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).

Thessalonians

Week 1: Friday Five (1 Thess. 1:1-2:6)

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 1:1-2:6. . .

(1)  Our prayer lives are to be the strongest aspect of the Christian life (see 1:2-3). One of the more noteworthy aspects of this section of Scripture is their prayer lives. These were men who knew the significance of the need to praise and pray to the Father. If we want to grow as believers in Jesus Christ, we would be wise to take cues from their example –

We always thank God for all of you. We keep on praying for you. We remember you when we pray to our God and Father. Your work is produced by your faith. Your service is the result of your love. Your strength to continue comes from your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1:2-3, NIRV).

(2) God dearly loves us, and has chosen to call us His own (1:4). The most important form of love comes from our heavenly Father. We have been hand-picked by Him and passionately loved. Because of the way God loves us, we know that we will never have to walk alone. God, our Creator, is the One who walks with us – even carrying us, as we face difficult days in our lives. We need to keep our eyes focused on the One who loves us more than any other ever could!

(3) Our faith rests in our Lord Jesus Christ, and is transformative (see 1:6, 9-10). The Thessalonians’ lives were changed from the moment they first heard the Gospel and chose to believe. They put all their heart, soul, and mind into what they believed to be true about Jesus. They never half-heartedly believed, but the way they trusted Jesus showed up in every aspect of their lives.

. . . They tell about how you turned away from statues of gods. And you turned to serve the living and true God. They tell about how you are waiting for his Son to come from heaven. God raised him from the dead. He is Jesus. He saves us from God’s anger, and his anger is sure to come (1:9b-10).

(4) Our actions will change, in light of faith (see 1:10). As we gaze at the way the Thessalonians’ lives were changed by their beliefs in Christ, we can be encouraged that our lives can experience the same kind of transformation. As we place our faith in Jesus Christ, and no other, our lives can be radically changed.

(5) While our goal is to please God, not people, our faith-filled lives causes us to become examples of what it looks like to follow Jesus Christ (see 1:7-8, 2:4-6). Before we can become examples ourselves, we must be taught. God has given us Christ-centered people in whom we can see how they lived out their faith. Paul called people to imitate him, as he imitated Christ. He taught with his words, but as well as his very life.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1, NIV).

As we follow our Lord Jesus in faith, we are given many others who show us how to trust Jesus as the Lord of our lives. These people help us learn what it means to have faith in Jesus and allow it to alter the choices we make. As we grow, we are gifted the opportunity to entrust others with what we have been taught. It is a continual gift to others in the church.

 

Thessalonians

Let the Thessalonians’ Journey BEGIN!

Hey friends,

We kick off our Thessalonians study in the morning. Normally, we will begin the week by focusing on our memory verse. I had a blog post in the works about our memory verse, but here’s the thing: it’s not done yet (Saturday was a horrendously bad POTS day, which oddly enough was supposed to be my writing day).

I have to remember days like these will occur, when sickness or something else arise that put a slight pause on some of the blog posts. But, we are here. We are committing ourselves to Jesus Christ and His Word! As these days come, it is an imperative opportunity to lay our plans aside and see the plans Jesus Christ, our King, is going to carry out. To see what the God of the Universe is going to accomplish in that situation.

In these moments of unmet plans, we are able to stop everything and remember His presence. Not only is His presence available to us, we can fully come to Him and just cry out to Him.

In these moments, we realize the power of prayer and just allowing Jesus to hold us – when everything seems to be on hold (or nearing falling apart). But, we aren’t giving up. Let’s use this study and whatever arises in our lives as opportunities to get closer to Jesus Christ.

… So, my goal is to have the memory verse post to you all by Wednesday.

So, let’s just focus on our memory verse.

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you (1 Thessalonians 1:4, NIV).

Grab an index card or piece of paper. And, write out our Bible verse in your preferred translation. The translation I use varies. I think my Thessalonian index cards are TNIV. I adore using the Voice or New Living Translation (NLT), but often go for my main Bible – which is TNIV.

Whatever Bible translation you use and love, use it. I use a variety of Bible translations for clarity, and find it really helps me to engage more intently in Bible study when I use my favorite Bible translation. Some people use King James Version (KJV). While I am not a KJV reader myself, I adore the Modern King James Version I have on my ESword app for my phone. Really, I do. It’s awesome. Not only can I use it away from WiFi, it is filled with God honoring commentary and a few different Bible translations . . . as well as the much loved Strong’s Concordance to help me understand what the individual words mean in their original language. It is literally my favorite Bible app (but I also utilize Bible Gateway and YouVersion, if I have WiFi).

One of the biggest things I could say, as we all prepare to start our Thessalonians study is: Plan the study and memory verse into your day. Don’t allow it to become an afterthought. Because when we do, why hellooooo it’s Wednesday and you still haven’t broke out your memory verse cards yet (more on memorizing Scripture and my honest struggle in a couple days).

My hope for us in treking through the Thessalonians is to just meet with Jesus. We need to carve out space in our lives to just center our lives around who God truly is, His power, and His glorious presence. Knowing God, through His Son Jesus Christ, should literally change our lives, and this week we get the abundant joy of seeing how meeting Jesus completely changed the Thessalonians’ lives. They were transformed not for a moment, but a lifetime!

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.