October 12, 2018
DO GOOD TO ALL PEOPLE AT ALL TIMES
Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians is straight out of the Jesus playbook! Didn’t Jesus teach us to turn the other cheek and to pray for those who persecute us? This is a hard saying, for it goes against our desire to inflict pain back onto those who injure us. Yet, it is one of the most radical responses that we can make. For it breaks the cycle of evil by overcoming evil with good. To love our enemies is to be like Jesus who died for us while we were yet sinners.
Who has hurt you today and you are even now thinking about how to hurt them back? Stop. Release your hurt to the Lord, asking Him to defend you, so that you might do good even to that one who has hurt you.
October 11, 2018
LIVING TO PLEASE GOD
The apostle Paul urged the Thessalonian believers to live in a way that pleased God. He followed his urging with several practical instructions on how they might live a holy life. Yet his instruction was based on the reality of their faith in Christ. For the key to living a life that pleases God is faith. As we read in Hebrews, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Heb. 11:6). So, it is our faith in Christ that saves us and our faith in His indwelling Spirit that empowers us to live a life that pleases God. As Paul told the Romans, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17).
October 9, 2018
GOD’S ENCOURAGEMENT TO DECLARE THE GOSPEL
Paul and Silas had been severely mistreated and jailed in the nearby city of Philippi before coming to Thessalonica. Yet that did not cause them to be timid in sharing the Gospel. For God gave them courage to declare “His Good News” to them boldly.
When we’ve been hurt or harassed for telling others about Jesus, it often has the effect of causing us to remain silent. Perhaps even the thought that people would make fun of us, or reject us, discourages us from declaring the Gospel. But when we are obedient to open our mouths, God is faithful to encourage and embolden us in declaring the Good News, so that sinners are saved by hearing and believing. Our conviction that the Gospel is the very power of God unto salvation (Rom.1:16), makes us bold.
October 10, 2017
The apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the new believers at Thessalonica after hearing Timothy’s report concerning them. He was working in Athens when he felt compelled to send Timothy back to check on them. When Timothy returned to him with his great report of their continued faith in the Lord and their longing to see Paul again, he was overjoyed. He thanked God for them to such degree that he questioned how he might be even more thankful for them. Perhaps his thankfulness could be better expressed if he could only see them face to face and continue to “perfect” (“bring to completion”) their discipleship, he reasoned.
Paul was a firm believer in life on life discipleship. He always wanted to be face to face with those he was mentoring that he might “perfect” their discipleship, training them up to maturity in Christ. As he mentioned earlier in his letter, his discipleship included not only giving them the gospel, but also giving them himself because of his love for them (1 Thess. 2:8). This is the combination of spiritual and relational power that life on life discipleship brings to bear.
October 10, 2016
Making disciples is a relational endeavor. The apostle Paul illustrated this by how he related to his flock in Thessalonica as a “father with his children.” Depending on the Spirit’s guidance, he used all manner of relational approaches according to their need. Some he “exhorted,” coming beside them to call them out for correction. Some he “encouraged,” using a personal touch to comfort and console those who were weak. Others he “charged,” reminding them of their identity in Christ and bearing witness to them of God’s upward calling. Making disciples is our calling too. Not in an institutional way, but life on life, like a mother or a father with their children.