Archive for April, 2011

April 29.11 ethot

2 Thessalonians 1:6 (1-12) “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you,

At this point in time the overall church was only about 20 years old, and this church was probably not much more than ten. Persecution from the judiazers was still very strong, even in the mostly gentile churches. Remember the judiazers wanted to add to the faith Jewish traditions (circumcision and observance of holy days and such).

Whenever you make a radical change in your life style (thoughts, words, habits) people will notice and if that change requires you to break with some relationships, even more so. At the end of his first letter to this church Paul emphasized that sanctifying work God was performing in each of their lives, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

That work is being performed all in believers lives and will cause you troubles with those who have no interest in the God of change. Their gods don’t require any change on their part other than they are to reject the God of change and anyone who accepts Him and His way. So it is some relief to know that although our God prohibits us from retribution, He will handle it in due time. It’s also a relief in that we don’t have to worry about having to repay someone evil for evil and if we went too far or not far enough. This way we can focus on our mission here on earth, Matthew 28:19.

Diligence involves focusing on the job the Holy Spirit has given us and getting it done.

Read Full Post »

April 28.11 ethot

1 Thessalonians 5:19 (19-28) “Do not quench the Spirit;”

If you look at vs. 5:21&22 failing to hold onto that which is good and indulging every form of evil are what quench the Spirit. But that is not what those verses say. The Holy Spirit is quenched (made of no effect) in our lives when we ignore good preaching (prophetic utterances).

Back in those days the baptism of the Holy Spirit was still fresh on peoples minds and the memory of people speaking in tongues and miraculous healings was all that was remembered by too many. In his first letter to the church at Corinth Paul had to correct the error that they (and still many today) were making, valuing the showy gifts over the boring ones, 1 Corinthians 14:1.

Granted that there are pastors today that fail to be entertaining when they preach from the pulpit, but entertaining is not there aim. The prophets of old always seem to come to the people with words of warning, to correct their behavior or else there would be hell to pay. In that sense we are to listen carefully to the sermon and understand the warning (v. 5:21) and change our behavior (5:22). So then, failure to change our behavior is what keeps the Spirit from helping us and answering our prayers. But, changed behavior results in the filling of the Spirit.

Diligence involves studying the scriptures to understand clearly the Holy Spirit and His counsel.

Read Full Post »

April 27.11 ethot

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (16-18) “in everything give thanks;

I was reading an article in World magazine in which the writer was talking about “the magic word”, thanks! She was trying to point out that giving thanks to God in everything is what helps to keep us from drifting off into lots of mistakes in life.

In this article she uses an incident from Corrie ten Boon’s book “The Hiding Place” as an example. The women had just been moved to new barracks, but the dormitory was flea infested. Here Corrie had to learn how to give thanks in everything. As she and her sister prayed thanking God for the new barracks, that they were still together, that no one had found their Bible and that new women would get a chance to here the Gospel, they also thanked God for the fleas. Sometime later they realized that the guards weren’t watching and harassing them in the dorms and wondered why. The guards didn’t want to get fleas so they let the women do whatever they wanted there.

Of course being in a concentration camp has a way of forcing one to focus. Yet, I think we can all agree that before we assume too much, jump to conclusions and take foolish action concerning whatever dire straights we think we’re in we should first give God time to show us why we need to thank Him for it.

Gratefulness involves understanding that God will handle everything with my best interest in mind.

Read Full Post »

1 Thessalonians 5:12 (12-22) “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you,

I stopped short of the whole verse because I want us to focus on something I’ve noticed among many in the church, that is that we come to church expecting to be served, challenged and even entertained. In his second letter to the church in Thessalonica (3:11) Paul notes this problem even back then.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be spiritually challenged and that our worship services shouldn’t be entertaining as well, but we come to church to serve, not to be served. And, just as much as you need encouragement from your fellow church members, your church leaders need it too. Yesterday I was so encouraged to her the response of my Sunday school class to questions from a lesson given two weeks ago.

The rest of the verses in this passage are not just aimed at leaders, they are aimed at all of us in the church. We must come to church looking for opportunities to love, encourage, to practice self-control and to be fair with one another, vs. 5:13-15. When we fail to see God working through what we encounter in church (vs. 5:16-18) we push aside the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

Responsibility involves learning to establish personal disciplines to help you become the person God wants you to be.

Read Full Post »

April 25.11 ethot

1 Thessalonians 5:8 (1-11) “But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.
I wanted to go back to this verse because it reminded me of the need for us to maintain our perspective in this life. God has given us the wonderful privilege of being His representatives here on this earth and in this life. As a consequence we will have to defend ourselves from the attacks of Satan who is trying to keep us from winning over those he has control of (or at least that is what he thinks).
So Paul here introduces us to our battle gear, the breastplate and the helmet. These to primary pieces of armor protect the most important parts of the soldier, the heart and the head. Later in his letter to the church in Ephesus Paul will finish describing the rest of our armor. With our heart we make the decision to accept Jesus offer and with that same heart we make our appeal to others to make the decision we made.
But our hearts can get over worked and it is then that we need our minds to remind us of the facts. Yet, at times the facts can be twisted and get confusing, and it is then that we need the heart to remind us of the inconceivable love of our Lord, hat balance must be maintained at all times.
Faith involves trusting God’s expressed will and then acting on it.

Read Full Post »

April 15.11 ethot

1 Thessalonians 5:4 (1-11) “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;

I was listening to a report this morning on the radio pointing out that we are getting too little sleep. Maybe physically we are but spiritually, we’re getting too much sleep.

Here Paul uses a-play-on-words to encourage us all to stay focused on our job to be witnesses of our Lord. Those who have not believed are in the dark about spiritual matters. That is, they don’t understand the effect spiritual matters have on the physical world. In contrast those of us who have believed are conscious of the impact the spiritual has on our physical lives. We realize that as we turn more of our live over to God, He reveals more and more about how He is working in the physical world.

Those who are asleep or in the dark are unaware and even refuse to believe that there is a real spiritual world or even a God. They believe that we have developed this idea as a social need and that one-day we’ll evolve right out of it.

As too those who have already died we now see that those who die in the dark stay that way and those die in the day will rise first on the Day-of-the-Lord, then we who are still alive, vs. 4:15-17.

Faith involves investing my resources and myself in things that will matter for eternity.

Read Full Post »

April 14.11 ethot

1 Thessalonians 4:18 (1-18) “Therefore comfort one another with these words.

These last couple of months my church has seen two of our fellow believers go to be with the Lord. It’s a sad thing for the families to loose someone so close and in the coming months will take time to get used to. One of those brothers was active in our churches pulpit committee and we had to scramble to get a replacement for this work. They are missed by all!

Still early in church history the believers of that day had a strong sense of the Lords return being imminent (soon). Soon has turned into over two thousand years. Now imminent means at any time or suddenly. But that hope that the Lord will return when the job is done is still a fact of our belief, vs. 4:15-17. The Lord has a plan.

What Paul tells the believer then and today is to maintain our perspective in this life. It is too easy to get caught up in all the business and forget why the Lord is keeping us here. When someone dies it makes us all stop for a moment. So think, in the world there are people we know, some even well, who have no hope for a glorified eternity.

Faith involves investing my resources and myself in things that will matter for eternity.

Read Full Post »

1 Thessalonians 4:12 (1-12) “so that you will behave properly towards outsiders and not be in any need.

All of us are looking for acceptance from each other and from the outside world of non-believers. But how do we obtain it? Paul shows us here that whatever our former ambitions for gaining acceptance from anyone should be directed towards God. We are to walk in a way that pleases Him, v. 4:1. In a sense that is our only ambition and apart from that we should mind our own business (stay away from gossip), get a job and support our selves (not depend on others, there are no entitlements), v. 4:11.

As we separate ourselves from the immoral things of the world we will attract enough attention from the world, v. 4:12. And, as we deal with each other respectfully the world will notice how we care for each other. It is our non-verbal testimony in the world that will open the doors for verbal communication.

We should keep in mind that Satan is working also and has his group of people in the world working to make life hard for us. But that is another issue. If you’re not working on your sanctification there is no reason for God to make your life any better for you than a non-believers. Remember our primary mission, Matthew 28:19&20.

Deference involves putting a hold on my freedom in order not to hurt God and those He has called me to serve.

Read Full Post »

1 Thessalonians 4:10 (1-8) “for indeed you do practice it towards all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,

To desire someone sexually is not loving them, and doesn’t show that you’re a loving, sensitive or caring person. Actually, it shows the exact opposite, you don’t care for them at all.

Yesterday we noted that Paul was happy that the church was working on its sanctification.  But, sanctification is not just separating oneself from the old ways of life. It also involves replacing that old behavior with new behavior. That new behavior is to love each other, v. 4:9.

Yet, loving each other is not pandering (to indulge another’s weakness or questionable wishes and tastes) to each other. Pandering is what too many politicians do to stay in office. It is only a way to keep your focus on yourself and not others. What you really need is what others really need, the basics (to eat, to sleep, to work and to be accepted). Imagine a world where you could be sure that if you needed help there would be someone there, even if that help meant a good slap on the head to wake us out of foolish behavior.

Love involves seeing the basic need of another and meeting it, as I would want another to meet mine.

Read Full Post »

April 11.11 ethot

1 Thessalonians 4:1 (1-8) “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.

Since the beginning of the Faith the question from every believer is, how do I live now? Being that we have rejected the world and their system of behavior what do we do differently? And, the main thing Paul tells us here is that we live to please God.

In their religious practices the Greeks used sexual immorality as a way to please the gods. This is why there were temple prostitutes and child sacrifices. This is not what God wants from us, 4:7. He is not moved to act in our favor when we physically abuse each other in any way. This strange sexual behavior spilled over into the rest of their lives.

Today, most of us don’t realize how deep sexual sin is engrained in our society. Giving into sexual impulses is everywhere on billboards on the road; to television ads and programming; let alone movies and the Internet. Not looking is impossible but what you see and how you see it can help.

Paul was very happy that the church in Thessalonica had not fallen into those practices, but he wanted them to aspire to do even better. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for some to learn how to keep from following their sexual impulses; self-control can be a very difficult thing. But, it is much easier to handle when you replace one habit with another.

Self-control involves learning how to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit than to myself.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »