5. The Heartbeat of Christian ministry
Pastoral ministry involves a depth of love and concern which should lead to mutual encouragement & joy.
“17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy. 3:1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain. 6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” – I Thessalonians 2:17-3:10
- How is it possible for the word of men to be the Word of God?
- To what extent is the experience of suffering part of the normal Christian life?
- How did last week’s text affect your thinking, habits, and behavior as a follower of Jesus Christ?
I. Paul’s love (17-20)
II. Paul’s concern (1-5)
III. Paul’s joy (6-10)
IV. Paul’s prayer (11-13)
Quick Thought: Ministry and Gospel Change
The gospel message changes us; it transfers us from darkness to light (Colossians 1:12-13), from death to life (Ephesians 2:1-5), and produces fruit in our lives (Colossians 1:6). If this is true, then Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica was a change project. In just three short weeks in the city preached every sermon, Bible study he led prepare, or pastoral visits he made to catalyze change by speaking the gospel word in love.
At UCC, we can follow Paul’s example of ministry. We want people to preach the Gospel and, by its power, see people turn to Christ, conquer besetting sins, become more involved, evangelize, develop in their gifting, grow in generosity, and take on the responsibilities of ministering to others.
Adding to this, change takes place in relationships built around things like shared activities and shared meals (people will only open up their hearts to those they trust, and you need to earn that trust over time). We must labor to share life together, as brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Why…..
Post-Service Online Coffee Fellowship
Please join us on a zoom call for our Virtual Coffee Fellowship (bring your own coffee!). We’d love for you to say hi, whether you’re a first-time visitor to United Community Church or a longtime member. All are welcome!
The call will be open for amore or less an hour after the service finishes – you can join by clicking here! If you can’t join with the link, the Meeting ID is 998 7707 5071, and the passcode is 221309
Life Group Questions
Quick Review of the Text
- What is the evidence within 2:17-20 of Paul’s depth of love for the Thessalonians?
- What activity is attributed to Satan at 2:18 and 3:5 and why does he seek to do such things?
- What is Paul’s purpose behind sending Timothy and how to you thin Timothy would fulfil this commission? (3:1-5)
- What had Paul taught the Thessalonians right at the start and why? (2:3, 4)
- What was the news that particularly encouraged Paul? (3:6-8)
- How did the Thessalonians feature in Paul’s prayer life? (3:9-10)
- How important is the ministry of encouragement within the Christian life?
- What have you learned about relationships within the church community during the COVID-19 times and its restrictions on physical meetings?
Apply the Text
- What do Paul’s feelings for the Thessalonians show us about his view of pastoral ministry?
- To what extent do we prepare young Christians for times fo opposition and persecution?
- What are the things that have particularly strengthened and encourage you in the Christian life?
- To what extent does your life group or UCC generally foster mutual encouragement and how could this be developed?
- In what ways could the example of Paul’s depth of love for other believers shape your own life and ministry?
- How could you encourage others within your church family, your church leaders, missionaries etc this week?