Like the Thessalonians who encountered persecution because of their new found faith in the Lord, Christians in today's generation find ourselves under intense persecution daily. Apostle Paul had great concerns for the new believers in Thessalonica. After all, the first Christian church was established in that city on Paul's first missionary journey. Paul could have stayed longer but he didn't get the chance to disciple them because his/their lives were in danger (Acts 17:1-10). In his mind, these vulnerable new believers were left to face the pressure of having to defend what they now believe without adequate understanding against those who seek to destroy them. So at his earliest opportunity, he sent Timothy to check on the spiritual status of the new believers in Thessalonica. I can just feel the joy in the heart of Apostle Paul when he heard from Timothy how these new believers remained firm and united in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of their difficult and dangerous situation. Not having the chance to visit them personally, Paul wrote letters (epistles) to the Thessalonians to commend, encourage, strengthen their faith and to answer many other questions they had. And we find his first and second letter to them in the Bible under 1st and 2nd Thessalonians.
So, back to our featured Scripture Word Art where Apostle Paul expressed his gratefulness to God and eagerness to pray for these new believers, he spoke highly and mentioned three things pertaining to them in his opening statement. First, he commended their work of faith. You see, faith is our only connection to God in this world. The Bible clearly states in Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Without faith, man depend solely on his five senses which makes him blind to the things of God. John 4:23-24 says, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth." It could have been hard for these baby Christians to explain their new found faith with such limited understanding of the meaning of the Gospel. But with the little they had, they saw far more than what their physical eyes could see. They connected with God through faith.
Secondly, Paul acknowledged their labor of love. In times of trial and persecution, it would have been easy to mind our own business---away from trouble by being silent and going with the flow. The less people know about our faith in Jesus Christ, the less aggression, insult and name calling we'd have to endure. But the Thessalonian believers found in Christ a treasure that is worth more than gold in this present life. It's a life changing Truth where they experienced the presence of God like no other. 1 John 4:16 tells us, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them." We also learned God's kind of love in John 15:12-13 which says, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." I believe many of these 1st century Born-again (John 3:3) believers had to share the Truth, even risking their lives, out of love for those that would otherwise perish without knowing Jesus Christ. I could see them carrying each other's burden and helping one another not just physically/materially but also spiritually.
Thirdly, Paul spoke highly of their patience of hope in Jesus Christ. Here, I would like to share what I read from my Life Application Bible about the hope of our faith in Jesus Christ. Here's what it says: "All of us should respond to the Good News (Gospel) as the Thessalonians did: turn to God, serve God, and wait for His Son, Christ to return from heaven. We should turn from sin to God because Christ is coming to judge the earth. We should be fervent in our service because we have little time before Christ returns. We should be prepared for Christ to return because we don't know when he will come. Paul emphasized Christ's second coming throughout the Book of Thessalonians. Because the Thessalonian church was being persecuted, Paul encouraged them to look forward to the deliverance that Christ would bring. A believer's hope is in the return or Jesus, our great God and Savior (Titus 2:13). Our perspective on life remains incomplete without this hope. Just as surely as Christ was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven, He will return (Acts 1:11).
What a blessing to know how the early Christians held on to their faith and hope in Jesus Christ and didn't use persecution as an excuse to spread the love of God to others. I submit to you that we are to live our lives today with the inspiration, passion and encouragement that the early believers demonstrated. What a glorious day it would be to meet our Lord and our forefathers in the faith as we celebrate the righteous reign of Christ and rule with Him in the very near future. Are you ready?
For this Card, I used an image from Stamping Bella called "Forever my Always" which I colored with my Touch Five/Prismacolor markers with some paper-piecing. I stamped the cute heart in the image from Stampin' Up. The base is a white CS, cut and scored to make a 5.5 inches square card. The DP's are from Paper Studio. I utilized my new Lawn Fawn Dies (Stitched Hillside Borders) to create the background. I included some butterflies from Recollections that I glittered with Stickles (Gold) and added some Liquid Pearls (Platinum Pearl) from Ranger. Finally, I did a fancy stitch all over the Card with my sewing machine.
REMEMBERING WITHOUT CEASING CARD
REMEMBERING WITHOUT CEASING CARD LAYERS
REMEMBERING WITHOUT CEASING CARD SIDE VIEW
REMEMBERING WITHOUT CEASING CARD INSIDE
REMEMBERING WITHOUT CEASING CARD WITH ENVELOPE-BOX
This Card is entered into the following Challenges:
Perfect Time to Craft---ATG
Create with TLC---ATG
Connie Can Crop---To Die For
Crafts Galore Encore---ATG
Crafty Girls Creations---ATG
Create and Inspire---ATG
Cute as a Button---ATG
HLS---ATG with Dies
Let's Craft and Create---ATG
Love to Craft---ATG
Mix It Up---ATG
Not Just Cards---ATG
Make sure you join us at WAW Challenge. You can use the free Word Art in your creation and link it to our Challenge but is not a requirement. As long as it's family-friendly, uplifting and inspirational, you can submit up to 5 entries per week. Our wonderful sponsor for this week Simon Says Stamp ($25 GC). So excited to see what you come up with. Anyway, cheer up and let the joy of the Lord overtake you today. He truly loves and cares for you.