I Thessalonians 5

Vs. 2, “for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”  This fact actually was quite a concern for the believers in Thessalonica!  Earlier, Paul had to address their worry concerning what would happen to believers who had passed away.  Now they turned their concern to what would happen to them if they were not prepared (vs. 2-11).  They were young in their faith and Paul tactfully encourages them.  Question: What is “day of the Lord?”  Ultimately, it is a time when God will judge the world.  We would all do well to be alert and ready to ensure we are living to please God.  In the latter half of our chapter, Paul takes the time to exhort the believers to respond in a way that honors their spiritual leaders (vs. 12-28).  There is nothing wrong with showing appreciation to spiritual leaders, as long as you and they are giving God the glory!  Paul also instructs us how to deal patiently with other believers who are at different spiritual maturity stages (vs. 14).  In the end, Paul prays and encourages them to be sanctified and holy with the thought of Jesus coming (vs. 23).

Regarding application…Real Fellowship.  Vs. 26, “Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss.”  The “holy kiss” was not sensual by any means.  It was custom to greet each other with this affection.  In the Roots service, we take time between the praise and message to greet each other.  While we don’t kiss, the spirit of this intention remains intact.  Every Sunday after service, we provide snacks and encourage the congregation to mingle and catch up with each other.  It’s sad to think many people rush right out of the church doors after the service.  Church is far more than praise and a message.  I was so blessed yesterday because we had the opportunity to go to the beach together as a church.  It’s awesome to have that time getting to know each other outside of the routines of the church schedule.  Real fellowship is genuinely caring and wanting to know others better through talking and encouragement.  Take the time to appreciate each other more in your churches!

I Thessalonians 4

Vs. 1, “As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.”  The worldly influence of the Roman culture was strong in the capital city of Thessalonica.  This new way of life and holy living was new for these converts to the faith.  Question: Why should we live a holy life?  Our answer is found in the verse above: To please God.  It is certainly possible to obey God, yet not please him.  The prophet Jonah is an example of that.  Yet, Paul is still reminding us that pleasing God is a part of His will for us (vs. 3).  Another example in pleasing God is loving each other with a philia and agape love (vs. 9-10).   There was a misunderstanding in the church that many thought Jesus would come soon, so they just gave up working (vs. 11-12).  They were a young church, so Paul also had to reassure them of what would happen to believers when they die (vs. 13-15).  Though we grieve death for a time, we realize that we will be reunited with other believers when Jesus returns (vs. 16-18).

Regarding application…Why Live Pure?  Vs. 7, “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”  Because God said so.  Because Jesus set the example.  Because God created our bodies to be pure and holy.  We live in a society that revels in the fact that we can “choose” our own way of living.  You can choose abstinence, but schools and Government programs also offer safe sex products.  Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean we should follow the “herd” mentality.  People are shocked that a single person by the age of thirty would still be able to claim they are virgins.  This is the way of thinking that we are surrounded by.  But, we must remember that God called us to live pure.  When I married my wife at the age of 34, I was able to tell her before God that I was a virgin!  Don’t allow the tempter or the world around you to influence your choice to honor the Lord!

I Thessalonians 3

Vs. 4, “In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.”  Paul, Silas and Timothy were forced out by opposition to leave Thessalonica earlier than they had wanted.  The persecution was quite strong (so much so that Paul knew it was from Satan himself (vs. 5), but Paul did not want to leave them on their own just yet.  So he sent Timothy back to encourage and strengthen them (vs. 2).  Thankfully, Timothy brought wonderful news that they were able to persevere amidst all the challenges (vs. 6-9).  The latter half of our chapter gives us insight in Paul’s genuine love for the church in Thessalonica.  Question: How do we know this?  Because Paul prayed: he prayed for their spiritual growth (vs. 10), their love for each other would grow (vs. 12) and their lives to be holy for God (vs. 13).

Regarding application…Importance of Prayer.  Vs. 10, “Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.”  Night and day, this was an example of Paul’s heart for those whom he loved.  Question: What is prayer?  Holman’s Bible Dictionary: dialogue between God and people.  Prayer must come from a genuine heart.  Jesus would address issues of prayer that was for praises of men (Matthew 6:5-6).  Even though God knows what we need, we are still asked to pray!  Question: How is your prayer life?  For many years, I had taken prayer for granted.  I use to find excuses.  I had this notion in my mind that I was not worthy enough to have the privilege to come before the Lord.  But, I realized my folly.  Then it was about not having the time to devote to it.  But, God convicted me through the Holy Spirit that I was just making up excuses.  Brothers & sisters, we are called to pray!  Spend time just talking with God.  The more you do, the more you will have insight to His heart!

I Thessalonians 2

Vs. 1, “You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results.”  Isn’t that a wonderful reminder?  God’s servants are effective.  The Lord was moving in Thessalonica powerfully.  As I reflect upon Paul, Silas and Timothy’s ministry, you can’t help but see it was their love and care that made such a vital impact in Christ (vs. 7-20).   We are given the examples of a mother’s love, father’s love, and brother love that was imparted to them.  Paul’s intention was true (vs. 3), because it is possible to teach with a wrong motive.  In Paul’s time as well as ours…there are those that preach and teach for security or money, rather than a genuine love for God and others.  Paul proved this by not being a financial burden to the Thessalonica church (vs. 9).  I really appreciate Paul’s emphasis on the word of God (vs. 13).  The Bible brings us salvation in the message of the Gospel as well as instructions in how to live this life!  As we turn to God’s word and put Him first, we will undoubtedly experience persecution and suffering (vs. 14-16).   The enemy will do his best to stop us from effectiveness (vs. 18), but God will triumph!

Regarding application…Pleasing God.  Vs. 4, “On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.”  Question: Where are you looking for approval?  There is a sense of peer pressure when it comes to how we live this life.  There are pressures from our families, there are pressures from society, and pressures from our own expectations.  Sometimes it can seem like a no-win situation.  No matter what happens, someone will be disappointed.  Fulfill your parents dreams, God will be let down.  Put God first, your family will be let down.  Question: What are we to do?  I’m going to try to make this as simple as possible: ALWAYS put God first.  If you are living to hear the praises of others, you will lose the battles that God intended for you to win.  If the world makes an assessment of my life, I have lost.  I have school debt, I don’t make much money, I’m working as a Pastor, I won’t retire well, I don’t have a job that comes with much prestige.  Yet, I have won!  Question: Who are you living to please?

I Thessalonians 1

Vs. 3, “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Paul along with Silas and Timothy write this letter to encourage the new Christians in Thessalonica.  Paul is thankful for them and he does a great job in ensuring they are encouraged by this.  Even in our highlighted verse, Paul mentioned three main things: faith, hope and love.  These three items are essentials of our faith expressed in Paul’s other letters too.  I really appreciate Paul’s style of authority and conviction (vs. 2-10), yet his blends it with warmth and love.  They were the first-generation believers and trailblazing a path of faith which inevitably would have brought much suffering (vs. 6, 9) from their previous ways.  It seems that that the Macedonians (Philippians & Thessalonians) continued to make incredible strides of growth and set the example for others throughout the regions (vs. 8).  Certainly this brought much peace to Paul and validated God’s call to go to Macedonia in the first place.

Regarding application…Faith Revealed. Vs. 8, “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.”  Question: Is your faith known by others?  The young Thessalonians have much to remind us about when it comes to not taking the power of the Gospel for granted (vs. 4).  The challenge for many Christians today is that we have had generations of believers before us pave the way for our faith.  There is this thought process in the church that states, “Making my faith my own.”  It comes from having the faith passed on to us.  Yet, I think the more underlying issue is just challenging ourselves to live out our faith.  It is not about our own personal faith, but the faith that comes in Christ Jesus.  As we live our daily lives, remember that our faith should be known by others!

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?