“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, Who loved us and gave us everlasting consolation and encouragement and well-founded hope through [His] grace (unmerited favor), comfort and encourage your hearts and strengthen them [make them steadfast and keep them unswerving] in every good work and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ->me: Oh man I needed this today!! There are deadlines at work that are a ton of pressure right now. Even as I sat down to read God’s word today I prayed that He would give me the wisdom and discernment to navigate the stresses of work…and here in the last 2 verses I read is my comforted, encouraged, and strengthened heart. In my mind I see God the Father sitting on the throne in heaven with Jesus standing on His right side. Jesus, standing there with His left hand on the back of the throne and with His right hand in a fist (you know, like ‘I got you’) held out in front of Him…and what do I attribute this to? My efforts to be a good Christian man? My willingness to lead a life group with Marianne? My best attempts at being a good father and husband? NOPE, none of these…it is simply because of His grace and unmerited favor; things I totally don’t deserve but He gives me anyway. Today I am encouraged because there is no worldly/earthly issue that can separate me from this grace. </Big Breath Out>
“And then the lawless one (the antichrist) will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by His appearing at His coming.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8 ->me: Today I read verses 4-12 and honestly there is a lot that is difficult to understand. Example: in verse 7 “For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world, [but it is] restrained only until he who restrains is taken out of the way.” Who is the ‘he who restrains’ that must be taken out of the way? There are secrets (mysteries) that are revealed and those that will remain tucked away until the appropriate time. I have learned that it is I who cannot understand; God is perfect in what He intends to communicate and I should not concern myself with the unknowing because if I needed to know it, I believe the Lord would reveal it to me in the right time [This happens quite a bit already – something I didn’t get 5 years ago the Lord has made perfectly clear in the last 6 months]. The point -> God is sovereign and I am a follower of His. He has the power to shut down the evil one with not just His breath but even by just arriving on the scene. The One I serve is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is no one else I have to worry about.
“[Do] not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3 ->me: Throughout my reading of God’s word it is always amazing to me how the Holy Spirit works in my heart and mind; bringing up topics multiple times as a way of giving me focus on something God is trying to teach me. These are the time that I listen intently and study to understand fully what He is trying to convey. What is crazy is that I will read over the same passage again and something entirely new will jump out. In this case it is the teaching of “Do not be swayed by teaching that is untested” (my paraphrasing of the combination of passages the Lord has brought before me over the last week). I know people in my life who struggle as the Thessalonians did with teachings that were not grounded in truth and it rocked their spiritual boats…I pray for them regularly and I feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit to add this set of truths to my notebook of ministry. I am scared by this part of verse 3 “unless the rebellion comes first” – I can’t tell if this is a rebellion of the world against God and His goodness or whether these will be Christians who will fall away and rebel against what the word of God is clear about…yet proclaiming to still be followers of Christ. Scary…
“With this (the faithfulness and love of the saints) and in view we constantly pray for you, that our God may deem and count you worthy of [your] calling and [His] every gracious purpose of goodness, and with power may complete in [your] every particular work of faith (faith which is that leaning of the whole human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness). Thus may the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be glorified and become more glorious through and in you, and may you [also be glorified] in Him according to the grace (favor and blessing) of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ->me: As I sat here at my desk this morning having my QT I saw the moon shining brightly; lit by the sun which I could not see yet. I can only see the effect of the light emanating from it. When the sun finally does come up into view, its brilliance is difficult to look right at. What a great example placed by God for me this morning representing these 2 verses. When I am operating in my Christian walk in a way that is worthy of my calling by being a vessel (that when it takes in His goodness then pours out goodness) and I am taking opportunity of every good work in faith; then Jesus will be glorified. His glory is my glory because I am IN Him. So when He comes, on that day, it will be like what I saw this morning. The object (Jesus) that has been lighting up the face of the moon (me) will finally come into view and His brilliance will be difficult to look at. I will still be there but the focus will be all on the Son. Until then, the I live to reflect the brilliance of the Son Who is not quite into full view yet.
“This is positive proof of the just and right judgment of God to the end that you may be deemed deserving of His kingdom, for the sake of which you are also suffering. [It is a fair decision] since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with distress and affliction those who distress and afflict you, and to [repay for loss or harm suffered] you who are so distressed and afflicted [by granting you] relief and rest along with us [your fellow sufferers] when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in a flame of fire,” 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7 ->me: Starting 2 Thessalonians today. Written just a few months after 1 Thessalonians. Here in the first few verses he commends the saints for their growing faith and love for the people around them. Paul is saying in these 3 verses, that this living with faith and love is the proof that they will be deserving of God’s Kingdom; they do these things (demonstrate their faith and heap love on others) even in the face of persecutors and suffering. What Paul is saying is that those who persecute will receive their just punishment when Christ returns but the saints will be repaid for the loss, suffering, and persecution they experienced on earth when the Lord Jesus returns. The takeaway message for me today is to stand firm in my faith even in the face of scorning and persecution – my hope is in the One Who will come in crazy glory with all His angels in the end. Living with a love for others; a love like Christ had for us to give Himself on the tree.
“And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). Faithful is He Who is calling you [to Himself] and utterly trustworthy, and He will also do it [fulfill His call by hallowing and keeping you].” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 ->me: I did my QT this morning but I have been stewing all day on the impact of these verses. God Himself sanctifies but we must consecrate ourselves. CONSECRATE is defined as “devote (something) exclusively to a particular purpose”. I must make the choice to follow; to trade my will out for the will of God…then, the Lord (God of Peace) will sanctify me entirely/completely. SANCTIFY is defined as “cause to be morally right or acceptable”. He does this over time (over my lifetime if necessary) and it is completed in and through His Son. When I have been called (drawn) to Him by Him, He will be faithful in completing the work He set out to do in me as I pursue Him…but I must consecrate myself in service to Him. I must commit to always choosing His will over my own in every circumstance and situation. Understanding what this means and how one goes about living an upright and righteous life, in faith, is every Christian’s own struggle to prayerfully search God and His word to understand.
“Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; Do not spurn the gifts and utterances of the prophets. But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast. Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 ->me: The Holy Spirit is like a fire (remember the tongues of fire in Acts?) and if quenched will cause one to fall into darkness and cold. Believe in what is written in the prophesies by the prophets. Prophets were more FORTH-tellers and FORE-tellers; they were simply ones who could say “Thus saith the Lord”, but it should not be overlooked that this might, and sometimes did, involve foretelling the future. Do not be gullible and take to heart everything that you hear; test everything through prayer and God’s word. However, when you have confirmation through answers received in God’s word and supported by the Holy Spirit, hold fast to those things. Lastly avoid all visible forms of evil. How often I try to justify things I know are evil (against God’s will and teaching) telling myself that this is just how it is today. This is evil in its self. The testing of all things has been one of the best rewards of being close to the Lord. There are things I now hold to so tightly because the Lord has made Himself clear and I feel the truth in my bones.
“Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ->me: These are the 3 ingredients to being in God’s will. 1) Be Happy: I know a lot of brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with this. They are overwhelmed by their circumstances and forget that when they are operating in the will of the Almighty, they can rest joyful in the knowledge that God is in control and they are exactly where He wants them to be. This is not a (happy) face that I put on; it is a condition of the heart that has faith in the knowledge of my salvation (what is there to be concerned about when I believe this?). 2) Be praying consistently: This is one of the biggest learnings in my Christian walk that has never returned void. It is not a moving of the lips, but an elevation of the heart toward God. Relying on God for all I have and am; being conscious of His presence and yielding to His will. 3) Thank God in ALL circumstances: Everything that comes to me (spiritually, physically, or possessions) is from the Lord. This includes the trials He uses to teach me what I need to learn. Grasping onto the joy I have being IN Jesus, through prayer (heart elevated to God), I should be thanking God continually.
“Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing. And we earnestly beseech you, brethren, admonish (warn and seriously advise) those who are out of line [the loafers, the disorderly, and the unruly]; encourage the timid and fainthearted, help and give your support to the weak souls, [and] be very patient with everybody [always keeping your temper].” 1 Thessalonians 5:11&14 ->me: Based on what I have going on my life right now, these verses are a great reminder of why I am here. This is the Christian life in community. In almost all of Paul’s letters he gives instruction like this. The importance of our role within the body of believers can not be understated. My prayer today is that the Lord would reveal those weak souls in my life who I can come alongside and encourage. I looked up the biblical definition of ‘loafer’ and it is most described as ‘culpable idleness’ or ‘inadequate or indifferent’. I see this as someone who is not allowing themselves to be used by God; someone who is in a position to help others but just pats the person, struggling spiritually, on the back and says “you’ll be ok, you’ll get through this”. I need to make sure I am not that person, that I am growing my relationship with the Lord in such a way that I can come alongside those hurting/struggling and encourage with appropriate scripture and prayer.
“For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we do not belong either to the night or to darkness. Accordingly then, let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard) and let us be sober (calm, collected, and circumspect). For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk, get drunk at night. But we belong to the day; therefore, let us be sober and put on the breastplate of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8 ->me: This passage of the first 8 verses of chapter 5 are so good and comforting for the believer who anticipates the Lord’s return. It is impossible to know the day or the appropriateness of the time of His coming. We should not get caught up in the complacency that is seeking global peace. Obviously I want a peaceful earth but I should not let my awareness and vigilance be determined by a worldly set of creature comforts and ideals. I hear Paul saying – don’t be spiritually asleep like those of the world but stay spiritually awake as well as deliberate in obedience to the ways of the Holy Spirit by sticking to the word and steadily growing and increasing in my knowledge of God. I love the mention of the breastplate of Faith and Love (in Ephesians he says breastplate of righteousness | so Faith and Love are the ingredients of righteousness) and keeping your mind protected through the hope of our own Salvation secured through a belief in the One Who will return to redeem us!