July 12, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Destined for Afflictions Today
“so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.”
1 Thessalonians 3:3
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Have you ever thought that you experience your destiny on earth one day at a time? Does it run through your mind that today will be a part of your destiny? People use the word destiny in many different ways, meaning good and bad things. Paul spoke of his destiny because the Lord Jesus had revealed to him that afflictions lay in his future (Acts 9:16). People who joined with Paul would soon understand that Jesus had created a destiny for Paul which included afflictions.
Paul uses the term “afflictions” here to describe the problems he encountered. It means trouble, distress, hard circumstances, suffering. Paul used the term “afflictions” elsewhere to describe how no one should lose heart because he was suffering tribulations, because his sufferings were for the glory of the churches (Ephesians 3:13). Afflictions were part of the destiny of servants of God, and commended them as such servants (2 Corinthians 6:4).
Paul was keenly aware of the impact of “afflictions” upon loving relationships. Paul was concerned over the way his sufferings would affect the Thessalonians. Jesus never designed us to ignore the concerns of other believers, but rather to be very concerned for how others felt, especially when we watch people we love suffer for the Name of Jesus Christ. Once we form strong bonds of spiritual friendship, we live within a community of spiritual concern, and must never forget it. Our spiritual friends will want to know how we are doing, and what we are suffering. But Paul also used the opportunity to reinforce the Thessalonians’ knowledge of the love and wisdom of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ calls his people to endure afflictions for the sake of the Gospel. We struggle against rulers, powers, world forces of this darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). Because of the overwhelming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and its eternal benefits, satan opposes it with all he can muster against believers. Yet, God constrains us as we have seen previously (1 Corinthians 10:13). We should expect to be afflicted in this world as we labor for Christ, because it is a part of our destiny too.
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we suffer together in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship grow when we send friends like Timothy to let people know we care about them, and want them to know about our afflictions. Instead of going it alone, we triumph through our afflictions with the prayers, love and concern of our spiritual friends.
● We harm our bonds of friendship when we give up under the weight of affliction, never allow anyone to share and support us in Christ as we suffer afflictions for Him.
Application for Today
Today, I will watch Jesus use His worldwide ministry team to encourage believers around the world, but especially in my area of the world. For some of my friends, I know Jesus will lead them to form new ministry teams, and visit new places. Who will you encourage today to visit people you love together?