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January 20, 2017

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Abounding Love and Patience in Persecutions

"We are bound to thank God always for you, that your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of everyone of you all toward each other abounds; for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure." 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4

These new believers in Thessalonica were drawing deeply from the well of living water. Not only was their faith growing exceedingly, but also they had abounding love, not only for God, but also toward each other.

This is no less remarkable than their increasing faith. One spirit prevailed in the whole body of believers. The time once spent in venting their differences and exercising their preferences was now spent in fervent prayer and intercession for one another. This solidified their faith and bonded their mutual affection to each other. Fervent prayer directed their attention and hearts toward the Lord and His sufficiency rather than toward their prevailing petty circumstances.

It was a bulwark to counteract the trials and persecutions they were encountering because of their faith in Christ. This demonstrated their progressive growth in grace: how they were being drawn together by the Holy Spirit, how they were being formed into the image of Christ, and how His love was making deep inroads into their daily lives.

How blessed it is when the unity of the Spirit is perseveringly kept in the bond of peace. Then we see the Holy Spirit working freely and fully through Christians to accomplish His will, His plan, and His purpose.

We often wonder, "Why doesn't God move among us in His mighty power?" The answer is very simple: WE are the problem! We need to change the focus of our lives to seek the mind of Christ; to tear down the boundaries we impose on our spiritual lives; and to have open, receptive, and responsive hearts to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Then with cleansed hearts and a contrite spirit, God can begin that work of grace we all need so desperately. We must start at the foot of the cross.

These believers also manifested invincible patience as they encountered cruel and bitter persecutions. Their trials and adversities had been severe, but their enemies did not intimidate them, and the attacks of their foes did not discourage or devastate them. They held fast the "profession of their faith" without wavering. They "were in nothing terrified by their adversaries." They "had respect unto the recompense of the reward." They took joyfully the afflictions thrust upon them, knowing they had enough in heaven to compensate for it all. They gloried in the cross of Christ; they "rejoiced that they were counted worthy to bear it for His sake." In the midst of it all, "They possessed their souls in patience."

Wow! What a tremendous testimony from new Christians who dared to trust. They had a heart for God and a hunger to pursue their faith with purpose. Oh that we might find these life-changing qualities true and evident in our lives. What a radical change it would make in our spiritual journey, and what an impact we would make on our liberal self-seeking society.

People today are looking for a faith in God that is real. A faith that finds its way into our life and makes a transforming change in the way we live. True faith in Christ results in the virtues of Christ being lived through us by His indwelling presence. It is not I, but Christ! What a miracle of His grace, mercy, and love!

© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.


This page was reprinted by permission from: http://litmin.org/dare.php?date=2017-01-20


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