers stood their ground against the persecutors. They did not lose faith.
  11. Satan was at work back then preventing Paul from returning to Thessalonica just as he’s still at work today.
  12. We can hold on to the hope and joy that we have the assurance that we’ll stand before our Lord Jesus Christ when he returns. We’ll then get our crowns.

Jesus is coming back very soon!

We have to be ready! Peter told us…

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed [or perish], but wants everyone to repent.

2 Peter 3:9 NLT

Have you repented?

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace, Joy, Peace, and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!

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