What encourages and drives us? For Paul, it is clearly the fath and walk of those around him. In 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10, we see him sharing how he is so focused on others and how much he really is encouraged by hearing of the consistent faith of the people.

Are we really focused on others? We’ll be able to tell in the way we are lifted up an encouraged by their journey with Christ. Are we focusing on lifting others up? Do we see their success as an extension of our own?

When we go through difficult times, how do we respond? In 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 we see something very interesting. Paul was experiencing suffering, which was really not unusual. However, instead of being concerned for himself, we see Paul much more worried about the new believers in Thessalonica suffering as well. He was so concerned that he sent Timothy to them to check on them and see how they were doing.

When we experience difficulty and suffering, generally we tend to think about ourselves first. We want to understand how we can lessen our suffering, or encourage ourselves. Not Paul. Paul was more concerned about how the people were going through the suffering than he was about the fact that they were suffering. He knew suffering would come. He had experienced it several times. He was more concerned that the people not lose their faith or their focus on Christ while enduring the suffering. That’s why he sent Timothy to them. He wanted to encourage them and make sure that they were continuing to hold fast to their faith.

What are we going through? Are we focusing on lessening our suffering or on deepening our faith? Our only focus must be too deepen the faith that we have in Christ and to encourage those around us to do the same.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20 we see an interesting idea. The people accepted God for God. They didn’t see Paul and his group as the ones to be worshipped, but instead realized that the worship belonged to Christ.

Do we see Christ in the things that are around us? Do we recognize and worship Christ and Him alone? We have so many wonderful and amazing things all around us and while we may not intend to, we can become distracted by these things and unintentionally give them our praise. God is the only one worthy of our praise. Will we recognize when He is at work in us and praise Him accordingly?

Looking at the next section in 1 Thessalonians, we see in chapter 2 verses 9-12 how our Behavior around others and our encouragement of others matters. Paul explains that he and his group had been in Thessalonica and had walked the talk. They lived uprightly and blamelessly in front of others, and as a result they were able to offer encouragement to those people who needed it while they were walking the Christian Life.

Are we consistent in our walk? Do we walk what we say we believe and can others see it as they look at our lives? As we do that, we will be able to encourage people to continue and to grow faithful in their walk. It’s never easy. But, being consistent in our walk, or even picking ourselves back up when we fall during our walk, helps others to see that they can do it too. Let’s be an example and an encouragement to others today!

What does it mean to mentor someone? In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 we see Paul’s definition. He explained how he poured his life into the people there. He was mindful of how he spoke to them and of how he sought to be an example to them as he walked beside them. He genuinely cared about the people and he wasn’t there for any ulterior motive.

When we are mentoring people we must have that same thought in mind. It can’t be about us, it must be about the people. We must meet them where they are and seek to build a relationship with them first. Are we building the kingdom or ourselves today?

Boldness. Do we each have boldness in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 we see Paul explaining how he came to them in boldness. He actually goes on to explain exactly what that boldness means. They had been persecuted where they were, then they came to Thessalonica and experienced the same hostile reaction but still shared the message of the gospel anyway. They had boldness.

Do we have boldness? When we are experiencing difficulties, do we still share the message of Jesus with boldness? How can we show boldness today?

Have others ever talked about you? Most of us would say, “Yes!” very quickly and easily. The more important question is what are they saying. For the Thessalonians, they had people talking about them. As we read in 1 Thessalonians1:6-10 we quickly see that when they came to believe and trust in Jesus, they were experiencing difficult time and trials, but that word of their faith was spreading and people were talking.

Do others know of our faith? Is what we believe evident enough to others that they recognize where our joy comes from in the midst of the trials? Trials are going to come, and others will be watching when they do. How will we respond? Will we continue to walk in faith trusting in Jesus? The Thessalonians did and we can, too!

We’re moving ┬áto the book of 1st Thessalonians. As we spend time in this book, I’m excited to see how Paul’s words to these early believers apply to our lives today. Looking today at 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5, we see that Paul is reminding the people about how they brought the gospel to them. They didn’t just bring it in eord, but also in power and through the Holy Spirit. We have the most important message for all mankind, so are we just sharing it with words alone?

The Holy Spirit gives power to the word of God. Without the Holy Spirit in our lives working through us, what we share is simply words. As we allow the Holy Spirit to live through us we see his power demonstrated in all that we do and the words of Life we speak become unbelievably impactful to people in their lives. We should never be sharing just words, we are to share life, and that life is found through the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ!

As we finish up Nehemiah, we are reminded of the importance of our relationships. In Nehemiah 13:23-31, we see how the people had gone back to mixing their marriages with non-believers. As we are creating relationships with people around us, we must remember that for those crucial relationships like a spouse, we need someone who is going to help us and encourage us in the same faith. While not impossible, it is certainly much harder when we are joined together with someone who does not believe in Jesus.

Even if we are in a relationship with another believer, do we seek strength and encouragement from that relationship? Are we willing to move forward with that person and let them know our victories and our struggles? For someone to truly hold us accountable, we must be open and transparent with them about all that we are going through. Are we surrounding ourselves with like-minded believers and are we being open with them?

So far in this chapter, Nehemiah has addressed several areas where the children of Israel have neglected the commands of God and become lax in their obedience. Here in Nehemiah 13:15-22, the people have forgotten the Sabbath. Do we take time to rest and relax in God? We cannot continue the frantic pace that many of our lives have become. God knows how much we need to rest in Him. The people had neglected it and Nehemiah not only told them about it, he enforced it.

We cannot alwsys just tell ourselves what is right, we must also set up things that hold us accountable to following through on our commitment. Are we being obedient to rest? If not, how will we, like Nehemiah, create barriers to help us do what we know is right to do?