Godly Living, Thessalonians

Week 3: 1 Thessalonians 3:7

Welcome, my friends, to week 3 of our study! I am so glad you are here. Thank you for taking a few moments out of your day to read today’s blog entry in your email or possibly on the website. You will not regret taking this time to invest in your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He is the source of all hope and comfort.

The Scripture –

While I am limited in sharing at this moment due to circumstances, I want to be able to share with you our new weekly memory verse.

In the middle of our trouble and hard times here, just knowing how you’re doing keeps us going. Knowing that your faith is alive keeps us alive (1 Thess. 3:7, MSG).

The Truth Revealed –

As I face my own troubles, I can relate a bit with Paul. Honestly, the great “longing exchange” (where the longing for a close friend is mutual) is a tremendous comfort in hard times. When you are in desperate need and alone, quality companionship is one of the top desires one troubled friend could have.

When we are going through hard times, we just need someone to be there for us. . . someone who will lead us straight to Jesus Christ. It’s the exact medicine we need.

We learn a few things about Paul and the Thessalonians –

  • Paul’s Heart: Longed for the Thessalonians, and bombarded with troubles.
  • The Thessalonians’ Heart: Longed for Paul, and continually sought Christ. . . resulting in much spiritual growth even during persecution.
  • Resulting in much comfort, especially for Paul in his time of need.

Hearing others’ stories of faith in Christ makes everything much better. While the circumstances may not change, our heart are uplifted versus drowning. Our perspective changes – because we receive comfort from friends. . . friends who treat our friendship in a godly way. Encouraging us to keep pressing into Jesus, praying over our circumstances, and helping us to hold onto our faith in Jesus and His Good News.

Biblical Friendship

While we may not choose our times of suffering, God can use this time to be encouraged (or encourage others) by others’ faith and show us the kind of friends we have (or are).

The Thessalonians and Paul had biblical friendships. They sought the Lord Jesus to be honored in their lives. They wanted to help encourage one another, pray together, and continue to live out their faith in Christ.

Biblical friendships are hard to find, but are what makes the lasting change in our spiritual lives.

Jonathan and David are a classic example of biblical friendship (see 1 Samuel 23:15-18). They loved each other in a godly friendship; Jonathan made sure to be there when David needed him the most (click here to listen to a sermon on the topic). Likewise, the Thessalonians would have send word back conveying how much they care for Paul and miss him.

Biblical friendships make the difference in our Christian walk, and an important tool in our transformation.

“[Thessalonians’] steadfastness was a great source of comfort to [Paul] in his trials. . . In the inevitable trials of the ministerial office there is no source of comfort more rich and pure than this (Albert Barnes Commentary).”

Godly Living

When Our Strength Runs Out {{Five Loaves and Two Fish}}

(Disclaimer: I am referring to chronic illness, but God wants to take every single symptom of every single problem we have…. and do something incredible in the midst of the stuff of our lives. Will we allow Him to?)

Sometimes, it isn’t about the pretty little filters, make-up, or hair products used in effort to disfigure the symptoms…

It is just about getting up for another day and giving it all you got.

Trusting God to stretch what you do have available.

Trusting Him to take the “five loaves and two fish” of our strength, hope, and best laid plans… And stand… And watch Him multiply it in crazy amounts.

Amounts that go beyond anything we could ever imagine.

All because we chose to give it to Him. To Jesus.

To Jesus, I give this day.
To Jesus, I give my strength.

I know, in Mark, Jesus is multiplying actual fish and loaves of bread. But, one problem we have – is our ability to limit God. The God we envision is not the God we see and come to experience in the Bible.

God wants to do so much more in our lives, friends! He wants us to enable us to use His power, which we are given access to from the moment we say “yes” to Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, to overcome all kinds of crazy obstacles!

What would happen in our lives, if we would give God our little bit? Even though it is “five loaves and two fish,” what if we gave it over to God as our genuine offering? How could that not only be transformed into something more, but it could be an instrument in our love relationship with Jesus Christ?

The truth is – God wants to give us far more than we have settled for!

Life has a way of turning everything upside down, and we just want the roller coaster to settle down. So, we settle. But, we need to keep our spiritual ears open to what God could do in our midst.

Let’s read and soak up the truth found in this Scripture –

“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed (Mark 6:41-44).”

This passage of Scripture offers us beautiful hope!

God can take our little, and make it into so much more. But, we have to come to Him. We have to come to Jesus. Bring our little to Jesus, and share it with Him!

We will come away with Jesus, gaining far more than we had when we first came to Him. What are we waiting for?

Characteristics of God, Devotion, Godly Living

Living, Breathing Offering

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable
to God, which is your spiritual service. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:1-2).”

Our bodies are collectively what makes up the Church. We are called to give our bodies as a living, breathing offering. A living sacrifice. A sacrifice is how people in the OT met with God. They gave God sacrificial offerings, that would cover their sins. Because of the mercies of God. Because of Jesus Christ. We can give a different kind of offering. We can give ourselves. This is our spiritual service. This is how we operate in the Church. We are to give our hands and feet. To give all we are, knowing how much God has given up on our behalf.

“Before we trusted Christ, we used our bodies for sinful pleasures and purposes, but now that we belong to Him, we want to use our bodies for His glory. The Christian’s body is God’s temple (1 Cor. 6:19-20) because the Spirit of God dwells within him (Rom. 8:9). It is our privilege to glorify Christ in our bodies and magnify Christ in our bodies (Phil. 1:20-21) (Warren Wiersbe).”

In addition to our bodies, we need to give our minds and wills to God. This is the point in our relationship with God, where we seriously just get before His face and seek after the things of God.

Get to Know Him!

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires (Ps. 37:4).”

When we are in a relationship, we will want to get to know that person.

Have you ever spent so much time around someone, that you become more like them?

Your character begins to reflect theirs. Their habits become your own. We feed off our time with our Savior, just like we feed off our best friend. We become like Him, the more time we spend with Him!

Time Well-Spent

“[T]he LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend… [others] saw that his (Moses) face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD (Ex. 33:11, 34:35).”

We need to get to know our great Savior and allow ourselves to be transformed as we fill up our minds with the “things of God” and trade in our old desires for the will of God. This is the key to unlock Proverbs 37:4 where we are taught that if we take delight in the Lord, then He will give us “the desires of our heart.”

Why would God allow us to go back to where we once were? He knows that place is no good for us. This is a whole new dimension to living.

When we seek after God, we will change as we spend time with Him. As we get to know Him, our hearts change. Our emotions change. The things we once clung to, we cling to no more. When we take the time to give ourselves before the Lord as a living offering, others will notice how we are changing. The same sin we got caught up on before, is no longer a hindrance. We can run past that scene of temptation, where we once lingered and couldn’t find a way to get away.

As we come away to be with Jesus, we begin to change. Step-by-step. Day-by-day. We begin to undergo a big transformation, and it begins the moment we say “yes” to Christ. It begins the moment we resolve to break out our Bibles and turn off our phones or the tv.

Application: How can I take the next step to make my Jesus time count? It may be limiting distractions, getting up early, etc. How can I make my time spent with Jesus a higher priority?

Characteristics of God, Godly Living

To My Weary Friend [[The Shepherd]]

Weary one,

Have you found the words of Psalm 28:9 yet?

Where the psalmist unleashes a barrel of truth… That changes everything.

Where Jesus meets you right where you are, no matter how messy or out-of-sorts your life seems.

He promises to meet us, lead us on, to carry us (if we will let Him), and be our everything.

… Only it isn’t a limited time offer…

It’s for all eternity. But, don’t delay! You are missing sooo much…

See, Jesus is the real deal!

And, He meets us.

Savior this truth, friends!

 

“Lead them like a shepherd, and carry them in your arms forever (Psalms 28:9).”

 

This message, designed for Israel, God’s treasure, is extended to us as well.

… Because Jesus came…

… Because Jesus broke down the barrier from us to Him and us to them…

He wants to save us!

He wants to call us His treasure.

He wants to lead us.

He wants to be our lifelong Shepherd.

He wants to carry us forever.

We don’t have to do life all on our own. We may feel like that is our only option, but I am telling you right now friend that we have another option. A much better option.

Jesus Christ.

He came for YOU! That’s the amazing depth of God’s love for you, that He would leave Heaven’s glory, splendor, and good things… That He would come. There is ONE thing He is missing and longing for..  And, it’s you. It’s me. He wants a love relationship with us. He wants THIS to become our reality.

He wants to be our Good Shepherd, as our reality to live by. Will you allow Him to? He is far more willing than you could ever imagine. Allow Him to step into your mess, your brokenness, and all that consumes your life. He just wants you to let Him in. What is stopping you from inviting Jesus into your heart and life?

Devotions, Godly Living, Testimony

Restore the Broken

What is your favorite promise of God? Where is it found in the Bible? Tonight, while exercising, I was thinking and began praying for God to restore what is broken. I need my God to restore what has been broken. Maybe, you need the same. You need God to restore something important to you that was broken.

Mending the Broken

Throughout Scripture, we see God as One who is found mending what was once broken. We see God mending the broken hearted.

In Isaiah, the prophet writes –

For this is what the high and exalted One says– he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite (Is. 57:15).”

The Psalmists wrote about brokenness, too.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed
(Ps. 34:18).”

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise
(Ps. 51:17).”

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds
(Ps. 147:3).”

In these Scriptures, we are reminded that God is not afraid of brokenness. God doesn’t shy away from those who face some sort of brokenness in their lives.

The truth is – we all are broken in some way or another. We all have relationships that seem more broken than whole. We all have our days where maybe it’s not the relationships, but it is our jobs, finances, choices we make, or sins that cause us to be broken.

The Clinging Promise

Yet, there is that promise in Joel 2:25. In this prophetical book, God shows us that He can, in fact, use the brokenness in our lives. He can restore our season of brokenness. 

God promises His chosen people, Israel, that He will do one thing that stands out from the circumstances they would undergo. He is the God who promises to restore!

In the midst of God’s pronounced judgment, there is a plea toward the end of the second chapter of Joel.

When we come back to God, truly repent of our sins, and seek after the will of God for our lives, He will do something wonderful in our midst.

While He lists all these terrible things that could happen, He tells them something that would make the hair stand up on the back of their neck.

“I will give you back what you lost
in the years when swarms of locusts ate your crops.
It was I who sent this army against you.

Now you will have plenty to eat, and be satisfied.
You will praise the Lord your God,
who has done wonderful things for you.
My people will never be despised again.

Then, Israel, you will know that I am among you
and that I, the Lord, am your God
and there is no other.
My people will never be despised again (Joel 2:25-27).”

God can make up for the years lost, due to the catastrophe. Though the catastrophe was brought on by the sins of the people, God would bring them back to the land of the living. In the midst of their most difficult circumstances, God would fill them up and keep them satisfied. Though they went profoundly hungry, God would soothe their appetite. God would fill up their empty cup.

Make A Change

Let’s not forget the essential aspect of receiving healing for the broken pieces of our lives. We need to surrender to God.

We need to come before God, admitting we are sinners in need of His amazing grace through His Son Jesus Christ, and He will do wonderful things in our midst.

We need to have peace in our relationship with God first, before we can expect Him to fix what is broken.

The greatest priority is for our relationship with God to be restored. We need restoration in many areas of our lives, I am sure, but this stands out as the greatest area in which we need healing.

We need healing, and God is on standby – ready to begin to heal us in every aspect of our lives. It begins with us realizing the greatness of our God, and how much we need Him.

Our Treasure

God wants to turn our years of famine into something different – something beautiful. But, it hinges on us coming before God. In order to stand in His Presence, we need the greatest Advocate we could ever ask for – Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our Advocate, and He is ready to intercede on our behalf before the Father.

I don’t know about you, but I stand in desperate need for Jesus to turn my years of famine and locust into something beautiful. I need God to take my utter foolishness moments, and turn them into something He can use. Despite the great shame of my sins, God can still restore. All I must do is come. Just come to the Heavenly Father.

How are you choosing to seek after the Lord your God today in the midst of your circumstances? How is He making Himself known in your midst right at this very moment? What are you facing that feels broken, beyond repair, that needs God’s precious touch?

Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I have sinned against heaven and earth. I pray You would forgive me. Thank You that Your forgiveness is instant, without any grudges. If anyone had a right to hold a grudge against me, it would be You. Thank You for the love and grace You readily extend to me – instead. I pray You would turn the ugly into something beautiful, into something You can use. I pray You would restore the broken in my life, and use it to display Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”