Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shaky Ground

2 Thessalonians 2-Part 1
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.   2 Thess. 2:1-2


Have you ever experienced an earthquake? I'm sure our friends in California and Japan could tells us a few things- how they felt, the insecurity, the results of things moving and falling down due to the ground shaking. Because of modern tv, we have seen its power displayed, resulting in bridges colapsing, buildings tumbling down, homes flattened. Such a display of power. Personally, I have only experienced two light ones. Years ago, during my first earthquake, my glasses in the kitchen shook, since we lived in a second floor apartment. The second one was only last year. I didn't feel any shaking, but there was a loud boom afterwards. Earthquakes can be devistating. I think they cause a fear because the ground under one is not secure. It's shaky ground. Shall we see what Paul has to say about being shaken?

In the first verse, Paul is trying to correct a misunderstanding about the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. The Thessalonians had not missed out on the Rapture. As he said in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, all believers will be taken from this earth, alive and dead, to heaven in the twinkling of an eye. They had the impression that the Day of the Lord events had already started. It simply wasn't true. Paul was trying to clear up a rumor that had spread.

We haven't missed the Second Coming either. Everyone will know when it happens. From all over the world, all people will see our Jesus. It won't be a secret.


In verse 2, Paul uses the verb shaken, which means in the original language, is a sudden action rather than a continuous one. It's a verb that is often used to mean a literal shaking, especially of a violent nature, as produced by a wind, wave, or earthquake.
Who hasn't seen the results of tornadoes (Joplin, Missouri resently), waves (sunomi in Indonesia), earthquakes (Japan), tidal wave of New Orleans, and hurricanes in the tropics.
Paul didn't want the Thessalonians to be troubled, disturbed, which is in the present tense, denotes a continuing state of worry and fear, as might be caused by continuing aftershocks. I understand that the aftershocks of an earthquake can be worse than the earthquake itself.
[Resource: Steadfast Christianity by Charles Swindoll]

So I think Paul clarified this matter. He didn't make the accusation that the Thessalonians had missed the Rapture.
Is my faith shaken up when these things happen around the world? Matthew 24:7, Mark 13:8, and Luke 21:11 warn us about things to come.  In fact, the whole chapter 13 of Mark gives a good outline of expected happenings.


Don't allow my faith in Jesus to be shakened or done away with.

Trust Him to do all He has said He will do.

Pray for mercy for the lost.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Glorious Sunrise

2 Thessalonians 1-Part 7
That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.   2 Thess. 1:12


Here is Paul, writing a prayer for his brethren, the Thessalonians, beginning in verse 11.
As a Christian, a saint, I am now glorified in Jesus as my head. I am being raised to sit together with Him in heavenly places. Through His blood covering my sins, wearing His robe of Righteousness, I can enter the Throne Room of the Most High God and lay my petitions at His feet, converse with Him. How humbling it is to think such a powerful God would take time to listen to me, would even pay me attention. And then, He is building me a mansion in His kingdom. Yes indeed, what a glorious Lord we have!

Isaiah 28:5 states, "In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people."

Here are some comments I found concerning verse 12:
  • The wonderful glory of Christ shall shine in them (Thessalonians). The love and power of our Lord may be glorified-gloriously desplayed in you. (John Wesley Explanatory Notes)
  • May my life show His virtues and  His glorious excellence; that I may be adorned with the graces of His Spirit, as He's glorified by my salvation from all sin. (Adam Clarke Commentary)
  • Grace is used of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, increases them in Christian faith. (Thayer's Lexicon)
  • It's His grace, merciful kindness, blessed Spirit, that sanctifies, elects, redeems, calls, justifies, pardon, adopts me, not my works. (The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible)
  • The worthy walk of verse 11 allows God to be glorified in us, the light of all purposes (The MacArthur Bible Commentary)
  • For the believer, the ultimate goal in life is to glorify God. Effective intercessory prayer is not necessarily praying for relief for the afflicted or even for removal of the affliction. It is praying purposefully in light of a kingdom perspective. Read the kingdom into someone's situation, then reflect on the development of their faith, remembering the ultimate goal of glorifying God. (Contagious Christianity by Charles Swindoll)
I  want God's grace to increase my Christian faith, don't you?
When it's all said and done, just give me Jesus.


It was 6 am this morning, when I began my usual routine-take a pill with water an hour before eating and pull back my kitchen curtain to see what the  new day had in store outside. Ahh, another quiet Saturday morning in summer. There's nothing like it. (Late sleepers, you  miss out on so much.) Then it happened,  I caught a glimpse of the sun's rays shining. So I took two steps to the left, pulled the curtian back further, and saw this glorious sunrise. It was so radiant in the midst of  a deep blue sky, with a few clouds sourrounding it. Glory to the Lord on high! God of Wonders beyond our galaxy, You are holy! I stood there absorbing the magnificance of God's creation, feeling His presence. Do I thank Him for the clouds and sunshine in my life?
 How many times do I allow my vision of the Lord's working to be blocked by clouds in my life?

Then I walked to my computer room, opened my Bible,  and  read our key verse again. This morning's sight was for me. Christ Jesus brought me out of my spiritual darkness and into His marvelous light. Oh yes, there are times that clouds of affliction surround me; times that persecution darkens my vision. But they are only  minute in comparisond to Paul's sufferings. They are trying to hide the Son, but He comes through, giving me a ray of hope, shining in my life. He is Sovereign and in control.

In Matthew 5:16 Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Is my Lord Jesus  shining through me?
Do others see my good works and glorify Him instead of me?
Here's that s-word again.

Do you recall that Paul used the phrase "the Lord Jesus" three times in each chapter? Did you find them in chapter 1? I found it in verses 1, 7, and 12. How about you?


Allow God's grace to increase my faith.

Let His light shine through me.

Give Jesus the glory for all and in all things.

Pray for God's will to be done in my life and the life of others.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pulling Weeds

2 Thessalonians 1-Part 6
To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power.  2 Thess. 1:11


This week I was pulling weeds and tall grass by my mailbox. I only got half of it done when it started to get dark. I planned on finishing the rest of it the following day. However, my hip joint and bottom muscles were so sore from all that bending over, I couldn't do it. (I sure didn't get on the treadmill either.) And two days later, I am still sore. My hubby used to tell me concerning exercise, "No pain, no gain." Well that wasn't meant to be exercise and I definitely didn't want to suffer any pain for my deed. What I want didn't make any difference. At least  I can see the result of my work as I sit on the front porch swing, enjoying a cold glass of water. But that is only a small suffering in comparison to those  persecutions and afflictions which I have endured for the Lord. In my mind, they lasted a lot longer and the hurt was deeper. What does God use to pull the weeds out of my life? Has He been weeding out anything in your life lately?

Do I resolve to do goodness in spite of my circumstances?
Camelot's King Arthur did after he learned that his wife, Guinevere, and his best friend, Sir Lancelot, had an affair. Swindoll quoted the king, "We shall live through this together, Excalibur: They, you and I! And God have mercy on us all." [form Idylls and Camelot by Knee]

Eventually, I'll get back to finish pulling the rest of those weeds by my mailbox. It may be a while. In the meantime, I will survive any sufferings, physically and spiritually. My God is with me.


According to Charles Swindoll in his book, Contagious Christianity, Paul prayed for three specific things in this verse for the Thessalonians:
(1) that God may count you worthy of your calling,
    This is reminiscent of verse 5. Paul doesn't ask God to remove the source of their suffering; he asks that
    they might live and act in such a way as to be considered worthy of their high calling-which is "not only to
    believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Phil. 1:29). Suffering is part of the kingdom life. Read "the
    kingdom" into the situations of others. (These Thessalonians were going through persecution and affliction.)

(2) that He may "fulfill every desire for goodness,"
    The word desire could be be rendered "resolve." This part of the prayer addresses the Thessalonians'
    attitudes in the midst of their suffering. The term goodness is closely akin to "generouity," describing one
    who is openhanded and openhearted. When suffering strikes, it's easy to become clench-fisted and
     resentful, even bitter. However, the Thessalonian believers resolved to emerge from this siege of suffering
     full of goodness, with a generous spirit.

(3) that "the work of faith with power" may be completed.
    This request has to do with the Thessalonians' walk of faith. He prayed that their faith would reach fruition
    in a harvest of good works (1 Thess. 1:3). He now prays that their suffering doesn't impede that work,
    doesn't stop it or cut it short, but rather fulfills it with power.

Paul asks boldly that God see them as worthy of the kingdom's calling. He asks that they realize their resolve to develop the character quality of goodness, and he asks that their walk of faith be strengthened by the hard times they are going through. God wants to deepen our character, to see us through, and to say that the testing did its full work.

Is my pain developing faith?

David Guzik said, "We live worthy of His call when we fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, living lives touched by His goodness, and displaying His goodness. We live worthy of His call when we fulfill the work of faith with power, believing on Jesus and seeing His work done all around us by faith."

Do I allow the Holy Spirit to give me power to keep on living by faith?


Stay faithful to the Lord during problems.

Let my life be pleasing to Him.

Allow His Spirit to empower me for the work of faith.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Earnestly Praying

2 Thessalonians 1-Part 5
Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.
2 Thess. 1:11


Did you hear what Paul said? He told the Thessalonians that his missionary team is always praying for them. This is quite a common thing. We have touched on prayer several times in our study. Not only do I pray before getting out of bed, but I pray while on the treadmill, during Bible study, and other times. How serious am I about interceeding for someone? Am I earnestly praying for someone today? I have seen the Lord answer my prayers, so why don't I?
What is prayer?
"Through prayer we become co-laborers with God in bringing His will to pass," states Charles Swindoll in
Contagious Christianity.
"Prayer is as natural as breathing, as necessary as oxygen," said edith Schaeffer in her book Common Sense Christian Living.
"More things are wrought by prayer/Than this world dreams of," King Arthur said in Tennyson's Idylls of the King.

Here's what Swindoll had to say in this same study book:
Prayer is making deliberate contact with God in word or in thought. It's a voice of faith, whose whisper can be felt across the street or across the world. It is what pries us from our seats as spectators and places us as participants with God in matters of destiny. Through spending time in His presence, His thoughts gradually become our thoughts and His ways, our ways. Through prayer we become transformed.
A prayer expresses itself in many ways:
  • as an act of praise,
  • a confession of wrong,
  • a request for help,
  • a declaration of need,
  • a statement of thanks,
  • an intercession for others,
  • drawing near to God with confidence (Heb. 4:16);
  • asking, seeking, and knocking (Matt. 7:7-8);
  • releasing anxiety (Phil. 4:6-7)
  • gaining wisdom by asking for it (James 1:5);
  • the discipline of mind that is always appropriate for our needs (Eph. 6:18);
  • an invaluable discipline that we are commanded to do (pray without ceasing 1Thess. 5:17);
  • a preoccupation with the Lord-to live with Christ in such a way that you can talk with Him or listen with Him at any moment.
Do my prayers refocus my perspective? Do I let it quiet my fears and calm my nerves? Does it transfer my burdens? Do my prayers uphold others in need?


Swindoll said that intercession occurs when we "labor earnestly" in prayer for others.
At the root of this Greek word agonizomai is the English transliteration "agony."

Webster's Dictionary defines agony as an extreme and prolonged mental or bodily pain; prolong is extended in time or length; earnestly is sincerely and seriously.

Oh my. Are my prayers for others long, agonizing prayers, in which I labor earnestly, sincerely, and seriously? To be honest, they aren't. I thought by praying daily for someone was enough. Like Paul, will  I always  pray for my spouse, children, family, friends, church members, co-workers, missionaries, government leaders in this way? Not just a "bless and protect" prayer, but an intercessory prayer with details?
Tomorrow we will see how Paul says we can live worthy of His call.


Prasie the Lord, give thanks for what He does, confess my sins.

Let go of my agenda for the day and spend time in agonizing prayer for loved ones and the lost.

Believe that God will hear my prayers and will answer in His time and His way.

Friday, June 24, 2011


2 Thessalonians 1-Part 4
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.          2 Thess. 1:7-10


What helps you to rest? Is it a vacation away from the stress of work or circumstances? Is it a recreational activity? Is it involvement in a hobby? Is it going to see a movie? I think I can say yes to all these solutions. Anything that will take my mind off the hurtful words said to me, honery deeds done to me, disappointments, aggrivations-you name it. The problem is getting rest for my mind. I can rest my body, but my mind plays the drama over and over again. What did I do to cause this to happen to me? What do I do now to resolve this problem or change this situation? Unfortunate for those around me, I talk about it repeatedly. My conclusion is, that is how I process something. I mull it over in my mind, as the old timers used to say. It's not that the logical thing to do is hard to figure out, it's that my feelings get in the way. Someone or something hurt my feelings. Are you with me? So I have to put "me" aside and let the Lord speak to me about this thing bothering me. Then I have to let Him handle it.
Paul said that to us who are troubled, rest with them. He was a fellow sufferer for the just cause of Christ.

"In the first century, many Jewish leaders hated Christians because they rejected Jesus as the Messiah, and believed a crucified Savior was an offense. Many Romans hated Christians because they considered them "atheists," because they would not worship the national gods of Rome. The Thessalonian Christians were persecuted and had tribulation, and God used it for His glory. But the time of persecution would not last. A day of  rest is promised for every believer, " stated David Guzik.

Well now, if my troubles are due to my following the Word or my doing a  right thing, then it is to be expected that I will suffer persecution.
 2 Timothy 3:12 says, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

John 14:1 records Jesus saying, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me."

Then I shall praise the Lord that I am counted worthy of suffering for Him. so where do I find rest or relief? It should be in the Word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit. (There's that s-word.) Do I seek rest from Him and not from the things of this world? Ouch!


Although the original Greek doesn't use punctuation, I couldn't stop at verse 7, but had to continue reading to verse 10 where our Scripture has a period ending these thoughts. Here we see the judgment and vengenance on those who don't know God and those who disobey Jesus.

"Not ' knowing'  God may be an extension of the Old Testament idiom of not loving God or serving Him rather than a simple lack of knowledge," states Liberty Bible Commentary.

Anyway, the thing is, these people will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. (verse 9 NLT)

The MacArthur Bible Commentary says:
This speaks of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Retribution is not dealt out because of persecuting Christians, but because they did not obey God's command to believe and call upon the name of the Lord to be saved from their sin. Salvation is never obtained by works but always by placing one's faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christ's great glory is displayed, the result will be rest and relief for believers and the privilege of sharing His glory. (John 17:3; Romans 10:9-13,17; Eph. 2:8-10; 1John 3:2)

Am I helping others get ready?


Rest my mind knowing that God is in charge of all things.

Help others get ready for the Day of the Lord.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stained Paper Towels

2 Thessalonians 1-Part 3
And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering. In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.
2 Thess. 1:5-6  NLT


Last night I made some blackberry jelly from the berries which I had picked last summer. A couple nights ago, I cooked them, pressed the juice out, and strained the seeds, in preparation for the jelly making process. After the stirring the sugar and Sure Jell in the juice for 45 minutes, and  boiling it, the jelly was ready to pour into jars. Before putting the lids on top of the jars to preserve them, I wiped each one with a paper towel. Because of spills and dribbles down the sides, there were purple stains on the paper towels. Looking back on this, it reminds me of how my life is stained with sin. Even though I've been a Christian for 40 years now, I still  sin and I am in need of cleansing and forgiveness daily from the Lord Jesus.

Isaiah 64:6a says, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags."
Isaiah 1:18 says, "Come, now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

Yes, sin in my heart is like the purple splotches of blackberry jelly on the paper towel. But after confession, Jesus cleanses me like a new, clean paper towel.

This is what makes me worthy for the Kingdom of God, His forgiveness and cleansing of my soul. It's the helmet of salvation that Jesus provided for me. It's the breastplate of righteousness with which  He freely covers me.
There's another thing that makes me worthy of the Kingdom of God-persecution and tribulation. Paul said it in verse 5.

The MacArthur Bible Commentary says it this way:
The Thessalonian believers were not self-centered, but concentrated on God's kingdom. Their focus was not on personal comfort, fulfillment, and happiness, but on the glory of God and the fulfillment of His purposes. They were not murmuring about the injustice of their persecutions. Rather, they were patiently enduring the sufferings they did not deserve (verse 4). This very attitude was "manifested evidence" or positive proof that God's wise process of purging, purifying, and perfecting through suffering was working to make His beloved people worthy of the kingdom by being perfected (James 1:2-4). For believers, afflictions are to be expected as they live and develop Christian character in a satanic world. Suffering is not to be thought of as evidence that God has forsaken them, but evidence that He is with them, perfecting them (Matt. 5:10). So the Thessalonians demonstrated that their salvation, determined by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, was genuine because they, like Christ, were willing to suffer on account of God and His kingdom. They suffered unjustly as objects of man's wrath against Christ and His kingdom (Acts 5:41).

Thank You Lord that my sufferings so I can be made worthy for Your Kingdom.


Verse 6 in the King James Version states: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.

We've seen that the righteous judgment of God works to perfect believers. It also works to repay the wicked.
"Vindication ane retribution are to be exercised by God, not man, in matters of spiritual persecution. When God repays and a how God repays are to be determined by Him," stated MacArthur. (see Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:19-21)

It's not my job to pay back evil for evil, but to love them, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them that are my enemies, those that curse me, those who hate me, and to those who despitefully use me and persecute me. (Matthew 5:44) These were words of Jesus.

Did anything jump out at you in that verse? Is there something you are not doing? How many times have I read it and did not see that I am to "bless" those people? Such a tall order, isn't it. But you know, it is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that I can do those things to those people.

I have found that when God takes His vengence upon a person for what they do to me, it's worse than what I would have done. I realize that we all need His mercy.


Confess and get cleansed from my sins daily.

Appreciate all that Jesus provided for me when He died on the cross.

Let Him take care things and people.

Keep on lovin' God and others.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Growing Sunflowers

2 Thessalonians 1-Part 2
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.    2 Thess. 1:3-4


Verse 3 in NAS begins this way, "We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting..."
As we receive the Grace of God, we should be thankful for it. Not that we deserve this grace, but that it is a gift from God to us who do not deserve it. Paul is thanking God for these Christians growing in faith, love, and patience. So should I.


It was only a month ago when my I dug a forrow and my granddaughter dropped the sunflower seeds in it. We covered them up with more dirt, then watered them really well. Waiting for them to pop their heads above ground was very difficult for this three year old. Every day we had to check on them. It took patience. Finally, after a week or so, there they were, tiny green plants looking at the new world. She was so excited. Each morning she sees to it that we faithfully water them. What a joy to see them grow. One is even taller than she is. I know soon these small plants will grow taller than I am and will produce beautiful yellow heads (fruit) shining in the sun. But through this process, these sunflower plants have endured storms-strong winds and heavy rains. Since some bent over and broke, I got some bailing twine and tied the rest together so they would not bend over and break. This helped them stay strong and grow tall. The faith of the Thessalonians was like these sunflower plants. Shall we see how?

Probably Paul had heard from these believers since his sending the former letter. He recognized these qualities:
1. Exceedingly growing faith
    Exceeding means superabundant in quantity or superior in quality.
    Is my faith in Jesus growing? Better yet, is my faith growing exceedingly?

2. Abounding love
    Aboundeth means to increase.
    John Wesley said it was "Like water that overflows its banks, and yet increaseth still." During the floods
    this spring the water overflowed in creek banks as the rains continued to fall  in our area. But, overflowing
    love is a good thing.

3. Endure with patience and faith in all persecutions and tribulations
   Endure means to undergo hardship, be afflicted, suffer trouble.
   Because of their faith in God, profession of Christ, these believers experienced hard times. They stood up
   under criticism and false teachings.
   How much can I endure? Only God knows. I'm supposed to keep on enduring with patience and faith.

As the seeds we planted grew, so my faith grows as the Holy Spirit waters me. Then my love will increase.
Staying in the Word of God and praying will strengthen me to endure hardships as Paul did.


What do I need to let go of or who do I need to forgive?

Is my faith growing exceedingly, my love abounding or increasing, am I enduring with patience whatever comes my way?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let It Glow, Grow, Go

Years ago, when I came home to visit Mom, the two of us would often take a walk down the country road in front of her house. It was an enjoyable time, just the two of us sharing our thoughts, feelings, and current happenings in our lives. Mom has gone on now, so won't you join me as I walk this country road of faith called life?

I am reading through the New Testament using the King James Version most of the time. Monday-Friday I will be posting my thoughts and something that spoke to me from each day's reading.
Often, I use experiences from my childhood as examples for life application.

Friend, please join me and feel welcome to leave your comments. Here is the format being used:

Name something you read today's Scriptures that is a promise, an encouragement, or an example of how God worked in this particular chapter or passage.

Describe a principle, a lesson to be learned, or a challenge from the focused Scriptures.

Tell how we can apply, share, or go do the Word read in this particular passage.

I hope to be hearing from you soon.
May the Lord bless you.

Piecing Together Puzzles

Introduction to 2 Thessalonians
Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess. 1:2

Do you like to put puzzles together? I always have. In fact, during my Christmas vacation from school, as a teenager I would often get a 1,000 piece puzzle, set up the old card table, and spend hours piecing together the puzzle. It occupied my time as I waited for Christmas Day to come. Sometimes my family would join me in the task. This became a tradition in my own family as our children and I were home for two weeks during December. Of course, while we were piecing together the puzzle, we were carried on conversations. What a fun way to occupy time when it's too cold to go outside and to develop relationships.

As I began reading this Second Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, it seemed that something was missing between the two letters. Again, I found myself piecing together a puzzle, only it was in the Bible.

Apparently, Paul wrote it only a few months after writing the first epistle, during his eighteen month stay in Corinth.
Why did he write to these Christians again, and so soon?

The answer is found in The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Here's what it says:
Paul wrote to his beloved flock who were:
(1) discouraged by persecution and needed incentive to persevere;
(2) deceived by false teachers who confused them about the Lord's return;
(3) disobendient to divine commands, particularly by refusing to work.

Paul, Silas, and Timothy were together in Corinth as indicated in Acts 18:5 and verse 1 of the first chapter. However, shortly thereafter, Silas drops out of sight, according to the book of Acts. The date of this letter was A.D. 51 or early A.D. 52, according to Liberty Bible Commentary.
Paul's overriding purpose is to correct the errors as mentioned above. These believers interpreted the coming of the Lord as to an immediate event. They sold their houses and lands, gave up their jobs, and moved to the hilltops in order to wait for Christ's return. This resulted in idleness in the church and was a reproach to Jesus' name. Paul had to give them further instructions on this matter at hand.
As an overview of these 47 verses, the first thing noticed is the phrase  "the Lord Jesus Christ"  is used three times in each chapter. I challenge us to find and count them.

Although this epistle is written to Gentile believers, it is especially helpful to new converts to Christianity. They can get a better understanding of prophecy and the work ethic of serving until the Lord comes. (May I add, us too?)

Are you ready to dig into the Word? Let's get started.


We have already established the author, his accompanying missionary team, and to whom this is written.
I like the way Paul always begins his letters with affirmation, thanksgiving, and praise. I should pick up on that approach and apply it. Maybe it prepares a person for what follows.

In verse 2, Paul is sending grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
According to Thayer's Lexicon, in this verse, grace means to be committed or commended to the protecting and helping favor of God. Peace is security, safety, prosperity (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous).


Who gives us this grace and peace? God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ do.
Do I turn to Him for grace and peace? Do I turn to Him for help, protection, harmony? When I do, the puzzles in life will be put together, won't they?


Let go of hurt feelings, seek peace with others, by doing my part to mend relationships.

Seek God's grace for myself and others.

Monday, June 20, 2011

How am I Walking?

Summary of 1 Thessalonians

I must say, it's been challenging to me to read and study this Epistle by Paul. I have enjoyed having you walk along with me. Paul found encouragement in the Thessalonians and so have I found encouragement in you.

Well, there are some questions for us to ponder as I think back over this Book of the Bible. Here are a few: How am I walking? Am I  pleasing God? Am I walking honestly? Am I walking worthy of God? How is my faith, love, hope, joy? Am I comforting others? Am I rejoicing, praying, thanking God? Am I abtaining from all appearance of evil?

I was looking back at the overview of this letter written by Paul. While traveling on their second missionary journey, Silas and Timothy helped him establish this church (Acts 17:1-9). This was the first of two letters which Paul wrote to the church. It was written from Corinth around A.D.51. There was a temple of Apollos at Delphi, near Corinth. Idol worship was common practice during this time. Some Jews and Hellenistic proselytes were trying to convert these believers in Jesus in this area. That's why Paul was writing this letter, to encourage the church to stay true to Christian teachings, to stay pure in Christian living, and give them hope of Jesus' return. [Resource: The MacArthur Bible Handbook]

Now, if you have been walking along with me on my road of faith through the New Testament for very long, you know that I like to recall a few scriptures in the Book that we just completed. So here are some gold nuggets I have highlighted in my King James Version located in 1 Thessalonians:

 * We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without
    ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of
    God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. (1:2-4)
*  But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men,
    but God, which trieth our hearts. (2:4)
*  That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.  (2:12)
*  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as
    we do toward you.  (3:12)
* 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.  (4:6)
*  And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we
    commanded you. That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of
    nothing.  (4:11-12)
*  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the
    trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remaing shall be caught
    up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
*  See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among
    yourselves, and to all men.  (5:15)
*  Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ
    Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that
    which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.  (5:16-22)
*  Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.  (5:24)

As I close the study on another Book of the bible, I leave with you the words of Paul, which are in my heart as well:
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

See ya'll  tomorrow as we begin another letter written to the Thessalonians. May Jesus bless and keep you in His love today.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Should Be's

1 Thessalonians 5-Part 9
Brethren, pray for us.
Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.  
I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
 1 Thess. 5:25-26  KJV

Dear brothers and sisters, pray for us. Greet all the brothers and sisters with Christian love. 
I command you in the name of the Lord to read this letter to all the brothers and sisters. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. NLT


In my Sunday School class, we have an ongoing thing. When our teacher asks us a question about how we are responding to the passage we are studying, "Are we doing such and such?", we answer, "We should be doing that." Now, I'm talking about middle-aged or older folks. Most have attended this church twice as long as I have. We know what we are should be doing. Shouldn't the question be, "Are we doing it?"  Sometimes we say "It's the s-word." Now that I think about it, that's a copout, isn't it? To know what the Bible says to do and not do it, it is sin, right?

According to Charles Swindoll, Paul gives us three traits that should characterize believers who are loyal friends:
1. Loyal friends pray for each other.
    Do I regularly intercede in a friend's behalf before the throne of grace?
2. Loyal friends are affectionate toward each other.
    It was culturally acceptable in Paul's time for a man to greet another man with a kiss on the cheek, or for a
    woman to do the same with another woman. Today, a handshake, pat on the back, or an embrace are
    acceptable alternatives. Whatever the method of greeting, it's an outward expression of our inward
    affection for other Christians. How often do I do it?
3. Loyal friends listen to the same body of truth.
    Paul's letter was written to all the Christians in Thessalonica, so he wanted them all to hear it. Real friends
    point each other back to the Scriptures. They must hear, seek to understand, and even challenge each
    other to accurately apply God's Word. Is there any better counsel than that which comes from the Bible?

Paul began his letter with grace and ends it with grace.
The root of the Greek term for grace, refers to things that produce well-being-such as favor, beauty, thankfulness, kindness, and benefit. Grace is always undeserved, immeasurable, unearned, and unrepayable. This unmerited favor of God has been made possible through Christ, who willingly took our judgment at the cross (Col. 2:13-14). Am I living in the light of God's grace? Am I enjoying its benefits?

First Thessalonians isn't just a love letter that was written by the Apostle Paul to the first-century church at Thessalonica. It's a love letter from the divine Head of the Church to those of us who compose His church in the twenty-first century. The spirit of God inspired Paul to write it. So every word is as much from the Lord as it is from Paul. Therefore, to ignore or disobey its message is to ignore or disobey the God who speaks through it. Likewise, submission to its truth is a concrete demonstration of our love for its divine Author (John 14:15, 23-24). Let's not walk away from this love letter without taking the essential steps to appropriate its instruction.
[Resource: Contagious Christianity]


Pray for my Christian leaders, brothers and sisters, and friends.

Appy the word which I read and learn.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Saying Good-Bye

1 Thessalonians 5-Part 8
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.            
1 Thess. 5:23-24


It can be a difficult thing, saying bye to old friends. Recently, we enjoyed catching up on what has happened in the lives of our  friends in the past seventeen years. We only had a few short hours in which to share highlights of events and see pictures of grown children and grandchildren. Then it was time to exchange hugs, good- byes, and drive away.  

Paul took 6 verses to say farewell to his friends at Thessalonica, in closing this letter, his benediction if you will. What was the first thing Paul focused on? God was. Since God inspired and preserved this for our benefit, let's see how it applies to us. Charles Swindoll can help us out using his book, Contagious Christianity:

God is faithful.
By placing the word Himself at the front of the sentence, Paul was putting the emphasis on God. He wanted the Thessalonians to know that the Lord-not anyone or anything else-would be the direct source of the good works that he was about to list.
The God of peace would be their provider.
In the New Testament, peace conveys the idea of harmony, friendliness, and contentment. It's opposed to such things as disorder, conflict, and confusion, and it's void of irritability, anxiety, and impatience. This view of God as the God of peace is certainly foreign to the gods often represented by idols. Their followers are constantly trying to appease their demands and fulfill their insatiable appetites. How unlike the true God-the Lord of peace! His just wrath was fully propitiated (that is, satisfied) by the voluntary sacrifice of His own Son, whose death on the cross provided a sufficient pardon for our sins. In order to gain our freedom from sin, all we must do is accept by faith the full pardon God grants to us through the blood of His Son. Christ has done it all for us.
Will you let our Faithful God give you  peace today? Do I trust Him with everything in my life?


Paul's focus then turns from God's title to His works. He mentions three which he asks God to accomplish in the Thessalonians:
1. Complete Sanctification
    The word sanctify means "to set apart." It has reference to being separated from the roots and fruits of
    evil. Paul's prayer request was for the God of peace to comletely separate them from "every form of evil."
2. Complete Preservation
    In case the Thessalonians thought that he was praying for God to sanctify them by removing them from the
    world, Paul added these words: "May your spirit and sould and body be preserved complete." The Greek
    word translated preserved means "to watch over, to guard, to keep." It often implies assault from without.
    And from what or whom would the assault come? There are always three sources: Satan, other people,
    and ourselves. The request here is that God would guard the entire being of every Christian through every
    assult of sin, no matter what its source. The Lord promises to insulate His people through the spiritual
    battle, not to insulate them from it (John 17:15).
3. Complete Blamelessness
    When the Lord Jesus Christ returns for His own people, they will stand before Him in glory, totally void of
    fault, condemnation, and guilt. They will be holy, free from the penalty, power, and presence of sin. Verse
    24 does not negate our responsibility to strive toward godliness, but it does assure us that God will bring
    to pass all that He has provided for us in Christ. "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot
    deny Himself" 2 Timothy 2:13 says. [Contagious Christianity]

It's all about Jesus. He does everything for us-sanctifies, preserves, and covers us with His blood so we are blameless.
Looking at verse 24 again, I read what John MacArthur had to say:
"Every time the divine call is mentioned in the NT, it refers to God's effectual call of His chosen ones to salvation. The God who calls will also bring those whom He calls to glory, and none will be lost (John 6:37-44; 10:28, Phil. 1:6)."

What a promise!


Believe in the God who is faithful and the provider of peace.

Trust in Jesus for my sanctification, preservation, and blamelessness.

Know that God is faithful in His call to others for salvation.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Do's and Don'ts of Diets

1 Thessalonians 5-Part 7
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.
 1 Thess. 5:21-22 (KJV)

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.

But test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. (NLT)


Do not eat this. Do not eat that. Don't drink this. Don't drink that. Aren't there more don'ts than do's on  diets? I have found this to be true in my case. Since I have been on this special diet in order to take care of my body and not live the restroom , I have learned how difficut it is to eat those things good for me and abstain from those things which are bad for me. I imagine any diet is like that, though. Then I think of Christianity-the 10 commands, Jesus' teachings, our rules, laws, traditions. So much to follow. However, the key theme for life, which I have found in God's Word,  is love-love God, love brethren, love the lost, love your self. Aren't they all meant to help us, direct us on the right path of life, to make our life better and easier?
Yes, my diet has been a good thing for me. It frees me from the bondage of this body. It has taught me self control, following limitations. Don't we all need that? Paul gave us some more advice to follow.

You know that I had to look up some words in the Thayer's Lexicon:
Prove means to test, examine, scrutinize, (to see whether a thing be genuine or not).
Abstain means to hold ones self off from anything.

The MacArthur Bible Commentary says:
Paul calls for careful examination and discernment in response to the command of verse 20, "Despise not prophesyings.". One is never to downgrade the proclamation of God's Word, but to examine the preached word carefully (Acts 17:10-11). What is found to be "good" is to be wholeheartedly embraced. What is "evil" or unbiblical is to be shunned.

I think these three principles can be applied to other situations, not just prophesyings.
The Blackabys show us this is so in their devotional book, Experiencing God Day-By-Day. Here's what they said:
"Hold fast to what is good, or the world will take it away. Satan is the relentless enemy of good. People will challenge the good you are practicing. they may criticize you for your moral stand, your child rearing, your use of money, or your involvment in church. Time pressures will attack the good in your life. Your time to pray, study Scripture, be with your family, and serve in your church will all be pressured by the many other time demands you face. Scripture reveals the solution for holding on to what is good-abstain from every form of evil. Evil robs you of what God intends for you and the good things God has given. God's commandments do not restrict you: they free you to experience God's best. Diligently abstain from every form of evil, and you will be free to enjoy every good thing God has given you."


The fourth kind of gift Swindoll taught in Contagious Christianity, is occassional uncertainty.

He said, "The whole issue of not despising prophetic utterances raises an important question: How can we be certain when it is really the Lord who is speaking to us through extrabiblical sources? We can't. Therefore, with things that are uncertain, we need to "examine everthing carefully" (verse 21a). We must be discerning. Just because someone comes to us claiming to have a word from the Lord does not mean we must believe him. God wants us to be spiritually discerning, not gullible. What criteria should we use in our judgments? Paul specifies two things: 'hold fast to that which is good' (Verse 21b), and 'abstain from every form of evil' (verse 22). Anyone who tries to draw us away from the good and lead us toward that which is evil is not acting on the Lord's behalf. Whatever is genuinely from God will be (1) consistent with His written Word, (2) in line with the lordship of Christ, and (3) in agreement with our spirits. Whatever fails to pass these tests is not from God."

Falwell said for us to "apply Christian principles to all situations, to continue holding fast to that which is good, and to abstain from every possible kind of evil. Paul is caling for balance; Christians should neither be overcritical nor gullible."

What things are good to hold onto? Reading God's Word, praying, fellowshiping with believers, living by faith and not by sight, giving, trusting God, serving others, these are all good.


Have discernment-examine things, whether it is good or bad for me, for my reputation and witness.

Listen to God's directions and apply them.

Keep holding on to good.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Finding God's Will for my Life

1 Thessalonians 5-Part 6
Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Quench not the Spirit.
Despise not prophesyings.
1 Thess. 5:16-20


Before our daughter got married, she and her fiance visited our church. Her dad introduced them to the congregation. Then, he said," Her mother and I always prayed for God's will for her future husband. Will never came along, so we settled for him." Our daughter replied, "Dad, his first name is William." So Dad stood corrected. God's Will came. We chuckle about now and so do others.
"What is God's will for my life?"
How many times have I asked that question? Innumerable. Dare I say that very few Christians have not asked it? Especailly those serious about following God. Have you? Well, here's the answer I found. I know it's a generality, but it's for all believers to follow: Be joyful. Pray continually. Give thanks.
There it is-short and simple. This is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Yes, I don't know your circumstances, but God does.  I understand that it's hard to rejoice and be thankful for pain and heartache. Still, God is asking us to give thanks.
Do you find it as difficult to pray 3 times a day, much less continually without ceasing, like me? Although, when I'm carrying a heavy burden, loaded down with it, I tend to pray more. Are you with me? Why am I that way? God is sovereign, in control, offering me grace and peace, working it out for my good. Why can't I just let go and trust Him with it? You know why, as well as I do-I WANT CONTROL. There, I admitted it. So I get on my knees and confess these sins, once again; opening my hands toward heaven, releasing this problem to Him. Now I can rejoice, pray, and give thanks. Now I get it.
Friend, I am able to give thanks for my Crohn's Disease; for my special diet and medicines that will be the rest of my life. He answered my prayers-finding what was wrong with my body. So I give Him praise and thanks daily. Do you have a challenge too?

Do you remember Joni Eareckson Tada, the teenager who became a quadraplegic after a swimming accident? Here's what she had to say:
"Today's verse became my anchor when I was first paralyzed. I gritted my teeth, pushed aside feelings of despair, and willfully gave thanks for everything, from the hospital breakfast of cold cornmeal mush to the grueling hours of daily physical therapy. Many months later a miracle occurred. I began to feel thankful. My brighter attitude enabled me to give thanks for greater things. Later on, another miracle happened: I was able to rejoice in suffering."
As a result, Joni has witnessed for Jesus around the world. She is able to relate to those who live in a wheelchair, giving them hope and a purpose as she shares her Savior.

The NIV says these verses this way: Be joyful always, praying continually, give thanks in all circumstances and God will move heaven and earth to push you forward into His will. Whatever happens, whatever you decide, you will have every confidence that you are completely centered in His will for your life.

I want to always be in the center of God's will for my life. How about you?


Getting back to yesterday's lesson, which dealt with two of the four gifts we are to give each other: They were kindly requested and urgently needed. (If you missed it, please check it out before continuing.)
MacArthur said joy is appropriate at all times. (Phil. 2:17-18; 3:1; 4:4)
Rejoice means be glad. It appears 9 times in Paul's letter to the Philippians. Evermore means at all times, always, ever. (Thayer's Lexicon)
We are told to pray not repetitiously, with a break (Matt. 6:7-8), but pray persistently (Luke 11:1-13), and pray regularly (Eph. 6:18).

Here are the last two gifts Charles Swindoll teaches us about in his book, Contagious Christianity:

3. Gifts  continually appropriate.
     (1) Rejoice always.
            Rise above your situation. Look beyond petty differences and faults. Don't allow your circumstances
            or the grim responses of others to rob you of a joyful life. Joyful people have a well-develped sense
            of humor, an optismistic outlook on life, and a lighthearted spirit. Does joy permeate your life?
     (2) Pray unceasingly.
            Unceasing prayer will result in a joyful heart. The only way we can have a heart full of joy is to have
            one free of burdens. And the only way to rid ourselves of burdens is to release them. How can we
            best do that? Through prayer. The idea here is not praying nonstop, but the regular releasing
            throughout the day of one's load to God. It's like a hacking cough.
      (3) Give thanks in everything.
             It does not  say for everything give thanks. It would mean we would have to be thankful for such
             things as sin and tragic calamities. Instead, we are exhorted to give thanks in everything. That is, we
             should develop and express a grateful spirit as we are molded toward maturity in God's sovereign
             plan. We may not understand why certain events occur in our lives. However, God causes all things
             to work togther for good (Rom. 8:28).
     (4) Do not quench the Spirit.
            A Christian can diminish or even snuff out the ministry that the Holy Spirit has in his or her life. They
            can hinder the Spirit's work by constantly opposing His prodding, convicting, and puersuading work.
           When He encounters a sinfully stubborn will, He will eventually step away, fold His arms, and wait
            for a change of heart. He will leave us alone. Although, we can experience a softened heart toward
            God, a deeper concern for the lost and hurting, and spiritual power to live a godly lifestyle.
      (5) Do not despise prophetic utterances.
           Make sure it is a true revelation from God and remain sensitive to God's voice. We need to be quick
           to hear and obey God's written Word. Be sensitive to pick up His counsel to us as given through the
           timely words of others.

Do I want to be a contagious encourager?
Whew! There's a lot on my plate to digest.

Hey, did you know there are other meanings of rejoice? Some definitions in the Greek, according to Young's Concordance, are: to leap much for joy, to shine, to laugh, play, to sing or cry aloud, to spring about. I need a cup of joy today,  please Lord. So if you see me playing, laughing, singing, you know why. I'm rejoicing. Don't know if I can leap or spring about, though :)


What do I need to let go of so I can be an encourager?

Rejoice, pray always, and give thanks.

Listen and obey the Spirit.

Listen to those people who are spiritual. Be discerning.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What Gifts do I Give?

1 Thessalonians 5-Part 5
But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them highly in love becaused of their work.  And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that whichis good for one anothre and for all men. 
1 Thess 5:12-15 NAS


Each year at Christmas time, we face the same question: What gifts do I give my family members? It is especially difficult since they live several states away from us. We are fortunate if we see them once a year. Therefore, my daughter used to make up a gift list that her family would like to receive. Then, I would choose from the list and everyone was happy.
Last year, we visited them the latter part of November, so I had a new idea. Why not be with the children and see them pick out what they wanted. So we gave each of the four grandchildren a certain amount of money each and took them to the toy store. One morning, the 7 of us piled into the van and off we went. Needless to say, excitment was in the air. We had a system-our daughter took the 2 older boys, I took the girl, and grandpa took the toddler.(No, actually, it just worked out that way.)
What seemed like all morning for gifts to be chosen, took only a couple of hours. We were all drooping, the adults, that is. I was second-guessing my decision  when my feet were aching from walking the isles what seemed like 50 times. (Those were very difficult decisions for young shoppers.) It was worth all the endurance to see each child thrilled as we drove away, van full of packages. Everyone had such fun! Especially when the kids got to play with thier toys upon arriving home. (and I didn't have to shop on the internet either)
 In the last part of chapter 5, Paul gives us a divinely approved gift list. It's God's desire that we give each gift to one another. Shall we check it out?

In  Charles Swindoll's book,  Contagious Christianity, he says:
There are four worthwhile gifts to give away:
  1. Gifts kindly requested.
  2. Gifts urgently needed.
  3. Gifts that are continually appropriate.
  4. Gifts occasionally uncertain.


Swindoll looks closely at each gift. Here's what he had to say:
1. Gifts kindly requested.
     (1) Respect those in leadership. Christians are to esteem, value, and respect those believers who minister
           to them from church leadership postions. Why? It's because of their work.
     (2) Live in peace with one another. Peace can't be maintained unless members of God's family actively
           seek peaceful relations between each other. (Romans 12:10-18 gives more detail.)
2. Gifts urgently needed.
    (1)  Admonish the unruly. 
          This fellow believer is undisciplined, disorderly, and rresponsible in carrying out their Christian duty.
          We are expected to be and do what we ought to.
    (2) Encourage the fainthearted.
          Give them words of comfort, a listening ear, and show them that someone cares.
    (3) Help the weak.
           When Christians experience weakness, exhaustion, or burnout, they need another believer to stand by
           them as long as it takes to see them through.
    (4) Be patient with everyone.
           This gift of patience, which means "long tempered," can be given to non-Christians as well as to
           Christians. It conveys the idea of being tough and durable in the face of intense pressure, of
            manifesting quiet and steady strength that can handle disappointment, hardship, and pain.
    (5) Refuse to retaliate; do good.
           Always seek that which is in the best interest of both believers and unbelievers. Return evil with good,
           ugly remarks with kind words, frowns with smiles, fists with attempts at reconciliation, and
           backstabbing with genuine forgiveness.

Oh my, what a list. What do I need to work on? Tomorrow, we will talk about the other two gifts.


Look for ways I can encourage my church leaders.

Admonish, encourage, help, and be patient with believers and non-believers.

Friday, June 10, 2011


1 Thessalonians 5-Part 4
Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
1 Thess. 5:11  NAS


Here I go again, another birthday has arrived. Where do the years go? It's number 57 for me.  I thank God for my earthly parents who gave me life. I already got an email from a cousin. How encouraging to know she took time to send it, expressing her love for me. As the years keep adding up, birthdays don't seem so important. We're just glad to still have them. Do I hear an amen?

Walking down memory lane, I remember how Mom and Dad used to make it a special day for me. She would bake a birthday cake, not chocolate, since I don't like chocolate. Usually, it was strawberry, and not one of Betty Crocker's, but one from scratch. Once it was an angelfood cake with fresh strawberries. Ummm! One time she decorated it as a doll with a fancy dress. She must have spent hours on that cake. Another time, it was a lamb cake. I still have the pan, but haven't tried my hand at using it.
Dad would get out the old hand crank ice cream maker and make sure we had plenty of rock salt and ice for the evening family party. Mom would mix up the ingredients. Of course, it would be "banana " ice cream, my favorite. Sometimes we would vary, and I would request strawberry so my sibblings wouldn't complain and besides, strawberries were in season.

Sometimes I had friends over to play, but school was out so it was harder to do back then. People took vacations in June. My neighbors, Julie and Caroline and I rode our bikes down to the creek for a swim, one time. You know, I really don't recall the gifts I received throughout the years. So what was important to me was being with my family and friends on my special day. They made me feel special with their presence. Aahh, those were the days.

I recall sone other special birthdays during our college years. Once, my hubby surprised me by having our friends waiting at our apartment, then coming out of hiding and yelling "Happy Birthday!" Another time, when he worked at the campus print shop, he convinced our Director of Admissions to call me, saying, "Roger has hurt his hand badly, you better come." Then when I got there, he unwrapped his arm and I saw "Happy Birthday" written on it. That guy! As you can see, we challenged each other to a  surprise birthday celebration. I'll share my retalliation later. Do you have special birthday memories?

I have another birthday in June. It's my spiritual one. When I was 16, I was saved after a classmate was killed in a car wreck. That opened my eyes to see that death can come at any age and I wasn't ready. Friend, you don't have to wait for fancy words or when you're at church. I was alone in my bedroom that night when God showed me mercy.
Will you share your spiritual birthday with us?

Now that I have shared how I was encouraged by others on my birthday, let's see what Paul had to say about it.


The King James Version of the Bible uses the two words comfort and edify.

David Guzik's Commentaries on the Bible states:
Paul again tells us not to take comfort, but to give comfort. If all Christians have a heart to comfort each other, then all will be comforted. Edify means to build up. When we have our first interest in building up other Christians, then God will edify us. The vision is of a church full of active particpants, not passive spectators. It wasn't that there was no comfort among the Thessalonians, or as if no one was edified. But they had to continue to do it, and to do it more and more.
The two verbs are in the present tense in Greek implying a continuing obligation of believers to "encourage" and "build" on another. The is, of course, one of the reasons for fellowship together in the church. (Liberty Bible Commentary)

Are my words comforting, encouraging others? Am I building up others or am I tearing them down?


I thank God for creating me and saving me.

Be an encourager and builder. Build up someone today.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Re-scheduled Appointment

1 Thessalonians 5-Part 3
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.   1 Thess. 5:8-10


Just last month, I had a doctor's appointment scheduled, but his office called me to change it. Due to the doctor not being in his office on that day and not available for my  appointment, I had to re-schedule my time to see him. I am glad they called so I didn't show up for my appointment and find it was cancelled. There's another appointment I had, which was cancelled, for which I am glad. Let's see what kind it was and who rescheduled it.

David Guzik's Commentaries on the Bible says:
We had an "appointment" to wrath. We no longer have an appointment to wrath, but now to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. It's important to understand that this is the wrath of God. We are saved from the world, the flesh, and the devil. But first and foremost, we are rescued from the wrath of God that we deserve. Paul's whole context here is the believer's rescue from the wrath of God.
Our appointment to wrath was "scheduled" in two ways. First, because of what Adam did to us and the whole human race, we are appointed to wrath (Rom. 5:14-19). Second, because of our own sin we are appointed to wrath. When Jesus died on the cross, He stood in our place in our appointment to wrath, and
"re-schedules" us with an appointment to obtain salvation. As believers, when we think we are appointed to wrath, we show up for an appointment that was cancelled by Jesus.
The idea is that Jesus died in our place. Not simply that Jesus died "for" us, in the sense as a favor for us, but that He died as a substitute for us. Having obtained salvation through our Lord Jesus, we will always live together with Him. The promise of unity with Jesus can't be broken; no matter if we live or die (wake or sleep), we will always be with Him.

Now that's an appointment, with the wrath of God, which I am grateful to have rescheduled. Aren't you?
(Some other scriptures are 2 Cor. 5:8 and Rom 5:9.)


Go back and read verse 8 again. Paul is talking to believers. What is he telling us to do?
  1. Be sober. (It means to be calm and collected in spirit.)
  2. Put on the breastplate of faith and love.
  3. Put on a helmet the hope of salvation.
Paul uses the images of a soldier's armor to illustrat the idea of watchfulness. A soldier is a good example of someone who must watch and be sober, and he is equipped to do that with his armor. The breastplate covers the vital organs of a body. No soldier would ever go to battle without it. The Christian's breastplate is faith and love. No Christian is equipped to live the Christian life without faith and love.
The helmet protects the head and is just as essential as the breastplate. A Christian's helmet is the hope of salvation. Hope isn't used in the sense of "wishful thinking," but in the sense of a confident expectation.
[Resource: David Guzik's Commentaries on the Bible]

Do I have faith, love, and salvation on as my armor as I prepare for  this spiritual battle daily? 
Ephesians 6:14-17 and Isaiah 59:17 give us the rest of the armor to put on. The parts of our armor are all provided by Jesus-helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, boots of peace, sword of the Spirit (Word), and shield of faith.


Thank Jesus that He reschedule my appointment with God's wrath, which I deserve to have. Such grace and mercy!

Be sober and  calm, then put on faith, love, and hope.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

As Different as Night and Day

1 Thessalonians 5-Part 2
But ye, brethren,are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.    1 Thess. 5:4-7


My two children are different as  night and day. Have you heard that saying before? It's true in my case. While growing up, one was studious, the other athletic. One was musically inclined, the other could take it or leave it. One was  a socializer, the other was a loner. One was a doer, the other a watcher. One was outspoken, the other was reserved. You get the idea? They have changed somewhat, now that they have grown up.
Paul shows Christians that they should be as different from the world as day and night are. How is that? Well, night is when crimes are mostly committed; sins are more likely committed in the dark so others don't see it or how is doing it. (women of the night) People try to hide there evil ways.

Unbelievers are in spiritual darkness, engulfed in mental, moral, and spiritual darkness because of sin and unbelief (John 8:44). All these people are children of Satan who is called "the power of darkness." (The MacArthur Bible Commentary)

As children of light, we are children of God, our heavenly Father, who is light and in whom is no darkness at all (1John 1:5-7).

In John 8:12, Jesus said, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

In John 14:6, Jesus told Thomas, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

I believe that I will be gone due to the Rapture of the church before the judgment of the Day of the Lord, so we won't be present on earth to experience its terrors and destruction, as in verse 3.

 Am I living in light or darkness? Do I have the light of life? Are my deeds of the day or of the night?


Look at verse 7. Paul tells the Thessalonians to not be sleepy and drunk, but remain alert and sober. Because we have the Word, we know there will be a Great Tribulation, seven years of judgment. Therefore, Christians are to remain on the lookout. We aren't to yawn through life, but are to stay alert.

According to The MacArthur Bible Commentary, Christians are:
  • delivered from the domain of darkness,  
  • taken out of the night of sin and ignorance,
  • put into the light of God,
  • should not sleep in spiritual indifference and comfort,
  • be alert to the spiritual issues around them,
  • live alert, balanced, godly lives under control of the turth.
Paul tells us, in verse 6, to be awake, sober, and watchful. Spiritually speaking, our spiritual condition should never be marked by sleep, but we need to be active and aware, to watch and be sober.

David Guzik said, "Sober doesn't mean 'humorless.' It has in mind someone who knows the proper value of things, and therefore doesn't get too excited about the things of this world. The person who lives their life for fun and entertainment isn't sober. However,  Paul was accused of being a 'fanatic' as an enthusiastic follower of Jesus. There is a balance."

In the NLT, verses 6-7 reads, "So, be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk."

Ephesians 5:18 states, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." 

I'm not advocating drinking wine, and I don't do it myself. The point in this scripture is for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Another idea is to be actively serving Jesus Christ in every opportunity I have before me (Eph. 5:16).


Live in the light of day.

Allow Jesus to be my light, showing me how to live.

Be awake, sober, and watchful for opportunities to serve Jesus.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Labor Pains

1 Thessalonians 5-Part 1
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.           1 Thess. 5:1-3


When will it be?
Although Paul was only with the Thessalonians for a few weeks (Acts 17:2), he taught them about the prophetic times and seasons regarding the return of Jesus. So it is with us. We should study the Scriptures, look around us, and we aware of the times and seasons.
Times denotes chronological extension or "periods of time" while seasons denotes "specific points" in time when designated events occur. (Liberty Bible Commentary)
This is not an event Christians need to be worried about, because we won't be here, I believe.

How did Paul describe the Day of the Lord? It would come as a thief in the night, unannounced and as a surprise. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus said, But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." God wants it to be an unexpected day, but He wants us to be prepared for the unexpected. [David Guzik Commentaries on the Bible]

Charles Swindoll said, "This event is quite different from the resurrection and rapture of believers that were described earlier. Those events will be dramatically announced by the Lord Himself (4:16)."

 This period of divine judgment will be inescapable for the unbeliever. God's wrath will be poured out during a 7-year period of judgment called the Great Tribulation (Rev. 6-19). However, I believe that Christians will be taken out before this occurs. 


There is one day in every mother's life that they do not forget-the day she went into labor with each of her children or the day they were born. There is excitement and anticipation as time draws near the baby's due date, such as it was with me. My hubby and I went a week early to stay with my parents so we would be closer to the hospital. She was almost two weeks late in coming. We lived in Bentonville at that time, which was a 40-50 minute drive to the hospital we were going to use. (fewer stop lights back them)
As usual, I woke up during the night to make the visit to you know where. On that particular morning, at 4 am, my water broke, but I didn't recognize it as such. So I went back to bed. Then the pains began. I knew it would be a long process, so I wanted to let my hubby and Mom sleep. But around 6 am, he woke up, saying he could tell "it was time." Of course, the excited father-to-be woke up Mom and we went to the hospital. After x-rays, and only 6 hours of having increased, intense labor pains, she was born, our beautiful baby girl.
Now, the experience was different with the birth of our second child, a son. Since my first child was born by C-section, the doctor didn't want me to go into labor, so we scheduled his day of birth. You know I had to go to WalMart the day before to get last minute things in preparation. (Even though there were no labor pains, there were surgical pains.) I'm sure you're like me and don't dwell on the pains of labor, but the joy our children have brought us throughout the years.

Paul says in verse 3 that destruction (for unbelievers) will come like birth pangs upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. (NAS) We know that labor pains for a pregnant woman are inevitable, sudden, inescapable, and painful. Paul used this illustration for the Day of the Lord.

David Guzik had this to say about verse 3:
"Jesus used the same idea in Matthew 24:8, when He spoke of calamities preceding the end times as the beginning of sorrows, which is literally the beginning of labor pains. The idea is both of giving birth to a new age, and implying an increase of intensity and frequency in these calamities. Even if you are ready for labor pains, you still don't know when they will come, and the pains are almost always worse than you expected."

When everything is said and done, a new heaven and new earth will be enjoyed, for eternity by the children of God who trusted in Jesus as their Savior. There will be no more pain and suffering. It will be worth all we endure here and now.


Be ready to meet the Lord in the air.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gettin' Together

1 Thessalonians 4-Part 7
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.   1 Thess. 4:15-18  NAS


What a weekend! We met with my husband's family and stayed in cabins down by a river. We hiked up, down, and around hills and boulders enjoying God's creation. There were waterfalls and caves, wildflowers, ferns, and moss. We even saw deer and a raccoon. But more importantly, we renewed our love and close bond that being family produces.
Then we left the mountains and drove down to the flatlands to a place where we lived 17 years ago. How wonderful it was to see old friends again; to see children and youth  grown up with children of their own staying faithful; to renew fellowship  with brothers and sisters in Christ. It was such a blessing to observe the changes that the Lord had made in people, those who stepped up to be leaders now. My husband pastored the church for 4 years. It was celebrating its 100th year anniversary. The Lord used a handful of Christians in a rural area back in 1911 to start a Baptist church. Only He knows how many have been saved as a result. Still, this church continues to bring the lost to Christ, and to worship the Risen Savior. Aaahh, getting together. What a blessing! 

Paul said we will get together with other believers who have already died. If we are alive when Jesus returns to earth, their body will rise and join us. How's it goin' ta happen?


Before anything happens, at the appointed time, there's going to be a shout of command, an archangel's voice, then a trumpet blast. Will that get everyones attention? I should say so. What then?
First, the Lord Himself shall descend.
Seond, the dead in Christ shall rise in a resurrected body before the Rapture.
Then, we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them.
It's going to happen, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. We will rise up to meet them in the clouds. It will be the spectacular event of all time! And I'm going to be in on it. How about you?

Liberty Bible Commentary had this to say:

The phrase caught up in Greek, is harpazo, which in Latin translation we get our word "rapture." 
The word in the original means "snatch," or "seize," and denotes a sudden violent taking away. The word pictures being "swept off" into the air as by a tornado. The result of this sweeping away, of course, is that we meet the Lord. Paul points out that these words are to be used by the Thessalonians to comfort one another concerning the welfare of their loved ones who have passed on. The will be reunited at His Coming!

This past weekend, there came a time when we had to leave our family and friends and return home. One day we won't have to leave. One day, we will get together with all believers and with Jesus forever. There will be no departing. What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see! I'm ready, how about you?


Get ready to go.

Keep watching and listening for the announcement of Jesus' return.

Help others get ready to go, bringing them to Jesus our Savior.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Where is Our Hope?

1 Thessalonians 4-Part 6
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.   1 Thess. 4:13-14


Have you seen movies that begin with the ending? Then they tell the details that lead up to it. That's what I am doing today. Here is a promise of God for us.
Verse 14 in the NLT says it this way, "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."

When I put my trust in Jesus as my Savior, I can rest assured that death will not close the book on my life. Death will result in my resurrection from the grave to everlasting life with Christ. (if I die before His return). What about my body? All this disease, decay, and weaknessess that plague my body will end. My perishable and mortal body will become imperishable and immortal. Nothing will have a grip on me. When Christ returns, He will upgrade all His people to the status of Christlikeness, even in my own body (1 Cor. 15:50-55).

I find comfort in knowing this. How about you?


What is the most mentioned event in all of the Scriptures? It is the return of Christ. It's referred to over 300 times in just the New Testament. What was the Lord's final recorded words in the Bible? They were concerning His return (Rev. 22:20). So it has quite an importance and reasurance for us. come on, let's dig in.

There was a problem with the Thessalonians. Some had quit working for Jesus and were waiting for Him to come back. Paul replies to those who had lost loved ones in death since he had left them. They were wondering if their dead friends would miss all the blessings of believers at the Second Coming. Paul wanted to give these misinformed believers hope as they handled their grief.  Now I have a better understanding of this chapter.

First, Paul wasn't insulting them. What he was actually saying was, "I have something I want to tell you." He used the same phrase in Romans 1:13 and 1 Corinthians 10:1. Paul isn't talking about those people who were sleeping, but those who are dead.

Ignorant means not to know and asleep means the dead, according to Thayer's Lexicon.

Next, Paul is using the Greek verb in the present tense, saying, "so that you will not continue to grieve as others do." (those which have no hope.) The word hope is the key here. It refers to a "certain expectation," rather than something one wishes might happen. What is the Christian's hope? It's the resurrection. Also, there is hope that the loved ones who have died will certainly rise. My certainty of the resurrection is based upon the resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor. 15).
Where is your hope? Do you have any hope for eternity?
[Resources: Liberty Bible Commentary, Contagious Christianity by Charles Swindoll]


My hope is in Christ, His return, and the resurrection of those Christians who have gone on.