May 16 22

Thank God for Bereans

vmsmith

            This morning in our worship service we continue to examine Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica. These past few weeks of study have shown the heart of the apostle from the viewpoint of pastoral leadership. The striking lesson learned is the deep personal affection Paul felt for those he brought to faith in Christ. They were converted and then assembled into new bodies of Christ that were united in fellowship centered in the gospel of Christ.

            When a believer comes to faith in our Lord, he receives a new nature, one that is recreated in the image of God. The original image was marred by sin when Adam fell. Before he sinned, Adam had the perfect image in him which included the ability to love as God loves. Because God is love, the character of man’s godly image was also to love. Adam was able to love his wife with a perfect love.

            This marital love was emblematic of the love Christ has for His church. It is also a reflection of the love each member of Christ should have for each other. The scriptures teach that love should abound in us and this was one of Paul’s petitions of prayer when he prayed in chapter 3:12, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward one another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you…” The last part of the verse emphasizes Paul’s pastoral love. His love was exemplary as it abounded toward them.

            My personal takeaway from Paul’s desire is that pastors enter a unique relationship with the people they are given to shepherd. The greatest joy for a pastor is to experience reciprocal love flowing back and forth from him to the people. Paul’s feeling at times was to experience love as a one-way street. Yet, still he said I love you though the less I be loved. I am thankful today that rarely have I experienced less love than I have given. If anything, I am deeply in debt to the members of Berean because you have given far more love and support than I have returned.

            These past months I’ve often alluded to the love and support given during my wife’s illness. We approach Thanksgiving this year with hearts full of gratitude for kindnesses and considerations in this trying time. This illness has restricted much of my ability to look after the physical and emotional needs of the congregation. But once again, there is considerable help from our deacons and others of our leaders. Some have gone beyond the call to help care for the sick and hurting among us.

            This help is invaluable. I often feel inadequate for this ministry. Thankfully, the Lord has helped me keep up my studies. I am relaxed and strengthened as I study and prepare for sermons, and then have the pleasure of giving you the fruits of this labor.

            Though I have no right to ask, I humbly request for more prayers and indulgences. It does not appear our struggles will end soon. Only by a miracle of God’s grace can we expect an immediate change. God does not promise this, but we do claim His promise to be with us in the trials and to sustain us daily with His mercies.

            God works through His people, which for us means His mercies become real through your love and support. We are thankful for the Lord and for you His faithful servants. We cannot continue without your willingness to stand with us. We look for better days, but we are content to be used in whatever ways God sees fit. What shape this will take we do not know. We trust the Lord to reveal this in His good time.

                                                                        Pastor V. Mark Smith