QT – II Thessalonians 2

Vs. 9, “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.”  One of Satan’s main weapons is “deception.”  Already, there were counterfeit letters, prophecies, miracles, signs and wonders.  The future of God’s prophetic plans are in God’s hands!  He is in control.  Paul reminds them that there are certain events that must happen and to assure us that the church is destined for salvation and not judgment.  If you stand on the Word, you will not fall for the devil’s lies. God’s people can face the future with assurance, hope, and comfort because of the unfailing grace of God.
Regarding application…Our Fault, Not God’s Fault.  Vs. 10, “…They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”  Whether people living in the tribulation or people living in our time…past & present…we have no excuse.  I’ve heard countless arguments against God for this very fact.  Question: How can a loving God allow His creation to perish?  He doesn’t…they have chosen this path.  God in His infinite ways, has given everyone the same opportunity to know him.  God has never delighted in judgment.  This is one of those things that we must exercise our “faith” in believing.  We must believe that God gave them countless chances.

It’s sad to me to know that people blame God.  And I’m not just talking Non-Christians here…I’m talking professing Christians talk unashamedly about how they feel it is somewhat God’s fault…or God is not being fair.  I remember when I was in my first week at Multnomah Bible College, we had a sharing time with a small group in one of “get to know each other” activities.  I still remember to this day, because it shocked me when I heard it.  A young man who was about 19, gave his testimony (I’ll leave the name out).  He was talking about what led him to Bible College.  He began to say how He blames God for all the trials & tough times, but He realized that He still needed to know Him more.  Now, I love the fact that he wanted to know God more…but the fact that he was blaming God and saying that it was God’s fault was alarming to say the least.
But, I’m sure he is not the only one with that sentiment.  Brothers & Sisters in Christ, who are we to blame God?  In fact, we should be declaring our “unworthiness”!  No matter how hard life gets…I pray you would never have the audacity to blame it on God.  Let us not let the enemy infiltrate such beliefs! 

QT – II Thessalonians 1

Like I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians was written to the church of Thessalonica and was needed because some had misunderstood Paul’s teaching about the terrible events that will accompany the coming day of the Lord.  Some thought that God’s judgement had already come, due to some false teachers.  Many were confused about the timing of Christ’s return.  In fact, some had stop working because of the confusion.  So Paul responded quickly to the young church.

II Thessalonians 1 (Tue. 02.21.06)

Vs. 11, “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.”  This first chapter is a great encouragement for the believer in these trying days.  The world is going downhill and unfortunately towards the wrong direction.  People do not want to hear the Word of God.  Faithful Christians are suffering while godless unbelievers prosper.  It seems as though God has forsaken His own.  But we can rest, knowing that God is in control (vs. 7).  

Regarding application…Growing Faith.  Vs. 3, “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more…”  In times of trial…the essential thing we need is Faith.  God will see us through in the storms of life…we just need to trust in him.  Just like the apostles in the storm…Jesus will keep them safe, they need not worry.  It’s remembering that no matter how crazy this world gets, no matter how much persecution, no matter how many personal problems, no matter how much pain comes our way…God is going to be there for us.

Though many of us would claim we have faith…it is only through trials that true faith is tested.  To have faith in the good times is easy…to have faith when it’s not so good, that is what Paul is really talking about.  It’s like a parent and a child.  The parent asks the child if they have faith in them.  Of course the child will say yes.  Then the parent takes the child to their deck on the second floor.  Let’s pretend this particular child is really scared of heights.  The parent tells the child to stay on the deck.  They go back down to the first floor and outside.  The child notices the parent is now outside on the grass a floor down.  The parent tells the child to climb up on the rail and jump.  Obviously the child is terrified, but the parent tells their child that, “I will catch you!”  The child’s fear is much like our fear (trials in life, fear of heights, fear of losing control, fear of being hurt…)  But the parent reminds the child they would never let them fall to their death.  They will catch their child.  It is now that the child must exercise their faith and choose to believe their parent it telling them the truth.

Sometimes, God is going to ask us to “Jump” and make that leap of faith.  It is these times that our faith is going to be tested.  And God does indeed test our faith at times…think of Abraham, think of Job.  Question: Do you have faith in God?  If yes, will you jump?”  Let’s trust in Him no matter how scary this life can be!

QT – I Thessalonians 5

Vs. 16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  The final chapter gives a series of admonitions instructing the Christians how to live with the fact that Jesus is coming.  As we read these many exhortations, we see that there were some definite problems in the young church. Christians were living carelessly…some were not respecting their church leaders and there was a general need for love and harmony among the each other.  These admonitions point out how the local church can live together to please the Lord.  We are also reminded to always be alert, because Jesus can call us home at anytime!

Regarding application…Staying on Fire.  Vs. 19, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.”  Question: How do you put out a fire?  You no longer feed it wood, oil or oxygen…or you pour water on it.  To put out the Spirit is to no longer walk with Him daily.  It’s when we refuse to do the Will of God: Reading His Word, Prayer, loving others, etc.  That is how you quench the Fire of God.  The next verse is about not treating prophecies with contempt.  That basically means not respecting God’s Word for your guidance.  That is another way to put out the Fire of God.  Fire is the picture of life…Just as you have to feed the fire with wood, coals, etc….we must feed our fire!

QT – I Thessalonians 4

Vs. 7, “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”  Paul outlined guidelines for successful Christian living. Once again, Paul focused on the importance of personal choice…choosing to live a Godly life with Christ’s strength.  Paul warned the Thessalonians of the dangers of sexual sin and challenged them to avoid sin in this area in order to elude its terrible consequences.  Paul concluded this chapter with teachings regarding the return of Jesus.  Apparently, the Thessalonians were confused by rumors that were floating around on this topic.  To prevent any more confusion, Paul laid out for the Thessalonians what would occur when Christ returns to this earth.  Paul encouraged the Thessalonians that the return of Christ would be a joyous occasion, a great celebration before God.

Regarding application…God’s Will.. Vs. 3a, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…”  Question: What is God’s will for my life?  It’s that proverbial question that every Christian is forced to face…though sadly, they may not seek.  In a world where people turn to sex, drugs and alcohol to fill their lives…we must make a decision.  I believe in my heart of hearts that when we seek first His kingdom…”God’s will” will be done.  We sometimes get caught up in feeling we need to know the specific person we need to marry, the specific college we choose to go to, the specific career choice we choose to go down…  Remember Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane…”Not my will but Yours be done.”

QT – I Thessalonians 3

Vs. 3, “so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.”  Trials and tough times would come to the young Christians at Thessalonica, but Paul would do his best to encourage them.  While he couldn’t go, he sent Timothy to encourage them (vs. 2).  Where God is working, the enemy is working…so we must be careful not to allow the enemy to discourage us.  Notice how the emphasis on the power of prayer and how Paul desired to see them again (vs. 10).  Paul’s biggest concern for them was their “faith” in the Lord.  As we we live in the valley of life, faith is such a big factor in how we see this life.  Put your faith & identity in the Lord so the world will see Jesus in you!

Regarding application…Increasing Love.  Vs. 12, “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”  Jesus would remind us that we would be “identified” by our love for one another.  This is what separates us from all the other organizations in this world.  As the days of our lives continue on…we must allow grace and acceptance to increase our love for one another.  This is love is not just a emotion felt at a retreat…love is a commitment that is not easy.  Love means accepting the faults of others.  Love means respecting what others have to say.  Love means obeying the Lord even when we don’t agree with it.  Love means reaching out to the lonely.  Love means setting your own selfish desires and putting God first.  Dearest brothers & sisters in Christ…let us be a church where love increases!  

QT – I Thessalonians 2

Vs. 4, “On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel…”  We just read of the good things that came from the Thessalonica church, and now we read the picture of an ideal pastor/leader.  We see how Paul put such an emphasis on spiritual growth for the young Christians.  Though Paul would travel to many regions, we see his incredible faithfulness & love for each of the churches.  Though trials & testing would come (vs. 4b), Paul would not succomb to pleasing the world.  We also see Paul refering to his relationship with them as a mother (vs. 7-8), a father (vs. 9-16), and a brother (vs. 17-20).
Regarding application…Real Humility.  Vs. 6, “We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.”  It’s only natural to want to be recognized for our achievements.  It boosts our self-esteem and helps us to feel like we are needed & appreciated.  But on the flipside…we also have the danger of getting a “Big Head”.  We can become overconfident, vain, and conceited.  I think real humility is understanding that we have no rights to anything…we are now slaves to righteousness.  Whatever praises we get from this world should not be given to us in the first place.  All praise, glory & honor comes to the Lord Most High.  He is the wind beneath our wings.  Real humility is realizing that we don’t need to rely on the praises & acknowledgement from others to keep us going in our life.  The only person(s) we should be worried about is God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit.

Question: How does one get to be vain & conceited?  We are very quick to envy those who seemingly have it all.  The tall handsome athletic guy, the beautiful girl who is noticed by all and very popular at school.  We wonder what our lives would be like if we could be in their shoes.  But in reality…you should be thanking God that you don’t have that burden to live up to.  When a boy or girl grow up in this society with this envious characteristics…it’s a constant battle for them to remain humble.  People who have it all are always given the breaks, always loved by the masses, always gets the attention….but with that…comes all the expectations from others.  If you are good-looking you are going to be pressured to hangout with the popular (worldly) crowd.  But if you are on the chess team with white tape holding your black-rimmed spectalces together…not many people are even going to notice you…much less put all these expectations on you.The praises of men are nothing compared to the praises of God!  What a moment it will be if we can come before our Lord to hear him say, “Well done, Good & faithful son/daughter!”  That’s the praise we should all want to hear one day!  If God does indeed tell us this….then there is a very high chance you will live this life not getting the praises & attention you would like.  Remember…this short life on earth is only temporary….

QT – I Thessalonians 1

Composed early in Paul’s ministry around 51 A.D., Thessalonica would be the second place that Paul would preach in Europe.  Paul would be forced to leave Thessalonica because of oppostion from some of the Jews living there.  The recently converted for Christ were left with little support and growing persecution.  So, Paul would write to encourage new young Christians in their trials.  They had come out of pagan religions and so Paul focused on instruction to Godly living.  He also wanted to assure them about the future of those in Christ even though they may die before Jesus returns.  Paul really wanted to remind them that Jesus would come again!  Paul would mention this fact in each of the chapters.
Vs. 7, “And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.”  Though these Thessalonians were young, they were able to become a model for many!  They lived examples not only at church…but through labor, work & patience (vs. 3).  They would not allow persecution and suffering to hinder them in their passion for Christ.  Another timely reminder for the Youth Group just getting back from our retreat!  Some believers are such poor examples as Christians that their lives give unbelievers an excuse (thought not valid) for rejecting Christ.  But the Thessalonian Christians made it easy for Paul to preach the gospel!  Their testimony had gone before him and met him wherever he went!

Regarding application…God Chose You.  Vs. 4, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.”  Wow…isn’t it crazy to think that we were chosen?  We could get into the debate between “Free Will” and “Pre-destination”…but I don’t think this is really necessary.  Somehow…someway…in ways unknown to us…God has been able to reconcile those two.  And, here we are with this fact: God chose you.  Yes, in many ways…you chose Him too.  But in a bigger way…God chose you.  Throughout life we are chosen.  You wait to see who will choose you as your friend in high school.  You wait to see who will choose you to go to prom.  You wait to see who will choose you to go to their college.  You wait to see who will choose you to be your spouse.  You wait who will choose you to hire you.  We are constantly held in “wait” as we wonder if we will be chosen for the next phase in our life.  But God does not choose based on the Darwin thought that only the strong survive.  God chooses on a completely different playing field.  One of life’s bigger mysteries will be asking yourself…”Why did God choose me?”  And if you haven’t asked yourself that question…start asking it now!!!  Why did God choose YOU?  Chew on that topic for a bit.  Think about it.  Now then….one last question: What are you going to do about it?

QT – Colossians 4

***We will be staying in the New Testament with the book of I Thessalonians***

Vs. 2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  A timely reminder of the importance, especially after such an amazing retreat!  Paul continues the application on how to be effective witnesses for Christ.  We should watch & pray for opportunties in the daily lives we live!  I like the fact that Paul exhorts us to be wise with every opportunity the Lord gives us!  Paul goes on to give encouragement to the many people who continued back then to do the work of the Lord!  It shows that even Paul needed the help of others to do the work of the Lord.  The responsibility never just lies in the Pastor or Youth Pastor, it is a responsibilty that all of us should realize.
Regarding application…Ready to Answer.  Vs. 6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  Question: Ready to answer what?  Ready to answer people when they ask you about God, Jesus, Bible, or anything related to such things.  As wonderful as it is to gain personal knowledge in His Word…we now see another reason!  We must always be ready to answer people!  When we are at school, when we are at work, when we are hanging out…it’s these moments that we can be a salt of the earth to the lost of the world.  Don’t forget this very simple fact: You will not be able to answer if you don’t know His Word!  We will never have all the answers to appease everyone’s questions…but we want to be able to give a answer that can help them in their questions!  When you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know, it’s okay to let them know that “you don’t know”, but at least give them options…try to find the answer from those who may know, or better yet…use that opportunity to bring them to church =)

QT – Song of Song 8

The Shulamite’s intense desire & love for her soon to be husband is obvious.  Vs. 1, “If only you were to me like a brother…”  She is saying she wished she had known him her whole life.  She charges the daugthers of Jerusalem once again not to give into the desires of the flesh before marriage (vs.4).  As the Shulamite and her love come from Solomon’s and now entering back into their village…the people wander who is this that would come back (vs.5)?  It must feel good to the shepherd who has finally brought her back to him…and to hear her say such wonderful things of their love (vs. 5-7).  As the wedding approaches, the women are curious and inquire to the beautiful Shulamite how she was able to keep herself so physically pure.  Would their daughters be able to do the same?  The wall (vs.10) represents strong will to be a virgin…while the door (vs.9)…represents promiscuity.  That’s why the Shulamite says she is a wall.  For a wall is hard to climb, while a door is easy to enter.  She realizes the King owns her land, but the king does not own her body (vs. 11-12).  The Shepherd is looking forward to the wedding celebration to end so he may finally be with his new wife!
Regarding application…Protect Your Heart.  While the wall & door analogy was specific to young girls and the protection of the purity…I believe the application can most definitely be applied today.  And not just with physically protecting yourself until marriage…but how about protecting your heart!  Do we keep a wall (spiritual protection) around our heart or do we leave it open for others to take?  Far too many young people today are giving away their hearts, giving away their virginity…only to find it never satisfies completely.  Our heart really only belongs to one person…not your spouse one day…but to Jesus our Bridegroom.  Of course, we can share our heart with others…but the owner of our heart must be Christ!  People who have a strong desire to be loved are often the people who give their heart and body away too easily.  Turn that strong desire to Jesus and let Him quench it with His love!  Stop looking for love in the wrong places.  When you finally experience that love worth receiving…than you can share that Love that’s worth giving!  Protect your heart, for it belongs to our Lord! 

QT – Song of Songs 7

Solomon and the women of the court continue to give praises about the beauty of the Shulamite woman.  Though, flattering…she is not impressed to the point that she forgets her true love…the Shepherd boy.  Upon finishing, the woman reminds everyone that she belongs to the Shepherd (vs. 10).  In this scene, it would seem that the Shepherd is found by the daughters of Jerusalem and enters the scene.  The Shulamite chooses her love…rather than the lust of Solomon and his riches!
Regarding application…Who Do You Belong To?  .This beautiful young Shulamite woman is a true rarity among women.  I believe beautiful people (on the outside) either men or women (espicially women)…have a much harder time trying to live a life for God.  Why?  Simply look at this story that unfolds before us.  The Shulamite woman is obviously adored by both Solomon and his women.  She could have easily been more than flattered and gotten a big head (to say it simply).  Yet, somehow she manages to remember where she comes from.  Beautiful people are treated differently back then and still today.  That is why I believe this story stands out among Solomon’s songs.  Because of the rarity of this woman and her love for her soon to be bridgegroom. 
Vs. 10, “I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me.”  When the world comes beckoning your name…Colleges, Careers, Relationships, etc…don’t ever forget who you belong to.  You are not just high school student, a Korean, an American, a basketball player…you are a child of God.  If we remember what this young Shulamite remembered…I believe we would live a life that brings joy to our true Bridegroom (Jesus!)  Jesus desires us….do you desire Him above all?  If you do…then live it, express it, display it…let your life be filled with the Spirit (Intoxicated not with this world, but with Jesus).  Let each day be a new day to spend with the Love (Jesus) of your life!