Friday, May 31, 2013

Mind Your Own Business

I recently had a friend whose teenage granddaughter was missing for four days. They sent out a message through Facebook asking everyone to pray. We did.

I could imagine the pain the parents were experiencing. My heart felt frozen in the fear of what might be.

The next Facebook message read, "H_____ is home safe. Don't ask me any questions, but keep praying."

Our natural desire is to crave details. But what they need is prayer and silence.

Notice Paul uses the word "study" in the directive, "study to be quiet and to mind your own business" (1 Thessalonians 4:11). A quiet spirit does not come naturally to most of us. We sometimes crave "to stick our nose" into other people's affairs.

But God simply says, pray.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Sigh of Relief

This next verse is one of the most comforting verses in the Bible for me. It sets me free from the drive to correct others, the insatiable drive to know other people's business and the unhealthy need for every word and action to be significant.

"And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;" (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

This instruction brings a sigh of relief.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

God's Teaching Technique

"But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you:for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another" (1 Thessalonians 4:8-9).

Our natural love is directly correlated to how we are treated. We find it easy to love people who are kind and loving toward us. But when we find out that someone is dissing us, we find it much harder to love. God loved us while we were his enemy and he requires the same love from us.

No matter how much I try, I fail at this kind of love. So I ask God to love others through me. He answers my prayer in a strange way. He shows me my faults, my failures, and my need for him. When my heart cries out for his mercy and forgiveness, I am suddenly able to have compassion on others who need what I need.

God teaches me how to love through my need for forgiveness.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rejected Strength

"He therefore that despises, despises not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 4:8). When Paul used that last phrase, "God, who has given us his Holy Spirit", he brings to our attention that God has given us the ability to resist any temptation to sin against another person. God's Spirit is holy and he has given his Spirit to us. Therefore we have God's strength in us.

In order for us to defraud another person, we have to purposely ignore the Holy Spirit's warnings and offer of strength to resist. We are placing our needs, not only above another's but above God.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Esteeming Our Needs

Paul writes that to defraud another person, or to sin against another person is to despise him or her. Our choices reveal a self focused heart. It has become obvious that we esteem our wants and needs as more important than the other person's.

What is astounding is Paul's final argument on the subject. "He therefore that despises, despises not man, but God ..." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).

When we sin against a person, we sin against God.

Why? Because God called us to holiness and our act of despising someone means we are despising something God made and we are directly rejecting God's gift of holiness. God takes it personally.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Powerful Grace

The philosophy that because we are in grace our sin is not important is not logical. It would be illogical for Jesus to suffer so that we could sin. We already are sinners. What would be the purpose of the cross?

Scripture tells us, "God hath not called us to uncleaness but holiness" (1 Thessalonians 4:7). We cannot make ourselves holy any more than a broken vase can put itself back together again. But God does make us holy. He has made us into new vessels

He came to deliver us from the works of the evil one and set us free from the power of sin. We are no longer under the captivity of our evil desires. (Romans 8:2-4;Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:15; 1 John 3:8; Revelation 4:5).

To keep us from the bondage of self righteousness, remember, "He who has called you will also do it " (1 Thessalonians 5:4) and "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it" (Philippians 1:6).

Your desire to be holy comes from your Holy Father.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What are Our Actions Saying?

Scripture teaches we are not to defraud our brother (1 Thessalonians 4:6). The definition of the word defraud is to gain by deception. We are given two reasons. First, God will take revenge against us. Second, God has called us to holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8).

There is a third aspect of deception. When we gain by deception we are truly despising the other person. We are putting our interests above another's. Our actions say we do not value that person.

Scripture puts even a more severe interpretation on fraudulent gain. Scripture says to defraud is to despise God (1 Thessalonians 4:8).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fine Gold Chain

Exactly how does one live a sanctified life? Much like a fine gold chain of a woman's neckless that has gotten tangled, there are two basic components that are so tightly intertwined that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish one from the other. The primary chain is God at work in us. The secondary chain is our decisions to obey (Philippians 2:12-13 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:4).

Our sinful nature tend toward basing our decisions on emotions. When we feel unloved in our marriage , we are vulnerable to the temptation of adultery. When we feel threatened, we are more vulnerable to lashing out at others. When we feel someone is accusing us, we tend to lash out in return.

But when God calls us into his love, we begin to respond out of the security of his divine nature (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; 2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:1-4).

His love changes us.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Know How to Possess

The first serving dishes and utensils made from silver had to be polished on a regular basis or they would turn black and corrode. Gardens have to be weeded routinely in order to keep their beauty. Living rooms must be swept or vacuumed often to keep them presentable. Humans need to take a shower or bathe frequently to keep from building odors that are unpleasant to others and to remain as healthy as possible.

Our spiritual lives also must not be neglected. Paul writes, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).

It is interesting that he uses the phrase "know how" to possess. We must pay attention to our surroundings and be aware of our tendencies to cravings in order to live sanctified lives. It is necessary to recognize temptations for what they are if we want to avoid them. Daily intimacy with God through prayer, Bible meditation and obedience increase our awareness of our spiritual and physical lives.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Paul's Love Letter

I remember my first love letters. I opened the envelope slowly because I wanted to cherish the experience. When I first touched the pieces of paper inside, I would not move my fingers from the spot for several seconds cherishing the idea that the man who loved me had touched them. It was almost like we were holding hands.

Paul's letter to the Thessalonians reads like a love letter. Here we are in chapter three and he is still talking about his love for them and how much it means to him that this love is returned.

If Paul, a human, loves fellow believers this deeply, how much love do you think your Heavenly Father has for you?

Friday, May 17, 2013


The night my mother died I could not sleep. I was not aware of my mind racing. It was more like it was in shock and could not fall asleep. I finally gave up at three in the morning. My brother heard me in the small room and came out to see if it was my father. I expressed a need to talk, so my brother stayed up with me until six am.

I was thankful that my family had all gathered in our grief. We cried, we laughed, we shared our memories about mom. All of those things were a comfort though my grief has still not left me.

One thing that encouraged me was when I saw an entire pew at the memorial service filled with people from my church. My church is a tiny gathering of about twenty faithful believers, so that meant half our congregation had come in support of me. It is difficult to express how this blessed me.

Paul writes of the joy it brought him to know people loved him and that they shared the same faith (1 Thessalonians 3:6-8). There is strength in loving and knowing we are loved. Your support of other believers is not insignificant. Even the smallest gesture of giving of ourselves to others strengthens fellow believers.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Morning Glories

At our previous home, someone planted morning glories next to the fence in our back yard. They were small vines with tiny pretty blue blossoms. The problem was that the vines wanted to take over the garden and chock out the other flowers. It seemed impossible to get rid of those pesky plants that twisted in and out of the chain link fence. In fact, we were never fully successful. Those tiny vines were well established.

Paul sent Timothy to the Thessalonians to establish and encourage them in the faith (1 Thessalonians 3:2). He was concerned that hearing about the persecution he and his companions were suffering might cause his friends to struggle in their faith (1 Thessalonians 3:3). His desire for them was that they would be established like those morning glories. If Satan tried to yank away part of their vine, they would simply pop back up.

Trouble has a way of challenging our faith. Severe persecution is especially difficult to endure and when it comes to someone you love, it tears at our faith. But Paul reminded the Thessalonians that God had appointed them to persecution (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4). When we rest in his sovereignty, we are strengthened to endure and can be at rest (Psalm 23).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Letter Carrier

Timothy did a lot of traveling carrying Paul's letter to the churches (1 Thessalonians 3:1,6; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Corinthians 8:16-18). He was a faithful companion for Paul, and Paul knew he could be trusted. There was an entire group of men that carried letters back and forth between churches (2 Corinthians 8:16-18; Ephesians 6:21-22; Colossians 8:16-18; 2 Timothy 4:12; Philippians 2:25-30). Some of them were ministers in their own rights and others were lay people serving the Apostles.

Those letters were the life line of believers. In fact they make up most of the New Testament. What would we have today if those that carried the letters took the attitude that their job was insignificant and discarded the letters?

We exalt speakers who draw crowds of hundreds or thousands and think ourselves as unimportant in the kingdom of God. Our attitude comes from our sinful nature's tendency to exalt one person or one work above another.

God appoints whom he wills to do what he wills. No job has insignificant eternal impact. just because we cannot see it now, does not mean it is not there (John 3:25-31; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Romans 12:1-2, 1-5).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Scriptural Jigsaw Puzzle

Some things in scripture are puzzling. For instance, why does Paul say Satan hindered him and his companions from visiting the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:18)? Doesn't scripture tell us that no plan of God can be stopped by Satan (Job 42:2, Isaiah 55:10-11; Ezekiel 12:25).

Here is another puzzler. 1 Chronicles 21:1 says Satan caused King David to count the children of Israel. Yet 2 Samuel 24:1 says God incited David to count the people. Isn't this a contradiction? No, not really. The different viewpoint only points out that God uses whomever or whatever he chooses to get his will accomplished (Acts 4:27-28).

Does this mean we live with fatalism, whatever happens, happens? No. Being a Christian is not equivalent to being a fatalist. Scripture tells us we are in an active battle against evil (Ephesians 6:11-12). Jesus told his disciples to watch and pray that they might be victorious against temptation (Matthew 26:41). Paul writes to the Corinthians that they need to be actively in gaged in the battle (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) and the Psalmist wrote that God's children trample the enemy (Psalm 91).

As soldiers in God's army we pray for wisdom, strength, and boldness; then we actively engage in whatever is set before us, resting confident in God's power to defeat Satan (Ephesians 6:18-20; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 3:23; Romans 14:8).

Monday, May 13, 2013


When my mother-in-law was near death, we visited her in the hospital. I had been praying many years that she would come to Christ. My sister-in-law met us on the hallway of the hospital just a couple of doors down from my mother-in-law's room.

"I do not want you talking to my mother about God." She said sharply. "This is not the time for that sort of thing."

"She is about to go into eternity and face God." I said. "What more important time is there than now?"

My-sister-in-law was insistent. "If she asks you, o.k. But you are not to bring it up."

As we entered the room to greet my mother-in-law, I began to pray silently. 'Father, give me time alone with Freda, so I can speak to her about you.'

A few seconds passed and my sister-in-law said, "I am going to get a cup of coffee," and she left me alone with her mother. As she left the room, my mother-in-law said to me, "Would you sing Amazing Grace?"

My mother-in-law accepted The Lord that day and was a completely different woman the last months of her life.

Some unbelievers seem to be driven to blocking others from considering Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:16). But God is greater than their efforts.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What will be my Response?

If we honestly believe God has spoken to us, what will be our response?

If we honestly believe the Bible is the Word of God, what will we do with it?

The Thessalonians risked their lives to believe and live according to God's Word (1 Thessalonians 2:13-15).

If you are not confident that you would be able to withstand the same severity of persecution, you are correct. No one could withstand by their own power. It is God at work in us that makes us remain faithful during persecution (2 Corinthians 9:8; Romans 14:4; Philippians 2:13).

God is powerful enough to sustain you.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Untainted Message

"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

People protest that the Bible is written by men and therefore cannot be from God. Human beings make many errors in judgement. They say things to manipulate others for their own benefit. They have the reputation of taking advantage of others. Therefore to many it seems impossible that men could actually hear from God and deliver an untainted message. They use this reasoning to discard the Word if God.

The bible was written over a period of thousands of years, by forty authors who did not know one another, who were from different times and different cultures. There were periods of time when books were lost so that one generation did not know what another generation had written. Yet no book of the Bible contradicts another and all books carry the same basic message from deferring points of view.

God, who created all things is certainly powerful enough to speak through men and guard his message so that it is untainted by man. We call this message the Bible.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kingdom and Glory

God calls each of us into his kingdom and his glory (1 Thessalonians 2:12). Can these be divided? Can we have his kingdom and not his glory? Can we share in his glory and not be part of his kingdom? The two are inseparable, but we tend to think of the one apart from the other. We tend to think we can belong to his kingdom and not share in his glory.

I can think of two causes for this division in our minds. We either think we are unworthy to share in his glory therefore it must be impossible, or we don't care about God receiving glory through us. The first is partially true. We certainly are unworthy, but his glory is a gift to us. The second is an indication that we do not belong to his kingdom.

How do we share in his glory? One way is by allowing him to work through us. Knowing and experiencing his love for us though we are unworthy we are able to show his love for others who also are unworthy. When we consciously live in God's kingdom, we make choices that will reflect the holiness and righteousness of God (1 Thessalonians 2:12).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Reciprocal Love

Paul describes his relationship with the Thessalonians as affectionate, careful and as family (1 Thessalonians 2:8-12). He and his partners worked hard at coming alongside those with whom he was sharing the gospel. God used this deep love to change the hearts of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 3:6).

People are more open to hear your message when they sense you genuinely love them.
But human love is fickle. It is more apt to be based on reciprocal affection. God is the only source of pure love. Therefore it only makes sense to ask him to place his love for an individual in our hearts (1 John 4:7-8). Pretending never works.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Two Temptations To Persuade

Paul reveals two temptations he faced in spreading the gospel; to water down his approach to avoid more persecution and to demand he be heard based on his authority as an apostle. He rejected both, choosing to rely on the Holy Spirit to awaken the hearts of men to the truth (1 Thessalonians 2:2, 5-6).

It is imperative that we rest in God's power to convict men of the truth when we speak. To attempt to persuade by any other means is to insult God. It is as though we are saying he is incapable to save people. We are to speak the truth because he has given us that directive, but it is God who does the convincing (Mt 28:20; Mt 16:18; John 17:18-20; John 16:7-11).

Friday, May 3, 2013

Deceptive Persuasion

"For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts." (1 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

The only eternally affective sharing of the good news of salvation is the simple straight forward truth. Any other attempt to share may be temporarily successful, but when people discover they have been manipulated, they quickly turn away.

God tests our hearts. Not because he wants to know who we are, he already knows that, but to break through our self-deception.

Paul may also be warning believers that God will expose any of our attempts to manipulate others.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Southern Gospel Concert

From fifth grade through eighth grade, we lived in a small town amongst the giant redwood trees. Once a quarter we traveled to Eureka to hear southern gospel quartets. I loved these concerts. As a young girl I fantasied about marrying one of the handsome singers. It thrilled my innocent heart to hear the lead singer at every concert say something like this.

" Hello Humboldt County." (After the applause and yelling hellos settled down from the audience he would continue). "We love coming here because in all the places we travel we love you folks the best." ( As outrageously loud applause erupted, the music began to blare out of the speakers).

Imagine my surprise to hear those exact same words by the same southern gospel band in Sacramento. I was crushed. At the age of fourteen I had just been introduced to Public Relations manipulation.

Paul wrote that he never presented the gospel with flattering words, nor did he change who he was in order to persuade men. He did not believe in manipulation of people but depended on the Holy Spirit to convince people of the gospel ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6).

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Waiting Wrath


1 : strong vengeful anger or indignation
2 : retributory punishment for an offense or a crime : divine chastisement

God does not wink at rebellion, nor does he overlook sin. He said sin would be punished and it will.

But we do not have to fear his wrath or his vengeance when we belong to him. Jesus died so that we would be set free from the habit of sin and be protected from God's impending wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1John 2:28).