“So, being thus tenderly and affectionately desirous of you, we continued to share with you not only God’s good news (the Gospel) but also our own lives as well, for you had become so very dear to us. For you recall our hard toil and struggles, brethren. We worked night and day [and plied our trade] in order not to be a burden to any of you [for our support] while we proclaimed the glad tidings (the Gospel) of God to you.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9 ->me: As much as I have read the letters of Paul I really never put together that he worked in trades (tent maker) and commerce to earn money. Paul, Silas, and Timothy were so loving of the Thessalonian church that they preached and proclaimed the gospel to them (building their number), they encouraged and spent time with them; sharing in each others lives, and on top of that earned extra money on their own in order not to be a burden on the church for support. What a picture of generosity, love, and caring heart for the saints. I am motivated and inspired by Paul’s, Silas’, and Timothy’s thoughtfulness. The more the Lord uses me in furthering His Kingdom and coming along the side of others I pray that I can keep this mindset as I engage in service to those in my garden, pouring into them but not becoming a support burden. I think this can take more forms than money or provisions.
“For as you well know, we never resorted either to words of flattery or to any cloak to conceal greedy motives or pretexts for gain, [as] God is our witness. Nor did we seek to extract praise and honor and glory from men, either from you or from anyone else, though we might have asserted our authority as apostles of Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 2:5-6 ->me: What a great passage for the church preacher or evangelist. Paul spends the first ~6 verses of this chapter reaffirming his, Silas’, and Timothy’s innocence in the face of false accusations from persecutors who seek to stop them from preaching the gospel. What I have walked away with this morning is a renewed confidence–When I share the gospel with a nonbeliever I might be put down by them and even accused falsely by others in earshot. However, if my heart remains committed to the Lord in truth and obedience, He is the only witness that matters. I must strive to please my Everlasting Creator not any man who is earthly and temporal.
“For they themselves volunteer testimony concerning us, telling what an entrance we had among you, and how you turned to God from [your] idols to serve a God Who is alive and true and genuine, and [how you] look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath [bringing punishment] which is coming [upon the impenitent] and draws us to Himself.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 ->me: I want a reputation like the Thessalonians had to those churches far and wide. 1) They were known for spreading the gospel. 2) Known for having a super strong faith (they were constantly under persecution). 3) They were known for turning from dead idols and to the Living God. 4) They were known for their servant service (as a slave) to the will and purposes of God. 5) They were known for how expectantly they waited for the second coming of Christ. All of these ways of living are indicative of a people drawn by God and sold out. Paul, Silas, and Timothy didn’t even have to expound on the lives and impact of the Thessalonians to others; those people already knew. The Thessalonians were heavily persecuted and I read a commentator who said “if Christ our King wore a crown of thorns, why should we expect to wear crowns of roses?”.
“We are ever giving thanks to God for all of you, continually mentioning you in our prayers, recalling unceasingly before our God and Father your work energized by faith and service motivated by love and unwavering hope in [the return of] our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [O] brethren beloved by God, we recognize and know that He has selected (chosen) you; For our [preaching of the] glad tidings (the Gospel) came to you not only in word, but also in [its own inherent] power and in the Holy Spirit and with great conviction and absolute certainty.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5a ->me: Yesterday I finished up Micah and have now moved onto Thessalonians. Primary takeaway from these verses today -> When I am involved by God to reach the lost, I must stay engaged in their lives, petitioning the Lord on their behalf, thanking God for them, reaching out and encouraging/furthering their sanctification because of my confidence in knowledge, through the Holy Spirit, of their election. I also love that Paul says the preaching of the gospel does not entirely rest on my delivery when approaching an opportunity to share – I must also have complete confidence that the power of the gospel alone [the Power of Salvation] will grab the person who is drawn by Him. If the preaching of the gospel falls flat on that person then the Lord is not yet drawing that person to Himself. This is so encouraging as I pray for courage to witness.
“Who is a God like You, Who forgives iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retains not His anger forever, because He delights in mercy and loving-kindness.” Micah 7:18 ->me: Reading this verse it is interesting that Micah’s name means ‘Who is like Yah[weh]?’. The ‘remnant of His heritage’ is the people of Israel (also includes me as one grafted into the vine). Iniquity = poor and/or grossly unfair behavior (God forgives my stupid behavior). Transgression = an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct; an offense (God looks over me and sees His Son Who paid my penalty). My God does not stay upset or angry at me…why? Because he actually enjoys doling out mercy and loving-kindness toward me. Why does God give me this forgiveness? Psalms 130:4 tells me – “But there is forgiveness with You [just what I need], that You may be reverently feared and worshiped.”
“I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteous deliverance. Then my enemy will see it, and shame will cover her who said to me, Where is the Lord your God? My eyes will see my desire upon her; now she will be trodden down as the mire of the streets.” Micah 7:9-10 ->me: As a Christian I think this justly represents my life before God. As Paul tells us of his own struggles in Romans 7; I battle with sin in my earthly and fleshly mind/body before the Lord returns to glorify my soul and form. I must acknowledge and accept the earthly consequences of my actions. If I am truly repentant then I will accept the punishment of my iniquity. If I just murmured at God in response to my punishment then I would not yet know my guilt; it could be argued whether I have the conviction of the Holy Spirit within me. So through the strength of the Lord alone I will press against the temptation to sin…to make choices counter to His will for me. Then He will bring forth into the light of both temporal and spiritual redemption. I love this thought that ‘then my enemy will see it”, see my redemption through conviction and repentance.
“But as for me, I will look to the Lord and confident in Him I will keep watch; I will wait with hope and expectancy for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O my enemy! When I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light to me.” Micah 7:7-8 ->me: These are Micah’s words as he gazes on the wickedness of the rulers and people of Israel. What an awesome set of verses to tuck away for that day when I might feel alone and persecuted. ‘I will wait with hope and expectancy for the God of my Salvation; my God WILL hear me’. Notice it doesn’t say God will necessarily answer, but He will hear. My faith is an exercise in perseverance and commitment even when I am not FEELING it. ‘When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light to me’ – Wow, also super powerful. I have this image of a person sitting (arms around knees) soaking wet under a small cover in the darkness, mud, and cold…but inside that person is at peace and resolute that God hears every word they pray and that He is preparing what is ultimately best for them. The person’s circumstance has not changed but the internal steadfastness gives them strength to push through.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 ->me: I started this reading yesterday but didn’t have time to write my thoughts down and get them out before Life Group. Life Group last night was such blessing! First time I have seen everyone since November! I missed the last 2 Life Groups due to travel and I so needed this time – especially with my men. To be able to unload and discuss my heart and challenges was so refreshing and to once again be able to partner with gentlemen that want to get closer to our God. Today’s verse is sooo good. ‘Require’ is not an optional word, it is clear direction. Do justly -> meaning, when in a socially superior position, step in and deliver the weaker and wronged party. Israel’s leaders had done just the opposite. Love Kindness and Mercy – Anyone who is in a weaker position due to some misfortune or other should be delivered not reluctantly, but out of a spirit of generosity, grace and loyalty. Humble yourself and walk humbly with you God – Unlike the first 2, this is orientated towards God. It does not refer to self-effacement but to bringing one’s life into conformity with God’s will. This is the punch in the stomach I needed today; align all that I do to the will and purposes of God…everything.
“And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; and they shall dwell [secure], for then shall He be great [even] to the ends of the earth. And this [One] shall be our peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads upon our soil and in our palaces, then will we raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes among men.” Micah 5:4-5 ->me: How cool it is to read the words of the Lord through the prophets (In this case Micah) signaling the coming of the Messiah! I love the takeaways from this passage today -> 1) Jesus has the full power of the Father behind Him in the caring of me, His flock. He carries with Him all the majesty of heaven in His actions. 2) I am safe in His care and it does not matter where I am on this earth, I can never be out of His reach. 3) He is my peace; my comfort. 4) I am in this together with Him. When the enemy comes and barges into my life, we – the Lord and I together, will rise against him. How cool is that?! The Lord acts together with and through His saints.
“Arise and thresh, O Daughter of Zion! For I will make your horn iron and I will make your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples, and I will devote their gain to the Lord and their treasure to the Lord of all the earth.” Micah 4:13 ->me: This whole chapter of Micah is focused on God telling the Israelites that they will be beaten down for their iniquity and thrown into exile but in the end they will be delivered and used as an instrument of God’s wrath against the ungodly nations – and in the execution of that wrath they will give God any benefit or plunder taken as a victor’s bounty. My life feels like a cycle of this -> I drift away from the Lord and I reap the consequences of my distance from Him, but when I turn toward Him I am rewarded with a peace and comfort that is difficult to describe. When I am in this place I want to give God everything, every glory, every complement, and every spoil from the victories He gives me over my enemies (my idols, my pride). I am at most peace when I give God my best. The combination of Pastor Koby’s message and this quiet time today really help me see that there is more to do, more sinful ways of operating to purge so that I can be used to the best of the gifts He has given me. The more I learn from His word the more and more changes I see that I need to make.