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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 3:9

Lesson33-image001Materials Needed: Whiteboard or easel.

Notes to the Leader: This study is about human characteristics that set the Christian apart from the world. Through these characteristics, we witness, share, love, help, grow and receive joy and strength. Everyone in your group has these characteristics but they may be undiscovered. Use this time to open a dialogue on familiar topics to encourage sharing. Not all studies should be intended to impart some special wisdom. Sometimes, it is just nice to discuss familiar and comforting topics.

Introduction

What to you do, where do you go, to whom do you seek when you need to find joy and strength in your life?

  • Work with your group to build a list of the things, activities, people, etc. that bring joy and strength when they are down.

Now read Psalms 28:7 to your group. This verse points us to the true source of joy and strength, the Lord.

Who are the teachers you have had in your life that you still remember by name. What were the characteristics of those who had a positive impact on your life?

  • Competent
  • Caring
  • Always willing to help you when you needed something extra
  • Had a true interest in you

Have someone in your group read Philippians 1:3-10 The Apostle Paul shows us another source of joy and strength, Christian fellowship.

What are some of your own personal joys you receive from other Christians? How do they give you strength?

  • Notice that the Apostle Paul’s joy and strength emanated from the discernment (growth) received through the sharing of the gospel.

Section One: Gaining Joy and Strength through Action

Have someone in your group read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. The Apostle Paul shows us five key attributes: affection, anxiety, help, joy and prayer.

Attribute I – Affection

Can we affect the lives (win over for Christ) people who we dislike?

  • While it is the Holy Spirit who convicts and Christ who saves, each one of us is given the responsibility to share the Gospel. The Apostle Paul shows us that he did more than just tell people about Christ, he had a genuine love and concern for them.
Attribute II – Anxiety

What should our attitude be after we have shared our faith with someone?

  • On-going interest, caring, concerned, anxious to follow-up.

Notes: The training by the Apostle Paul was done but did it take hold? Did the people of Thessalonica change as a result of their exposure to the Gospel? These were the concerns of the Apostle Paul.

Attribute III – A willingness to Help

Once someone hears the story of salvation, how do they change their lives?

  • The Apostle Paul sends Timothy not to check up on them alone, but to help them. Isn’t that one of the attributes you respect in people?
  • In addition, the Holy Spirit works in them to convict and to create a hunger for Christ.

How do we react when we are criticized for our failings?

  • Discouraged, angry, loss of interest.

How do we react when we receive help?

  • Thankful, successful, develop a bond of closeness.

Have someone in your group read 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10

Can a new believer grow in faith isolated from the lives of other believers?

  • No – This is one of the fundamental tenants of the Reformed Faith. Fellowship with believers is a requirement.

Read James 2:17-19 to your group.

What type of action do you think the Apostle James was talking about?

  • Sharing of our faith to non-Christians, stewardship, compassion both inside and outside our church, love of one another, charity, forgiveness, etc.
Attribute IV – Joy

Have you ever watched someone you love come to accept Christ into their lives? How did you feel?

  • This was the joy of the Apostle Paul. Joy was something genuine. When he saw people begin to understand the Gospel’s message and to change their lives, he felt sincere joy in his heart for them.

Have someone in your group read 1 Thessalonians 3:10

What did the Apostle Paul pray for?

  • More opportunities to strengthen their faith.

Why is it important to have follow-up with people who are new in their faith?

  • Hebrews 11:1-3 To turn what is invisible into something visible. This is done by the reflections of our own lives back to the new believers.
Attribute V – Prayer

Is there something each person regardless of gifts, biblical understanding, time, etc. can do in the execution of Christ’s call for the Great Commission?

Have someone in your group read 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

The Apostle Paul prays for the new believer. There are three parts to the prayer.

The Apostle Paul prays for a way to open up so he can come to Thessalonica. He prays for “opportunity.” This prayer is for ordinary guidance.

Why is it that human nature brings us to God more often in crisis than for ordinary daily guidance?

  • Safety breeds contentment
  • We are still trying to hold on to the reins of our lives rather than turning them over to Christ
  • We have not strengthened our own faith (Read Hebrews 11:6, Romans 10:17).
The Apostle Paul prays that the Thessalonians will “love” one another.

How do we grow in love with one another (e.g. your church)?

  • Understand each other
  • Share joys and sorrows
  • Pray for one another
  • Interact within each other’s lives.
The Apostle Paul prays for their “safety”.

What type of safety is the Apostle Paul praying for here?

  • Safety from this world so that they would be preserved for their meeting with Christ at the Second Coming.

Why pray for this?

  • Revelations 21:6-8 Hell is forever!

Bible Truth Being Taught

The Apostle Paul was not a “loaner,” but that he served the Lord in fellowship with other believers and, thereby, discovered a source of joy and strength.

Our Response

To seek the fellowship of other believers and to share our lives as Christ shared Himself.

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