7 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9
This letter was written by the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians. Imagine for a moment receiving a letter from your pastor, in this letter he tells you how you give him encouragement. How your walk has allowed him to get through all of the pain he is going through. That because you love the Lord, he really feels alive.
I don’t know about you, but I would have to check the address label over and over again to make sure he was writing the right person. There is no way that me, and my walk could encourage the pastor of my church. No way! However, when I read this I sat for a moment, and thought about all the women (& 2 men) God has allowed my life to be a testimony to His power. When I am going through a moment of darkness, and feel like such a horrible failure worthy of nothing, especially Gods love. I will see one of these people praising God on their Facebook status, and I feel so blessed that I am a part of that. That He found me worthy to be a part of their lives. When I see a widow of 3 praising God through financial burdens, my heart is overflowed with so much joy I begin to cry. Through this I am encouraged; through this I am able to remember his truth through the lies. His light breaks through the darkness that surrounds my heart, and He shows me that He knows the plans for my life; he has hope and a beautiful future. (Jeremiah 29:11) One that is so filled with pure tranquility that my mind cannot fathom just how remarkable life with Him truly is.
You see no matter who you are, if you believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, you are an encourager. Your life is a testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ, and Gods unwavering gift of Grace, and Forgiveness. When you say out loud that you are a Christian you now wear a badge of honor that never goes away. No matter how far you fall into the pit of darkness. He is still there with you, and He is patiently waiting for you to see His light and come back Home, where you belong.
11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4:11,12
I had to read this over and over again until He showed me how this is not a contradiction. In verse 11 Paul says ‘to mind your own business and to work with your hands’ When we involve ourselves in others ‘business’ we take on a role that God never intended us to lead. We are there to encourage one another, not intercede for one another. Not ‘do’ the work for one another in their personal business. Over the years I fell victim to this trap over and over again. I have always fought for the underdog, and every time I have been the one to be burned. Today the Lord has shown me, with patience mind you, that my past of being ‘picked on’ wasn’t given to me so that I can defend those picked on. That life was given to me so that I can love the ones being picked on, as well as displaying a different way to behave to those causing the harm.
Scripture repeatedly tells us to ‘love one another’ even our ‘enemies’. Personally this is one of the hardest instructions for me to grasp. How can Jesus ask me to love those who are maliciously trying to destroy the ones I love? If he really knew just how horrible these people were, he would allow me to return the hurt. Do you believe that? I mean really when you read what I just wrote can you say to yourself ‘yes he would’ or are you like me and feel the Holy Spirit convicting you? My heart speaks through His Spirit and I hear Him saying…I forgave you for putting me to a treacherous death, I forgave you for all that you have done….I love them too. Just as I love you, no more, no less.
So instead of barging in on someone else’s business, look to Jesus, and choose to encourage the one being hurt, and pray for the one hurting them. Yes, PRAY for them! God can change anyone! Even them! He’s just waiting for someone to love them enough to lift them up, so that He may begin to intercede for them, and for us. Sometimes this is an instant thing, and sometimes it’s a life-long process, one that may never happen. We can only do so much for someone else; they have to accept the gift given to them. If you’ve never honestly loved and prayed for an enemy then this is something you may not believe. I am a firm believer that we have become a society that must experience something before we will trust it to be true. So I write this understanding it may fall on deaf ears. But, when you wholeheartedly love and pray for your enemy, not for selfish gain but for pure empathy for their salvation there is a whole different kind of love that comes over you.
Let me pause for a moment and focus on what I just wrote. Can you admit that you love your spouse different than you love your children? Although it is different, it is no less pure. I have four children all which are very different, and I love them so completely, yet so completely different. No less than the other, just different. This is what I mean when I say there is a different kind of love that comes over you when you wholeheartedly love and pray for your enemy. It’s not easy, and sometimes you need others not close to this other person to pray for and with you. One thing I must warn you about though is once you obtain this unselfish love for your enemies, they may still be horrible and you might have to start all over again. I did. I have to work at getting back this unselfish love every day. The evil one does not want me praying for this person. When I am defeated and allow his horrible traps to be set through this person, he not only has them, but he has caused me to forbid the Holy Spirit to be with me.
Go back and read the last sentence out loud. By allowing the evil ones traps to entangle me in sin, I have invited Satan into our home and kicked God out. God CANNOT be a part of sin. He is unable to dwell within us when we are filled with a little or a lot of sin. Imagine for a moment opening the door and you have to make a choice who you will allow to watch your children for the night; your pastor or a pedophile. Choice seems easy doesn’t it? Some will even say in their heads…”that’s a little extreme Crystal” Is it though? If you are the one that thought that, then maybe you should take a look at your child or if you have none, look at your niece or nephew and ask yourself “Who do I want them to see when they are with me?” “Who do I want them to think about when they remember me after I have passed on?”
Understand something; your life is not yours. I may have lost some of you there and that’s ok, I believe by the end of this God will have used my words to speak to you somehow, some way. You may not be a parent, but you know someone who is. You know someone who has a child, and God has placed you in that person’s life ‘FOR A REASON’ a reason larger than yourself, more important than your happiness, a reason that will last for eternity; a reason that will go on when you no longer do. How do you want to be remembered? Whose life are you willing to sacrifice for your own selfish desires? Who are you willing to allow the pedophile to watch over night?
Every day your life is being watched by someone, every day the way you talk, the way you react, and the life you live is an impact on those around you. In verse 12 Paul warns us of this, ‘so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders’.
The day you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior you then became Gods child, if you have not accepted the Lord as your savior but want to please email me, let me pray for you. A life without Jesus is a life filled with darkness. You can have days that are filled with laughter, money, and happiness. It ends there though, what a life with Jesus offers compared to a life without Him isn’t easy, it isn’t a promise that dark days won’t come. It isn’t a promise that you will avoid tragedy or sickness, but it is a promise at life.
One that matters more than you could ever imagine, one that will last for eternity, one that makes a difference in the lives of others. One that is filled with true friends, true family, and true love. One that allows you to know when someone tells you that they are praying for you they really are, one that allows you to know a trust like never before. People are kind and loving to you because they really love you, not because you have something they want. This is a wall of lies that Jesus’ love has been slowly chipping away at over the last year of my life.
Some changes the Spirit of God makes in you can be instant, my drinking for instance; May 1, 2009 He washed my addiction away. He did this for me I believe because He knew I was unable to. That I loved Him and my children so deeply, but the addiction was too much for me. Since then I have fallen into darkness and being an ex-cutter, self-inflictor I tried to hurt myself by drinking. He sent my sister whom I love with agape love over to my home to simply hug me because He knew I needed to experience what He was trying so hard to do. The second time He sent His Spirit to whisper in my ear ‘you are my child, and when you hurt yourself you hurt me’ I heard this and didn’t think of it as me personally hurting God, (however this is exactly what my pain was doing) but that my daily life could hurt who He is. Although drinking is not a sin, and I definitely was not drunk, I am an alcoholic and for me to be sitting in a restaurant having a drink all I could think about was, “what if someone sees me and thinks God is a lie” Other changes are gradual, they are not forced by God they are patiently taught by others actions. What kind of memory are you wanting to leave with others?