Thessalonians

Week 4: The Ultimate Goal – Part 2

While I deeply want to pour over a specific passage of Scripture, this is not the day for that conversation to take place. Yesterday, we began to talk about how God is the ultimate authority in our lives. I want to continue that conversation, before we move on.

Before we can go enter the depth of this precious set of God’s commands found in 1 Thessalonians 4, we have to recognize who God is and see Him as the One in authority over our lives. He is the Supreme authority in our lives. His Voice is the only One that will matter at the end of the day.

What is Your Focus?

Knowing this means: He is designed to be the Source of our focus.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:1-2, ESV).

. . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:1b-2).

When we have placed God in the appropriate place in our lives, as our focus, we are in the absolute best position to please Him in our lives. After all, God is after our hearts (see Matt. 22:37).

Well – Pleased

God wants to enable us to live a pleasing life. As I think about learning to please God, I am reminded of what could be our motivation. We are reminded in Zephaniah 3:17.

The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing (NKJV).

God’s love for us is personal, present in our relationship with God through Christ, and will last for eternity.

Our relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, is brand new. We have been reconciled to God. While we have our old way of life peeking into the corners of our minds and hearts, just as the Thessalonians did, God is still even more present. God is our source of strength, and He is the One leading us to a brand new way of life.

 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. . . That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus (Eph. 4:17, 20-21).

Closing Thoughts

At this moment, we may struggle terribly with accepting God’s authority in our lives. Perhaps, we don’t want to listen to His Voice and obey Him based on what He teaches us in His Word. While these moments are hard, they will lead us closer to the Lord. As we face decisions of listening to His Voice, let’s remember the goal: to draw near to the Lord our God who is singing and dancing over us, and wants us to experience an intimate relationship with Him!

How can you become closer to the Lord? Focus on the goal, where you are closer to your heavenly Father than you have ever been.

Until next time,

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Thessalonians

Week 4: The Ultimate Goal – Part 1

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God (1 Thess. 4:3-5, NIV)

A lot of what gets us in trouble is – we go looking for that captivating love in all the wrong places. We will look for it, even in sexuality. We chase the One Thing that will make us feel loved and full, rather than rejected and unbelievably empty. But often times, we forget that… God is the One who takes away the emptiness, and causes our hearts to leap with satisfaction as we dwell in His Word and Presence.

Finding Wholeness in God and His Word

Before we can worry about anything else, we need to come to a place where we meet Jesus Christ for ourselves. He is the One who wants to make us whole and keep us satisfied.

In God’s Word, we meet boundaries, or commands, because. . . God wants to keep us safe from harm and close to Him. He is the One who has lovingly pursued us, and invites us to seek Him for ourselves.

We can find rest and satisfaction, when we stop searching elsewhere for the treasures we can find in Him.

God’s Word is Significant!

As we read these words, let us remember that God’s Word is significant.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV).”

If we want to be made complete by God and equipped for whatever God is calling us toward, we have to be willing to listen to Him.

Understanding God’s Authority

Understanding God’s authority is something we have to do, before we can hear what is coming next in 1 Thessalonians –

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus (vv. 1-2, ESV).

Before we are given our command, we are reminded that God is the ultimate authority in our lives. He is more important than our parents or the president of our homeland. Now this doesn’t mean we ignore those placed in authority over us (parents, president, etc), but it does mean we need to respect and obey the Lord our great God!

Understanding God’s authority of our lives is likely a bigger issue than “hearing” what God has told us to do. If we don’t trust someone’s authority, it affects how we take their commands. Growing in submission to God, means knowing and accepting God’s authority in our lives.

If we are unable to trust who God is, how can we effectively listen for His Voice and honor what He has instructed us to do?

While I have much more to say on this passage of Scripture, I have just one last thing to say for tonight…

Until next time,

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Characteristics of God, Godly Living

Finding Captivating Love {Devotion}

While this post is over a year old, it is worth making sure its contents are shared with all of you – my lovely readers who are dearly loved by our heavenly Father. Allow it to soak into your spirit, help you draw nearer to Jesus Christ, our King, and ponder the truths of our great God and His Word!


Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance (1 Peter 1:1-2).

In 1 Peter 1:2, we learn a few interesting things.

  • God has a purpose regarding us.
  • We are chosen.
  • We have been made holy.
  • We have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb (that is, Jesus Christ).
  • Grace and peace are ours in full measure.

The question I want us to answer today is….

How are you at living out these basic precepts that make up the Christian faith? It can take some of us many years to finally grasp the fact that we are –

  • on God’s mind (that He has a purpose for us!)
  • chosen by God alone (and it has nothing to do with our works)
  • cleansed (really cleansed) by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus, the Messiah!)
  • God’s grace and peace are completely poured onto every aspect of our lives, if we will allow God to do it!

What would our lives look like if we really grasped these truths? What would my life look like, if I really knew that I was loved by my Savior? Not a conditional kind of love that is based on what I do or don’t do, what expectations I completely miss by a long-shot, and any other human measure I can concoct in my mind.

Jesus loves, really loves, me and you. To such an extent that He came to earth.

Think about what kind of longing that would take.

“I am going to earth, to redeem them.”

“I will be forsaken, unloved, hated in fact, punished for what THEY did (for our sin, and He did it with such amazing love), and I am going to BRING them back. I am going to FIX our broken relationship, because I dearly love them and created them.”

This is true, friends.
Our reality.

God’s love is passionate. He is absolutely for us! And, this is the kind of love that God has for each one of us.

There is this song I reheard at a conference, but it took on a whole new meaning while there. “Live Like You’re Loved (Hawk Nelson)”. What would it take for me to live like God loves me? Not on some mini-level. We are talking about a football stadium, out of this world, full blown confidence, kind of love that God has for each of us.

The love of God is beyond anything we could ever comprehend.

We could take all of the oceans of the world, line them up next to each other, and it still wouldn’t even come close to the greatness of God’s love for us. All He wants is to be with us. To spend time with us. It’s a relationship!

Thessalonians

Week 4: 1 Thessalonians 4:3

This week’s memory verse is 1 Thessalonians 4:3. This is a precious piece of Scripture. While all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), this one is quite meaningful for the lives of many believers in Jesus Christ.

For this is the will of God, that you should be consecrated (separated and set apart for pure and holy living): that you should abstain and shrink from all sexual vice… (AMP-C)

Friends, we have been set apart for God and His purposes. This is the tremendous joy of the Christian life we live. God has many amazing things in store for us, as His people who have been redeemed (rescued) by His Son Jesus Christ, and choose to continue seeking after God’s will.

For the Christian, one of the greatest temptations is sexuality. It is a hot area where the Devil knows just what crafty word or action to use, as he stands in the way between us and God. We all know someone who have fallen prey to the Devil’s lures with sexual temptation, and left their faith and lives in ruins.

While God has given us the ability to desire sex or things of that nature, it is a gift human beings have completely misused and reaped the consequences. This command is given for our benefit, for sexual sin destroys.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other… (Matthew 6:24, NIV)

Our sexuality is going to influence the sanctification process. Sexual sins promise little, deliver none, cost us much, and cause us to flee from God and His presence. And since many face this temptation and give into it, the Devil doesn’t have to try too hard – in order for us to give in. This is why we need to be aware of how we struggle with temptation, so we might stand firm and protect our relationship with our heavenly Father.

In Asbury’s Commentary, we are reminded of the remedy for temptations: run to God and stay in His presence!

Few things have contributed more to the downfall of believers than sexuality. However mature one might be, the constant bombardment from a society that does not know God (v. 5), coupled with the nature of sexual desires, provide ready ammunition for the Tempter (see 3:5). Paul’s implied remedy is the continuing presence of the Spirit in the believer’s life.

Our faith is heavily involved in this choice – whether we obey or reject this command given to us by God to abstain from sexual sins.

Faith is the belief in the Father’s love for you, the Son (Jesus Christ) who willfully went to all costs to redeem and reconcile you to the Father, and the truth that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in your life. The Holy Spirit will not sit around and do nothing. God has set you apart and equipped you to live a godly life. Keep drawing near, and watch Him work!

How are you focusing on His Presence, as you face temptations?

Thessalonians

Week 4: Prepare For An Energetic Week!

Few things get to me like this topic, as far the church life goes. Welcome, I am your “equally messed up” tour guide. I cannot help but read 1 Thessalonians 4, and be reminded of the ways the Church is… far from where we could be. I love the global church; we are the beloved body of Christ. His bride. His treasure.

Yet we settle for so little, when God wants to lead us to much more – even in this life before we reach Heaven and all its glory.

My Honest Heart Struggle

I made it my mission to go through “Meeting the Thessalonians” before this course was set to begin, which I mostly was able to. I can honestly say, week 4 was without any doubt one of the most difficult weeks. While I had weeks of surprising affliction that made it hard to reach for my Bible and notebook, this week has challenged me greatly based on the content in 1 Thessalonians 4.

It touched me at my core, as a single woman. Some excitement. Erm, much frustration. Plenty of moments, where I was reminded of where I want to be as part of the Church.

Join Me!

I invite you in joining me for the reading of God’s Word, where we will hear God speak in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12.

As a single woman, I am bombarded with temptation – often. I am not alone in this struggle, though. I know, many readers are right there with me.

This passage of Scripture is important for all believers, regardless of our relationship status.

As we take the time to focus our attention on our Lord Jesus Christ, He will work in our midst. While we may face many temptations and struggles in this area, we are not alone. Girls and Guys, you are not alone. I am looking forward to the chance of going through this passage of Scripture together.

This week’s blogging might look drastically differently than the past three weeks have been. Because this passage of Scripture is of such great importance to me, I want to try and pop in whenever I can – to share my thoughts on a particular verse or share a quote from a Bible commentary. This week, in terms of blog posts, might look crazy different than this past week. Or, it might look exactly the same. Only the Good Lord knows!

We simply have to wait and see what God decides to do, because this is His blog.

I may have many passionate things to say, and He may have to offer a strong, yet gentile, reminder of “No Stacey, you cannot write that. It is not useful to build up others in the Church.” (I actually have a good set of moments like this. I, too, am a work in process. . .)

Whatever happens on the blog or your personal study this week, keep digging into God’s Word! I am excited to see what God shows us. Here is the reading plan for this week.

Until next time,

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