Thankful for Mount Carmel
Thankful for Mount Carmel
As Paul begins First Thessalonians, he starts with a prayer of thanksgiving for this congregation. Specifically, he mentions three attributes he remembers before God in verse three. They are three of the reasons I am thankful for the Mount Carmel Church of Christ.
First, I am thankful for her "Work of Faith." This is a work that comes from faith. They have genuine faith, not a passive faith. On the other extreme, they are not working for selfish matters. They have a sincere faith, which is producing good works as faith should. Paul will use the same term for work in 5:13, talking about the work of the leadership. He will speak of faith in 3:2-10 when he was questioning whether they would stay faithful. At Mount Carmel, I think about all those spiritual leaders. This would include our elders, but also our deacons, our Bible Class teachers, and others who provide examples we can look to of service for the Lord. I think of our senior members and the example they set. Most of these are physically our weakest members, but spiritually our strongest.
Second, I am thankful for her "Labor of Love." By this, the apostle means labor that precedes from their love: their love for God, and their love for each other. Labor is used in 2:9 and 3:5 when talking about their labor as preachers. Paul uses love in 3:10-13 when telling them that their love was to increase toward one another. When I think of the love of this congregation I think of the encouragers, the fellowship and get-together workers, the youth group, and the sweet people who write cards, pray, and say kind things - often behind the scenes.
Third, I am thankful for her "Steadfastness of Hope." Paul is praising them for remaining faithful because of hope. In fact, they are able to remain faithful only because of that hope. The Thessalonians did face opposition (2:14; 3:6) which brings about the possibility for failing or falling. Realizing Jesus will one day return and deliver them to something better (2:19 & 4:13). I think about how many of our members have dealt with emotional, financial, spiritual, relational and physical difficulties and challenges. Despite all those hurdles, we have so many providing an example of steadfast service built on their hope in the Lord.
We have old and young, rich and poor. We are blue collar and white. We are teachers, students, accountants, machinists, retail workers, nurses, mothers, fathers, retired and everything in between. When we come together, we love each other, build each other up, and appreciate each and every one in this congregation, the Lord is glorified and He uses us for His purposes.
Bill Parcels once said, "Losers assemble in little groups and complain about the players and coaches in other little groups. Winners assemble as a team." I am thankful for this team, this body, this family. I am thankful for the Mount Carmel congregation!