1 Thessalonians

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“See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people” (1 Thessalonians 5:15 NLT).

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.

“Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you” (1 Thessalonians 4:1 NLT).

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).

“Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition” (1 Thessalonians 2:2 NLT).

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.

“For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?” (1 Thessalonians 3:9-10 NKJV).

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.

“For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV)

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.

“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 NKJV)

October 12, 2015

Paul must have written this letter in October to encourage Pastor Appreciation Month. 🙂 For he urged the Thessalonians to give recognition, high esteem and love to those who labored and served as their shepherds. There is a sinful human tendency to rebel against authority. Yet, believers are to be submissive to God and to those whom He has placed “over” them to “admonish” them. This makes the hard work of shepherding more beneficial for both the pastor and the people.

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NKJV)

October 11, 2015

The apostle Paul described believers who had died as having “fallen asleep” in Jesus. For them death is like sleep, a transitional state where one closes their eyes in this world and opens them in the next. Having given the Thessalonians this description, Paul encouraged them not to “sorrow as others who have no hope.” Let the tears fall down your face, but not without believing in your heart that the same Jesus who died and rose again will return with those who sleep in Him. This faith gives us hope that overcomes the sorrow of death.

“So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NKJV)

October 9, 2015

The apostle Paul told the Thessalonians that when they shared the gospel with them, they also shared their lives. This was the practice of Jesus, who was accused of eating and drinking with sinners. As Christ-followers we are called not only to share the gospel, but to share our very lives, loving others with the love of Christ. Gospel-sharing and life-sharing go hand in hand.

“For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died” (1 Thessalonians 4:14 NLT)

October 11, 2014

Our faith is anchored in the historical fact of Christ’s death and resurrection, giving us a future hope in God’s power to “bring back” our believing brothers and sisters who have died. This is not myth nor make believe, but God’s revelation to us through Christ. As Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25-26). Christ defeated sin, death and the grave, so that we who believe might share in His victory. And this future life is not a non-corporeal existence that some imagine, but a real physical existence in a resurrection body. Christ is the prototype of this future existence, the firstborn from among the dead, and someday we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2).

“For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people” (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NLT)

October 9, 2014

Paul said that the One who “entrusted” him with the gospel message was also the One whom he sought to please in its delivery. Those who claim to share the Word, yet water it down to please its hearers, are not approved by God. Not only do they not please God, they mislead the people. Whose approval do you seek? Whose applause?