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).

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!

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!