Week 7: Friday Five (2 Thess. 1)

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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.

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Matthew 6: Motives and Motions of Worship

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“But when you do these righteous acts, do not do
them in front of spectators
. Don’t do them where
you can be seen, let alone lauded, by others. If
you do, you will have no reward from your
Father in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1, VOICE

Scripture reminds us that we need to be careful how we worship God. A lot of times, we can get caught up in the motions and end up gloating about our “worship practices”. Jesus makes it clear that if we do our righteous acts (praying, fasting, charity, serving) with the intention of receiving praise from others, then that is our reward.

We will have lost our true reward, given to us by God alone!

This may be an intentional act, or perhaps not-so-intentional. It can be “easy” to get caught up in wanting others’ attention, but we lose our reward. Our heavenly reward is why we offer praise and worship to God. We need to guard our hearts, and be careful how we worship.

We need to keep our gaze heavenward, by staying focused on Jesus Christ – the One whom has given us life!

The Difference?

Outwardly, our worship may look the same.
But inwardly, the difference between heart-felt worship and vying for human attention – well, it makes all the difference. Doesn’t it?

Deliberate

We need to get deliberate in how we worship. How is the worship we do for God alone? Be careful not to get caught up in the motions and letting people know what you are doing.

In verse 24, we are reminded that we can’t serve two masters. It doesn’t matter if it is money or something else. Our hearts are still revealed by whom we will serve. Will we become self-seeking/serving, or live for our audience of One?

“For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also (vv. 21).”

Focus

We are called to keep our eyes on God.

Not to our left.
Not to our right.
Nowhere, except for on Jesus Christ and His Word.
Keeping our focus on God alone!

Today’s highlighted passage focuses our attention on considering the kind of worship we offer to God. How will we choose to worship God, and do it solely for Him today? Don’t get caught up in the motions today. Choose God alone, and seek His face.

What Are You Looking At?

Remember, as you focus on the Lord Jesus today, that He loves you. He will provide for you. When we worship, it is about choosing to give to God all that we are, knowing that when we do it for Him – we don’t miss any rewards. And, His rewards – are far better than anything this world could ever offer us.

More than the rewards, it is just about being with our Savior and presenting our offering. It is making the deliberate decision not to become Cain-like and offer our left-overs. It is choosing to glorify God with our minds, hearts, souls, and body. Knowing, God will honor every single sacrifice we bring to Him.

When Jesus speaks of eyes and light, He means all
people should keep their eyes on God because the
eyes are the windows to the soul (VOICE Commentary)…

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and then all these things will be
given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow.
Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a
large enough task for today (vv. 33-34).

Head Games…

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“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the
Spirit is life and peace. 
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile
to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” – Romans 8:6-8

The battle between my flesh and seeking His Spirit in my life is something I am starting to refer to as “head games”. It is by no means “a game”, but it explains there is a struggle that exists there. It isn’t me versus another human being. It is my flesh rebelling against God. It is my flesh rebelling against wanting anything to do with God. It is in a heavy mental battle that cannot be won on my own. I need my Savior to help me. I need my Protector – to aid me in this battle. Scripture has much to say on the battle between flesh and spirit. We don’t have to go far to realize that it indeed is a battle. It can be an exhausting one on different levels.

As I am aware of the struggle, I must ask: How do I conquer these spiritual “mind games”? Three things I know would help me in this struggle.

  • God’s Word. I need to make sure I am in the Word of God, and meditate on passages that deal with the flesh battle that I am facing. I need to meditate and seek to remember Scriptures such as: Galatians 5:1, 16-25; 1 Peter 5:7-10; Matthew 28:41; 2 John 1:8; Philippians 4:8. I need to write out these Scriptures, and strategically place them around my home.
  • Prayer. I need to be Spirit-led in my prayers. I cannot allow my needs to overshadow the importance of being in God’s Presence. God has given me the Holy Spirit to comfort and teach me all kinds of things. God wants to equip me. My problem is not making use of the resources.
  • Faith. The last one possibly requires the greatest explanation. I need to grow in trusting God to do what He says He is capable of doing. I need to believe that God is faithful and my Deliverer. I need to cling to what God wants to teach me in Ephesians 3:20 where He says:

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all
that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…”

Prayer: To Be Saturated

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I planned to get to into the Word through my reading plan yesterday. Plan: epic fail. Today? New day, today. I may be behind, but more important to be in the Word, to be present in the Word, to enjoy my time in the Word. To be saturated in the Word. Just me and God. The desire to be in the Word may not come so naturally on a day like today. Day when I am preparing to go out into the world, and do stuff. Feelings of rushing come naturally. Preparations, I must make. Aching wrist (no longer aching after time in the Word. How awesome is that?!?). Anyway, I am here. I am enjoying the stillness of the world around me (empty house), and ready to just be here.

I am not the only one with this struggle. Paul had it too. In some ways, there’s comfort in that. I am not alone. Paul knew the struggle to. In the book of Romans, Paul wrote: “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate (vs. 15).” Paul battled the same struggle that I, and many others, do. The struggle between what I ought to do, and what I find myself doing. The physical part of illness can get in the way of my quiet time a lot more than I wish it would.

We are called to prepare ourselves for action, revamping our thoughts- only way to change our habits and help us get into the Word, and we need to be renewed. Being  renewed comes from being with God, and it happens as we spend time with the Lord. This is where the saturation process begins. I need to be saturated. So, I want to take little steps to get in the Word and surround myself with the Lord: listening to praise music and fellowshipping with other Christians is a big part of this saturation process.

Lord, forgive me for choosing things other than You. Cleanse me like only You can do. Lord, help me. Help me to want the things that You want for me. You know the ultimate good. You know the crummy things that I settle for, the things that leave me feeling empty. Help me to be saturated in Your Word. Help me to desire to be deeper in Your Word. Give me a deeper understanding for Your Word, and my need for You alone! I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Few other Bible verses that are important on this subject for those who are interested:

Romans 12:2

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Ephesians 4:20-24

“But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Colossians 3:16

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God.”