Thessalonians

Week 7: Friday Five (2 Thess. 1)

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 2 Thessalonians 1

(1) As we continue to follow Jesus Christ, we are kept safe (1:1). This is perhaps one of the greatest treasures I have found. As a woman, I crave protection. So to know that my Jesus, my King, is protecting me and keeping me safe – is comforting beyond words! It makes me okay with the difficult days, when I stop long enough to realize I am being protected and kept safe by the King of Kings!

. . . To: The church of Thessalonica—kept safe in God our Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1, TLB).

(2) We are given rich blessings, which are found through our relationship with Jesus (1:2). In my digital Bible, it is translated a bit differently which helps to understand the Bible more clearly. Because of God the Father and our Lord Jesus, we have been given rich blessings and peace-filled hearts and minds (1:2b, TLB).

Does it get any better? In the world we live in, peace – filled hearts and minds are one of the greatest gifts we can be given. In a day where our minds and hearts run like they are on a treadmill all night long, the peace Jesus gives is enduring and ever-loving!

(3) We have the opportunity to do three specific things based on the knowledge of those God has placed in our path, who continue to be an encouragement to our faith (1:3-4). We can pray for them, share with others about lessons we are learning through their example, and give thanks.

Each of these things are growing points for me. I believe they are for each of us. We live in a “me first” world, which causes us to forget or neglect others, their faith, and the privilege of praying for them or sharing things we learn through their example.

(4) God can use our sufferings to make us ready for His Kingdom (1:5-6). This set of verses will cause us to give James 1 a second chance, where we are urged to count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4, NKJV).

We need to trust that God will use our sufferings for His ultimate good. He is preparing us for something greater. His Kingdom is worthy of our suffering (see Prov. 3:5-6; Rom. 8:18).

(5) As we face suffering, God will provide us with quality rest through Jesus’ second coming (1:7, 10). As we come into His Kingdom, we will forever know God as He honestly is – with no holding back. 

One day, we will stand in His presence and will never again be distracted by the circumstances we are facing or the things of this world. We will stand in His presence in utter awe and overwhelmed with joy. We will be fully satisfied in the Lord.

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?

The Overcomer Life

Slow Down // Trusting Him

These days, I am learning the benefit of slowly studying God’s Word. Verse – by – Verse. Slowly digesting the good news God wants to share with us. Slowing down allows us to take it all in. Including its delight and joy, too.

This is the way we study right here on Gracefully Overcoming, so we can get the most out of our time in the Word. It begun with the book of Ephesians this past summer, and recently we studied Gleaning From the Heart of Jesus in a like manner. Absolute joy! These studies are helping me grow spiritually in abounding ways. I am ready for what awaits us in January (even though I am still hammering down the details)!

Slowing down to meaningfully engage in God’s Word is becoming so important to me. I want to exchange rushing and long reading plans (which work for many people, but my overwhelmed soul needs a slower pace), for the delight, love, nourishment, and healing found in Jesus’ short messages. So, I can become a doer of His Word.

I have been considering the studies I want to pursue for 2017. There are many good things we can study, my friends. We simply need to remember to let it be a vehicle taking us right into His presence. At times, we seem prone to busyness like a bad cold- even in our quiet times with Jesus. To enjoy His presence, let yourself slow down. Escape the urge to stay busy. Becoming more of a Mary than a Martha.

Take God’s Word one small bite at a time. Deliberately, taking our time to graze and delight in the Lord. So, we can get the most out of our time and relationship with God and His powerful Word. This is the place, where real life transformation happens!


Today, I want for us to look at a specific concept. We call it, “trust”. God commands us to place our trust in Him. We need to slow it down, and learn to develop this kind of trust in the Lord.

How are we putting our trust in the Lord, for the choices we make today?

In the Bible, we are taught to trust. Throughout God’s entire Word, there is one word that can be used to define our relationship with God. It is just this, trust. We are taught to trust God.

In Proverbs 3:5-6, we are reminded that trusting God is of greater value to us than any level of understanding we could ever have.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Psalm 37:3-7a talks about trusting the Lord, too. But, this specific passage, Proverbs 3:5-6, is the one God has laid upon my heart. It is the one I am trying to remember, as I make difficult choices. I want to learn what it means to trust God, so He can be the one in charge of my life.

Take-Away: Trusting God is a deliberate action. Consider your own acts of trusting God, and bring it to Him in prayer.

~ Stacey

Gleaning from the Heart of Jesus

Discovery of the Better Thing {{Week 9}}

Today (Wednesday, the 8th) is day 59 of our Bible study. We only have a few short days left. I found an error in the journal for today, so I wanted to pop in. This way, none of us miss the key to developing what is called “good fruit” in our lives. While the journal gives a non-existent Scripture reference, our accompany Scripture is actually John 15:4-5.

Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit [worthy of admiration], but the sickly (decaying, worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit. A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit [worthy of admiration]. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. Therefore, you will fully know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:17-20; AMPC).

Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing (John 15:4-5).

In Matthew 7:17-20, we are reminded that our lives will either produce “bad” or “good” fruit. Every place in our lives has the potential to reveal the real outpour of our faith. In our lives, our faith in Jesus is put on display as we live out our lives.

One example of good fruit and its possibilities is in how we treat others. If we want to treat others well, we will want “good” fruit that is worthy of admiration rather than “bad” fruit that is diseased and shows we are relying on our own efforts.

In today’s Scriptures, we are taught two important truths.

  1. Our lives will either produce good or bad fruit (see Galatians 5:22-23). There is no in-between. Will we be hot or cold in our remaining (by continuing to sit with and pursue) in Jesus? How so?
  2. Jesus Christ is the ultimate key to experiencing life at its best! He is the One who can open His storehouses, and give us what we seek and could ever need. How are we allowing Jesus to be our complete hope and Source of life?

As long as we stay connected to Jesus, staying in His beautiful presence, we will see good “fruit” in our lives. This is part of finding the new life Jesus promises to give us. If we will sit with Him, if we will sit in His presence, if we will resolve to keep going to Him in prayer, He will continue to work in our hearts and lives.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is what makes the difference between living worthless lives and a new life that we can be proud of. It is about Jesus Christ. While our efforts may be a part of it, it is a small part. The more important thing, Mary discovered and we can too. The more important thing is Jesus Christ. The more important thing is to keep our focus on Jesus Christ and learning how to simply be with Him. This is the better thing.

Head over to Luke 10:38-42 to read Mary’s story!

BookLook

Jesus Always (Sarah Young, BookLook)

Friends, I have two wonderfully uplifting books to share with you the next few days. Both of these books are encouraging my spirit, and we all need more encouragement going on in our spirits.

Today, I have a bonus book review for you. Usually, I wait a few days before releasing the next review I have in store. However today, we are doing things a bit differently. So, I will be sharing with you the newest book by Sarah Young.

_225_350_book-2036-coverSarah Young is the author of Jesus Calling, which quickly became a favorite in the hearts of many believers since its arrival in 2011.

Jesus Always is her newest 365 day devotional. This book has been such a joy to have on hand. Even on the days, when life is most difficult, we are given the encouragement to remind us of the joy found in Christ.

While our human joy is often in short supply, God’s joy is unending. There is joy found in the presence of God.

With each devotional, we are reminded of the hope and joy found in Christ. These devotionals, by Sarah Young, have proven themselves to be such an encouragement in the life of the believer.

For me, I have been able to use my copy of Jesus Always to stay encouraged in the moments where it is most needed. I have been blessed with a copy of this timely devotional, to accompany me to a particularly dreadful time of medical testing. I have been blessed with this devotional, to keep me encouraged – even when I can only read for a few moments at a time. Actually, this devotion is perfect for those moments. I have been able to keep it near my bed. So, it is always available when I need something Spirit-led to read. When I need to be reminded of His truth, this is one of those resources.

While it is a good resource, it is never meant to be a replacement for our daily Bible study time. We need to allow it, to draw us deeper into His Word.

God is using Young greatly, through her writings, as others use them to draw nearer to God.

While Young writes each devotion from the perspective of our heavenly Father, we are reminded of the exact biblical references – where we learn these things are from the heart of God.

To increase our study time, we would benefit even more by taking these biblical passages and writing them upon our hearts. We are given the tools to lead us deeper in the Word of God. This is one of those tools, as we have a devotion that will cause our hearts to swell up with joy and desire to study these passages more intently.

You can find Jesus Always (and the rest of Young’s devotionals) on Amazon. Right now, Jesus Always is available for $9.99 in print or kindle form.