Thessalonians

Week 8: 2 Thess. 2:15 {Stand Firm, My Friends}

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15, NIV). 

I have this week’s memory verse posted in several places of our home. It has continued to serve me with the needed reminder to stand firm and hold fast to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Even though I finished week 8 many weeks ago, I haven’t been able to take it down.

It has provided necessary encouragement, throughout the difficult days, when giving up seems tempting.

Stand firm literally means to keep one standing. In order to stand our ground, we must remember the hope we have found in Jesus Christ. We cannot allow circumstances to cause us to waiver either to the left or right, if God has called us to a specific thing. Let’s trust Him and obey Him in that specific thing.

In order to persist, we need to remember Jesus Christ’s word – which has lovingly been given to us. While in the Bible we are taught many things about God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the life He is lovingly calling us too, this is where the Holy Spirit steps in. In many different scenarios I cannot tell you what God is calling you to do, but God definitely is able to do exceedingly more than you could ever ask Him to do.

He promises us wisdom when we ask for it, gives us the resolve to stand strong, and helps us to continue on. A message we all, including me, need to hear – because we can get weary at times. God is calling us to stand strong in our faith. It is impossible to do this, when we are not allowing ourselves the necessary time spent in His presence and reading our Bible.

Keep listening for His voice, as you persevere and seek Him above all things.

This is definitely one truth we need to hold close to our heart, as we seek to live out the truths we learn in the Thessalonians.

See Psalm 46:1; Proverbs 3:5-6; Eph. 3:20; James 1:5

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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Blogging for Books

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart (Blogging-for-Books)

higgsHave you ever wondered how to memorize Scripture? I have a wonderful study tool to share with you all today!

Liz Curtis Higgs’ latest book is on this very important topic – memorizing Scripture. As Christians, we know we need to make an effort to memorize the Word of God (see Ps. 119:11; Joshua 1:8; Matthew 4:1-11; Col. 3:16; Rom. 10:17). But, have you ever asked yourself how to do this important task? I know I have found myself in that very place, which is why I am pleased to bring this review to you all.

In her book, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart, Higgs takes us on a beautiful journey. We will not only come away with having spent memorable time in the Word of God and learning to memorize Scripture, but will have also made a good friend and learned much about God and His Word.

This study is available for personal use, but there is one more benefit to this book. The study guide, located in the back of the book, makes it ideal for a small group study as well. This study is absolutely amazing! I hope you all have an opportunity to check it out!

Specifics on the Study

These are 31 verses that we desperately need to know by heart. When we learn the Scriptures, by heart, they will come to mind at the very moment their presence is needed. A short list of the set aside verses include –

  • Philippians 1:6
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Proverbs 3:3

… among many other treasured Scriptures that remind us of God’s truths.

In each day’s reading, you can expect to find 5 key elements…

~ A devotion
~ Time of prayer
~ The daily tip for memorizing Scripture (which means we get 31 tips designed to help us memorize Scripture!!)
~ The Scripture of the day in New International Version (NIV)
~ A space for us to write out the verse in our favorite translation

My Last Thoughts

I love to pore through this book. There is so much truth found within the contents of this book, that comes from God’s Word. In her devotions, Liz takes us through the Scripture word – by- word, phrase – by – phrase. Higgs is a researcher, which is one of my favorite things about her way of teaching, so we get to glean all that she is learning and has to share with us.

Not only is Liz knowledgeable, when it comes to the Word of God, she is witty. Whenever I take a journey with one of her books, it is like I am reacquainting with an old friend. This study will challenge us in our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Plus, it isn’t a time consuming study – which is a must for many of us. As we dive into 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart, we will be challenged to seek after God and to come as we are. This study is a blessing, and I highly recommend it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the “Blogging for Books” book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Citizen of Heaven, Resident of Earth

Choices Despite Culture {Daniel}

In chapter 1, we discover how Daniel and his friends were torn between following God and obeying what the Babylonian culture instructed them to do. They had just been pulled away from their homes and all they know. Now, they had to decide – God versus culture. Those in authority told them they had to do something, that would cause them to disobey God. And, they had to reach a place of knowing what to do. Many of us find ourselves in a similar place of deciding whether to follow God or someone in authority (or even what society says).

Each of us will face the decision of who we will listen to and obey. It will either be God or someone else (or something else). We have to make the difficult decision to choose God over everything else – even if it makes us an outcast. God has chosen to dwell with us, so we have all we need to make these difficult decisions.

The Choice to Follow God

In college, I took a required science class. It stood against everything I believed. God showed me grace and growth that summer. I held onto my Bible like crazy and kept His truths close – and His Holy Spirit even closer. I know, God helped me with each difficult decision I made – during that season of my life. He enabled me to attend class, do the work, share my faith, and witness to others.

When we seek God’s help, He will show up!

Daniel’s Resolve

In Daniel 1:8, we see Daniel’s resolve bursting out. He did not stay quiet about his resolve. Daniel made the choice to wholly give himself to God and to walk in obedience, even if it seemed difficult or impossible to do. And, God made the way for Daniel to obey Him rather than submitting to the culture that would cause him to sin against God!

How do we continue to make God honoring decisions, even when things aren’t going our way?

He made very hard decisions. In life-or-death kinds of situations. As we read the book of Daniel, this is made clear. He had such a godly courage that I hope we come to emulate over our lifetime. It shows Christ in us, on such a profound level. Everything he did, revealed his trust in God. We can see the kind of relationship Daniel had with God.

… And it is amazing to know, we can have a close relationship with God like that too. This is all made possible by the blood, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ pave the way, to give us a right relationship with God and an abundance of peace. We are never alone either, for He walks with us!

Even in difficult times, God can give us His peace and direction! It is especially in these moments that we seek God the most, but let’s go forward full throttle in our pursuit of God. Praising Him, as He takes us through difficult situations, and when life is good too. With each choice we make, let us resolve to pray for our leaders, and to keep on praying in all situations.