Thessalonians

Week 2: Wrap Up

What was special about this week’s message? I invite you to comment below, and share with me (and other readers) about how God spoke to you in this week’s Bible study on 1 Thessalonians

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:7-20

… We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did (vv. 7-8, MSG).

Jesus’ Deep Love

Jesus Christ loves all of humanity. He saw and felt the agony of our lost relationship due to our disobedience. Sin separates us from God, and Jesus went to incredible lengths to bring us back into a right standing relationship with the Father, where we can stand in His presence, enjoy sweet intimacy with God, and have our prayers heard! Jesus Christ took our sins, died on our cross, and rose again. Because of Jesus Christ, we can be restored and have our God-shaped hole in our spirits – filled! Will we accept Jesus Christ and let Him love us?

If we are following Jesus Christ, it is because someone had the courage to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with us. Praise God!! We know the mighty power and love of our Risen Lord, but need to share the Good News with others – so they can come to know the love of our Savior and how He can radically change their lives for the better.

This kind of boldness comes only from being with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

What Scripture Says:

We can show others His love, by the way we treat them. Scripture teaches us a few things, in regards to treating others as a means to share Jesus with others.

  • Love others the way you love others (Matthew 22:39).
  • Do good to all people, especially those in God’s family (Galatians 6:10).
  • Be wise in the way you interact with non-believers (Colossians 4:5-6).

Learning How to Treat Others

Relating to others has never come easily for me. Even if it is out-of-my-element, God is calling His sons and daughters to go into the world and share the Gospel and ourselves with others.

Before we can do so, we have to learn how to treat others. We need to learn how to love well, starting with how we love (and treat) ourselves.

This is where leaning into Jesus really counts, because He is the One showing me to love. While He shows us how to love, it has to begin by realizing the love He has personally for each of us. This is the most important relationship we have, with Jesus Christ. So, I need to nurture this special relationship. Christ ought to be my motivation in how I treat others, for these acts of kindness can last for eternity.

Jesus, You are our Hope! You are why we can have the strength to change the way we treat others. Thank You, Lord!

Thessalonians

Week 1: Learning About His Love

How is everyone doing with this week’s study and memory verse? Our memory verse for the week is found in 1 Thessalonians 1:4, which says –

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you…

The Spiritual Election

We need to know deep in our spirits that election, which has already taken place. God has chosen us. There is no other’s vote who counts more than God’s. God has specifically chosen you, to become His own son or daughter, through the sacrifice and salvation found in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We recently went through a significant presidential election. One filled with emotions and arguments. This is not the sort of election that has taken place in Heaven, concerning us. God specifically and lovingly chose us. He has loved us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), and this is why we have been chosen. Being chosen has absolutely nothing to do with our appearance, talents, health, or how far we have come in our lives. We are chosen specifically, because God loves us and wants us to spend eternity with Him!

Being chosen by God is fully dependent upon who He is. He desires to spend time with us, who are uniquely made by Him. He is our good good Father, and honestly wants to be with us more than anything else!

Loved Anyway

It’s hard for me to envision in my mind that God has seen all of humanity at their best and worst, yet He has still chosen me.  Especially on days like today, where my struggles are real, I cannot imagine the process of being chosen. As hard as it is to believe, because I wouldn’t choose me on a day like today, God has purposely chosen me and dwells with me in my moments of trouble.

He has chosen us. He wants to just love us and be there for us. If we could grasp this truth, our entire perspective would change. As we grasp this truth, we begin to look at our relationship with Jesus differently and become increasingly more transformed than the day before.

This kind of love is what led the prodigal son home. The Father’s love is incomparable to anything else we could ever experience. We are fully welcomed into our Lord’s presence, because of what Jesus Christ has done. We have been ushered into our heavenly Father’s presence, from the moment we begin to follow Jesus Christ.

We might liken this moment to being invited to a party, but it is far different than anything we could ever experience. We are invited to sit at the table with the very guest of honor Himself – Jesus Christ. We are fully welcomed, involved in heartfelt conversation, and given the tremendous privilege to enjoy Him and His presence.

We need to realize that… God’s relationship with us is the highest thing on His “to do” list!

The Ultimate Love

This is the ultimate kind of love, where we will be welcomed, entertained, to be fond of, and to be dearly loved. Also, to be well pleased and contented with. This means: we will always have God’s full attention. He is not going to get restless in His relationship with us, and move onto the next one. God is fully invested in our lives, and desires to be with us more than anything else!

Because of His enormous kind of love, God has chosen us. We have been hand-picked by God to have our relationship with Him restored, through His precious Son Jesus Christ!

Signature

Gleaning from the Heart of Jesus

Made to Shine {{Week 4}}

Welcome, friends!

I invite you to get out your study journal and Bible, if you have it nearby. If you haven’t had the privilege of ordering your study journal yet, you can do so here (Please Note: It’s an affiliate link).

The Scriptures – Matthew 5:14-16; John 8:12

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16, MSG).

Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in (John 8:12, NIRV).”

Devotion

Before I first decided to follow Jesus, I was filled with nothing but darkness. In my spirit, that’s all there was – death and darkness.

… Then I met Jesus, and He changed everything!

He took all the darkness, and gave me His light. He took on my punishment, so I wouldn’t face a permanent spiritual death. And, He gave me new life. Best of all, I can now have a relationship with Him that thrives on intimacy and His grace.

I now stand before the world as a new creation, filled with the light of Christ. We are like a city of a hill. You can’t hide the transformation Christ is doing inside of you. The light given to you – was always made to shine!

With Jesus, we can shine in the darkness.

As you give Christ the space to proclaim His glory through you, many others will come to know Jesus Christ and His transformative power too! This is why we resist the urge to run away and hide (Hello Jonah!). We have been shown the great mercies of God.

. . .

Try as we may, we just cannot hide. We simply cannot ignore the change God does inside of us. Like Moses’ shining face (see Exodus 34:33-35; 2 Corinthians 3:12-13), we will shine the darkness right out of this world. Not because of anything we could do on our own, it is simply who God is. He expels the darkness, when we come to Him, surrendering, and make Him Lord over our lives… when we give up control, so we can begin a relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ! It all begins with abiding in Jesus (see John 15).

We can’t ignore the good work God is doing in our hearts, but why would we want to? Let Jesus continue His good work. He is doing great things, you just wait and see (see Philippians 1:6)

Lord Jesus, You are good and do good. Thank You for the way that You’re changing me. Help me to keep shining for You, so others will come to know You too! Amen.

Serving

Preparing to Serve

It has been one of those weeks.

I need to clear out the spaces in my spirit.

… Tomorrow is Sunday.

The Privilege of Serving Sundays

Sunday is the day, where I am given the abundant privilege to serve God and my brothers and sisters in His family! Don’t get me wrong, we are given opportunities to serve God and His people on a daily basis. But, Sunday’s always feel a bit different than those other opportunities. Perhaps, it’s just me.

For me, Sunday’s are long – yet there is something beautiful about them. It is a time to hear the Word of God faithfully preached, meet with His people, laugh with His people, and to be vulnerable with His people. All of which is actually an opportunity to see God and His handiwork more.

Preparing for Tomorrow

I just want to be prepared for tomorrow. Like I said, interesting week. More like, an interesting “encounter” (since I don’t want to divulge more information, we will leave it there). And, I just can’t get it off my mind. I am wondering what is the next step. I am wondering about a lot of things – actually.

Thankfully, I am talking with my Risen Savior about it. While the thoughts creep in and I can’t imagine vulnerably telling others in a face-to-face conversation, I am sharing it with my great God who already knows what is going on.

Tomorrow, I am given the opportunity to serve. As I look back through my serving posts from this year, I can see how it has been quite a year (something I have meant to write about at some point). I have wondered and wandered about where God wants me to serve. I finally have places, where I am serving. God has been providing this year, because I asked and He answered!

How does one prepare to serve?

  1. Get alone with the Lord. Carve out very specific time, to shut out distractions and seek the Lord (see Exodus 19:3a and Luke 5:16).
  2. Recognize God’s greatness. Pore over Isaiah 40, and remember God’s vastness (see Psalm 77:13-15). Our faith is dependent on what we know about God. Keep remembering the God you serve!
  3. Remember what Jesus has done for you! We can offer up ourselves as a living offering, because of what Jesus has done for us. The mercy of God needs to be our motivation. Keep looking to the cross and His empty tomb. Keep looking to the new life He has given you (see Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21).
  4. Repent of sin. In Scripture, we are reminded that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Because of the God we serve, we can come asking for forgiveness and rest assured that He is faithful and just and will do it (see 1 John 1:9).
  5. Enjoy God’s Presence. Take time to simply rest in Him. Celebrate who God is. Celebrate the kind of relationship God has given you with Himself, through Jesus Christ. Celebrate that God will equip you, to serve Him (see Exodus 33:14; Psalm 16:11, 27:4).
  6. Pour out your heart. Share your heart with God. Tell Him what is going on, right now. Honestly. God sees you. God sees your brokenness. God sees the masks you tend to put on, before you leave the house. God knows what you face. Nothing you can think or say, will shock God. Use this time, to simply be with Him. In the book of Psalms, we are given examples of how people have prayed through their brokenness (see Psalm 13).

I will stop today’s post right here. I have tons to say on brokenness, serving, and other semi-related topics. we will have to pick up where I left off – another time.

Until next time,

Stacey

Gleaning from the Heart of Jesus

Poor and Desperate {{Week 2}}

Welcome, friends!

I invite you to get out your study journal and Bible, if you have it nearby. If you haven’t had the privilege of ordering your study journal yet, you can do so here (Please Note: It’s an affiliate link).

The Scriptures – Matthew 5:3 and James 2:5

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs (Matthew 5:3).

“Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? (James 2:5)”

Devotion –

We can be considered poor in different aspects of our lives. Yet, there is only one mattering more than most. When we are spiritually poor, this is where it matters the most.

It isn’t until we realize we are in need spiritually, that we can come to Jesus. We have to reach this special place, where we realize we can’t do it on our own. Matthew 5:3 has become a special Scripture in my heart, this week. While I haven’t been able to study as much as I would like, this Scripture continues coming back to my mind.

It is what happens after realizing we are spiritually poor. When we recognize that we are spiritually poor, we are in the place of access. Before we can confidently enter His wonderful place of being forgiven and given a full out all access pass to the Father (see Hebrews 4:16) – something needs to happen.

Before we come to Jesus, we have to realize our need for Him. We are spiritually poor. (Click-to-Tweet)

We have to realize our spiritual need.

We have to realize the place we are in.

We have to realize that we have nothing to offer.

We can never be “good enough” to earn God’s favor on our own.

It is fully through the blood and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is why we always always always place our trust in Him, for He is our Savior, Mediator, and Friend.

Knowing our own spiritual poverty is crucial. It is when we recognize our spiritual poverty that we can receive what we are in desperate need of.

Listen to the Easy English translation of Matthew 5:3 –

“How happy are those who are poor in their spirits. They know that they must depend only on God. They belong to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

While it can be devastating to realize our poverty, we have a mighty Redeemer who is ready to save me (you too). You and I cannot neglect the necessity of depending fully on God.

While it may be difficult to realize our poverty, this is where we find Jesus. (Click-to-Tweet)

In Christ…

In Christ, we find life and every need is met. The key is Jesus Christ. We must not forget that God has indeed chosen us and is giving us access into His Kingdom! God has given us the tremendous opportunity to be rich in faith.

The transition from spiritually poor to rich in faith begins with our realization of just how desperate we are for Jesus. We need our Beloved Savior. We have to place our trust in Him for our righteousness. While we aren’t enough, He is more than enough!

While we are not enough, Jesus Christ is more than enough. He is all we need! (Click-to-Tweet)

Lord Jesus, I need you! I know, I am not enough. Be my Savior, for You are more than enough. Your grace is all-sufficient.  Help me to keep drawing my strength and hope from You, where it never ends.  Amen.

See Proverbs 3:5-6