Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memories of Memorial Days

Memories of Memorial Days

I sit here ashamed. Today has come and gone. This is the first Memorial Day that I did not have new flowers on my parents' graves. I know I deserve to be repromanded, Mom. Yes, you taught me better than that. My childhood Memorial Days were spent going to my grandparents' and an uncle's graves to take flowers. Sometimes they were roses from Mom's garden, sometimes plastic ones.  It does not mean I love my parents any less than yesterday. It means I was focused on "me" today. For that I am sorry. I should have jumped up, put on my shoes, and ridden with my brother to the graveyard without flowers, but I didn't. I was busy with something else.


How many men and women have given their lives in serving this country, in providing for our safety and freedom? How many wars have there been in which our citizens faught? My daughter is a history buff, so I should have asked her.

I think of the nameless young man who gave his life, resulting in my brother and me, children and grandchildren, nephen and neices being here, alive. You see, it was during WWII. Dad's infantry was marching into a town in France. His friend got in front of Dad instead of behind him in line. A sniper shot and killed that young man as he went around the corner of a building. It should have been Dad who took the bullet. But it wasn't. So to that soldier, I owe "thanks." Yet a simple thanks is really not enough. That was 67 years ago.

How many tears have been cried because wives, children,  mothers and fathers, and other relatives had a loved one who did not return home alive from home and foreign? We could go all the way back to 9/11, the Revolutionay War for America and the Old Testament for Israel. How many prayers were answered and unanswered?

Okay, enough of a downer. What good comes out of these wars? Does faith in our Lord Jesus grow stronger? Do families stay closer? Does the word "sacrifice" take on a new meaning? Can we see the hand of God in circumstances? I wonder, how long must the good fight against the evil ones go on? Until Jesus comes back.

I WILL take flowers. It won't be tomorrow because I have a dr.'s appointment.

Jesus was another person who gave his life for others. It was in a battle between self and Satan.
So I can say, I am so very grateful for Jesus and others down through history who died for me. There is a difference-Jesus came back to life. He's not in a grave like the others.

Am I willing to give my life for someone?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Fog of Immorality

1 Thessalonians 4-Part 3
That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.  1 Thess. 4:6-8


One morning this spring, as I was looking out the window of my door, I saw fog over the pond. As I watched, it was moving across the pond. I have never seen such a sight. Always before, the fog hovered over the pond and disappeared as the sun warmed the air. But this time was different. As I watched, a thought came into my mind-the Holy Spirit wants to move into me in the same way, just surrender. What an beautiful illustration!

In the Old Testament, we can read about Judah's fall under the Babylonian invasion. It was due to the fog of immorality that clouded their day. Not only did it happen in their day, but in the Thessalonians' day and it's happening in our day. History repeats itself as mankind's tendencies toward sin continue on and Satan is active.

Paul doesn't want us to drift in a fog of moral uncertainty and decay, nor immorality. He doesn't want our disobedience resulting in guilt and grief. He wants us to honor the God of moral absolutes. Our obedience will result in greater confidence and habits of holiness. (Contagious Christianity by C. Swindoll)

Actually, in verses 1-8 of chapter 4, Paul is giving the Thessalonians (and us) a straight talk about moral purity. Not only was their society deteriorating morally, but ours is also, isn't it?

Paul promises that the Lord will be the avenger of those defrauded by the sexual immorality of others. The promise of greater comfort goes to the one damaged by the immorality of their husband or wife.
We must be sexually pure because of our call. That call is not to uncleanness, but to holiness; sexual immorality is simply inconsistent with who we are in Jesus Christ. (David Guzik's Commentary)

Let  God be the avenger, as Paul said in verse 6.
Avenger means exacting penalty from one, punisher, according to Thayer's Lexicon.
The Lord is the coming Judg (2Thess. 1:7-8) and the Righter.

I know there are so many who have been hurt by the immorality of their spouse or parent. My heart goes out to them. Even though they fell into the fog of immorality, we should be aware and not do the same. Allow time and the Lord to heal broken hearts.


As I read through several commentaries, I thought of the 5 w's.
WHAT: defraud another person by living with or commiting adultery with another man's wife; this violates or
              robs them; the adulterer defrauds his mate and children; the fornicator defrauds his future mate and
              children; both defraud their illicit partner. The matter in question is the honor of his neighbor as a
              husband (verses 4 and 7).
WHO: The word brother enhances the enormity of the crime. It is your (Christian) brother whom you
            wrong. (Prov. 6:27-33). Christians are susseptable to the same temptations as nonbelievers.
WHEN: At all times be alert to the temptations-watching movies, tv, reading books and magazines, looking
             at pictures, being on the internet.
HOW: Are there certain people that prompt lust in your life? Avoid them or flee from them. Evaluate your
           appearance, conversation, lifestyle.
WHERE: Watch out for parties, private meetings, entertaining pastimes.

If my life was being viewed on a big screen, would I be embarrased or satisfied of my behavior?


Don't allow the fog of immorality into my life.

Keep holy thoughts, appearance, and actions.

Stay in the Word and tuned into the Holy Spirit.

Remember, God sees and hears all.

Help others in this area.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Lift me Up

1 Thessalonians 4-Part 2
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.  1 Thess. 4:3-5  NAS


When I was in junior high school, there was a group of us girls from my gym class that went to a track meet. One of the events we participated in was  hanging from a bar over your head for as long as you could. Since I was short back then, too, and I could not jump up to reach the bar, someone had to lift me up to it. I think Paul was lifting up a standard for Christians in verses 3-5.
Paul didn't beat around the bush did he? If I want to know God's will for my life, here it is-sanctification.

"This is the will of God, let it be your will also," stated Jamison, Fausset, and Brown Commentary.

We have learned that sanctification means set apart.

The David Guzik's Commentary has this to say:
The idea behind sanctification is to be set apart from a godless culture and their sexual immorality. In the first century Roman Empire, chastity and sexual purity were unknown virtues. Even though immorality was thought to be normal or good, Christians were to follow God's will, not society's. Paul said this was a commandment (verse 2), and that was a military term describing an order from an officer to a subordinate, and the order comes from Jesus not Paul.
Those who do not know God do not have the spiritual resources to walk pure before the Lord; but Christians do. Therefore, Christians should live differently than those who do not know God.
Satan's not-very-sutle strategy is often to do all he can to encourage sex outside of marriage and discourage sex in marriage.
We live differently than the world when we possess our body in sanctification and in honor. Immorality is the opposite of honor, it degrades and debases the self, reducing us to slaves, acting more like animals than humans.

Now that is good. Did you catch the phrase "walk pure before the Lord?" It think that sums it all up. Our thoughts and actions should be pure. After all, the Lord Jesus knows them. We know that thoughts can lead to actions, so we have to guard our minds. I don't want to sin with my mind and body.


Look at the last part of verse 3-abstain from sexual immorality.

Joni Eareckson Tada said in her devotional book, Diamonds in the Dust:
God telling me that I should be holy is like His telling me to scale the high jump at a track meet. But wait. Who's that in front of the high bar? Could it be? Yes, it's the Lord. And He's there to give me a knee up.
In fact, Jesus even helps me pace myself as I take a run at the jump. The first step is to "avoid sexual immorality." That means "just say no." Turn on the keys to the ignition and leave. Hang up the phone. Turn off the TV. Cancel the subscription. Having taken this first step, I'm closer to the high bar.

Second, "Control [your] own body in a way that is holy and honorable." In other words, value your body. Call the media a liar when it sells beauty cheap. God did not created body parts. He created you.

Third, "No one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him." Don't be a fake. Don't entice others. Be honest with yourself. Admit that you can't handle temptation.

Lo and behold, you are up and over the high bar of holy living, all because you paced yourself with Jesus at your side. Don't think that God's will for you to be holy is too high a standard. He's provided graceful steps for you to get a good running start. Now all you have to do is take them.
Lord, lift me up. Encourage and empower me to take these small but important steps of obedience in order to more easily scale Your high standards.

*Just to let ya know, I won a ribbon for hanging around. I think it was 3rd place, but not sure. It's been too many years.


Let Jesus lift me up to His standards for my life.

Take steps of obedience, walking pure before the Lord.

Act like I'm sanctified, set apart.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Faithful Friends

1 Thessalonians 4-Part 1
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.  1 Thess. 4:1-2  NAS


Do you have someone who encourages you? I'm talking about the person who inspires you to keep on keepin' on with Jesus, to be faithful to Him, trusting Him. We just visited with wonderful friends like that. We see their faithfulness to Jesus and feel their love for Him. Don't you love being with  folks like that? Probably, we wouldn't have to exchange narry a word because their love radiates and that's enough for me. I find encouragement from them as they take time to listen to my problems. I know their concern for me is genuine. I know they have been through many tests in their life, yet they have remained faithful believers. Now that's encouraging to me. (Am I like that to others?)

Here was Paul  asking (request, beseech) the Thessalonians to continue doin' what they're doin'. He is also encouraging (exhorting) them. It is by the Lord Jesus that he does this. What was the topic here? It was how they ought to walk, live their Christian life in this world, doing it in such a way as to please God. Is that my goal, pleasing God, or is it pleasing Linda and her flesh?
These two verbs are in the present tense in the Greek. Therefore, it is something to do now, not something I did yesterday or put off until tomorrow. These believers are already living according to Christian standards. Am I? Can people see the fruit of the Spirit in me as was mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23?

"Christianity is a way of life which characterizes all our activities and not just a few of the things we do," states Liberty Bible Commentary.

Another thing, Paul also says is to excell still more. Are we to be lazy or passive? He encourages the Thessalonaians and us to actively pursue personal obedience to the divine commands given in Scripture.
We are to commit ourselves to submit rather than ignore or revolt against God's standard of holiness (Rom. 6:16-18). (Contagious Christianity by Charles Swindoll)

According to Webster's Dictionary, excell means to be superior, surpass, outdo. It's an action verb, not an adjective.

What a challenge-excell still more in my Christian walk. Am I doing my best for Jesus? I heard Charles Stanley comment that he instructed his children while growing up, "Look your best, do your best, and be your best."
Do I go beyond the expected?
What more can I say? Homework to do here-cards to send, calls to make, visits to encourage others.


In looking at verse 2, Paul notes that the Thessalonians know the commandments these missionaries gave them. They were putting them into practice, too. I can only think of three ways to learn these instructions of Jesus-read the Word, hear the Word, and see others live the word. How much time do I give the Word in my life? does studying It have priority in my life, or does it get the left overs? Obeying a applying It comes next.


In my Christian walk, excell still more.

Live to please God.

Study the Word more.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pulling up the Slack

1 Thessalonians 3-Part 6
So that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.        1 Thess. 3:13


When you're young, there is a tendency to go crazy things without thinking. Back in the late 70's we bought a
newer house in our hometown. Eventually we sold the old one. There was a tv antenae on the old house that we wanted to take with us, so my husband and I climbed on the roof to take it down. He wrapped a strong rope around it and the chimney, then another one for me to hold onto the other side. Our friend was down below to help. As hubby gently let the antenae down, he told me to "take up the slack," which meant getting a tighter grip on my rope to help let the antenae down easily without breaking it. Oh, I did it all right. I made a tight rope, but as the antenae went down, it pulled me off the roof. I went straight to the ground as it snapped the rope. At least the only injury I encured was a sprang ankle. The funny ending to this story is that I was still holding onto the broken rope as I went off the roof. (slow reactions) I recall asking myself, "Why am I holding onto this?" Yeah, I took up the slack alright.
Do I let Jesus take up the slack in my life or am I still holding on tight to the reins. It's hard to let go and live by faith, isn't it? Let Him have control instead of me.

Concerning this verse, David Guzik said, "To make up what is lacking, they (meaning Thessalonians) needed hearts established in holiness. The idea about holiness is to be set apart  from the world and unto God. The genuinely holy person marches to God's drumbeat, and not to their own, or to the beat of popular opinion."

Does my heart  march to God's drumbeat or my own? Isn't it called surrendering my will to His?


In the NLT, Paul  said it this way, "May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen."

It is our hearts that must be made holy first. The devil wants us to develop a holy exterior while neglecting the interior, like whitewashed tombs, full of death (Matt. 23:27). Paul reminds of Jesus' return, because nothing can encourage us to holiness like remembering that Jesus might come today," said Guzik.

It's like washing windows. If only the outside is washed, it isn't clean. The inside has to be washed, too.
I can do religious things like going to church, doing good deeds, even reading my Bible, but if my heart isn't changed on the inside, I'm not clean.

Swindoll said, "Our standard for purity comes not from human beings but from God. That's why the verse reads that the Thessalonians would be established in holiness before  God. The Apostle Peter made the same point in these words: "Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yoursleves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'" (1Peter 1:15-16).

How long must we strive to be holy and blameless? Until that wonderful day when we will finally be with Christ. Then we will be like Him (1John 3:2b). We won't have to strive, struggle, and fail. But then, forgivesness is only a breath away. (That doesn't mean we are to take it lightly, living however.) We will be holy just as He is holy. Wow!

Am I striving to be holy like Christ? Am I applying knowledge I gain from the Word? I blameless my goal?
Things to ponder.


Let go of the reins and let God take control of my life, keeping a tight rope, no slack for sin.

Strive to be blameless.

Be strengthend in holiness as I wait for the coming of my Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Paths Leading Back

1 Thessalonians 3-Part 5
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as wwe do toward you.         1 Thess. 3:11-12


One of the hardest things I have had to do in my life was move to West Virginia. Oh, I had nothing against the state. It has lovely people and  beautiful mountains.  Its just that it was a 12 hour drive away from our family, kids and mothers. The Lord directed my husband to take a new pastorit in that state. It wasn't because of anything about the state, city, or church  that made it a difficult move. It was the circumstances in our family that made it so hard. You see, our son had just graduated high school 4 months earlier, took his first  job 6 hours from us. Our daughter only had one more year in college left and was getting married then. (empty nest) If that wasn't hard enough, to top it off, back home my mother inlaw had cancer and my mother had her physical problems. Needless to say, I cried all the wayto W>V. in the U-Haul, but not turning back. That was one of those situations where we had to die to self and and follow Jesus. We kept praying that God would direct our path back to northwest Arkansas, where our hearts were. (John Denver's song was changed to "Country roads take me home to the place I belong-northwest Ark.")
Its been almost 14 years since we followed the Lord on that path as we moved to northwest Arkansas. We were able to spend the last few months with both of our mothers before they passed on. Our children went on with their lives. We've been serving the Lord at the same church all these years. The Lord has blessed. Maybe we were like Abraham and proved we would follow Him where He led.

I said all that to show that God answers prayers. Sometimes He does direct His people back to where they once were and sometimes not. (We had been away from our hometown 17 years.) Paul had written such a prayer in our key verses. According to my map of Paul's missionary journeys, this prayer was answered and he was able to go back to Thessalonica.

Where are my paths leading me? Do I pray that God would direct my paths? Do they lead me back to Him? It is a straight and narrow path, difficult to stay on and I stray so often. Do I follow Him on the path He has for me to walk?

Psalm 25:4-5 NLT says, Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You."

Psalm 27:11 NLT says, "Teach me how to live, O Lord, Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me."


What were the other two things Paul prayed? He asked the Lord to cause these Christians to increase and abound in love for one another and for all men. Only God, who is love, can cause an unselfish love to increase in people's lives. Not only was their love to overflow to other Christians, but also to non-Christians. Their love was to be boundless.

Contagious Christianity,by Charles Swindoll, gives us some food for thought concerning love:
L-Listen. We respect and accept people enough to graciously hear what they have to say.
O-Overlook. We are quick to pass over and forgive the minor, unpleasant flaws in others.
V-Value. We demonstrate toward others a sense of respect and honor that clearly overshadows whatever
                critical comments we may find necessary to make.
E-Express. Love is demonstrative! We don't just feel love or say loving things, but we manifest our love by
                    doing what is in the best interest of others.

I need to put into practice listening, overlooking, valuing people, and expressing love.


Allow God to direct my path and stay on it.

Love God and love others.

Show His love to believers and nonbelievers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Down with a Frown or Up with a Mile Smile


1 Thessalonaians 3-Part 4
For what thanks we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?  1 Thess. 3:9-10


I have noticed lately that as I walk through the stores shopping, there aren't many people smiling. Strangers used to speak a few words or comments, others smile at you. Where has it gone? Has our joy in life, smiles, nods, friendly hellos gone for good? The other day while in a store, I smiled at a stranger. Her response was a quick smile, not too sincere, just polite. I hope I encouraged her. Perhaps she was having a difficult time in her life. Am I getting frown lines on my face? Do I not use those muscles any more?
 I even remember years ago, while driving on my way to bigger towns, drivers were always waving to each other when they passed. Not any more. Seldom does this happen to me. Maybe that's why I have stopped this friendly gesture. Maybe people are bogged down with problems and burdens, having their mind preoccupied with them. Perhaps if I start waving, it will continue on. Don't be suspecious, just friendly.

Again, Paul expresses his gratitude for the joy the Thessalonians have brought into his life. It helped him through his rough times.

"Paul did not let his own circumstances dictate what his attitude toward life would be. Instead, he counted the blessings God had granted him through his association with the Thessalonians. As a result, he faced life with a smile rather than a frown," stated Charles Swindoll in his book, Contagious Christianity.

Do I let my circumstances get me down with a frown? Do I have a smile on my face a mile long, so to speak? Is it sincere, from joy in the heart or just a quick friendly gessture? Meeting someone with a smile seems to lift me up, so my smile may do the same. A mile smile. I'm going to try it today. How about you?


What did Paul and his companions say they did night and day, in verse 10? They prayed exceedingly.

Exceedingly means abundantly above, beyond measure, very highly, according to Thayer's Dictionary.

So the missionary team prayed extra, earnestly, beyond their duty,  for these Christians. One regular request was for them to see these believers again. Another request was to have an opportunity to complete what was lacking in their faith.
The Greek term rendered complete carries the idea "to restore a fellow Christian who has wandered."

Help and assistance was needed as the Thessalonians went through persecution. The missionary team prayed for an opportunity to strengthen and deepen the faith of these believers.
How serious am I about prayer? Do I start my day with prayer? Do I permeate my day with prayer? Do I end my day with prayer? Do I take time to interceed for others struggling. No time spent praying is wasted time. We touch the heart of the controller of the universe with our faith and love for the brethren. He will bend down and listen.


Smile, smile, smile.

Show the joy of Jesus.

Pray exceedingly for others.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Squeeze the Cheese

1 Thessalonians 3-Part 3
Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.      1 Thess. 3:7-8


I like that soft cheese that comes in the plastic squeezable tube. First, I think it's fun to squeeze the tube. Next, I know that something good will come out, which is this long stream of orange stuff that's edible. Third, I like the taste of the cheese anyway. You know I like to eat it with Ritz crackers. I haven't bought any in a while. It's about time I did.
In a similar way, there are times that God puts the squeeze on me. What comes out? Is it loving words and faithfulness? Or is it whining, complaining, and grumbling?  More times than not, it's the latter. What about you?

In verse 7, Paul tells the brethren at Thessalonica that they, he and the mission team,  were comforted.

Comforted (parakaleo in Greek) means help or encourage.
NAS says it this way, "for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith."

Was encouragement badly needed? Paul uses some strong words to describe himself-affliction and distress.
Affliction (anangke) is related to the word from which we get anxiety.
Distress (thlipsis) means rubbing or pressure, which is often translated tribulation.
What gave Paul the needed encouragement? It was the faith of these converts. Timothy was sent to the Thessalonian church and brought back good news. These Christians continued to trust in God, respond to one another in love, and to Paul's ministry. It strengthened and gave Paul refreshment of life. It made him feel better to know they were staying faithful amidst their trials. Can others say that about me and you?

Charles Swindoll states in his book, Contagious Christianity:
"Suffering has been an inescapable part of life. It is inevitable. This does not imply that all suffering is a result of a person's own sin. It is one thing we all have in common. Not even Christians are exempt from experiencing the pangs of suffering. We see it in Philippians 1:29: For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. Other scriptures that speek of suffering is 2 Cor. 4:8-10 and 1 Peter 4:12-16.
Pain is essential. Even though we want our comfort zone free from pain, God will often invade and squeeze it for our own good. suffering is essential to our maturing process in Christ. See Psalm 119:67, 71, 75 and Ecclesiastes 7:13-14. Many times God will use the tool of affliction for the purpose of instructing us more fully in His way and training us to follow Him more completely.
How did the Thessalonians react?
1. They refused to blame a former authority for their sufferings.
2. They desired to maintain close ties with Paul and his associates in ministry.
3. They maintained a firm commitment to spiritual truth."

I don't enjoy going through tough times. Am I ready for my comfort zone to be invaded? Am I expecting to suffer hardship as soldiers in battle? There's a spiritual war going on and I'm in the middle of it. Is my armor of God on? It's Jesus' helmet of salvation, breast plate of righteousness,  peace, sword of the Spirit (Word), and shield of faith that covers me. (Eph. 6) The enemy is ready and strategizing, so I am too.


Verse 8 gives us the idea that we can now carry on, since we know that you are holding your ground in the faith.
The word stand fast refers to "take a stand." This gives Paul the courage to go on, now that he knows that he has made some real converts. (Liberty Bible Commentary)

John MacArthur said, "Pictured here is an army that refuses to retreat even though it is being assulted by the enemy. This is a frequent Pauline injuction."

Seeing other Christians remain strong in their faith in Jesus encourages me as I watch them go through troubles and suffering. I can do it too. Stay focused on the Lord and I will find joy in Jesus and contentment in Christ.  


Remember, when my comfort zone is squeezed, something good will come out.

Who (Jews) both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,

Hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But the wrath has come upon them to the utmost.

1 Thess. 2:15-16 NAS

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wagging Tongue or Tail

1 Thessalonians 3
But now, Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you.   1 Thess. 3:6 NLT


We have some special friends who live in another state. It's always such a joy  to hear from them whether by email or phone. We know that their love and faith in Jesus continues to grow. He pastors a church, preaches and leads music in revivals. Sometimes we are able to join this lovely couple and new friends in the singing group as they praise the Lord in churches throughout the states. In fact, next week we are getting together as their church dedicates  their new sanctuary. Even though the drive is 4-5 hours, it's worth it. Like Paul and the Thessalonians, we want to see each other. Do you have friends like that?


I'll continue to tell you about these special friends. Several years ago, Rick had a kidney transplant. He has also had hip replacement and almost died on the operating table. Then a few years ago, Rick's good kidney failed and his wife, Nancy, gave him her kidney. They are such a sweet couple. You can feel the love of the Lord when you're with them. Inspite of the hardships and physical struggles, they keep serving and praising their Savior Jesus. What an inspiration to all who hear their testimony.

Let's go back to verses 3-5. What does it take to move your faith in Jesus away from Him? Will you turn away from your Savior? Satan is trying very hard to find out if anything will. Does physical illness or disease? Do hardships on the job? What about financial worries? Family problems? Do you ever get to the point where you just can't take any more? I did last week. You could probably tell by my writings, sorry. But that's what the Lord wants-we turn IT over to HIM. Now why don't I do that at the beginning instead of frettin' over it? I mull it around, then finally give up and give it to Him. You too?

Paul wants no one to be moved by afflictions. He reminds these Christians that people are "appointed thereunto." Of course, I had to check out the Greek terminology in Thayer's Lexicon:

Moved (saino) means to wag the tail as a dog; to shake.
Afflictions (thlipsis) means anguished, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble.
Appointed means to be (by God's intent) set; destined.

My son's dogs automatically shake their bodies and wag their tails and bark when I pet them. Well, it's not just a gentle pat on the head. It's a pounding all over with those two big ones(they love it). That's what I thought about when contemplating this verse. When troubles, tribulations, or persecutions touch me, pound me, wave after wave,  I shake all over. I can't sit still. I'm up, walking, wagging that tongue of mine, barking, complaining. Satan knows the buttons to push to get me going, too.
But dear friend, did you know that we are destined for suffering? I know that's not what I wanted to hear either. I always heard that we had testings of our faith. This sounds like heavy artillary.

Afflictions are appointed by God. He intends them to happen to us. We are destined for them.


In his book, Contagious Christianity, Charles Swindoll says:
Paul believed that affliction need not unsettle God's people. Why could he maintain this belief? Because he knew, as did the Thessalonians, that Christians are "destined" for suffering and that they have been forewarned that suffering will come (verses 3-4). God's training program for His children includes hardship and struggle. He knows that difficulties can smooth out our rough edges as we travel the road toward holy perfection in Christ (James 1:2-4). So He destines us for them. But He doesn't just spring them on us. He warns us in advance so that we won't be scandalized and taken off guard by them. Instead, we can prepare ourselves to stand firm through them. (my emphasis in dark)

We have to be ready for the enemy with the Word of God, dear one. Here are some verses I have in my small index notecards:
Phil. 4:13, 1:27-29; Ps. 62:5-6, 138:8a; Prov. 3:5-6; Is. 46:11; 40:28-30; 43:2.

I found that in the Bible there were appointed times, tasks, signs, and places.
Remember some of the women who were destined for a certain task for the Lord:  Esther saved the Jews, Ruth was David's great grandmother, Sarah was Jacob's grandmother (12 tribes of Israel), Rahab saved the Israelite spies and mother of Boaz, Bethsheba was Solomon's mother.

I want my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to talk about my faithful service to the Lord Jesus after I am gone to glory. How about you?


If anything wags, make sure it wags for the glory of God.

Share my faith and love today.

Put on the whole armor of God. Get prepared for spiritual battle.

Be faithful to the destiny God has appointed for me.

Pray for others in their afflictions.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mom's Rose Garden

1 Thessalonians 3-Part 1
And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlaborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith.   1 Thess. 3:2


One of the fond memories I have of my childhood was  Mom's rose garden. There were all colors and kinds of roses. The one that stands out in my mind was the deep red American Beauty rose. Not only were the petals gorgious, but the fragrance was astounding. I couldn't walk by the garden without bending down to take a sniff of that rose. It was so soothing and peaceful. If God made anything better, He kept it to Himself because He shared the best of His creation with us (meaning this rose).
 As you know, gardens don't flurish by themselves. We pulled weeds on a regular basis. Each rose bush had to be watered frequently. On warm summer evenings, Dad and I would drag the waterhose from the cattle trough to the garden. Baracades were made around each one using dirt. He thought it helped them hold more water, probably. The price paid, working in the garden, was worth it all whenever those bushes had their flowers. they were the fruit of our labor. Mom would pick some and make a flower arrangement for us to enjoy in the house. Keeping them watered resulted in enjoying these beauties all summer. I guess you could say we paid the price.

I take it that Paul was willing to pay the price of having Timothy seperated from him and Silas. We don't know for sure that Silas was still with Paul. In verse 1 of this chapter, Paul  says, "we thought it good to be left at Athens alone." 
Having heard about the persecution that the Thessalonians were going through, Paul wanted to help this church.

"Paul's concern did not focus on health, wealth, self-esteem, or ease of life, but rather the spiritual quality of life. Their faith was of supreme importance in Paul's mind as evidenced by five mentions in verses 1-10 (see verses 5,6,7, 10)," states The MacArthur Bible Commentary.

Am I willing to pay the price to accomplish whatever God has for me to do? If I do, it will be as sweet as Mom's roses.
Jesus paid the ultimate price in purchasing my salvation so it is free to me. I owe Him a lot. My life, in fact.


How did Paul describe Timothy in verse 2? He described Timothy as our brother, minister of God, and fellowlaborer in the gospel of Christ. Spiritually speaking, Christians have the same heavenly Father and are in God's family. Timothy was their brother in the ministry. It was God who called and sent them to share the truth of God. Timothy gave himself to meditation, reading, exhortation, and doctrine and preaching the gospel of Christ.

What two things did Paul want Timothy to do while in Thessalonica? He was to establish and comfort them in their faith.

Libertay Bible Commentary states:
Establish in the Greek is the word sterizo , which is used to mean "to stabilize" or to support an already existing structure. In the New Testament this word is used in the figurative sense of stablizing believers.

Comfort in the Greek is the word parakleo, which sululd be translated "encourage" rather than comfort.
It is the word from which we get the name of the Holy Spirit in John, namely "the Comforter." A better translation might be, "to support and help you in your faith."

"Establishing comes first. Encouragement can really only come after we are established in the right direction, otherwise, we are only encouraged in the wrong course," said David Guzik.

Am I established in my faith?  Do I encourage others in their faith in Jesus?

* There is only one rose bush left in Mom's rose garden. I dream of having my own flower garden one day, but I haven't paid the price yet (work) to do it.

**How fast this year has gone. I can't believe a year has passed since my first posting on CRF. I said yes to God as He challenged me to write this study through the New Testament. It has been a wonderful blessing and eye and heart opener. I'd send all my faithful readers a dozen roses if I could. We'd get together for a party if it were possible. Since it isn't, I pray the Lord will bless you for your faithful support and encouragement to this country gal. People in over a dozen countries have dropped in to read. Guess I'm a foreign missionary. Praise the Lord Jesus for His blessings, faithfulness, mercy, and Word! Looking forward to the rest of the books. Again, thanks for walking with me along this country road of faith.
Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I say rejoice. Phil. 4:4


Pay whatever price it costs me to do God's will in my life.

Be established in my faith in Jesus.

Encourage, comfort others when they are persecuted.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


1 Thessalonians 2-Part 9
For we wanted to come to you-I, Paul, more than once-and yet Satan thwarted us. For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.          1 Thess. 2:18-20 NAS


Reunions, homecomings. Aren't they fun? This summer we are going to two of our family reunions, maybe four. We are going to a homecoming/ 100 years anniversary of a church my husband had pastored.
There are homecomings for churches and reunions for family, high school, and colleges. I enjoy them all. Visiting with people you haven't seen in years. Catching up on what has happened in their life, their family. Seeing changes/improvements in their surroundings. Talking about job changes and health changes. Children growing up. New additions to families. Missing those gone on to glory. Recalling memories made in the good ole days. Happy times and good times. Trials, burdens, hardships, struggles, diseases, mending differences. Hugs, kisses, tears. Hey, my calendar is already marked and plans are in the making. A smile is on my face just thinking about seeing loved ones again. Preparations are in the works. Hoping everyone is there. Joy is in the air. Can't wait. Perhaps your family is getting together this summer.

Paul longed to see his new converts and children in the faith there at Thessalonica. Inspite of the problems Paul encountered, he found great joy in those friends. They were sure worth all the pain he had experienced. He could rejoice and find an inner joy in the fact that one day he would rejoin them when Christ returns for His own. On this wonderful event, he could hang his hope.

Charles Swindoll, in his book, Contagious Christianity, said this:
"When we become so intense in fighting our battles that we become grim, we loose three things:
1. Hope-As we become to believe that we will never make it through the struggle, we begin to feel
2. Hunger for God's Word-As our joy decreases, our desire to read, study, and believe His truth diminishes.
3. Sense of humor-We begin to take ourselves too seriously and fail to take God serioiusly enough. Thus, it
                              is imparative that we face our struggles with a joyful hope that no person or thing can
                              take away from us."
Swindoll gives three great truths from this chapter:
1. An attitude of gratitude can be developed by welcoming God's Word.
2. A commitment to contentment will be strengthened by accepting God's will.
3. A happiness amidst heaviness must be cultivated by affirming God's people.

Do I affirm those I love? Do I encourage strangers? Am I content in the path I am walking? Do I welcome the truth?


Let's look at verse 18. Paul says that he and the missionary team wanted to come visit the Thessalonians, but
Satan hindered it. What does that mean?

Hindered means thwarted (egkopto) which is to cut into, to cut in on, impede, detain. (Thayer's Lexicon)

Paul had been unable to go  back and visit them personally, but inspite of his strong efforts, Satan somehow blocked his efforts. (Liberty Bible Commentary)

Satan, which  means "adversary," continually attempted to tear down the church that Christ promised to build (Matt.16:18). He was said to be at other churches. He thwarted Paul in the sense that a military foe would hinder the advance of his enemy. ( MacArthur Commentary)

Is Satan continually hindering my efforts to serve Christ? He is definitely active around here. How about you?
It should make us seek God even more.


Keep on hoping.

Develop a hunger for God's Word.

Maintain a sense of humor.

Don't allow Satan to hinder God's plans for me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Measuring Cups

1 Thessalonians 2-Part 8
Who (Jews) both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.  1 Thess. 2: 15-16 NAS

How important are measuring cups? They are very important to me because I use them everyday. I fill them up with various things while baking and cooking. When I look in my kitchen cabinet, I see various measuring cups. There is a large one, 2 quarts, a medium one, 2 cups, and a small one, 1 cup. Some are made of  plastic and some are made of glass.  Actually, they are very needful. Food would not taste right if I didn't use my measuring cups. My cakes and cookies would not be editible either.Well, wouldn't you know it, the other day,  my 2 cup glass measuring cup fell off the shelf when I was pulling out some bowls. It landed in the floor and broke. So I had to stop what I was in the middle of cooking and clean up the mess. I was my mother's cup, so it made me sad that it happened. She used that cup for many years in her kitchen making jellies, candies, and yumjy meals. It was used in mine for  13 years. Oh well, I'll have to replace it with a new one. It was only a measuring cup. Can a measuring cup have value to a person? Supose, that one did. I'll have to be more careful from now on.

Paul said in our verse that the Jews filled up the measure of their sins. Now what does that mean? The Jews were outraged that Gentiles could be saved without first becoming Jews. This exclusive attitude filled up the measure of their sins.

"God has set limits to the sins that can be committed against each one of us. And once those limitations are met, divine discipline and judgment are carried out against those who are striking at us. The sovereign Lord always has things under control, even when we have a difficut time seeing that. This should give us, as His followers, a sense of peace," said Charles Swindoll in his book Contagious Christianity.

I am comforted to read that. Had you thought about there being a limit to the amount of harsh treatment against us? When the cup is full, then it stops. Is that how it works? God knows how much we can take, handle, or bear (1 Cor. 10:13). It's His strength that sustains me through it anyway. Do you have any thoughts to add?


Jumping back up to verse 15 now. Paul mentions what the Jews had done:
killed their own prophets, persecuted him an the missionary team, forbid them to speak to Gentiles about salvation in Jesus. Paul even mentioned that it did not please God. Their hinderance of the Gospel being preached to the Gentiles was the last measure added to their continually accumulating iniquity, which made them ripe for vengence.
Already in A.D. 48, a tumult had occurred at the Passover in Jerusalem, when about 30,000 were slain; a foretaste of the whole vengence which speedily followed (Luke 19:43-44, Luke 21:24).
[ Reference: Jamison, Fausset, Brown Commentary]

Oswald Chambers said, "The only things that will enable me to enjoy adversity is the acute sense of eagerness of allowing the life of the Son of God to evidence Itself in me."

Jesus foretold things to come. Am I ready for adversity and persecution?  Psalm 62 talks about God being our refuge, rock, defence, strength. Verse 8 tells us to trust in Him at all times. Other scriptures are:
Ps. 103:1-2, 108:1, 109:30, 124:6a.


Remember that God puts a limitation on persecution when the cup is full, it stops.

Linda, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not onto your  own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path. (Prov. 3:5-6)

When I'm going through adversity, let others see Jesus in me.

Friday, May 13, 2011


1 Thessalonians 2-Part 7
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews.
2 Thess. 2:14


As I sit in the back yard, watching my granddaughter play, I hear the singing of birds. It's so peaceful and quiet, until an airplane goes over. It sounds like dozens of  birds singing praises to the Lord Jesus, their Creator. Then  I spot the one bird sitting on the old electric pole, tweeting away. You see, it's a mocking bird, our state bird. He imitates dozens of other birds. That's what it was created to do. I wonder if it has it's own sound, amidst the others that it is making. Who knows? Maybe so. Anyway, he's an imitator. Paul refers to the Thessalonians as imitators. You didn't read the word in verse 14?

The word follower, in the Greek, means "imitator."
Here were the Thessalonians, who had never met the Judean believers, but began to live a lifestyle similar to theirs. Oh, they didn't give up their cultural distinctives, but began to live the distinctive Christlike life. That happens when the Lord saves us and we surrender to His will. He wants us to be like Jesus.
Paul had been a persecutor of Christians before his conversion experience. Pursecution was part of the Christians' lives. The difference for these believers was that it was carried out by Gentiles rather than by Jews.

Can we expect persecution? Yes, if we are imitating Christ. Look what they did to Him. Of course that isn't encouraging, is it? But look where He ended up, in heaven with the Father. What better reward is there?
Do people recognize me as a follower or imitator of Christ? Am I like the mockingbird in that I sweetly imitate the Lord?


Charles Swindoll, in his book, Contagious Christianity, said:
Lest you think that the Christian life will be a bed of roses, observe what Paul said in the later part of verse 14. Christians have always suffered, and they will continue to suffer. That's not in doubt. The only uncertainty is how intense the suffering will be for each believer. But regardless of the degree to which any  of us will experience pain and hurt, God will help us to endure it. The Lord will also make sure that those who afflict us will experience His wrath once they "fill up the measure of their sins" (verse 16b). God has set limits to the sins that can be committed against each one of us. And once those limitations are met divine discipline and judgment are carried out against those who are striking at us. The sovereign Lord always has things under control, even when we have a difficult time seeing that. This should give us, as His followers, a sense of peace.

How is my response? Do I accept the path I am to walk? Do I seek the Lord for strength to endure persecution? Am I committed to contentment that is strengthened by accepting the will of God?


Be an imitator of Christ.

 Accept the path God has me walking. Seek Him for strength to endure whatever.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


1 Thessalonians 2-Part 6
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, whhich effectually worketh also in you that believe.   1 Thess. 2:13


There is a wreath hanging by the outside door to my house. It says "welcome" on it. I put it there to reassure  people that they are  welcome in our home. I'm always glad to have a visitor come. (They are rare, since we live in the country, away from town.) That's why they are greeted with friendly words and a smile. Usually, a visitor is a friend coming for a planned visit, a welcomed guest. Sometimes strangers come to my door, but not very often. I really had not thought about the word, so I looked up the meaning, of course. You know me.

According to Webster's Dictionary, welcome means gladly received or permitted; a kindly, warm greeting; a hospitable reception; to receive gladly.

Did the Thessalonians welcome the Word of God ?  How did they receive the Word of God? There are two meanings that could apply to what Paul meant in describing their receiving the Word. (It's used twice in this verse.)
Liberty Bible Commentary explains:
1. Paralambano is a word which means to "take to oneself." In this context it means to listen to and apply
    the words that were spoken. It could have been used of the teaching of any phlilosopher of the day.
2. Dechomai is a word which means primarily "to receive" in the sense of receiving a guest, entertaining
    someone, or welcoming with open arms a true friend; this word involves much more commitment. This is
    the word that shows the responsive attitude of all true believers for God's Word.

So the Thessalonians received the Word of God to themselves, resulting in salvation in Jesus. Also, they welcomed it with open arms like I welcome a friend at my door with open arms. Do I welcome God's Word like an old friend, with open arms? How's my attitude? Do I gladly receive it, no matter what it has to say to me?


Still in verse 13, Paul says it was the Word of God, not the word of men (them), that worked in their hearts.
How did It work? He uses the word effectually to describe how God's Word worked in the Thessalonians.

The Greek word , energeo, means simply to be "effective." The same word is found in the same connection in Galatians 3:2, 5 and it is the Spirit of God in both passages who causes believers to recognize the Word of God. Though it wasn't the New Testament the Thessalonians heard, it was the oral message, inspired and just as authoritative. It was a word spoken by God so that this verse is, in effect, parallel to 2 Timothy 3:16.
(Liberty Bible Commentary)

"The Bible is a map pointing us in God's way," said Chuck Swindoll.

Am I allowing Gopd's Word to be effective in my life? Am I applying it, not just reading it?


Receive God's Word, as I do a welcomed guest, into my heart.

Let the Word be effective in my life, changing my attitudes and actions.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You'll Never Walk Alone

1 Thessalonians 2-Part 5
As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
1 Thess. 2:11-12


The Thessalonian believers were Paul's children in the faith. He refers to himself as the father figure. Not only did Paul exhort, comfort, and charge these baby Christians, but he does so for us. What do these three words mean? Here's what the Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Liberty Bible Commentary have to say:

Exhorted, which is the word  parakaleo in the Greek, means to admonish, encourage. The noun form of this word is used as a name for the Holy Spirit (Comforter).

Comforted, which is the word  paramytheo in the Greek,  refers to the physical comfort and mental assurance. The Thessalonians were in sorrow, through persecutions and deaths of friends (4:13).

Charged, which is the word  martyreo in the Greek, means to witness or testify. Obviously, we get our English word martyr from it. We know that Paul was martyred for his faith in Jesus, but he witnessed to all he met, I'm sure.

Not only in public, but also in private did the missionary team and Paul exhort, comfort, and charge the believers in this church while they were there with them. They went house to house teaching and preaching the Word of God with great tenderness, as a father.

Do I encourage, comfort, and challenge others to stay faithful to the Lord Jesus and His Word?


When I read verse 12, I thought of the song I sang at my high school graduation, "You'll Never Walk Alone."
The words go like this, if I can remember after 39 years:
When you walk through a storm hold your head up high, and don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm, is a golden sky, and the sweet silver sound of a lark.
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and torn.
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart and you'll never walk alone.
You'll never walk alone.
Walk on.

I suppose there is another verse, but I can't recall it. Anyway, is that good advice or what? Right now I'm going through a storm of an incruable disease-Crohn's. The wind of discouragement blows hard. It keeps raining physical problems. My faith gets thin, tossed about, suppressed.  Test results and the side effects of new medicine puts me in the dark, pitty-party way. My dreams of life have changed. But...
My faith tells me to trust in Him. This path I'm traveling on is what He has for me, so is there a better one? No. I admit that I was down this morning. Then I read a scripture from my Bible study group, Psalm 32:14-15: "But I am trusting, O Lord, saying, 'You are my God!' My future is in Your hands."

It convicted me because I wasn't trusting in my God. I was worrying about swollen lymph nodes, ulcers, potential of shots instead of pills. You name it, I was worried. Have you been there? If I am going to write to people telling them to trust in God for everything, I must trust in God for everything. Practice what I preach, so to speak. That's why I shared the song and verse. They were encouragement to me. Hopefully, they will encourage you. Watch out for storms. Our God is faithful and all powerful. As Paul said, " I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Phil 4:13)
I wonder what's around the bend.
[I'm doing better, 2 days later. My body is adjusting. Hope continues.]


Be encouraged, comforted, and charged by the Words of God and Paul.

Hold my head up high, I'm a child of the King. I never walk alone.

Encourage someone else today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dear Friends

1 Thessalonians 2-Part 4
So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of 'God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.  1 Thess. 2:8


Do you have any "dear friends?" We have some dear friends that we made throughout the years in the ministry. However, some of them live in other states or hours away. So it is a sweet time when we do get together, which is not very often. We  keep in touch by way of email, phone calls, and Christmas cards. Do we let our dear friends know how much we value their friendship? Do you have any  friends to you?

Paul considered the believers at Thessalonica as "dear to us." Though it had been a while since Paul had seen these special people, his new converts, he took time to write this letter to them. Of course, God was inspiring him with the words.

You have become my new dear friends. Some of you have written comments to me, while others read and stay silent friends, listening to me. I ask the Lord to bless you today, my dear friends in Christ, for you are a blessing to me. Thank you for walking with me on this country road of faith, sweet ones. You are an encouragement to me.


How did Paul and the missionary team behave toward the believers, Christians, new converts at Thessalonica? He tells us in verse 10: holily, justly, and unblameably.  I looked up the these three words in other versions of the Bible. Here are the words they used:

New Living Translation-devout, honest, faultless
New American Standard-devoutly, uprightly, blamelessly
New International Version-holy, righteous, blameless
Williams-pure, upright, irreproachable motives

These words decribe the conduct of the missionary team and Paul. It sounds like Paul is defending himself and his companions in the Lord's work against any false accusations. He calls on god and the Thessalonians as their witness.

How do I behave toward other believers? Is my conduct holy, devout, godly? Is my conduct just, honest, upright, righteous? Is my conduct blameless, faultless? Does God reuqire any less of us than what Paul was?


Be a dear friend.

Let my dear friends know they are dear friends.

Watch my conduct so it is holy, honest, and blameless.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nursing Babies

1 Thessalonians 2-Part 3
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having fond affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.   1 Thess. 2:7-8 NAS


Verse 8 of The New Living Translation says, "We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God's Good News but our own lives, too."

Paul and his companions worked hard to support themselves financially while in Thessalonica. They did not want to be a burden to the people. Paul's trade was tentmaking, which he more than likely used. God's Good News which was shared would have been salvation through Jesus as Savior. I can hear the love of God radiating through Paul as He writes this letter to these baby Christians, which he helped birth into the family of God.


Nursing a newborn baby is a special time for the two. The mother gives not only her milk from her body, but her time and herself. Her focus is on the baby, taking care of it, feeding it, providing nurishment for it to live and grow. It's one of those tender moments in life, a bonding occurs for both involved. A love develops and grows between mother and child as she  holds and feeds the infant, gently speaking to it. I cherish those memories.

How does this relate to today's scripture?
Probably Paul was saying "we came like infants." He and the missionary team claimed no more prestige than mere infants.

KJV says verse 7 this way, "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children."
The Greek word for nurse is trophos, which comes from a root word meaning to feed, nourish, support, and provide with food. It can also refer to a mother. The word cherisheth means to take warm and tender care of. Paul paints the picture of a mother tenderly caring for all the needs of her own children. (Liberty Bible Commentary)

Do I act as a spiritual mother to baby Christians? Do I tenderly feed them the Word of God? Do I gently support them? Do I speak gently to them as to an infant?


Love those baby Christians. Treat them tenderly and gently with the Word of God. Help them grow in obedience and faith.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Oink, Oink

1 Thessalonians 2-Part 2
Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.   1 Thess. 2:5-6 NLT


Verse 5 in KJV says it this way: "For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness." (my emphasis)

In the Greek, the word covetousness is pleonexia, which means greedy desire to have more. (Thayer's Lexicon)
In Webster's Thesaurus, synonyms for the word greed include: piggishness, lust, desire, greediness, avarice, and covetousness.

Pigs. Have you ever watched them when it was time to eat? They not only want their food, but the food of others, also. They root the others out of the way so they can have their way, oinking the entire time. When I was a kid, we raised a pig for butchering. That animal would eat anything and everything. It ate food scrapes from our table and slop that Dad mixed up (grains and whatnot). He never had enough to eat, you know. You might say it made a pig of himself. (pun intended) I laugh when I think of that stuffed pig, lying in the shade of the barn, up to its belly in mud. All it did was lie around, eat,  and get fat. Of course, that was the idea. It sure made good bacon and ham later.

Oh, man. The thought came to me-Do I act like a greedy pig? I must admit the answer is yes. If I see a piece of clothing hanging on the sales rack  caught my eye and another lady is going through the same rack, I want to push her out of the way and grab that one. I don't do it, but I have thought, "Leave it for me. Move on lady." So I am piggish. Now that's not flattering, is it? Well, my son thinks I can do a good pig imitation-oink, oink. Hey, maybe that's not a compliment after all. Hummmm. 
How am I dressed? Is it with a cloak of covetousness, a coat of greed surrounding me? Am I focused on one particular thing that I want? What are my thoughts and actions focused on? Am I clothed in Christ, instead of greed? Things to ponder.

In his book, Contagious Christianity, Charles Swindoll says it this way:
"Greed is the desire to possess more than one needs. When taken to extreme, greed is the desire to possess that which belongs to someone else. A person can be greedy for any number of things, including money, glory, results, attendance, facilities, and popularity. There can even be a greed for truth. It's not that any of these things are bad in themselves. Instead, the problem lies in the insatiable drive to have something in greater abundance than anyone else. This drive takes our focus off of God and puts us in an unhealthy competition with other people."

Am I a greedy person? Does my desire of something go to the extreme? Do I wear greed as an outer garment, like a coat? Does it take my focus off of God?


 In verse 6, the KJV uses the phrase "we might have been burdensome." It shoulds be translated, "we might have made great demands."

Paul didn't pull ranks on the Thessalonians. He was an apostle, but did not flaunt it. He try to  intimidate these baby Christians, nor abuse his authority. Instead, Paul came to them as a servant. He wanted to meet their needs in the best way possible. He didn't want applause or personal glory. We know how Paul's heart was. This missionary team worked to support themselves, not taking what they had a right to have. Motives were pure. 

Are my motives pure? Why do I do things for others? Is it out of selfish gain or out of love for them and the Lord Jesus?


Give instead of being greedy.

Stop oinking, acting like a pig.

Don't be burdensome, making great demands. Instead, serve others.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mundane, But not in Vain

251. "Mundane, But not in Vain"           May 5, 2011
1 Thessalonians 2-Part 1
For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain.
1 Thess. 2:1


Sometimes household chores can make me feel like I'm doing them in vain, no good resulting from it. The dishes have to be washed everyday, laundry washed and put away, floors cleaned, furniture dusted. Are you with me?  Have you noticed how everything shows dirt so quickly and easily. It's as if the coffee table wants me to write "DUST ME" on it. It would grab me if it had arms. It would promise to keep shining and never get dusty again, if I'd clean it just one more time, that is, if it could speak. When the sun shines in the window, the top of the stove shines. Oh it shines all right, showing all the splatters of grease on it. Ugh! Scrubbing. Why can't it stay clean for a day? Better yet, why can't I be rich and have a maid do it all the time? Yes my household chores are mundane, but not in vain. (Mundane means worldly.) Hey, guess that means I'm useful, since we can't afford a maid to clean. Well, I must admit, I enjoy the shine, even if it is only for a short period of time and must be repeated often.

Paul spoke of his work in Thessalonica not being in vain.
The Greek word, kenos, for vain means empty; metaphors of endeavors, labors, acts, which result in nothing, fruitless, without effect. (Thayer's Lexicon)
Certainly Paul's visit hadn't been unfruitful or unproductive in Thessalonica. There was  purpose, God's purpose to accomplish. When the missionary team arrived at this city, they had "already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi" (verse 2a). Luke tells about Paul and Silas being disrobed, "beaten with rods, imprisoned" (Acts 16:12, 22-24).  Even after all that,  they had boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition (verse 2).
Not only were people saved and a reproducing church planted, but the church at Thessalonica grew and flourished even after Paul left (1:5-8). Paul's efforts was not in vain, but fruitful.
Are my efforts in witnessing in vain, fruitless?


Look at verses 3-4. Could they honestly say that Paul and his companions were trying to deceive or had impure motives? (verse 3)
His message was true, manner of life was pure, and method of ministry was authentic. (MacArthur)

How did the missionary team speak?
Not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. (verse 4 b)
God sent them and they spoke the truth of the gospel, resulting in salvation of the hearers. It was a divine appointment, approved by God, with integrity and devotion. Could there have been false teachers that came into the chruch to discredit Paul's ministry? Perhaps that is why Paul is defending His motives.

Do I speak to please God or to please people?


Serve the Lord with gladness.

Make sure my words spoken are pleasing to God, not people.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

ECHO, Echo, Echo

250. "ECHO, Echo, Echo"                May 4, 2011           

1 Thessalonians 1-Part 5
For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,
And wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.     1 Thess. 1:8-10 NAS


In the cool summer mornings last year, my granddaughter and I would often sit on the front porch swing. Though she wasn't saying a lot of words at the time, she could make sounds. She enjoyed yelling them to the woods in front of our house. You see, her words or sounds would echo back to her. Thus she would hear what she has said. It was a simple fun time as we, I joined her, kept up the procedure.  Probably, we will do it again this year.

Paul used the words sounded forth in our scripture. I found out that the Greek word is execheo, which means "bounce off" and is the word from which we get the English word  echo. The Thessalonians became a sounding-board from which the gospel would echo across the world. Paul states hyperbolically that he hardly needed to preach where people had heard of the faith of the Thessalonians; he had only to ask, "Have you heard what happened?" The fantastic story of the conversion from idols to God was known everywhere.
(Liberty Bible Commentary)

Is my life a witness around the world? Originally, I began this blog as a study through the New Testament, wanting to leave a legacy to my children and grandchildren the Word of God applied to my life's experiences. Also, I hoped to have others join me in discussing what passages meant to them, but few have responded. That's all right. Little did I dream of the impact of this, but it is being read throughout the world. So far, people from over 20 countries have visited here. Glory is given to my God. It is written for encouragement to others and to share the gospel to the world from my country road. I am privileged to think God could use me as a missionary, home and foreign.

So that is what the Thessalonians were experiencing, missionary work without them even knowing it. They were spreading the word of Jesus, the Messiah, the Risen Savior, had come.

The MacArthur Bible Commentary says, "Though it may appear that this church developed such a testimony in only three Sabbaths of preaching (Acts 17:2) spanning as little as fifteen days, it is better to understand that Paul preached three Sabbaths in the synagogue before he had to relocate elsewhere in the city. In all likelihood, Paul spent months, not weeks, which accounts for :
1. the two collections he received from Philippi (Phil. 4:16),
2. the time he worked night and day (2:9),
3. the depth of pastoral care evidenced in the letter (2:7-8, 11).

At any rate, the Holy Spirit was working through Paul's missionary team and through the newly founded church at Thessalonica. Is my witness for Jesus affecting others in my neighborhood, city, state, nation, and world? How about yours? What kind of echo do I have?


In verse 9, Paul uses the word turned. The Greek word is epistrepho, which is "conversion" in English. The Thessalonians turned from idol worship (dead gods) and pagan religions to Christianity, worshiping the True Living God through Jesus Christ. Salvation comes through the turning from our sins, in repentance, to Christ.

We know what they turned from. What did they turned to? They began serving the only real God, Jehovah. The word serve means literally to be a slave to. We belong to Him through a bondage of love, wanting to do only His will.

In verse 10, Paul uses the word wait. In Greek, the word is anameno, which means more than just wait; it emphasizes an expectant and active attempt to live for His glory in the meantime. We believe in Jesus' resurrection and hope in His Second Coming. The "wrath to come" may mean either eith God's temporal wrath to come on the earth (Rev. 6:16-17) or eternal wrath (John 3:36) in hell.
[Resources: Liberty Bible Commentary, The MacArthur Bible Commentary]

Have I turned to god through salvation in Jesus? Yes, I have, how about you?
Am I waiting for His return, serving Jesus while I wait? Doing my best?


Let the love and Word of Jesus Christ echo around me.

Serve Jesus while waiting for His return.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


1 Thessalonians 1-Part 4
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affiction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.  1 Thess. 1:6


No, this isn't taliking about horn honkers or nose honkers. We have two geese that flew into our neighborhood last week. As I watch them walking around, eating and honking, one goose seems to always be following the other one around. I wonder if they have affliction, tribulation, troubles. I suppose the only trouble they have is finding food and avoiding preditors (coyotes). The Lord takes care of them, so they don't have to worry, even  if they could. (I should learn a lesson from them.) They might be  nesting here.  There will be some little goslings running around this summer. However, this is not their usual homing place. The past few years they only stopped by for a short visit to the pond on their flight north in the spring. I enjoy watching them waddle around, kind of like I walk, waddling and honking.

Three words seem to stand out in this verse-followers, received, and affliction.

Liberty Bible Commentary says:
It was because of their "reception" (dechomai in Greek) of the Word (which means to receive in a respectiful, obedient, and favorable way) that they became followers. A more literal translation would be, "You became imitators." The joy of the Holy Ghost is to be interpreted as a Greek subjective genitive: it is joy inspired by the Holy Spirit. Receiving the Word is receiving Christ, receiving Christ is receiving the Holy Spirit, and He brings joy and gladness. He inspires confidence and liberty in our lives.

Contagious Christianity, by Charles Swindoll,  states:
Paul affirmed these Christians for two responses they made to the gospel message. The first words of encouragement concern their personal modeling of the gospel before other Christians. They became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia (verses 6-7). The second affirmation was given because of the vigor with which they proclaimed the gospel to non-Christians (verse 8).

So the Thessalonians received the Word, were obedient, became immitators, with burdens for the lost, shared Christ having joy in the Holy Spirit. (That's a long sentence, but it explains the verse.)
Am I obedient to the Word? Am I an imitator of the Word and Paul? Am I burdened for the lost? Do I share Christ with joy in my heart?


Verse 7 says, "So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia."

The Greek word for examples was used to describe a seal that marked wax or a stamp that minted coins. The Thessalonians were model believers, leaving their mark on others. (MacArthur)

The king would put his seal on a new law or an order. They used a stamp for making coins. Does my life have a stamp of being a Christian?
What an effect the gospel had on the Thessalonians. They were witnesses throughout the province of Macedonia.
Romans 14:17 says, "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

In verse 6, Paul says the Thessalonian believers have joy in the midst of suffering, which is evidence of the reality of their salvation, including the indwelling Holy Spirit (1Cor. 3:16, 6:19).

Am I an example of Christian living  for others to see? I do fail often. How about you?


Be a faithful follower of Christ and His Word.

My life should be a stamp of a  Christian.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chosen Sunflowers

1 Thessalonians 1-Part 3
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 1 Thess. 1:4


The display caught my eye as I walked passed. I had to stop and look closer. Sitting there on the rack were  packages of beautiful flowers and lucious vegetables seeds. Yes, it was spring and time to plant a few flowers. So I bought a half dozen packs of seeds. My top choice was sunflowers. They were  fast growing, attracked bees and birds, and were just pretty to look at. So before the week-long rains came, my three year old granddaughter and I got on our knees, dug up the usual spot in the dirt, and dropped the seeds into the dirt. By now, the plants have raised their little green heads, growing taller each day. (Maybe they're called sunflowers because they grow toward the sun.) Soon they will be tall, bright yellow flowers with golden centers.

In verse 4, Paul used the word election. You know I had to look it up.The Greek word for election is ekloge, which means "chosen."

Liberty Bible Commentary states:
A less vague translation here would be, "We know, brethren beloved by god, that He has chosen you." the fact of election cannot be known until after a person has been saved. Paul explains how he was able to recognize it in the Thessalonians: it was their positive response to the gospel.

The first-centruy Christians did not hide their Christianity or try to live in isolation from one another. Instead, they worked together to incarnate their fith in a disbelieving, antagonistic world. Notice that they could do this because they knew that they were no longer under God's wrath but were now "beloved by God," chosen by Him for salvation. (Contagious Christianity by C. Swindoll)

Wow! To think that the God, who created this universe and everything in it, chose me to be His child. It's astounding! He prepared a way for me to be reconciled to Him, through Jesus, before I was born. Then He
spoke to my heart showing me my need for salvation through faith in Jesus. Not only that, it was all free to me, a free gift. What a loving Savior, to die on the cross in my place so I don't have to pay for my sins. He already did it. That's why I worship Him.
My friend, we are the beloved by God, chosen by Him for salvation. Have you accepted this free gift?
Just as I chose sunflowers to plant, God chose me to be His child. Hey, I'm a "chosen SONflower." Sunflowers  grow in the sun, and are attractive, so  I want to grow in the "Son" and be attractive to the lost, bringing them to Jesus.
Is my faith and obedience in Jesus growing?

Ephesians 1:4-5says, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will."


Verse 5 says, "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake."

The slavation of the Thessalonian believers occurred due to the gospel being presented:
not only in word, but in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction. Paul and his companions brought the good news of Jesus to these people with a firm belief that it was true (Acts 17:1-3).

The gospel wasn't in words only, human words, but the words contained mysterious power. Where did this power come form? It came from the Holy Spirit of God. It was the power which changed lives.
(1 Cor. 2:3-4)

When I present the gospel, it should be done under the leadership and direction of the Holy Spirit.


Always be grateful to God that He chose me to be His child, then act like it.

Yield to the Holy Spirit when presenting the gospel.

Allow His Word to grow in me.