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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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 3: Five Friday (1 Thessalonians 3)

Originally, I was turned onto this mode of carrying out the “Five Minute Friday,” by a dear friend. Marie faithfully carries out this Friday series, on her own blog. The idea is to offer five bold points, that you may read within five minutes.

Five Truths On. . . 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

(1) Because of their aching hearts, Paul sent someone to go and check on the Thessalonians. Even if they had social media back then, I don’t think it could ever do the heartfelt thing that they set out to do. Physically, they sent Timothy to be with their friends to see how they were doing. Timothy went on the motive of love and risked everything. They didn’t just “like” their status, but went to them and had honest conversations which could have involved confession, glory stories of God’s work, and much encouragement.

(2) Suffering are a part of every Christian’s life. In 3:3-4, we learn how the missionaries prepared the Thessalonians for what they would face. They were well prepared for the expected suffering. God used the brethren to help prepare them as well as encouraging them to endure. Their new life meant they wouldn’t undergo suffering without the support of the body of Christ.

… But of course you know that such troubles are a part of God’s plan for us Christians.  Even while we were still with you we warned you ahead of time that suffering would soon come—and it did (TLB).

(3) The ministers proved themselves, as they showed concern for the Thessalonians. We live in a time, where it is easy to forget about others. Even in their suffering, these ministers reached out to see how their beloved friends were doing in their faith and in their new lives founded by Christ Jesus. This shows the depth of their love for Jesus and others.

(4) Knowing the truth about their friends’ faith brought joy and comfort to the imprisoned missionaries. Once we finally know how others are, it makes room for comfort and an abundance of joy that moves our hearts nearer to God. Their faith will encourage ours, even if we seem like these great people of faith on the outside. God only knows the measure of our need to hear how God is working in others’ lives. It offers us courage and hope to see how He will move in ours!

(5) Hearing about others’ faith in Christ ought to drive us to worship our Savior that much more. The unknown of a friend’s belief in Christ will drive us to our knees, to pray desperately on their behalf. If desperation precedes joy, the worship is all the more lively and intimate.  It’s a much needed time of remembering God’s goodness and that this is the God who walks with us.

How can we thank God enough for you and for the joy and delight you have given us in our praying for you? For night and day we pray on and on for you, asking God to let us see you again, to fill up any little cracks there may yet be in your faith (9-10).

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).”