Friday, August 30, 2013

Sour Grapes

Paul's warning against endless genealogies affects another teaching that has been popular in the United States for several centuries. Some teach that curses are passed from one generation to another, quoting Exodus 20:5 "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;".

They teach that a doorway has been opened to demons by ancestor's sins, therefore they must find out what the sins were and repent of them to close the doorway. But God said in Jeremiah 31:29-30 "In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge."

And in Ezekiel 18:19-20 "Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son:the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."

We are held accountable only for our sins.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


A woman explained to a class why she was becoming a Buddist. "I was raised as a Christian," she said with a smile. " But I never learned the religion of my ancestors. Buddhism is my heritage." I felt pity for her. Her Christian upbringing must never have touched her heart.

We are warned in scripture against the dangers of basing beliefs on ancestors. "Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith..." 1 Timothy 1:4).

This does not mean we should not know our personal history, because the Bible itself gives us the genealogy of the Hebrew nation and Jesus' human family line (Mathew 1:1-17; the books of Numbers and Chronicles).

But, we do not believe because our ancestors believed, or because our grandparents or parents believed, though we may learn from watching them (Hebrew 13:7-8). We believe because God has put faith in our hearts and called us to himself (Hebrews 12:1-3; Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 1:1-6; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 24-25).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Three Gifts

Timothy held a very special place in Paul's heart. He had been with Paul through many of his persecutions and imprisonments. He had proven to be a trustworthy and faithful friend as well as a faithful minister to Paul and to the church at large. Timothy would soon be ministering without his mentor, because the time set for Paul's martyr was approaching.

Though we have seen similar words in every letter, let's not skip over these important references to God's gifts to each of his children, "grace, mercy and peace" (1 Timothy 1:1-3). These three gifts are the most important gifts to every believer because they embody all other gifts.

Grace encompasses strength, faith, God's compassion toward us and much more. You could almost refer to Grace as the name of the larger Package that holds all God's gifts (Ephesians 2:1-12). Mercy refers to God's bountiful forgiveness that we need, both for initial salvation and our subsequent failures(Titus 3:4-7; 1 John 1:9). And peace incorporates comfort in sorrow, rest in God's wisdom and forgiveness, as well as in the fact that our lives are under his control (Psalm 4:8; John 14:1-8).

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Not Home Yet

There is an interesting final note from Paul. He brings attention to the fact that he writes the salutation and closing remarks by his own hand. The body of the texts were dictated to a companion, usually Timothy or Silvanus or Epaphroditus. He wrote the beginning and the ending in his own handwriting as a token of his love for the recipients (2 Thessalonians 3:17).

This is one of the reasons many scholars believe Paul had problems with his eyes. In his letter to the Galatians, he feels so strongly about a warning that he writes a note in the middle of his letter, "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand" (Galatians 6:11). He also tells the Galatians "you know it was because of physical infirmity that I preached the Gospel to you" (Galatians 4:13-14). He writes to the Corinthians that God would not remove the "thorn in his flesh" to protect him against arrogance (2 Corinthians 12:10-17).

We know Paul suffered torture several times in his missionary trips (2 Corinthians 3:23-29. Suffering is not an indication of lack of faith, or distance from God. Jesus suffered throughout his life, not just at the cross (Isaiah 53). Suffering reminds us that we're not home yet.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sweet Words to Worried Hearts

"May The Lord of Peace himself give you peace at all times in every way" (2 Thessalonians 2:16).

Those are sweet words to worried hearts. God himself will give you peace. The use of the word "himself" makes the giving personal. It is more than a generic gift of peace to the body of Christ as a whole. It means God sees you as an individual and purposely gives you, ________ (put in your name) peace.

God is not blinded to your situation. He is not a man that he would be too busy to notice you as an individual. He knows your name (John 10:1-2) and he knows your address (Acts 9:11). He knows what you do for a living (Acts 9:11) and where you are at any given moment (Psalm 139:8-10). If you do not understand something, rest in the knowledge, love and power God has toward you and leave the answers up to him (Psalm 131).

Friday, August 23, 2013

Feigned Obedience

If we are "to note that man" who does not obey the truth, "and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed" (2 Thessalonians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 5:11) does this mean are we not to be friends with unbelievers? No, Paul is referring to people who say they are believers but who do not live according to God's word.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that to avoid having company with fornicators, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters we would have to go out of the world. (1 Corinthians 5:10). We know Jesus ate with sinners (Matthew 9:10-13).

Nor does it mean we turn our backs on a fellow believer that has momentarily fallen to a temptation and has a repentant heart. The strong rebuke belongs to the hypocrite who feigns obedience but refuses to give up his or her a life of sin.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Delicate Task

Paul instructs the Thessalonians to discipline believers who do not behave in a manner worthy of the kingdom. He writes, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly", (2 Thessalonians 3:6) that "if any would not work, neither should he eat" (3:10) and "if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed" (3:14).

These are not easily followed instructions because of two pitfalls. If we correct out of an arrogant heart, we are in danger of falling into temptation ourselves (2 Thessalonians 3:15; Galatians 6:1). Secondly we have trouble following through when the violators are our friends.

Jesus gives us specific instructions on how to correct (Matthew 18:15-17). First we are to approach the matter privately. Next we are to take one or two people with us to approach them. Finally we are to bring it to the entire body of believers. All of this is done to rescue the fellow believer from his sin and must be done with a heart the recognizes our own vulnerability to transgress.

Paul warns against arrogance saying, "Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (2 Thessalonians 3:15).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Five Promises

Hind sight is a great teacher as long as we do not allow it to be our slave driver. We are wise to recognize our selfishness and repent without living in the past. My past errors, not only teach me to make better decisions, they also remind me of my need for God. My confidence that I will die victorious in Christ is not based on my power to keep myself from falling. My confidence is that God himself will keep me from falling (Jude 1:24).

Look at 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5. Paul gives the Thessalonians five thing that God is faithful to do.

Stablished you
Keep you from evil
That ye both do and will do the things which are commanded you
direct your hearts into the love of God
And into the patient waiting for Christ

If you failed in a given situation, let it remind you of what you would be like without God in your life. Rather than living in fear that you will continue to fail, rejoice that The Lord showed you so that you will move even closer to him.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Set Times

When evil men determine to harm God's children, God takes notice (2 Thessalonians 3:1-3). God always responds.

Sometimes he causes those who plan evil against one of his children to fall prey to their own trap (Psalm 7:12-16, 9:15-16, 21:11-12; Psalm 2:1-4; Psalm 10:2). Sometimes he delays their retribution, but he always takes revenge (Deuteronomy 3:5, 32:43; Psalm 58:10-11; Romans 12:19).

Sometimes he allows his child to suffer at the hands of unjust men, but he will never abandon us to Satan (2 Thessalonians 3:1-3; John 15:18-19, 17:15). There is a set time of our persecution and a set time for its end (Genesis 15:12-16; Jeremiah 11:12-14; Isaiah 10:12-13; Acts 1:7, 7:17, 17:26).

Whether we are persecuted to the day of our death, or whether he delivers us from our enemies on earth, we belong to God and our life is in his hands (Psalm 139:16; Romans 14:8).

Monday, August 19, 2013


Paul requests the Thessalonians pray that he may be delivered from wicked and evil men, "for not all have faith" (2 Thessalonians 3:2; Romans 15:30-31). Those who do not believe that Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins are often resentful toward those who share the message of salvation.

To them we smell like death (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). They view the message as foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18) and scoff or look down on anyone who believes. The anger produced by unrepentant hearts can lash out against those who bring the message of God's forgiveness. They can make life difficult for the believer, especially if they are in a position of authority.

We need to pray for one another that God will protect us from the backlash of wicked and evil men.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Many Hands Make Light Work

In some homes in America it is polite for a dinner guest to offer to help clean up after the meal. If your friend is moving and needs help loading the moving van, I good friend will lend a hand. There is an American saying, "Many hands make light work." Or "If we all pitch in we can get the work done more quickly." In each of these cases, we could do the work ourselves with no help, but the task would feel daunting.

But spiritual work can only be done by the Holy Spirit. That is why we need to pray for one another that our work in God's kingdom will be blessed by God. If it is not, we work in vain (2 Thessalonians 3:1; Psalm 127:1).

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Do you feel anger or disgust when you hear of an employee who does not do his part in a project, but when the boss comes around he gets all the credit? Can you relate to the student who feels livid when a member of their study group never showed up to meetings or lifted a hand to help receives the top grade along with the rest of the group? Do you find yourself uncomfortable at the thought of someone taken advantage of another? Have you ever felt someone was being duped by another person and you could not do anything about it?

God is never fooled, manipulated or duped by anyone who professes to follow him but does not (Romans 11:33-36). He knows the heart of every person(Acts 15:8; John 2:23-25). He knows them better than they know themselves( Psalm 139:1-4). He is just to send a delusion to those who are purposely disobedient and take pleasure in their sin (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chosen from the Beginning

God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Isaiah 43:1-2, 45:3-4, 46:10; Ephesians 1:1-6). Knowing this, be steadfast in your faith. Hold tightly to what God has taught you.

Do not be afraid (Exodus 14:13) For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand,
saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee (Isaiah 41:13).

Jesus Christ and God our Father will comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work (2 Thessalonians 2:17).

Isaiah 46:10

"Remember the former things of old:
for I am God, and there is none else;
I am God, and there is none like me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
and from ancient times the things that are not yet done,
saying, My counsel shall stand,
and I will do all my pleasure:"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Our Patience and Faith

God remains victorious over the Anti-Christ, though for a time it will look like God's people are being defeated (revelation 13:5-10). At the set time Jesus will destroy satan as it were with one breath (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:11-21).

John writes, "Here is the patience and the faith of the saints" (Revelation 13:10).

When troubles are overwhelming, our faith and hope remain in God. We may loose everything here, but no one can touch inheritance in Christ (John 10:28; Ephesians 1:11-12, 18-19; Colossians 1:12-14, 3:24-25; 1 Peter 1:3-5).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Who Decides When?

At first reading, verses six and seven are mysterious. " And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way."

What is restraining the lawless one (the Anti-Christ)? What did Paul mean when he said the mystery of the lawlessness is already at work? Was the Anti-Christ alive in Paul's day and if that were true, what would be the implication for today?

The spirit if the Anti-Christ is Satan (2 Thessalonians 2:9) and yes Satan was alive during Paul's lifetime and at work in the hearts of men. But, the individual whom will be called the Anti-Christ was not yet born. If left unchecked Satan would have inspired an Anti-Christ millenniums ago. Who has kept that event from taking place before the church was ready?

The Holy Spirit. Paul's words convey that God is in control of when the Anti-Christ will appear and God will make sure all his children are ready (John 17:11-12, 15, 17; Romans 8:36-39, 14:4, 8-10; Jude 1:14; Colossians 1:21-23; Revelation 12:11).

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mountain Ranges

I had a Bible school professor who taught that prophecy is like looking at a mountain range. You can see the peaks of the mountains but the numerous valleys are hidden from view. It was a fitting metaphor. With in one prophecy there may be an immediate fulfillment, a fulfillment yet to come, and one that is many years in advance. This principle makes it difficult at time to correctly interpret what we are reading.

We encounter such a spiritual mountain range here in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. The passage talks about the Lord coming for his saints in verse one, then the Anti-Christ ruling in verse four, his destruction in verse in verse eight and God sending a delusion to the disobedient in verses eleven and twelve. Some see the gathering of his saints as one event and his coming to judge the World as another, while others believe they occur simultaneously.

With all respect to differing understandings, whether the fulfillment is near or far, the underlying message is the might and judgement of God against those who do not love the truth and his great mercy toward those who love his appearing (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 2 Timothy 4:8).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Is He Coming Now?

Someone had started the rumor that Jesus had returned and taken his children with him. Some of the Thessalonians had believed the rumor and were frightened that they had missed the Lord's return. Paul writes about specific things that must happen before The Lord gathers his children to himself and that those things had not yet taken place.

Paul said, "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, who opposes and exalts himself against every so- called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

Yet scripture also tells us to be continually ready for Christ's return (Matthew 24:24). How do these two pieces of the puzzle fit together? We do not yet know who is the Anti-Christ so why should we be ready at all times. Won't there be time to get ready after we know who the Anti-Christ is?

No there won't, because, as Paul makes it clear, when the Anti-Christ is revealed he will perform signs and wonders (miracles if you will) that will deceive those who are not obeying God before the Anti-Christ appears (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10).

The time to be ready is now.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

An Opportunity

Trouble has a tendency to bring out the worst in us. We are grumpiest when we are sick or do not feel good. It is not hard to imagine how frightened the Thessalonians felt having people determined to harm them. Our natural tendency is to pray that the trouble is relieved, but Paul prays that The Lord may be glorified in the Thessalonians and the Thessalonians will be glorified in The Lord Jesus according the the Grace of our God and The Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:12).

I wonder how our attitude would change if we viewed trouble as an opportunity for God to be glorified.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Frightening Prayer

Those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ will forever be separated from the presence of God and the glory of his might (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

When my father was a young preacher, having come to know the Lord early in life, he wondered what it would be like not to experience God's presence. One day he ask The Lord to allow him to feel what it was like not to sense God's presence. My father said such a feeling of overwhelming darkness and fear swept through him that he immediately cried out to God to rescue him from his own prayer. He said the experience was terrifying.

People who do not know The Lord have no knowledge of the sweet presence of Jesus, therefore they do not understand fully what awaits them. I say, what awaits them because they are ignorant of the fact that they are now benefiting from his presence in the World. They do not have Christ in them so do not experience his presence the way we do, but God nevertheless is present. Hell is the full absence of God and all that God is, love, peace, forgiveness, friendship, companionship, laughter, joy, hope, life. The list is infinite.

This is one reason it is of utmost importance that we live a godly life, so that the unbeliever will see God's message of love and forgiveness before it is too late.

Monday, August 5, 2013

They Have No Idea

"This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" (2 Thessalonians 1:5-8).

Notice Paul links God taking vengeance on those who afflict and do not obey the truth with bringing relief to those who are afflicted. Jesus did not return during Paul or the Thessalonians' lifetime, so the connection did not mean God stopped the affliction for the Thessalonians. What then brings the relief?

There is a comfort in knowing God, our Father, will take revenge on those who purposely harm his children. The Father and Jesus allowed the crucifixion for an eternal purpose, to save us from our sin. But vengeance awaits those who continue to reject the offer. The same is true for those who purposely inflict pain on us. God is offering his gift to them of salvation, grace and peace through us, but one day the offer will cease and retribution will be paid.

Those who treat us as powerless have no inkling of whom they are really dealing with.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Knurled Index Finger

An elderly women, whose body was twisted with multiple sclerosis, lie in a single bed in a tiny Russian apartment. The only part of her body she could control was her knurled index finger. After her precious husband took care of her bodily needs and fed her a small breakfast, she spent the remainder of the day and into the night using her index finger on a vintage typewriter to translating Christian books for persecuted Christians.

When Corrie Ten Boom came to thank her for her work, Corrie wondered why God did not heal this saint. The woman's husband said to Corrie, "“God has a purpose in her sickness. Every other Christian in the city is watched by the secret police. But because she has been sick so long, no one ever looks in on her. They leave us alone, and she is the only person in all the city who can type quietly, undetected by the police”.

If your prayer does not seem to be answered, look for the ministry he is creating through your suffering.

(Excerpt From: Corrie ten Boom. “Tramp for the Lord.” CLC. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Counted Worthy

Paul makes an interesting comment when talking about the relationship between experiencing grace and peace and being in the midst of persecution. "That you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which you also suffer" (2 Thessalonians 1: 5). It reminds me of the mysterious verse in Hebrews, speaking of Jesus' suffering, "though he were a son, he learned obedience by the things which he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8).

To learn can mean to master something. When Peter tried to comfort Jesus by telling him he would never suffer the cross, Jesus responded, " are a hindrance to me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but the things of man" ( Matthew 16:23). Jesus said to his disciples after he rose from the dead, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Matthew 24:25-26).

Did not Jesus say in his prayer to his Father, "As you have sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world" (John 17:18)? Suffering causes us to refocus on the eternal. We can learn the surface meaning of obedience by reading a dictionary, but we are not truly obedient until we suffer for it. All believers must eventually suffer (2 Timothy 2:12)