Archive for the ‘1 Thessalonians’ Category

1 Thessalonians 5

Paul wraps up his first letter to the church at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5.  This is a little further clarification on the things to come, and then a list of directions on how we need to live as we await Jesus coming again.  He begins by reminding us that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night”.  We will not know the date and time.  We won’t have a calendar appointment in Outlook reminding us Jesus is coming.  It will happen without warning (well not exactly as scripture is full of the details on God’s plan for His return), but it won’t be broadcast with lots of time to prepare.  That time is now.  We need to be getting ready for Christ’s return today.  We don’t know when it will happen.  Are you ready?  Paul reminds us “you are not in darkness….for that day to surprise you…..you are all children of light”.  We have the plan in our fingers if we are reading the Bible.  We need to study and be prepared.  As Paul puts it: “let us keep awake and be sober”.  We need to wake up and pay attention to what God had given us in preparation for Jesus coming again.  We have direction.  “Put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation”.  Sound familiar?  Some of the same terminology we find in how we are to handle spiritual warfare as found in Ephesians 6.  We need to be ready.

 

Paul goes on to remind us of God’s plan for each of us.  “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”.  If you were wondering what God’s plan is for your life, Paul wrote it well.  God wants us to be saved from eternal wrath through Jesus.  How can that happen?  Paul goes on to say He “died for us…..so that…..we might live with Him”.  Did you catch that?  Jesus went to the Cross and sacrificed His life so we might live and have eternal life with God.  It is really that simple.  He died….so we might live.  What a blessing.  What grace.  We didn’t deserve it, but He chose to die for us anyway.  The only question that remains is what we do with that offer of grace.

 

Paul concludes this first letter to the church with a list of things we ought to do as we live in preparation for Jesus to come again.  Check them out:

      encourage one another and build one another up

      respect those who labor among you

      esteem them very highly in love

      be at peace

      admonish the idle

      encourage the fainthearted

      help the weak

      be patient with them all

      no one repays anyone evil for evil

      do good to one another

      rejoice always

      pray without ceasing

      give thanks in all circumstances

      do not quench the Spirit

      do not despise prophecies

      test everything

      hold fast what is good

      abstain from every form of evil

      greet all the brothers with a holy kiss

What a list of how we should live.  There is much to be done as we await God’s coming again.  We should not just sit back and wait.  We have work to do.  This list tells us what that is!  Get after it.

1 Thessalonians 4

1 Thessalonians 4 contains several key instructions for how we are to live and then Paul closes with a glimpse of the things to come.  He begins by telling the brethren in Thessalonica to keep on doing what they are doing.  And then he throws these words on – twice in fact in this chapter alone – “do so more and more”.  Living God’s way should never just stay where it is.  We should continue to do so more and more.  We should never become complacent that we have it right or have made it.  Our goal is always out there ahead of us and we need to continue to strive for it more and more.

The first area Paul focuses on is that we must “abstain from sexual immorality”.  He makes it pretty simple when he says “you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor…..not in the passion of lust…..that no one transgress and wrong his brother”.  We need to get the area of our sexuality under control.  This is a never ending battle for all of us – God created us as sexual beings – but He also put some very strict guidelines around how we are to live in that regard.  And the key is that “God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness”.  Sexuality is not given to keep us from being pure and holy.  It must be dealt with God’s intended way – not the way the world has totally messed it up.

Paul goes on to give a list of ways for us to “love one another….do this more and more”.  We are to truly love as God has loved us.  He lists some things to demonstrate what that looks like:

–       “Aspire to live quietly

–       Mind your own affairs

–       Work with your hands

–       Live properly before outsiders

–       Be dependent on no one

–       Encourage one another

We are to live and love as God has loved us.  That means putting others in the middle of our lives.  It means loving them with true love like Jesus demonstrated for us on the Cross.  It is the opportunity to make a difference.

The chapter ends with a picture of what will come based on the truth that “Jesus died and rose again”.  Sometimes we tend to lose sight of that big message and truth – we don’t keep it front and center of our minds.  But Jesus did go to the Cross.  He was crucified and on the third day He arose and conquered death and will do the same in our lives as Christ Followers as well.  Here is what God writes through Paul.  “God will bring with Him (Jesus) those who have fallen asleep”.  Those who were dead and believers will be the first to join God – “the dead in Christ will rise first”.  Those who are “left until the coming of the Lord” will be joined with Him as He “will descend from heaven….caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air”.  Jesus is coming again to gather His own to Himself.   Do you believe it?  Today may be the day.  Are you ready?  Have you made Jesus your Savior and accepted His gift of grace?  Don’t miss the meeting with the Lord that will take us to eternity in heaven.  There is no second chance on this one.  Get right with Him today!

1 Thessalonians 3

1 Thessalonians 3 gives us perspective on Paul’s deep desire to see the folks at Thessalonica.  We learned at the close of the last chapter that “Satan hindered us” and kept Paul from making the trip.  So he sent Timothy to go and check out what was going on in order to “establish and exhort you in your faith”.   Paul was worried that the local church was being pulled away by their affliction even though he had warned them that it would come.  How do you respond to affliction in your life?  We will face life struggles and challenges?  Where to you turn when those things happen?  Do you face them alone, or do you run to Jesus?  The world would tell us to pull up our bootstraps and just deal with it.  Scripture tells us to bring them all, big or small, to the throne of our Father.  Paul tells the church “I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain”.  He didn’t want their work to fail – he wanted to see continue growth and victory.

So Timothy goes and now has returned with “good news of your faith and love”.  What would the report be if Timothy came and visited your church?  How about spending a week or two in your home?  Would he have a strong report of faith and love?  Would he report that you were walking with Jesus in spite of the affliction of the day?  The reality is that God is watching and sees what is happening in our lives.  He knows how we live.  Paul lets the church that they were continually thinking of these folks – “we pray most earnestly night and day”.  He didn’t just go teach them and then forget about them.  He continued to lift them before the Father.  He wanted to know how they were progressing.  He was invested in their life success.  And he prayed that they would “increase and abound in love for one another…..establish your hearts blameless in holiness”.  Paul prayed for them inside and outside – for their hearts and for their relationships.  We need God’s touch on both – on our lives individually and on our relationships collectively. God has a plan for us.  Are you walking in it?

1 Thessalonians 2

Paul continues his letter to the church at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 2.  He reminds the people there that his little ministry team “had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel”.  They were not silent or ashamed – they just preached God’s truth.  They were God’s messengers and beyond that were “approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel”.  God has entrusted us in the same with – with the same story and truth – to share with those around us.  We are God’s messengers.  So have you shared the message?  Have you proclaimed the gospel?  Do people know that you have the truth?  It is not just for pastors to share – it is our job.  Paul says it this way: “so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts”.  Do you consider the fact that God is paying attention to the words we speak and the story we tell.  We are not here to please man – God has us here to do a job – to live life for Him and share His truth with everyone we come into contact with. We are here to live for an audience of One.  Far too often we are concerned about what people will think and say and we shy away from speaking truth.   Paul and his team set the example – “nor did we seek glory from people” – they weren’t about getting kudos and pats on the back because they were making people comfortable.  They were focused on speaking truth.

He goes on to give us the formula that works.  “We were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but our own selves”.  Here it is – we are to speak truth and also show how that truth has impacted us personally – our personal testimony of what the truth has done in us.  That is the secret to sharing successfully with others.  God’s Word and our life which has been touched.  When we put the two together – there is great power in the message.  Paul tells us clearly that his team “worked day and night that we might not be a burden to any…..you are witnesses…..how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct”.  The ministry team didn’t impose on people – they carried their own weight and in fact supported themselves.  But they did live openly and set forth a witness that glorified God.  They made sure to “walk in a manner worthy of God” – as God’s representatives of His truth.  That is the way we help others find Jesus.  We live Him personally in our own life and share that openly with those in our patch.  Are you living that way?  Don’t forget – we have a real enemy who doesn’t want that to happen – and Paul mentions “but Satan hindered us”.  We have to stay the course and walk with our Lord to live victoriously.  But we can and when we do God is pleased and people around us see Him!

1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thessalonians 1 is our next stop on our walk through the New Testament chronologically.  Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica with Silvanus and Timothy and begins by letting them know that they are prayed for.  Paul writes “we give thanks to God always for you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers”.  So how many folks are on your daily prayer list?  How many do you thank God for daily, and intercede for as you come before God?  That is one of our jobs as a Christ Follower.  To lift one another up and encourage each other through prayer.  Paul calls out three areas they are impressed with about this church:

–       “your work of faith

–       Labor of love

–       Steadfastness of hope

Ever heard those three things before?  Faith, hope and love?  The three things that endure according to 1 Corinthians 13.  Paul is grateful for this body living life in a way that endures.  He and his partners in ministry had spent time here modeling how to live.  “You know what kind of men we proved to be among you…..you became imitators of us and of the Lord”.  What would happen if someone imitated your life?  If they followed you and did what you do each day?  Would they get to Jesus?  That is what we are called to do.  To live life so others get to the Cross.  We are to become an “example to all the believers”.  We need to live life openly so others can see how we live and follow us to the point of imitation.  That is what Paul did.  That is how we need to live.

Paul goes on to compliment this church because “the word of the Lord sounded forth from you….your faith in God has gone forth everywhere”.  They were leaking God’s Word and their faith all over the place.  It was contagious to those around them.  They were living large and making folks turn their heads to see what God had done in their lives.  It wasn’t always that way.  Paul reminds us of “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God”.  They had been in the weeds living in sin.  They weren’t always the picture of a perfect Christ Follower.  But they had observed and learned from Paul and his men, and imitated them.  They became like their mentors and teachers and were now ready to do the same.  That is how the faith needs to grow today as well.  We need to live publicly God’s way so others can follow us to Jesus!

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