Friday, June 28, 2013


A man wrote on his critic of an employee that she would not let go of the old ways to adjust to the needs of business. The man did not write his name on his review nor give any examples from which she could learn. The woman figured out who wrote the review by the process of elimination. She said to her friend, " this comes from a man who does not have a computer or e-mail!"

Our natural tendency is to strike back when someone hurts us. A person points out our fault. We want to point out his faults. If a person gossips about us, we tend to gossip about her. We create a tit-for-tat culture which produces an endless circle of sin for others as well as for ourselves.

Scripture tells us "See that none render evil for evil unto any man, but follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men" (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

Do not allow other people's behavior to control your behavior. Base your responses on God's word leaning on his Holy Spirit. We may need to confront, but we never need to lash out.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rubbed The Wrong Way

Some people rub us the wrong way. Our personalities are like opposite poles of a magnet. In high school, one of my sister's friends told me she did not like me. She was not mean about it. She simply wanted me to stop trying to be her friend because my quirks were driving her up the wall. I was surprised and hurt but could understand her frustration. I never forgot that experience. It taught me to be aware of other people's likes and needs.

I am not advising we use tell people we don't like them, though I am sure many of us would like to say that sometime. Scripture tells us to be patient with all men (1 Thessalonians 5:14). That means people we do not take a shine to as well as those with whom we are comfortable.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Weak

When many things seem to go wrong over a length of time, we can begin to struggle in our faith. It feels like the trial(s) will never come to an end. Scripture is a wonderful source of comfort and encouragement, but we also need help that comes from our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul writes, "encourage the faint hearted, support the weak" (1 Thessalonians 5:14). I remember the many times i struggled with faith. Those special people who loved me encouraged me, sometimes through memories of their own, sometimes through scripture, but most often by listening and praying.

God has brought the person who is struggling across your path, not to condemn or judge, but to come along side as one who expresses God's love.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Distinct Directions for Peace

From now till the end of his letter, Paul writes short distinct directions on how to live a Christian life. If we follow these instructions closely, we will be living at peace in our hearts.

He continues with the theme of living in peace among yourselves when he instructs us to "warn the unruly..."(1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Our tendency may be to avoid confronting those who are causing trouble. Confronting them feels like we are stirring the pot. Individuals who are unruly invariably strike out against anyone who apposes them, and we do not want to be the brunt of his or her anger. But we must warn the rebellious of the danger in their behavior.

Strife is a sign of transgression (Proverbs 17:19)
Strife is listed with idolatry, witchcraft, adultery, murders, and envy (Galatians 5:19-21)
Strife is earthly, sensual and satanic in nature (James 3:14-16)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Peace Among Yourselves

"Be at peace among yourselves" (1 Thessalonians 5:13).

When Satan tempted Eve spoke with disparage against God. He accused God of not having her best interest at heart (Genesis 3:5). She fell into the trap we call pride and ate of the forbidden fruit. Satan continues to use that same temptation against us today. Pride in our own competency and knowledge causes us to disparage others. When pride is at work strife is always present.

Scripture tells us to love one another, in honor prefer one another, and to continually pray for one another (John 13:34; Romans 12:3, 10; Ephesians 6:18). While we practice these things, we are more likely to be at peace with one another.

How good it feels when we walk with one another in unity (Psalm 133).

Friday, June 21, 2013

Peanuts in a Shell

I used to think peanuts in shells looked the same, until one of my professors gave each student in the class a single peanut. We were told to examine the peanut then place it back in the bowl. To my surprise each of us were able to identify and select out our original peanut when the bowl was passed a second time.

Whether we belong to a group of thousands or a group of twenty, we need to know our leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

If we belong to a local church with memberships in the thousands, it is a physical impossibility for the lead pastor to know everyone. Usually the mega churches have smaller group bible studies or gatherings that provide opportunity for getting to know one another. The leaders of these smaller groups that have been chosen by the church Board and senior pastor serve as under-shepherds. These men and women we need to know on a personal basis.

If we live in a country where the Christians must worship in secret, we have much in common with the churches to whom Paul wrote his letters. The believers in those hidden congregations have a much deeper understanding of the need to know their pastors. Their lives may depend on it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Television Pastors

Paul admonishes the Thessalonians to know their leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12) . . Scripture tells us to observe the leaders lives as an encouragement to grow in our faith and as a way to imitate their faithfulness to Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1; Hebrews 13:7).

It is impossible to know personally a television or radio pastors whom you have never spent time with them. They may be excellent speakers and encouragers of our faith, but they cannot pastor us. They will not visit us in the hospital, come to dinner in our homes, weep with us, laugh with us, or share their lives with us.

God never meant for television speakers to substitute for being involved in the local church.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Things Pastors Put Up With

Loving and caring for a group of people is not an easy task. There may be those in the congregation who want to be leaders and either should not be or are not ready to be (Mt 20:20-28). There are those who rebuke the leader that do not recognize their error (Mt 16:22-23). Sometimes the people understand and other times they do not (Mt 16:13-17; 22-23); times when people admire and respect the leader and times when they turn away (John 6:2, 66). There is great joy and deep sorrow in ministry.

Therefore we honor and respect those who carry this particular burden (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1Timothy 5:17-18; Ephesians 4:11-12).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Artist and the Mechanic

"How does one esteem another and not think of yourself as beneath them?" (1 Thessalonians 5:12-14). This question exposes a common misunderstanding of the function of authority. To esteem means to appreciate, admire, respect, have regard for the person or item being esteemed. It does not mean degrading or devaluing yourself.

If you go to an art museum and see a masterpiece, you may enjoy the painting and admire the talent of the artist, but you do not naturally think the painting or the artist as more valuable than yourself. If you need your car repaired, you value the honest and skillful mechanic but you do not naturally feel the man or woman has a greater right to live than you. The same could be said of electricians, professors, hair stylist, gardeners, doctors and any other professions. We recognize their talent and our need for their expertise. We show them respect as individuals and as someone we need.

So also we respect the leaders in the church. God has given them the ministry of teaching. He has given us different gifts. God designed that we need one another. In all this God alone is to be glorified.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Truckdriver and the Pastor

There are two facets to a healthy spiritual body, the relationship between those taught and those being taught, and the relationship of those being taught with one another.

"And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves" (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

Unfortunately in most of the Christian churches in America there is an invisible division between the leaders and the people. The platform on which the leaders sit most likely originated to allow the congregation to see who is speaking, but it has become in the minds of many a symbolism of hierarchy.

God has given some individuals the gift of speaking and teaching and to others varying gifts of ministry to the body of Christ (Ephesians 11:4-13; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31). The dishwasher, the singer, the sweeper, the pastor, the grandparent, the retired truck driver, all have been saved by the grace if God and do not deserve the bountiful mercy God has bestowed on us (Ephesians 2:8).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Strength for Today and Hope for Tomorrow

"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him" (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).

Notice the last two phrases, "whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him". Paul wrote similar words to the believers in Rome, "For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord:whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.(Romans 14:8-9).

We live with Christ today. He is ever watching over us to form us into his image (Romans 8:28-29), to show himself strong on our behalf (Joshua 1:9; 2 Chronicles 16:9) and continually asks the Father on our behalf (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (91:1”. That is where you are this moment and will continue to be throughout this day.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

No Fear

As God's children, we have no reason to fear his coming. "For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him" (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10). Jesus promised, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24).

We know we are God's children because:
1} we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, (1 John 3:10; 4:7-12, 19-20)
2} we obey God's commandments (1 John 5:2-5)
3} his spirit bears witness with our Spirit that we are his children 
 (Romans 8:16)
4} The Holy Spirit has been poured out in our hearts (Romans 8:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; Ephesians 4:30).

John wrote, "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that every one that practices righteousness is born of him" (1 John 2:28-29).

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we saw him today?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Red and Blue Lights

As a young woman, I was driving down a short country road at a pretty good clip when I turned a corner and was surprised by a police car coming in the opposite direction. I quickly tapped on my brakes to slow down, hoping beyond hope that he had not noticed my speed. He did. The familiar red and blue lights started flashing as he approached me. We stopped parallel and I rolled down my window. The officer was merciful to me and only gave me a warning.

Paul writes, "While people are saying, 'There is peace and security,' then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:3-6).

It was my breaking the speed limit that caused me to be taken by surprise. If I had been obeying the law, I may not have expected the police officer at that moment, but it would not have startled me.

As believers, we do not know the day or the hour of Christ's return, but we are not surprised that he is coming.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Heart of Darkness

Most criminals prefer to operate in the dark when it is more difficult for someone to identify them. There are crimes done in the secrecy of the home, because the perpetrator feels protected from public view. Our newspapers and news broadcasts are filled with stories of people who did not expect to be exposed for their crimes. Yet many are not repentant but belligerent when caught. These men and women walk in darkness(Luke 11:34-35; John 12:35-36; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5; 1 Peter 1:19).

That darkness will not last forever. God's wrath will appear suddenly without warning. All the hidden evil will be exposed to the light of Truth. Judgement will fall heavily on those who have rejected God, whether it be open rebellion or purposely hidden rejection of God (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3).

We have a Father who in his mercy has delayed his coming that more may learn to become his children, but he will not wait forever. He will take revenge on those who perpetrate evil and are not repentant from the heart (Romans 12:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:5-8).

Monday, June 10, 2013

Treasure His Return

There are days or seasons when life is particularly difficult. Someone suffers illness, another lack of income, others loss of loved ones, and some suffer daily threats to their lives because they are believers. We need each other, particularly during times of stress. It is like fresh cool water on a scorching day to remind ourselves that Jesus will come for us one day.

One moment we will be suffering, the next we will be caught up in the air to meet him. This truth helps us keep focused on eternity and not on the current suffering. We must live in the moment God has given us, while holding the treasure of the promise of his return in our hearts (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18).

Friday, June 7, 2013

Exuberant Hearts

In secular America heaven is depicted as white fluffy clouds and beautiful angels with harps. Even in religious circles heaven is pictured as an eternal church service so that people who attend boring church services have expressed dismay at repeating the ritual forever.

We will definitely worship God in heaven, but it will not be an exercise in duty. We will worship God out of exuberant hearts, so full of joy and happiness that we cannot contain ourselves (Revelation chapter four; 5:13-14;7:9-14; 21:11-14). We will also have responsibilities (Revelation 5:9-10)

Today, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Romans 15:13).

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blast of a Trumpet

One day Jesus will return, not as a quiet affair which no one will notice. He will come with a loud commanding shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the piercing blast of a trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Joel wrote "For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome; who can endure it?" (Joel 2:11).

Jesus said, "Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment" ( John 5:28-29).

Every person who has lived will stand before The Lord. There will be no argument about his existence, no questioning of his authority nor doubting of Truth. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is LORD (Romans 14:1; Philippians 2:11).

Given the reality of our accountability to God, it only makes sense to serve him now.(Philippians 2:12-13).

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Death Euphemissms

In America we use euphemisms to express death such as "she passed away", he left us, "may she rest in peace," "he passed over", "that good night", and many others. In the first century they used the term "he fell asleep."

Euphemisms often describe the appearance of the body, not the reality of the spirit. Paul gives us an important detail about death in chapter four verse fourteen. "...through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep." This is one of the verses that show us those who died are with God now.

American Christians use a phrase to express what happens to believers after death, "to be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord. That is not a direct quote from scripture but a simply way to remember a truth. It is based on Paul's writing to the churches that our spirits do not sleep at death but are existing in the presence of The Lord (Philippians 1:21-26; 1 Corinthians 15:24b, 49; 2 Corinthians 5:6).

When God returns to get his children from the earth, he will bring those who have died with him (1 Thessalonians 4:14).

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


God designed an amazing variety of skin colors, from the darkest walnut to the palest peach. The variations in a single face is a beautiful masterpiece. But when the breath leaves the body the coloring fades into a death hue that is unmistakeable. The person who once lived inside that body is gone.

Because blood is no longer circulating in the veins the body becomes cold to the touch. Moisture begins to seep out of the pours. The muscles of the body relax and body fluids are released. Seeing someone we love cease to breathe brings such an overwhelming sensation of grief that we often go into a kind of shock. Our minds have a difficult time comprehending that our loved one is truly gone.

There is great comfort in Paul's reminding us that our loved one has not ceased to exist. He or she merely changed location from earth to heaven where the earthly body is no longer needed. The change in skin tone reminds us the body is merely a shell that housed the spirit. That spirit is now with God.

We grieve because we will not see them again on earth, but we are comforted because we will see them again when we go to join them (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Monday, June 3, 2013

Love or Busybody

Paul gives us two motivations for leading a quiet life, minding our own business, and working with our hands. 1) We do this so that we walk honestly toward unbelievers and 2) so we do not lack anything (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

Sticking our nose into other people's business naturally leads to dishonesty because we manipulate conversations in order to get information. We want to appear kind and caring but are driven by curiosity. When people we are manipulating recognize this behavior, they recent it. They feel we cannot be trusted.

Secondly, Paul says we should mind our own business so that we don't lack anything. Being a busy body takes time and energy that should be focused on doing the job God has given us to do. He gives us grace to face our task, but does not give us grace to interfere in other people's business.

How can we show our love and still mind our own business? We can show love by praying, being available if someone does want to share and by keeping our mouth closed.