II Thessalonians 3

Vs. 2, “And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.”  As Paul concludes his letter to the Thessalonians, I really appreciate how he is humble in asking for prayers too (vs. 1-2).  He reminds us that there is danger from the evil one, yet we can find protection in the Lord!  We then are given one last big exhortation to the body of Christ: watch out for idleness (vs. 6-18)!  Question: What was going on?  Because the Thessalonians were being taught false doctrines about Jesus’ coming, many of them had given up working.  They were waiting for the Lord’s return and living off the generosity of others.  This extra time on their hands also contributed towards other things: more time to gossip, more time to get in trouble, more time to just be a disruption.  Paul makes sure that we understand how important it is to respond the right way to such people.  Also, while Paul had the right to receive support from the Thessalonians (vs. 7-10), he chose to forgo it for their own sake.  In the end, we should deal wisely with our interactions with others in the church (vs. 14-15)

Regarding application…Don’t be Lazy.  Vs. 11, “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.”  I think we have all experienced this.  We have a big clean-up day at church.  Some people are working hard, while others are there, but kind of goofing around.  It can frustrate the ones working hard, but Paul encourages them to not tire in doing good (vs. 13).  As for the supposedly busy, Paul warns us not to associate with them.  Perhaps you know the adage, “Birds of the same feather flock together.”  Let’s be people who have a good work ethic, not for bragging purposes, but simply because it pleases the Lord!  He know our hearts and let’s also show it through our actions!

II Thessalonians 2

Vs. 3, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”  Question: What does this mean?  Paul takes the time to let them know that “the day of the Lord” hasn’t happened yet because the anti-christ hasn’t come.  The Thessalonians were worried because some had thought it had already come (vs. 2-12).  Certainly, there still exists a fascination regarding the identity of the man lawlessness (anti-christ) is going to be.  But we should not be so caught up in this because we already know the outcome (vs. 8).  We must be careful not to be impressed with signs and wonders (vs. 9-12), for the enemy will do many miracles that can turn many away from the truth (vs. 12).

Regarding application…Know God’s Word.  Vs. 15, “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”  The enemy (satan) will do all that he can to shake our faith.  When I first became a Christian at the age of 16, I did not know His word.  But the Lord impressed upon my heart to know Him more.  Eventually, I attended Bible College at Multnomah in Portland, OR.  That began a process of nourishing my heart, soul and mind with His word!  I am so thankful for His word through the Bible and how He speaks to our hearts through His Holy spirit and others in our lives.  Take time today to be thankful for God’s word in your life.  The more you know, the better you will be able to stand firm in the midst of all the storms and doubts!

II Thessalonians 1

Vs. 3, “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.”  Despite the hardship, Paul wanted to begin his letter with a positive note!  There was much to be thankful for in that the Christians were still persevering.  In the case with the Thessalonians, their struggles were an evidence of God’s blessings because they were still growing in love for each other.  This is a reminder for us all that following God does not make us immune to hardship by any means.  If you recall from the first letter, Paul had to address some misunderstandings regarding the “day of the Lord” and an appropriate response to this knowledge.  We are not entirely sure what this form of suffering was (vs. 5-10), but it was certainly bringing them down.  Yet, Paul was reminding them that God is in control and that in His timing, His just ways would come to fruition.  And lastly, Paul prays for them (vs. 11-12) and reminds us all of the importance of it!

Regarding application…God is Just.  Vs. 6, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.”  Question: Why does it seem nice guys always lose?  In this case, the Christians in Thessalonica were wondering why it seemed the wicked were prospering over the righteous.  False doctrines about End times and false responses of how they should live were bringing discouragement to the faithful.  But God is the one who brings vengeance.  It is not our place.  When and how God chooses to bring judgment is entirely up to Him.  We must trust in this.  Thinking of my childhood, I recall several circumstances where I felt like I was more punished than my sister when we had altercations.  I was more concerned about an appropriate punishment for her rather than trusting my mom’s judgment.  Sometimes we think that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.  Question: Are there circumstances in your life where you are discouraged when you see the unrighteous seemingly prospering?  Take heart brothers and sisters and put your faith in Him.  Focus on the right things like loving more and being a light to our community (vs. 3).

II Thessalonians 3

Vs. 6, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.”  The second coming of Jesus is more than just doctrine or belief…but it should be a lifestyle.  The people in Thessalonica had decided they would just stop working, since Jesus was going to come back again soon anyway.  And, unfortunately through the ages, there have been other clusters of groups that have done likewise.  We are clearly told in Scripture that such a way of life is contrary to how we should live our lives.  There is enough trials around us, we should not be the problem…but we should be the solution.

Regarding application…Perseverance.  Vs. 13, “And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.”  I think it is safe to say all of us have grown weary of doing something over and over again.  For those in school, homework can easily be something we tire in.  When you start a career, it can be weary trying to impress your boss while you are the low man in the company.  Yet, perseverance is something that is often talked about, but hardly practiced.  “Finish something you start”….perhaps every one of our parents have given us that exhortation/lecture.  Spiritually, no matter how big our hearts are for the Lord…all of us can easily grow weary in this Christian life.  It’s hard enough just trying to get by everyday as a Christian…but imagine how hard it would be to try to be good and do what is right all the time!  But that is exactly what Paul is admonishing to us.  Of course, on our own, we will undoubtedly grow weary…and that is why we have Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28).  
It is no wonder so many of us fail and end up hypocrites in our lives…it’s because we are tired in doing good.  The world makes fun of the do-gooders of the world.  And it’s true…to do bad things or do things we know are not good…it’s just seems to have more entertainment value.  That is why we often choose laziness over perseverance….it’s just so much easier and more enjoyable being lazy.  But, we are not called to be lazy…in fact, Paul commands (like a General in the army) to get up off of our lazy rear ends and work hard & don’t get tired in doing good!  He could only say this, because he too followed such an example.  But, Paul needed Timothy and needed others to join him in this example.  That’s where you come to play: God needs you to help inspire others in this world…it can’t be just the Pastors, teachers, etc.  It has to be all of us!

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!