October 17

Today's Bible Reading
     I Kings 20
     I Thessalonians 3
     Daniel 2
     Psalms 106
“I sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,” (I Thessalonians 3:2)
            The Apostle Paul often used repetition as a literary method of getting his point across. Examples of that is the word “love” in I Corinthians 13, and the word “grace” in Ephesians 2.  Here, the emphasis is on the word faith.  You find it in verses 2, 5, 6, 7, and 10. This is what God wants to grow and develop in the lives of His children.
            Faith is how the Christian life begins in the first place. Faith is the ingredient that puts us into the family of God. After we are in the family, God wants us to grow in faith. That is Paul's subject in these verses -how we grow in our faith. He is talking about a spiritual faith-lift.
            Paul introduces us to some hindrancesof a growing faith.  One of them is suffering(verse 3).  These believers were going through much affliction and tribulation. The word translated moved means “to be agitated or moved from your position.” It means, “To be swayed.” We see this many times. The circumstances and situations in which people find themselves draw them away from their position and ministry.
            The question is not “ifyou will have afflictions and trials.”  The only question is whenand how you will respond to them.  A beautiful thought has occurred to my mind. It is this:  “We must suffer now to be made ready to reign with Christ someday.” We are not ready to reign with Him until we have suffered with Him.
            Another hindrance to a growing faith is that personality of evil from Eden, Satanhimself.  This is the one who tempted Jesus. He now hinders your faith (verse 5). The devil cannot do anything about your salvation, but he knows he can do something to hinder your growth in Christ.
            Another hindrance is the shortcomings in our lives (verse 10). The word “lacking” means deficient. Your faith can be deficient.  Now there are some things that can be added to your faith.  According to II Peter 1, you can add to your faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, Godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity.
            Paul realized there were two things that the church needed to help them develop their faith.  One of those things was a preacher, and Paul sent them a preacher. He had sent Timothy there to encourage them and to help them grow in their faith.
            The other need was for prayer, and Paul assured them, in verse 10, that he was praying for them night and day. The word perfect in verse 10 means to complete. It does not mean sinless perfection, but it means, “to fully equip something.” Paul wanted to know that they were completely equipped with the faith they needed to touch the world for Christ.
            When a church or an individual grows in faith, you will see two things reflected in their lives and ministry. They will abound in love (verse 12), and they will live holy lives before God (verse 13). Your faith will grow and sustain you in times of adversity when you acknowledge that, in this spiritual warfare, every battle is designed to grow your faith.
            New Age beliefs have swept through modem cultures in the west and east. In the west,aworldviewshiftof acceptance of Eastern mysticism, reincarnation, and self-awareness, together with renewed interest in old western paganism, pose a serious challenge to Christianity and the whole basis on which western society has been founded. A large minority of churchgoers would accept some New Age premises without even thinking.  Pray for wisdom among God's people to offset the damage being done by New Age beliefs.