We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.  Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

-2 Thessalonians 1:3-4

Happy Thanksgiving!  This year we are enjoying this unique holiday with our family in Georgia.  That means last night we regrettably missed our GPBC/HBC Thanksgiving Eve service.  That has to be one of my favorite services of the year, because of the testimonies of the church about how God has been working in our lives.  I love hearing the stories of God’s faithfulness to us in spiritual growth!

Spiritual growth is naturally impossible.  No person can simply decide to grow spiritually.  The Spirit of God must be at work for our faith to grow.  This is one reason why Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 that we should give thanks for faith that is growing and love that is increasing.

Spiritual growth starts when the Holy Spirit resurrects a person to spiritual life.  It continues as the Spirit teaches, instructs, convicts of sin, and guides the believer through God’s word and through the community of the church.  Any growth of faith is supernatural, and a primary reason to give thanks to God.

Growing Faith

I have seen faith growing in our church body as we learn more about who God is and what he is doing.  The Bible is our resource here, and the better we know our great God, the better we are able to believe him rather than the world around us.  It’s not just about learning, it’s about increasing in our love for God because we know him better.  I thank God because he is graciously growing our faith!

Increasing Love

I have seen love increasing in our church body as we relate to one another and to people in our community.  Whether it’s a prayer of encouragement or meeting a practical need, our church’s love for others is visibly increasing.  The testimonies of those who have experienced this love is humbling.  I thank God because he is increasing our love for others.

Even in Trial

Supernatural spiritual growth is validated as we face tough times.  Paul recognizes that the Thessalonians’ faith was steadfast through persecutions and afflictions.  This testimony through times of trial was another reason to give thanks for their growing faith.  Many in our church have faced/are facing significant trials.  I thank God because their faith has been steadfast through these turbulent times.

I thank God that our church is filled with growing followers of Jesus.  I can think of so many specific names and faces who bring joy to my heart because of their spiritual growth, some who have been Christians for longer than I’ve been alive and some who are brand new believers.  God is doing a supernatural work in our midst: we are growing in faith and increasing in love.  It is only appropriate that we thank the source of that growth.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Ryan serves as the Senior Pastor of Green Pond Bible Chapel in Rockaway, New Jersey. He is married with four children.

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