Question for the Series
If Christmas is supposed to bring peace close by then why does peace seem so far away?
KJV – Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
ESV – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased”
This is not a wish for peace and good will but rather a proclamation that peace is available under certain conditions
In Paul’s second letter to the Church at Thessalonica, he encourages them to have peace in the midst of persecution. This persecution was not sanctioned by the government or even the local authorities. This persecution was personal (2 Thes 1:1-6)
- Peace (εἰρήνη)- wholeness, a something complex that is working in unity with all of its parts
- Persecutions (διωγμοῖς)
- Religious persecution, or signals a person being hunted down, followed, or hounded
It is clear from Acts that the principal opposition to the church at Thessalonica came from the implacable Jewish community in that city. They were probably able to enlist a certain amount of local Gentile support, but the Jews were the mainspring of the opposition. On part of the campaign was a personal attack on Paul himself. (Leon Morris, The NICNT)
Have you ever been:
• Bullied by someone you know?
• Persecuted by someone you know?
• Pre-judged by someone you know?
• Mocked by someone you know?
1. Understand that your faith is growing (vs. 3)
Future confidence in God can only mature through present hardship.
2. Understand that your love for one another is increasing (vs. 3)
What if out of this hardships comes a beautiful friendship?
3. Understand that your perseverance is increasing (vs. 4)
KEY POINT: There is only one real way to increase perseverance- WORK.
4. Understand that God will one day provide justice (1:5-6)
A major theme in the New Testament is how God will provide justice for the oppressed: 1 Peter 3:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Romans 12:19
Consider this: So, you’ve been hurt by someone. Is your response showing that you trust God’s judgement?
Is the Lord of peace your source of peace?
What/Who are you turning to find peace?
TALK IT OUT
- In 2 Thess. 1:2, Paul proclaimed, “peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In vs. 4 Paul acknowledged the church was enduring persecutions and trials. The word “peace” speaks of a “something complex that is working in unity with all of its parts.” How can we experience God’s peace in the midst of persecution?
- Pastor Rusty explained the persecution this church experienced wasn’t government sanctioned, it was much more personal, primarily from the powerful Jews living in Thessalonica. Have you experienced personal mistreatment from someone you were sure you could trust? How did you handle it? What did you learn from the experience?
- Pastor Rusty suggested that “future confidence in God can only mature through present hardship.” Why do you think this is true? Have you witnessed this principle play out in your own life?
- Sometimes beautiful friendships come out of our hardships. Why do deep friendships sometimes come out of shared challenges? What deep friendships that you now enjoy came out of past personal challenges?
- Some Christians think committed believers are immune from tough times because they are following Jesus. However, notice in 2 Thess. 1:5 Paul writes, “You will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.” Why do you think God doesn’t always shield His people from tough times? How has God used past difficulties to help you grow spiritually?
- Pastor Rusty suggests “A major theme in the New Testament is how God will provide justice for the oppressed.” Have you observed times when in the short term God didn’t seem to protect the righteous? Did He ultimately bring justice to the situation?
LIVE IT OUT
- Is God your source of peace when times are rough?Ask the Lord to help you rely on Him more when youface future challenges.
- Thank God for your friendships that developed out of past trials.
- Ask God to help you persevere with peace when you’re facing tough times.
- Pray that the Lord will use you to help friends, family and co-workers discover His peace when they’re facing persecution and trials. Look for opportunities to point others to our ultimate source of peace in the midst of conflict.