1 Thessalonians 5 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Christine Chang, Gracepoint Hsinchu

What can I learn from the fact that Apostle Paul uses different words—“warn,” “encourage,” and “help”–in advising the Thessalonians on how to minister to those who are “idle,” ‘timid,” or “weak”?

I learn that in order for there to be a change in those who are idle, timid, and weak, there needs to be someone who cares for the person and takes the time to warn, encourage, and help. The person who is idle needs to receive warning in what idleness could lead to. The one who is timid lacks the courage to be bold, and so needs encouragement. And those who are weak, are unable to help themselves, and therefore are in need of help. This also teaches me that as a minister that I should to be sensitive to the needs of those around me. I see how God intends for us to love and care for the person according to their need.

What picture of the church emerges from Apostle Paul exhortations to the believers?

The picture of the church that emerges from Apostle Paul’s exhortations is that the church is a hospital for sinners. We are all broken, and need help. But through God’s grace and mercy, we are given the gospel and each other to help build up the church that God wants to use. Each member of the church is vital in “building each other up” through warning, encouraging, helping, and bearing with each other in love and patience. Personally, for me through the church I have experienced God working in my heart and teaching me to imitate those who are wiser, and more mature in their faith. Through their humility, faith, and continual risk in speaking truth to me, I see how God placed the church here for my own good. And together, through the church, through the gifts that God has given the different members, we strive to share the love with those who do not know Him.

Which exhortation in this passage do I particularly need to heed?

Apostle Paul’s exhortation that I really need to heed is to encourage those who are timid. Given all the different transitions in Taiwan with the most of the staff changing and different students leaving, I found students feeling sad and anxious. I have the special opportunity to stay in Taiwan a little longer to help with transition. Meaning, I am given the privilege to help connect these students to the new staff and to help the new staff adjust to life in Taiwan. Knowing my heart, I want to cruise and stay in my comfort zone. I see how selfish I am. I choose to take the easier route and don’t take the time to really help the new staff get to know Taiwan. I should take ownership over my role here and pass what I know to the new staff. I need to be as Apostle Paul says, that encourager to the new staff. They may feel uncertain about the culture or even about their abilities in what they could bring, but since I have been here Taiwan for over a year and have experience what they are experiencing now, God really wants me to step up and care for them. A lot of what God has taught me about what it means to be the church, has been through my own uncertainties and insecurities.  I could use these precious lessons to encourage the new staff. So when driving seems a little scary or taking on a new task may seem daunting, I could take heed to encourage the person and help them to see how God wants to mold and shape them through taking that step of faith and trying. As I struggle a lot with my insecurities, I know that timidity is just an excuse for self-preservation. But through out this past year, I have grown in my confidence in God and confess the truth of my heart. I found that no matter what I bring, He is able to do much more, in fact, God cares more about my attitude serving instead of the outcome.  If it were not for Cynthia, Susan, and Carmen’s encouragement to give that Bible study or to be in charge of food or to use my broken Chinese to meet students, I would not grown in my capacity to trust in God. In the same, as so many of the new staff sisters are here, I want to pass on that same kind encouragement that I was given, so that they can boldly serve God and continue the good work He has given us in Taiwan!

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Submitted by Joyce Lai, Gracepoint Hsinchu

v.23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

Me blameless? My whole spirit, body, and soul? Through and through sanctification? As I get older and even as I mature as Christian, the reality of my sinfulness, how I fall short, never gets dimmer. On the contrary, it is often more glaring. The spiritual battle is ever present and fierce, especially in my soul. But yes, I desire to be sanctified. To no longer be selfish, self-absorbed, easily frustrated and angry but rather to be more loving, patient, joyful, caring… more like Christ. It is often discouraging and disappointing. How can I be kept blameless? I thank God that I am not blameless because of me being able to be over my any particular sin. Even in my best efforts, I fall short. I am thankful for the reality that I am kept blameless only because of Christ – who “died for us” (v.10) paid the full penalty of my sin, that God would consider a wretched sinner like me righteous and without blame. That God calls things that are not as though they were.

Oftentimes, I can easily forget this. I want to improve, to do better next time. Or the voices of accusation come and tell me that I am not good enough, why bother going on? But the truth is, I am a “daughter of light” (v.5) ultimately, it is God himself indeed that will sanctify me through and through. God has been faithful in doing his work in me, shaping and molding me, bringing me along. Actually, He has been faithful to the entire body of believers – he will sanctify us through and through — our spirits, our souls, and our bodies. HE WILL DO IT. This brings such assurance and confidence to press on, persevere through trials, and to cling unto Him who has already ushered in salvation, when I actually deserved wrath (v.9). It relieves the burden – because to rely on my own efforts is a dead end.

Part of God’s sanctification is by putting us together in this body – that we may encourage one another and build one another up (v. 11) in the midst of struggles and difficulties. It is not just happy encouragement – at times we may be idle, timid, and/or weak. So God has placed people in the church to “urge,” to “warn,” “encourage” and to “help.” I am so thankful for the body of Christ – especially my leaders who have worked hard, who have been over me (v.12), who have urged me to press on, take risks, who have warned me when I was wayward, and who have helped me in my times of need, and encouraged me when I thought I could no longer go on. They have shown me that God really does not give up on me and that He indeed is faithful – he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion. He will do it.

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2 Responses to “1 Thessalonians 5 Devotion Sharing”

  1. cpeng says:

    thanks for sharing guys! we miss you!

  2. Judy Shieh says:

    I miss you girls, too!

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