Title: "Enter the Tempter"
Text: 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:8
But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.
Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.
But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.
1. What do we learn about the apostle Paul's heart for the young Thessalonian church when we read 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20?
2. Notice the reference to Satan in 1 Thessalonians 2:18. What insight might this give us into Satan's goal?
3. How did the long-term view keep Paul going in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20? In other words, how did the 2nd coming of Christ influence Paul in the present?
4. What practical steps did Paul take to strengthen the faith of the young believers (see 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2)?
5. One of Paul's concerns was that the "tempter" might influence them (1 Thessalonians 3:5). What might this suggest about the goal of the tempter?
6. In the sermon, Mike identified four ways that the tempter seeks to "take us out of the game:" temptation, accusation, division, and discouragement. With which of these can you identify?
7. Paul was excited to hear the "good news" that these young believers were remaining strong in their faith, despite going through trials (see 1 Thessalonians 3:6-8). What are some things that help you remain strong in the faith?
8. One practical way to stand firm in the Lord is to pray for one another. How can the group pray for you, especially in areas where the tempter is seeking to take you out of the game?
9. What is your biggest takeaway from this passage of Scripture?