“And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.” 1 Thess. 1:6-7 NKJV
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.
If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen
Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Today’s reading is the Book of First Thessalonians chapter 1 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).
1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace [a]from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Their Good Example
2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. 5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. 8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. 9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
a. 1 Thessalonians 1:1 NU omits from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
Let us start with a History and Overview of the Church at Thessalonica and the letters written to this church. It all began in Acts 17 – during Paul’s second missionary journey and in the home of Jason, presumed to be a relation of Paul. This church is located in northern Greece. If you do not recall, it is Acts 17:1-9. Paul and his crew were there for less than 3 week. Preaching first to the Jews then the Gentiles. It was not that the Jews were not getting it, many were – but more gentiles than Jews were becoming Christians (mostly because few Jews were converting). So the envious Jews grabbed evil men from the market place – men who did not care either way and had no skin in the fight, but just wanted to fight – modern day internet trolls, but these picked up clubs and intended physical harm.
Engaging with men who do not have skin in the fight, is pointless. They do not care. Be like Paul, Silas, and the crew and slip out the back.
The mob attacked Jason’s house and dragged out Jason. Jason had to pay a fine and if Paul returned, Jason would be tossed in jail forever (or the best they could do). Poor Jason. And this poor church which was founded and had only 2 weeks of training and hearing the gospel before Paul could not return.
So this book was written during the end half of Paul’s second missionary journey, as Paul received word of them and kept tabs of the church’s well-being. This is most commonly thought of as the first letter Paul wrote – but some scholars say the letter to the Galatians was written first (two years before this). Galatia is the region that he traveled through during the first missionary journey (Derbe, Lystra and that second Antioch). So as Paul and the gang traveled through upper Asia minor, before arriving at Thessalonica, he may have written to the churches in Galatia – but the date of that letter is unknown and debated.
This book, however and Second Thessalonians were both written in Corinth where Paul stayed for a while establishing that church and checking up on Jason’s. The persecution of the Thessalonica church was brutal, there were many deaths (but it doesn’t say if from the persecution or from other causes), some false doctrine and relaxed perspectives on certain sins had crept in and these baby Christian were suddenly dealing with adult issue (issues of mature believers) while they were still learning the basics. Because of this Paul give us some very prophetic writings – which were apparently common teachings and understanding among the early church. (They are the teachings on the rapture and the resurrection of the dead in Christ, along with the signs of that time. Now we understand what Paul’s final defense, it was the rapture and the Kingdom of Heaven. Always be heaven minded, always keep your eyes fixed upward, and always choose what you will do by if it furthers the Kingdom work.)
This book is in 5 very short chapters – some light reading this week which hold some theological punch and more so in the next book! The book is outlined with chapters 1-3 being personal and more biographical, and chapters 4-5 are more instructional.
Chapter one begins with a greeting – common still with Christian, but it sounds more like “thoughts and prayers” or “praying for you” and it usually lacks action or meaning. It is not without ceasing. And we sit reading the Bible wondering where did the signs and wonders go? And we ask God for more power and
he says – but you aren’t using the power I gave you!
So we sit wonder what that means instead of using the power to pray without stopping for other believers thanking God that they are sharing in the work and carrying some of the burden. And if we are tempted to think of other, it would seem we think only in envy, strife and division. Look around; am I wrong?
Step one – fix our greeting. Let’s commit ourselves to trying to focus on prayer for others and thanking God that they share the burden, instead of being overcome with jealousy of their blessings and anointing. (I am sure most of you already are doing it right and I am preaching to the choir – but it needs to be said for those who aren’t.) One by one we will be changed by grace and therefore spread that transforming grace onto the world, through prayer. And it only happens when we stop praying all-consuming prayers for ourselves and our very real and urgent needs and start being kingdom focused. (Sometimes our problems distract us from the mission.)
What are you known for?
Are you known for “your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 3) ?
Do you remember your election – meaning God chose you and came to you with power (if you received it – and if not, go ahead and receive it)?
Are you filled, to overflowing with the Holy Spirit? Do you pray in tongues often? Do you need to do it more?
As Paul greets and praises these young Christians, we can all do a little self-reflection and see if this fire still burns as bright, like theirs. In verse 7, Paul says that they are a good example.
But let’s not skip verse 6 – where they are full of joy, doing this under “much affliction”. Most of us with the ability to find this blog and read it are under some affliction – mostly light affliction. Where is our joy? The Joy of the Lord is supposed to be our strength.
Pay attention because book 2 is addressed to them because of their depression and compromise of a sin. The enemy came in and robbed them of the joy they were praised for having. Many times we see people laughing in church and assume it is demonic. I was once, sitting in this very spot and the joy of the Lord overcame me and I laughed for at least 24 hours! I was in a battle against some major things and I needed the strength renewed and had no idea what God was doing until after and I can look back and say – I want to live in that joy.
Another point to take notice of – these baby Christian with God leading them because Paul couldn’t… are fulfilling the “go, ye, therefore” mission from Jesus in Mathew 28. They sent out missionaries and evangelists!
“For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” Verse 8
And finally, in alinement with what I have said over and over in this blog since I started it – REPENT. Being a good repenter – like King David (a man after God’s heart, making lots of mistakes, but repenting and seeking to serve God). These Christians were excellent repenters, turning from idols.
Let me share an interesting thing that happened to me recently. When I turned to God, I repented. Since then, I repent daily saying the Lord’s Prayer and asking for guidance in turning from any sin still in my life. My son moved out almost a year ago – then moved back then moved out and still hasn’t taken all his things and left some cluttered areas. I am also a bit unconventional and creative and have a high tolerance for clutter. Then I hear a sermon on chaos is the enemies’ area and can become a stronghold, and God is order. That sermon was a special I tuned in for, the man is a missionary and I was interested in hearing him – it was God ordained. Because the week before in my normal Wednesday night Bible study group the lesson was on repenting from idols and sinful objects and cleaning your house of them. I thought I has done that job well. (If you do not know what I mean, we will do a lesson on it. but in short – idols and objects of evil can be tarot cards, ouija boards, horoscope stuff, crystals meant to focusing powers, incense meant or made for ritual or made with ritual, and stuff like that.) I, being called to teach and with a desire for purity feel there is no needs for even more things – anything that doesn’t meet the criteria of Philippians 4:8. But that is where I personally draw the line. We all have to work out our salvations with fear of God and in hopes of full obedience.
Anyway – during the Wednesday night study I felt like I needed to clean up my clutter in the right hand corner of my living room. I had an animal skull, I used to teach drawing classes (I am also an artist) on the bookshelf and thought maybe it was giving the appearance of evil. So I packed it away – I can pull it out for the lesson and then put it away after, each time. A day later I felt that area still needed something – the bookshelves were cluttered with my son’s stuff and mine. The painting on the wall were cluttered as well. So I took down a painting I did when I was not serving God and thought I did my due diligence. But God was making me more and more uneasy about that corner. Then I heard the message about clutter being a point where the enemy can hide. I said – that is it! Everything on the bookshelf goes! I will use that bookshelf to more space for the business God gave me and make room for the business to grow! As I look books and games off the shelf I have made two piles: my things and my son’s things. Next I find a third pile forming – I called it “GASP! What is that doing in my house?” I called my son and asked if he wanted anything from those shelves and he said no – I said, before I get rid of them, I have all your childhood books and will put them aside for you to go through (they will be nice to share with his children someday). Everything else I had permission to toss! Praise the Lord – there were books on new age stuff and dragons and videogames on evil things and…. Gone. Gone! GONE!!! I broke and ripped up and threw away all of it! Clutter really is an easy place for graven images to evil to hide, literally! I was ashamed – I had to repent! and ask forgiveness for not stewarding my area better. I am now committed to going through any and all clutter and spring clean the compromise out of this house!!
The point is – David was praised for being a good repenter by being called a “man after God’s own heart” and the church in Thessalonica was praised for being a good repenter and getting rid of idols and associated items. It is a necessary action of becoming a believer. You cannot hold onto things that represent evil and grow in power as a Christian. If you think so – you have been lied to. I am sorry.
If you do without knowing – it will still hold you back and you need to repent and clean out!
I do understand, there is a lot of money in those things (imagine what could have been if that money was instead used for furthering the Kingdom). You cannot sell them and let others be trapped by the sin – we must destroy them. And there are always the: “this isn’t so bad” items that leave the least amount of room for evil – but room, none the less. I am in this with you. I just cleaned my living room corner this past weekend. I know.
Only 10 verses in today’s chapter – but a whole lot of self-examination and room to do better.
Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!