Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Waiting for Jesus

The Thessalonians turned away from worship of idols to worship the only true God. As part of their worship they were waiting for the return of Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Worship and waiting for Jesus' return are closely linked. It is the assurance of Christ's return for us that keeps us focused on heavenly things. It is a continual reminder that this world is not our home and that the things of this world are unimportant. Therefore coveting wealth or power losses its hold on us. Spending outside our budget seems foolish. Fashion is temporal.

In other words we no longer love this world or the things of this world. We turn away from our personal idols to serve and worship God alone (1John 2:15-17).

Monday, April 29, 2013

Community of Believers

Can you imagine what joy it would be to know that a community of believers existed because of your testimony of God's grace? Then to hear from others that those people you led to The Lord have led other people to him and that the kingdom of heaven is growing by leaps and bounds from that first seed you planted would make me want to shout (1 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Most of us do not get to experience that this side of heaven. Because we cannot see the end results, some of us tend to worry whether our influence is significant. We cannot see how our words or life has any impact on others. We can feel insignificant in the kingdom of heaven.

But that mind set is self- focused in nature. It tends to put the weight to accomplish things on our shoulders. We need to remember God causes spiritual things to happen. Any part God allows us to play, however small, is an important part of the larger picture in other people's lives.

As we remain faithful to biblical principles in all our choices, God accomplishes his purposes for our lives (John 3:27; 1 Corinthians 3:5-8; Ephesians 2:10).

Waiting for Jesus

The Thessalonians turned away from worship of idols to worship the only true God. As part of their worship they were waiting for the return of Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Worship and waiting for Jesus' return are closely linked. It is the assurance of Christ's return for us that keeps us focused on heavenly things. It is a continual reminder that this world is not our home and that the things of this world are unimportant. Therefore coveting wealth or power losses its hold on us. Spending outside our budget seems foolish. Fashion is temporal.

In other words we no longer love this world or the things of this world. We turn away from our personal idols to serve and worship God alone (1John 2:15-17).

Friday, April 26, 2013

Surprising Joy

The Thessalonians received the Word in much affliction and joy of the Holy Ghost" (1 Thessalonians 1:6). We don't normally associate joy and affliction. But God seems to use affliction to teach us what true joy is. Affliction weeds out superfluid wants, things and ideas. It tends to narrow our focus so that we are disparate to live in God's strength and not our own.

I do not particularly like affliction and certainly do not pray for it to come my way. But I am grateful that when affliction does come my way, I am not abandoned to it. The Holy Spirit is with me and in me to give me his joy (John 14:15, 15:11, 16:24, 17:13)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Your Followers

"And you became followers of us and The Lord" (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

Imagine the spiritual outcome of another person's life who patterned their spiritual walk after yours. People are following you. They may not have told you, but each of us influences people we know.

Yes, you will not be perfect. No need to be anxious about that because God is greater and more powerful than our errors. But it does encourage us to make right decisions when we recognize that others are affected by our choices.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sleepless Night

I had a sleepless night last night. I have been visiting a friend out of state and woke up to the base beating of music from next door. It was not that their music was blaring. I am sure they believed it to be sufficiently turned down as to not disturb the neighbors. But I am sensitive to noise when sleeping.

I had not brought ear plugs, so I tried to make some out of toilet paper. That does not work. Then I tried a combination of toilet paper and ear phones from my smart phone. The ear phones would not stay in place because of the toilet paper. It would not have mattered if they did because the sound seeped through the tissue, ear phones and my pillow anyway. I finally got up and crept down the stairs to my friend's basement. I threw some blankets together and lie down on the couch. The white noise from the air filter blocked out the music from next door. However now I was fully awake.

As I lie there praying and quoting scripture, I realized the undertone of music that disrupted my sleep was like the underlying drum of unbelief that quietly attacks our spiritual life. Without recognizing the subtle deception of worry and self focus, the drum, drum, drum of Satan's attack keeps us from resting in Jesus.

Today, I will make it my focus to rest in his love and power to control my life.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Mantra

After Cane murdered his brother and God asked him where Able was, Cane flippantly replied, "Am I my brother's keeper?"(Genesis 4:9). God responded, "the voice of your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground" (Genesis 1:10).

A popular American saying is, "I don't care what other people think." In some context this may be important, such as following Christ regardless of persecution. But to have the saying as a mantra for our lives violates biblical teaching.

God holds us accountable for our interactions with others. Jesus said, "whoever is angry with his brother without cause is in danger of judgement" (Matthew 5:25). Paul dedicates the entire fourteenth chapter of Romans to our responsibility to our brothers.

Paul, Silvanus and Timothy knew their behavior influenced people's perceptions about what they had to share. Our character dictates the quality our influence (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Monday, April 22, 2013

It Tolls For Thee

Paul makes a very interesting comment in the beginning letter to the Thessalonians. "For you know what manner of men we were among you for your sake" (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Our choices affect everyone around us. An early American Christian author, John Donne, expressed it this way:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Friday, April 19, 2013


What are the results of knowing our election (1 Thessalonians 1:3)? Being confident that you belong to God produces assurance. We are able to accept the Holy Spirit's corrections without fear that we are loosing or have lost salvation. We can rest in God's chastisement knowing that he only points out areas that need improvement to his children (Hebrews 12:7-11).

Because we recognize we are completely his, we have peace in our interactions with God and continually access the grace we need today.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Knowing You Election

What did Paul mean when he wrote "knowing your election of God"? (1 Thessalonians 1:4). How can we be sure we are part of God's election?

Let's begin with a few basic facts. 1. Nobody is naturally good. We normally operate out of self interest (Genesis 3:6; Romans 3:10). 2. No one naturally seeks God (Romans 3:11) 3. Our natural state is to deceive when it benefits us, lash out in our anger and curse others who significantly interfere with what we want to do (Romans 3:13-14) 4. We wish troublesome people to be removed from our life, sometimes to the point of wishing them dead (Romans 3:15-17). 5. We are naturally anxious (Romans 3:19) 6. We do not believe God will really punish our sinful behavior as is manifest in our choices (Romans 3:18).

If you desire to be different than what I just described, if you have any desire to please God, if your choices reflect godly character, it is because God is at work in your life and you are part of his elect. It would be impossible to do this without being part of God's election.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chains of Faith, Love and Hope

Paul refers to three qualities of the Christian Thessalonians; Work of faith, labor of love and patience of hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Remembering that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1), we can deduce that faith produces works. Or in other words, works can be evidence of our faith. This may manifest itself in giving money to ministries or being directly involved in ministry. It may manifest itself in a life of praying or others or visiting persons in the hospital, or giving groceries to someone in need.

Remembering also that works must be based on love to be of any eternal value (1Corinthians 13:1-3), we seek God as our source of love. He will fill our hearts with the compassion we need.

Works of love require patience of hope. More often than not, we do not see immediate spiritual results from our work. It is the hope in God's eternal, omnipotent power that creates in us the ability to continue to do good without seeing spiritual outcomes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Praying for Friends

Do you every find yourself thankful that you know someone in particular? The person encourages you, or thinks just like you do. Perhaps they have the same sense of humor that you enjoy or share similar political views. Paul had friends like this in the Thessalonians.

He thanked God for them and prayed for them on a regular basis (1 Thessalonians 1:1-2).

Pray for your friends today. Pray that they may sense God's presence, be bold in their witness as The Lord gives them opportunity. Pray that their hearts be filled with peace.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sustained Faith

Paul begins his letter to the church of the Thessalonians with a unique opening. "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ:"

He said the church is in God the Father and The Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said that he would build his church and the gates of hell shall not overcome it (Matthew 16:18).

When you fear for your faith, remember who gave it to you and who sustains it (Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 12:2). Call on him and he will answer you (Psalm 91).

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Prayer For You

Paul's last words to the believers in Colossi are, "Grace be with you." This is both a prayer and instruction.

Grace is the name of the package that contains all God's gifts to us; mercy, compassion, forgiveness, strength, joy, peace, boldness, righteousness, wisdom, prudence, knowledge, healing, words, silence, health, trust, comprehension, and a million nuances.

Everywhere we go and in everything we do need to be both aware and dependent on God's grace. Then the peace of God will guard our minds and our hearts (Colossians 3:15; Ephesians 4:7).

Grace be with you today.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Remember My Bonds

Paul simply writes, "Remember my bonds." His plea for prayer is not flourishing with words. It does not seek to manipulate pity or compassion. It is straight forward and unpretentious. "Remember my bonds."

Being a prisoner is frightening, no matter the condition of the captivity. Your choices are limited to the desire of your captor. Your future feels uncertain. In Paul's case, he was facing execution. Yet his letters are focused on the people he loved, not on his own trials (Colossians 4:17; 2 Corinthians 1:8-11).

Today, lets pray for those who are in bonds for the sake of Christ. They need our spiritual support and we need to be aware that we are united together. Whatever happens to a member of the body, happens to the entire body.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Paul sends a special note to tell Archippus to make sure he fulfills the ministry to which he has been called (Colossians 4:17). I wonder why he thought it necessary to write this? Was the man discouraged? Was he procrastinating moving into the place of leadership God had opened up for him? Was he delaying out of fear for his life or was it self doubt?

We have no way of knowing what was happening in Archippus' life. But the instruction holds true for all readers. Be sure to do the task God has given you to do.

You are right if you fear you can't do it well enough. No one can. That is why we depend on God to work through us. To not do it is to say God is incapable of using you for his glory. Do you really want to say that to or about God?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Passing the Letter

Most of us in America attend services in a building we call a church. It usually holds a platform, musical instruments and some form of art with religious significance. The Jewish people celebrated worship in what was known as a synagogue. The early Christians attended services there with others who did not believe or know Jesus as the Messiah.

Eventually followers of Jesus obtained the reputation as being a cult and were kicked out of the normally accepted places of worship. So they had no choice but to begin worship in their homes. Nymphas held one of these churches (Colossians 4:15). Paul instructed his readers to pass the letter among these new house churches.

People had to wait for weeks or months to hear the letters read to them. In many countries today individuals put their lives on the line so others have even a portion of one of the letters. Yet, most of us in America have several translations in our homes.

Pray for those who do not have this privilege as you read and meditate on this treasure of God's words to his people.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Behind the Scenes

Tychicus and Onesimus worked as a team in Colossi (Colossians 4:7-9). These men were willing servants of Paul and the church at large. They were secretaries writing the letters that Paul dictated and carried messages back and forth between Paul and the churches.

Onesimus was at one time a slave to a man by the name of Philemon. He had escaped enslavement and may have stolen from his former master, but in his travels he eventually met Paul and was converted. He then returned to his former master with a letter from Paul requesting Philemon forgive all his trespasses and treat him as a free brother in The Lord. Apparently Philemon did just that because Onesimus was allowed to travel with Paul on some of his journeys.

These men had the task of encouraging believers and letting them know how Paul was doing. They also reported back to Paul the spiritual state of the churches. They are not the focus of many sermons, nor are they will known to believers today, but their part in our spiritual life was enormous. Without them, we would not have Paul's letters which make up most of the New Testament.

Do not make the mistake of underestimating the value of your quiet servanthood.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fellow Servant

Lastly, Tychicus was a fellow servant in The Lord (Colossians 4:7). We are also servants. He served us by dying that we might be set free. We serve him out of a grateful heart.

The apostles' focus for life was the spreading of the gospel and the care of God's people. They gave up things of this world and comforts of home that others might know the message of God's love and forgiveness.

We are not all called to leave home. We are all called to participate; sometimes by speaking to others when God opens the door and sometimes by giving finances that others might go.

Our lives belong to our loving Savior. What is our focus?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Faithful Minister

Paul said Tichicus was also a faithful minister (Colossians 4:7).

To be faithful is to be consistent in all situations. You are faithful in your message of grace, forgiveness and judgement, whether the message benefits you or is detrimental to you. This does not mean we are obnoxious and do not consider whether the person is receptive to hear in a each situation. It does mean whenever we speak our message is consistent. Our actions, choices and words are aligned with the truth.

You always can be counted on to speak truth.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Beloved Brother

Paul called Tychicus a beloved brother, faithful minister and fellow servant in The Lord. Each adjective describes a separate function in the scheme of God's plan for life ( Colossians 4:7).

Beloved brother speaks of the family relationship of believers. My mother recently died and members of my parent's church surrounded my father with acts of love and service. An abundance of food was prepared. Flowers were sent. Condolence cards and expressions of appreciation for my mother were overflowing with kind words.

I attend a very small church and half of them took time to come to the memorial service to support me. Two families who are friends and pastors took time off work to come and support me personally. Many offers to do anything to help were sincerely given. I was humbled by such love and felt unworthy but extremely thankful.

Each of these persons' actions displayed the family aspect of believers. They are examples of being beloved brothers.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Salty Grace

Knowing when and what to speak to an unbeliever can be difficult. Knowing if you should speak when the unbeliever is a family member sometimes seems impossible. We need the Holy Spirit to orchestrate all situations. We need his timing, his wisdom and his boldness (Colossians 4:2-4).

Every word must be shared with patient wisdom. Paul calls it grace and likens it to using salt. Too little salt and the flavor of the food is not as pungent. Too much and the flavor of the food is lost all together and it is immediately spit out. Every opportunity must be tempered with spiritual insight knowing that the window of opportunity for attentive ears is very small and easily missed. Each person is unique and has personal obstacles to comprehending the truth (Colossians 4:5-6).

Pray and then rest in God's ability to create opportunities to share. Only he knows when the timing is right.

Monday, April 1, 2013


Vigilant: "to be watchful especially to avoid danger." - Merriam-Webster's dictionary

Paul wrote to the believers in Colosse to be "Continue in prayer, being vigilant in it with Thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2).

Jesus told his disciples, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation for the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak" (Mathew 26:41).

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 tells us to pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you.

A life habit of prayer keeps us in tune to the Holy Spirit's prompting so that we both recognize spiritual danger and can avoid it. A thankful heart helps us recognize God 's gifts of grace in every situation.