Nations Day 15 Praying For The Nations: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Today is 2-for-1 Friday!
Check out Praying For The Nations!

The Questions

1) What can we learn about God’s mission for His Church from this passage?

2) What can we learn about the people God wants His Church to reach?

3) What can we learn about prayer from Paul’s written example? (verses 2-4)

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

2 We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you constantly in our prayers. 3 We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full assurance. You know how we lived among you for your benefit, 6 and you yourselves became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with joy from the Holy Spirit. 7 As a result, you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place that your faith in God has gone out. Therefore, we don’t need to say anything, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception we had from you: how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Original Intent

1) What can we learn about God’s mission for His Church from this passage?
Paul’s very first word gives us a clue to why God’s Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pen his letter to the church in Thessalonica in this manner, “We…”. (verse 2) The theme of unity is abundantly clear all across Scripture (Nehemiah 3, Psalm 133, 2 Chronicles 7:14), especially in the New Testament letters (Romans 12:1-4, Ephesians 2:14, Colossians 3:14), but some of the most profoundly intimate teachings on unity are found within the few pages of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Just in reading this first chapter, “we”, “our”, “all of you”, “you”, and “brothers and sisters” are spotted all throughout. God’s mission anchors itself in the fertile soil of divine unity, achieved only as each member of the local church surrenders to the Holy Spirit and one another as they live on mission to share the hope and love of Jesus in everyday life. (Ephesians 5:15, 21) God’s Church (meaning its members, not a building) was designed to pray together for each other (verse 2), to lovingly serve together both inside and outside the church Body (verses 3, 7, and 8), to imitate and encourage each other (verses 5-6), to live out their faith with authenticity and benevolence (verses 5 and 7), to share the gospel of Jesus with all boldness and love (verses 7-8). It’s with this same goal of unity and world-wide impact for Jesus that Peter, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, writes, “…make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8) The Church was designed to lovingly work together to share Jesus, when we do this, we are guarded against wasting our lives and being ineffective for eternal work that lasts.

2) What can we learn about the people God wants His Church to reach?
People are hungry to know God, Paul’s intent was to encourage the Thessalonians that, just as Paul had heard of their active faith in action, he was confident God was faithfully using them to share Jesus with others who would also hear. He wanted to encourage them that, even though persecution was heavy and pressing on all sides, and even though following Jesus was costly, their faith was reaping a reward even beyond the bounds of the city of Thessalonica. Paul wrote how their faith “rang out” like the echoing peels of an enormous bell or ripples on a lake. Their faith was spreading like wildfire! The price of following Jesus was worth it, Paul saw it, he’d experienced it, and he didn’t want the Thessalonians to give up in doing good for in due time they would reap a harvest of righteousness. (Galatians 6:9-10) Finally, Paul reminded the Thessalonians of the kind of people they were before Jesus transformed them, which is exactly how all of us currently are, or previously were, before surrendering to Christ. (Ephesians 2:3) They worshipped idols of all kinds from money to self to “good works and self-righteousness” to literally bowing before graven images. (verse 9) Upon encountering the once-crucified, but now-living Christ, they turned in full, they repented, and were transformed from a dead, meaningless existence to the newness of life. Now, in light of all Jesus had done and was continuing to do, they waited with wondrous expectation when they would be welcomed Home with Him forever. (verse 10)

3) What can we learn about prayer from Paul’s written example? (verses 2-4)
It’s necessary. It’s natural. For Paul, praying was like breathing. (verse 2) He modeled it in everyday life (1 Thessalonians 5:17), he talked about it with ease (Ephesians 6:18-19), and he burst into prayer as he wrote (Colossians 1:9-12). Paul did not view prayer as an auxiliary, but unnecessary appendage to a believer’s faith life. Rather, he recognized prayer as absolutely essential to even living a single hour in power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, God in the flesh, modeled this humility as He repeatedly chose to withdraw from the crowds and His ministry to do the most important work of prayerful connection with the Father through the Spirit. (Luke 5:16) Paul prayed for the Thessalonians with thankfulness and brought them continually before the Lord as He spoke with God on their behalf. What sweetness and humility are found here as the great Pastor Paul fervently prays for his brothers and sisters in Thessalonica! As Paul prayed for them, the Spirit of God was present in his soul stirring his heart to be sensitive and understand how to pray for them, “We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith…” (verse 3) God spoke to Paul in his prayer time about those he prayed for! Notice also that Paul does not believe he is the most spiritual person and the only one worthy of such lofty prayerful intercession. We know this, again, by a single word, “we”. (verse 3) “We recall…” The work of prayer cannot be underestimated, but, like everything else God designed for His Church to engage in, this work was intended to be done together.

Everyday Application

1) What can we learn about God’s mission for His Church from this passage?
These letters are so brief, it would be well worth our investment to take the next 8 days and read one chapter each day at least twice. As we go, let’s be on the lookout for the theme of unity and the intended result from this incredible, God-designed harmony. This beautiful working together for the love of others to share the love of Jesus is entirely beyond human ability. This unity makes “teamwork” seem like a shadow in comparison. Only God has the power to equip human hearts to love beyond itself with the very same selfless, sacrificial love of the Almighty God who humbly gave Himself to span the impossible gap created between us and Him as a result of our sin. This love is divine! We would be fools to think we could re-create it on our own human efforts, yet this is often what we choose. I need to share my faith. I need to be more encouraging. I simply must be more forgiving and kinder, not to mention patient! I know I’m supposed to be supportive of my pastor and church leaders, but…we are quick to fill in the blank with our justified criticism. We must face the reality that loving our family members, neighbors, friends, fellow church members, the lost, those different from us, and especially those we can’t stand to be around is utterly impossible on our own. We can either choose to continue failing on our own, or we can turn to the mighty Redeemer, asking Him daily, hour by hour, to teach us what it looks like to love as He has designed as we surrender to His Spirit at work within us.

2) What can we learn about the people God wants His Church to reach?
First, we must understand that Paul knew those without Jesus couldn’t be reached without the unifying work of God’s Spirit at work within His people. This is the pattern God intentionally designed for reaching others with the hope of Christ, and we will utterly fail today in spreading the gospel if we work against His method. This looks like praying continually and specifically in unity with other believers for those who haven’t embraced the salvation of Jesus. Reaching the lost begins with prayer, is sustained with unity inside the Church as together, they encourage and pray for the work, and is set in motion when the Church lives out a life of genuine love to the world around them through both action and speech. We cannot share the freedom and forgiveness offered in Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf if we merely mow the neighbor’s lawn, pass a $20 to the homeless person, or bring a meal to someone if we will not also open our mouth and use words to share what Jesus did, is doing, and will do for all who surrender the full of their lives to Him. The result of this kind of unifying faith-filled love lived out with words and action is that believers are encouraged to turn from sin and are emboldened to also share their faith. When genuine believers are active in loving those around them with action and speech, people without Jesus are experiencing and hearing the truth of Christ’s love and grace demonstrated by real people in real life. This is the mission of the church!

3) What can we learn about prayer from Paul’s written example? (verses 2-4)
Prayer is the very heartbeat of faith for, without it, it’s impossible to commune with the Holy Spirit living within us. If we will not surrender to the work of the Spirit by quieting ourselves (Psalm 131:2), learning the voice of Jesus our Shepherd (John 10:27), and studying His actively living Word (Hebrews 4:12), how can we expect to live out His will of loving others in everyday life? The sweet, joyful intimacy Paul discovered as he pleaded for the lost, as he begged for mercy, interceded for other believers, or simply offered adoration for God is available to each and every one of us! The means to a deeply abundant relationship with the Lord where we enjoy the richness of “every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3), is the essentiality of daily, consistent prayer that falls from our lips as easily as our breath. As we pray, the Spirit of the Living God within us is faithful to teach us, help us understand Scripture, and urge us to intercede for others, often in specific ways as Paul experienced in verse 3. Perhaps you don’t feel like you’re a “good pray-er”, or that becoming a person of prayer feels clumsy. You aren’t alone! But neither are you without means of growing deeper just as Paul, who once hated God, evidenced. Paul didn’t become a powerful preacher overnight. Peter’s faith didn’t grow from pebble-sized to boulder-like in the span of a week, and neither will ours. The more we practice the discipline of daily time with the Lord Jesus in prayer and reading His Word, the more He will teach us how to pray. Begin as Jesus’ own disciples did with a simple request as they watched Jesus the Son, again, pray to the Father, “Lord, teach us to pray…”. (Luke 11:1) He is ready to teach, let’s be ready to learn!

What do YOU think?! Share Here!
Missing the connection to our other Journey Study today?
Catch up with Praying For The Nations!

Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

Digging Deeper Community

Share What You’ve Learned!
Pray Together!
Join us in the GT Facebook Community!

Our Current Study Theme!

This is Nations Week Three!
Don’t miss out on the discussion!
Sign up
to receive every GT Journey Study!

Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

Memorize It!

Download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!
Tap and hold on your mobile device to save.