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1 Thessalonians 3.6-10
Do you remember being deeply concerned about your children? They were away for a night out with their friends. Maybe they were away at camp for a week. Perhaps they spent their first sleep over with longtime friends. Fretting was uncomfortable. It wore on your patience. Your mind played through several scenarios and you did not like the feelings of insecurity.
You did what every good parent would do. Your lip bled when you bit it, your spouse returned concerned glances and when they finally opened the front door and came in with smiles and laughter you were delightfully relieved. Silly worries were for naught.
Love for others drives us to extend the comfort and concern of our spirit to surround those very special lives. True love wants to protect. It will and always will be that way. Yes, it makes us uncomfortable, but that is the nature of love.
Paul felt that way about the Christians in Thessalonica. They were his spiritual children. He knew that they were in danger. Persecution against Christians was intensifying in that day. It was in fact a spiritual battle against the Tempter.
The Apostle was so concerned about the state of the Thessalonians’ faith that he dispatched Timothy to check on them. He was starving for news of their spiritual well-being. Yes, the pain of persecution was a concern but he was more concerned over the strength of their spiritual faith.
Timothy had returned with good news. Paul was elated that their faith remained strong. His investment in their spiritual lives was intact. There is no mention of their physical or economic condition. What was important was their spiritual health during a volatile and dangerous time. Their faith and love were the highlights of Timothy’s encouraging report on their condition.
A bonus in Timothy’s report must have made the Apostle smile. This emissary brought up the personal relationship that he had with these people. They missed him. Timothy conveyed their strong desire to see him. It was a longing that was equally shared among them for each other.
The ardent faith of the Thessalonian Christians encouraged the Apostle Paul. Also note that the intense desire for a face to face fellowship was mutual. Not only did Paul love them, they also loved him. Even through the hardships of persecution, knowledge of their mutual love gave the apostle strength to persevere through those difficult times.
Paul was not simply stooping to hollow flattery. He meant it when he confirmed that the faith of these followers of Jesus gave him strength to weather the trials of great suffering. The joy in times of trouble was virtually indescribable to Paul.
Experiencing God more deeply than ever was a result of his investment into their spiritual lives and witnessing the long lasting stability in their commitment. The apostle continued to pray for these dear friends. That spontaneous prayer was an outpouring of his devotion to them.
The Christian life is simple. Once a person is born again by God’s grace through faith, a journey begins. It is a spiritual pilgrimage.
This journey is about maturing in faith and bearing good spiritual fruit. Part of that fruit is impacting the lives of others. This impact is a mixture of being a witness for Christ and helping others grow in their new found faith.
The lives of others make our life worth living. When we connect through a spiritual relationship and invest in each other’s lives, we gain something that money can never buy. It is a fellowship that defines who we are and what gives us the most satisfaction in life.
LAPP (Life Application): Have you invested spiritually in the lives of others? Take a moment to check into their lives and ask how their walk of faith is going. Tell them how much they mean to you and that you are deeply encouraged that their faith is growing strong.
1 Thessalonians 3.1-5
When our children went off to college it was a time of celebration. They had reached a benchmark life stage that would be a memory and strategic time in their lives. It was a big deal for all three of our children. Expensive things like that have a way of searing our memories. Of course their mother’s emotional moments these “Good-byes” into tough episodes that sear in another kind of way. We fathers react to the economic impact of great life events and realize a few moments too late that we have been calloused and void of appropriate feelings.
At the same time while burying my embarrassment, I also began to ponder the spiritual side of matters as well. Driving away from those drop-off times afforded me many long moments of wondering. Had I prepared them spiritually to now face the world on their own? Did I help them develop enough convictions that most of their choices would be good ones? When they unpack their bags and sit down in their classes, would the family work ethic kick in? Finances are a big deal for everyone; would our children handle those issues well?
I tried to relax about these thoughts. There was no way that I wanted to be helicopter parent, hovering over my children. It was release time. I knew that it was coming. God graciously gave me 18 years to invest in their lives. Now, it was time to see if they would fly on their own.
Admittedly, I devoured every letter, email and telephone call that came my way. Any news of their life away from home was fair game. However, I wanted to know how they were doing in their walk with Jesus. It was a desire that needed to be satisfied.
Paul felt these pangs of his insatiable appetite. His investment into the lives of the Christians in Thessalonica was not just a part of his job description. He loved these Christians like they were his own family. Their spiritual well-being was very close to his heart.
Not knowing how these Christians were fairing in the faith was intolerable to Paul. He was not worried just deeply concerned. In a world that knew very little about speedy communication, he finally decided to be left alone while sending Timothy to go back to Thessalonica and bring back a firsthand report on the spiritual condition of these dearly loved saints. It was a sacrifice that Paul was willing to make for it meant that he would be left alone. That is how much he hungered for information about those he loved.
Timothy was introduced by Paul’s writing with noticeable fanfare. Perhaps Timothy was young for such a responsible task. Paul assured these Christians that Timothy was sent to strengthen their faith. He would minister to them and firm up their commitment to their belief in the Savior. Also, he would help them find the courage to fight their spiritual challenges well.
Paul also had assigned Timothy to aid these Christians along the path of endurance. Trials plagued their faith walk. The apostle did not want the persecutions to “shake” their faith. This is an old word meaning to wag the tail or beguile. That is as a dog wags its tail, trouble has a way of making person question their faith, going back and forth, wondering about what is true and what is not.
Instead of doubting where they were in God’s plan or His will, believers can look at trials from a different perspective. Difficulties usually come into our lives because of a corrective or additive measure. God may want to correct a sin, disobedience or wayward direction. If that is the case, then confess your sin, apply 1 John 1.9. Or if there is no sin or disobedience, then He may want to add something in our lives. Growing requires strengthening. That does not always feel good. In fact like an athlete in training, to get stronger includes pain.
Whatever the case for the trials in their lives, Paul wanted to discover how they were doing. He did not just wonder or worry. Instead, he acted to find out and sent help to them through Timothy.
There are several inevitable guarantees in life. We joke about the two: taxes and death. However, for Christians it is certain that trials will visit our lives as well. As one comedian once quipped, “Life is just one darn thing after the next.” His words were not as polite as my adjustments. Nevertheless, the point is the same. We cannot escape trials. Instead, we should persevere, make sure that any sins are confessed and then let the struggles help strengthen our faith.
Knowing that this dynamic happens in all of our lives, we should encourage those people that we disciple. Check in on their faith. If they are not in trials now, they will be soon enough. Keep cheering them on and encourage them to trust in the Lord and keep their faith rock solid. It will be an investment that will return remarkable dividends. This is how a genuine relationship functions.
LAPP (Life Application): Think about the lives of people in whom you have considerable spiritual investment. How are they doing? Check up on them. Pray for them and let them know that you are. Seek out a tangible way to encourage and strengthen their faith.
1 Thessalonians 2.13-16
The contemporary issues that swirl through every current news report do not merely test the fringes of decency. Instead, they barge right into the middle of moral and spiritual benchmarks and declare a new definition to the basics of life. It is unsettling to most in our country.
Conversations that address these modern-day redefinitions are not friendly. Relativism permeates the discussions. In particular when historical values are jettisoned in the name of evolutionary thinking, common sense citizens are deeply puzzled.
A priori truths are choices that have been made in the past with the acceptance that they would never have to be made again. This is like a foundation for a building. Once it is laid, it will not be changed or adjusted. It is locked in place.
Matters of our faith and morality are like these. They are not open for adjustment when someone decides that they want to change what is wrong and declare that it is now acceptable behavior. God made the rules. The pot still may not tell the potter what to do.
There was another time in human history when the flurry of contemporary opinion attempted to sway the moral and spiritual moorings of truth. The Apostle Paul in the aftermath of Jesus’ betrayal, humiliation and crucifixion sensed the popular attempt to get rid of His followers. However, there was a church at Thessalonica that was resilient in their faith.
Courage to hold to their faith became their reputation that spread throughout the world. When the gospel of Jesus Christ was brought to them they recognized it as truth and received it. They discerned that while preachers spoke this good news, the message was not from men. Rather, they saw that it was the word of God.
This was not a decision that was easy or comfortable. In fact as a result of their faith in the gospel they suffered persecution. Paul likened their painful experience to the Jesus followers in Judea who suffered at the hands of the Jews.
Faith is not necessarily proven through the crucible of painful trial but it certainly is not stranger to it. History has proven this. Furthermore, the Lord Himself experienced this same violent reaction
Paul is the author of the difficult words laying culpability at the feet of the Jews. They did kill Jesus. However, Paul is not being ethnically negative here. It was not a matter of a people or nation that the Apostle is finding offensive. It was the rejection of the gospel that he feels so deeply burdened.
No one can deny that Jesus was crucified. Those who were responsible for His arrest, trial and execution are a historical fact. Nevertheless, the heart of the story is the rejection of God’s Son and the unbelief in the sacrifice for man’s redemption. This is true. What is morally right is the acknowledgment of God’s great gift to man for his salvation.
The offense of Jesus’ followers being persecuted is horrific by itself. However, God is offended by a greater disaster. When Christians are persecuted for their faith, then bystanders see it and refuse to believe for fear of the retribution as well. The displeasure of God is even more on the effect of treating believers with antagonism.
Hurting others as an intimidation to prevent faith from spreading is a serious spiritual crime. God calls it sin. He is keeping track of these sins. They are piling up.
It is bad enough when a person chooses disbelief over faith when he is presented the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, when he goes beyond his own rejection and attempts to keep others from believing he will be judged by God most severely. This judgment was certainly felt when Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome. At the same time, Israel as a nation would lose out on the blessings of being a faithful nation of God, when the church comprised of all, both Jew and Gentile, who put their faith in Christ.
Paul wanted the Thessalonians to keep strong in their faith. In the same vein he wanted those who opposed the faith of believers would be in grave spiritual danger. Humans easily excuse their rejection of the gospel by distracting their culpability with their dislike for the messenger.
LAPP (Life Application): Look beyond the human preacher and hear the message that God has given him. Never get in the way of the gospel being presented to people who need to come to faith for their eternity through Jesus Christ. Believe yourself and then be a part of spreading the good news.
“Do I Hear a Witness?
1 Thess. 2.10-12
It is not infrequent that I receive and email, text or letter from the US Postal Service that contains a request from a past student who needs a reference. Sometimes it is a reference to do further studies. Other times it is a request for a job reference. Once in a while it is for permission to have someone from a search committee to telephone me for a real conversation about the candidate.
Each one of these referrals is an honor for me. If I know the friend or student well, then the task is simple. I remember that person’s reputation as a leader, servant or gifted teacher. Memories of their amazingly skills in some other capacity usually come to mind.
I am not trying to unduly impress the examination board or organization, rather, I trying to speak truth about the candidate. After I write the truth then I let the chips fall where they may.
The inquiring company or ministry always want to know the type of relationship that I have had with the candidate. That is natural since they want to verify that I am an actual witness of that person’s character. Clearly they want to validate whether I have actually seen that person in situations where specific characteristics were observed.
A witness is in fact someone with firsthand experience. No one is interested in what I have heard others say about a candidate that they are considering. Instead, they want to know if I have experienced a person’s character or life skills in actual circumstances.
They want to know if I have witnessed that person under duress, in strained situations or in awkward moments of life. How did they fare? How did they treat others? How did they behave when the situation was challenging.
These are fair assessment directions. I testify to what I have seen and let them draw their own conclusions. Usually, others ask me to serve as a witness because they are hopeful that I will submit a positive recommendation.
In a similar way the Apostle Paul along with his travelling companions call on the Thessalonians to serve as their witnesses. Like a reference for their reputations, Paul asks these believers to give a witness to their lives. Specifically, he asks them to verify that they have lived holy, righteous and blameless lives.
Holy does not mean perfect or flawless. Rather, it is a term pointing out spiritual purpose. Paul did live his Christian life with spiritual purpose. It was a calling that God clearly gave to him and he lived it to the fullest.
Furthermore, Paul lived a life that was righteous. That he made right choices. After time his consistent track record of right choices built up to be a reputation. This pattern of right decisions is what righteousness is.
Finally, Paul asked for a witness validating his blameless life. This term does not mean that he was never accused of wrong activity. Rather, in the objective analysis no accusation would stick to him. Every effective leader has his critics. But, those criticisms are unfounded when examined without bias.
It was not just the testimony of the Christians in this church but it was also the witness of God Himself. The Almighty saw the apostles living faithful lives in their service to the church. All of the apostles’ entourage was confident not just before men but before God.
The heart of these messengers of God was an expression of love. He even chose to describe his care in the form of a metaphor. As a father treats his own children with positive strokes, Paul also cared for these Christians in the same way.
When he had a chance he pressed courage into their souls. If they were hurting he would embrace them with tenderness. Clearly he was their cheerleader to get them to keep on living lives that measured up to God’s standards. That kind of lifestyle would serve them well as they head towards God’s call to enter into His kingdom and glory.
LAPP (Life Application): Live your lives not in silence but as witnesses of what you have seen in the lives of those who serve the Lord. When you have the privilege of being ministered to by God’s pastors, then volunteer to speak well of them, testify to others what you know by firsthand experience what they have done. God will be your witness that you have spoken well.”
1 Thessalonians 2.6b-9
During my seminary days I was watching every penny. My part-time work was just keeping me afloat with my bills paid. Life as a student forced me to be frugal.
When it came time for vehicle repair, I looked for ways to keep the costs down. Instead of heading to the dealership, I went to a guy who had his own shop. He was scary looking and covered with grease. I was never sure if the work was done right, but since my truck kept on running, I was thankful.
After the Lord provided a steady income I felt more confident to head to the dealership for service. When I moved to Texas, I was reticent to trust just anyone. But, the local service manager was amazing.
He talked with me, told me what to expect, gave me an estimate that was accurate, complimented my vehicle and the care that I had given it over the miles and invited me to call him any time that I had a problem. There is something about his gentle manner and welcoming spirit that made me trust him. A gracious spirit wins confidence and lays the ground work for long-lasting trust.
Paul and his missionary companions had needs like any human being has need for food, shelter and lodging. Since believers who benefitted from the Apostles’ teaching should provide these basic provisions. However, such allowances would have strained the meager resources of the Thessalonians.
Knowing that these believers did not have “deep pockets” or vast resources, Paul chose not to burden them with the provision of his daily necessities. Instead, he took every step necessary to encourage them and shower them with gentleness.
Amazing, Paul chooses a metaphor to describe his care for them. He states that as a mother cares for her little children, he has chosen to watch over them. This is a vivid picture and even more remarkable coming from a man using a feminine but universal and timeless illustration.
Some must move a man to have this kind of care for a people. Already the image of a mother providing for her children is active in the minds of his readers. Without any hesitation he boldly announces his motivation. He loves them. Furthermore, his love for them is deep.
There are few images depicting an unselfish spirit more than the picture of a mother caring for her children. All mothers portray that self-sacrificial spirit. They say that they are going to get ready for bed. That has a special meaning.
They get up and fix the lunches for all their children and her husband. Then, she oversees the children washing up. After that she reads them a story, prays with them and tucks them into bed. Then, she cleans up the kitchen, sorts out the trash, checks her list for dinner preparations that next night, adds some items to the shopping list, fixes the missing buttons from her children’s sweaters and then takes care of her own needs. An hour and forty-five minutes after her announcement she falls asleep in bed.
Paul hitches his wagon to this amazing analogy of the loving mother as his own expression of devotion to the Thessalonian believers. He will not only sacrificially serve them, he will delight in doing so. The popular notion that leadership is servant-leadership is a topic many of us repeat. It is chic to talk about servant hood until someone treats you like one. Then, the test of our soul emerges.
The apostle and his team accurately delivered the message of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. As well, they shared their very lives with them. All of us who minister to people give our lives in our service. It is the only way to do ministry well.
In the last several places where I have given my life in service the people reciprocated with love as well. Their outpouring of appreciation was an elixir to my soul. Words, gestures, kindnesses poured out in bountiful forms. They remembered our service and made us feel their love when it was time to leave and move to another part of God’s vineyard.
Has someone in ministry given their lives and you were a beneficiary? Show them that you appreciate that devotion. You will never know how much it means to a servant of God when you tangibly demonstrate what you have deeply valued in your life.
LAPP (Life Application): Do something tangible for someone who has served you in the name of the Lord. Write them a letter of appreciation. Take them to dinner. Send them on a cruise. They have given you their life for the cause of Christ. Now, show them how much you appreciate what you have received.
1 Thessalonians 2.1-6
Do you remember when you strongly believed in something but hesitated to speak about or act on it because of opposition? Maybe it was in a college classroom and your teacher made a comment that you raised your hand to ask for clarification. Then, you were shut down for questioning his viewpoint. Others looked at you and mocked silently. Your convictions shrank under the pressure of hostile looks, attitudes and vitriol.
At other times you remember admiring someone who acted courageously for their beliefs. They withstood those who opposed them and kept championing their views. You admired them but also felt the pressure of the ugly onslaught against them.
Most of us automatically follow the self-imposed behavior modifying reaction. When we get hurt doing or saying something we don’t repeat doing or saying that thing. Naturally we do not like pain and avoid what brings pain.
Paul experienced horrible opposition when he preached the gospel in Philippi. What torment he experienced at the hands of those who hurt him hoping that pain would make him stop may never be fully understood by us so many centuries later. He was not a whiner yet he still called the mistreatment suffering.
Nevertheless, he reminded the Thessalonian believers what they all remembered. They knew for certain that in the horrific chaos of the Apostle’s ministry there was a good and lasting result. This aftermath was not imagined or hearsay, it was real and the Thessalonians knew it.
While many would recant after facing horrific treatment for expressing their faith, Paul and his team reacted in just the opposite manner. They became more determined to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Make no mistake about the circumstances of the experience; it was torture.
What Paul’s enemies inflicted on him was not merely an inconvenience. Nor did the missionary team simply get the cold shoulder. They were abused. Each of them suffered. Yet, they found courage to speak louder.
Their exemplary faith was fueled with the confidence that their motives were pure. They were not charlatans. The source for their desire as proclaimers of the Gospel was without any guile.
These proclaimers acted according to God’s approval of them. He alone was their sole audience. God was the only one that they wanted to please.
Comparing God’s approval to man, these courageous missionaries knew that He could see their hearts. The common motives of men who are spurred on with financial riches or popular appeal did not pollute Paul’s life. He confidently called on God as his witness. Human opinion or popularity did not have any place in his life or ministry.
Fame is an ugly motive in life. Gaining a name among people, while selfishly accruing position or influence, is totally incompatible for a godly life. The rewards of this direction may or may not succeed. If it does it only lasts for a lifetime. All that is gained in this world is left in this world.
Never let fear dissuade you from living a life of courageous obedience. Faith will lead the way through any hazard thrown against you by men. Live a righteous life; do what is right in God’s eyes and take whatever the world throws at you.
God will give you endurance, fortitude and strength. Joy will be yours. The Word of God makes that promise boldly.
1 Thessalonians 1.6-10
Everyone has a role model or two or even more. Some times that example is intentional. At other times it is unintentional, almost accidental.
When we have a dysfunctional family we probably are starving for a healthy model to follow. Even when we are blessed to enjoy a positive and nurturing family life, we still are surrounded by imperfect people that we mimic. As human beings we are wired to copy what we see, who is around us or who captures our attention.
Yet, where there is love and family, our imperfections fade away into devotion. We overlook in others knowing full well that we are ourselves imperfect people. Somehow in the end good things still come out. Grace keeps on making its surprising appearances.
The lyrics of Rodney Atkins song “Watching You” tell a story captured in this life dynamic. Here is a sample of that story:
“Watching You” by Rodney Atkins
Driving through town just my boy and me
With a happy meal in his booster seat
Knowing that he couldn’t have the toy
Till his nuggets were gone
A green traffic light turned straight to red
I hit my brakes and mumbled under my breath
His fries went a flying and his orange drink covered his lap
Well then my four-year old said a four letter word
That started with “s” and I was concerned
So I said son now now where did you learn to talk like that
He said I’ve been watching you dad, ain’t that cool
I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you
And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are
We got cowboy boots and camo pants
Yeah we’re just alike, hey ain’t we dad
I wanna do everything you do
So I’ve been watching you
We got back home and I went to the barn
I bowed my head and I prayed real hard
Said Lord please help me help my stupid self
Then this side of bedtime later that night
Turning on my son’s Scooby Doo nightlight
He crawled out of bed and he got down on his knees
He closed his little eyes, folded his little hands
And spoke to God like he was talking to a friend
And I said son now where’d you learn to pray like that
He said I’ve been watching you dad, ain’t that cool
I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you
And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are
We like fixing things and holding mama’s hand
Yeah we’re just alike, hey ain’t we dad
I wanna do everything you do
So I’ve been watching you
With tears in my eyes I wrapped him in a hug
Said my little bear is growing up
He said but when I’m big I’ll still know what to do
We must follow a pattern that does not allow for an excuse. While we acknowledge our weaknesses and failings we still press on to live a righteous life by the power of the Spirit. When we trip and fall, we dust ourselves off, get up and get going again.
With every effort we learn how more and more imitate the good examples in our lives and also mimic that life that Jesus lived. That template for living leads Paul to commend the Thessalonian believers for becoming the model for others to follow.
Essential in this picture is the product of a life of righteousness that is lived. It is not just a matter of knowing facts. Paul did not commend these believers for their scholarship or vast intelligence. Rather, it was how they lived the life after they understood truth.
Therefore, we don’t need to say anything, 9 for they themselves report[b] what kind of reception we had from you: how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
Words become secondary when a life is displaying how holy living should be done. It will be the kind of good conversation about the lives of others that should be happening among believers. If we need to talk about others who not present, then let our conversation be on the great example other people are living for Christ.
Contrast is a part of our lives. How we lived before Jesus Christ became a part of our lives stands in sharp comparison with how we are living now. When we see the lives of people in the world striving to achieve what is important to them, our lives that mimic Christ should be markedly different.
What we were like before our redemption should be a marvel in the eyes of those who now see the change in our lives. Jesus Christ has made a difference in us. It is not what we claim but how we live.
A significant part of how we live differently is how we treat others. Hospitality is a natural expression of true faith in Jesus Christ. It is not about retreating from people and finding a place to welcome Jesus back. Rather it is a matter of serving the Lord with enthusiasm.
Waiting for Christ’s return is about looking forward to His coming while serving Him on earth. It is not a static waiting. Rather it is a life of active service in the present, knowing that His coming will rescue us from the troubles of the coming prophetic future.
1 Thessalonians 1.4,5
For decades I have lived in the world of education. It has always been higher education. Whether undergraduate or graduate education my students often would have to demonstrate their learned skills by writing a paper.
Sometimes that exercise was a simple essay. Other times it was a research paper. Words on paper organized in a cogent argument display a student’s grasp of the material, the issues pertinent to a topic and demonstrate the talent to articulate conclusions. It is a helpful test of achieved outcomes.
All of us who teach know that a well written paper by an accomplished student is a breeze to grade. We commend the student for their use of facts germane to the discussion. Of course we highlight their logical argumentation and objective analysis of matters embroiled in a subject.
Just as clear to all of us teachers is how difficult it is to read a “snow job”. Words thrown on to a piece of paper that have no organization is difficult to follow. We teachers sometimes end up writing more on the paper to help a student than the student actually wrote himself.
The spiritual life of Christians is similar. Those who are actually living a life-like Jesus are easy to commend. It is self-evident that their applied values to life are everything that the Bible describes. Our compliment is merely a decoration to what they are putting on display.
Not all Christians live that way. They talk, use the right vocabulary, have some knowledge about Biblical matters and even show up at gatherings on occasion. However, their commitment is guarded.
The Apostle Paul puts the spotlight on the lives of the Thessalonian believers as great examples of how Christian living is done at its best. For him watching these followers of Christ is like reading a research paper written by a top student. Paul teaches all of us the benchmark of Christian living by their example.
A commendable Christian life is not something reserved for an elite few. Instead, Paul clearly notes that the foundation for such a life is identical for all who are given the gift of salvation. It is a self-evident fact that all who claim to follow Jesus are the beneficiaries of God’s choosing them.
This is practically a description of what the gift of grace means. Our sin put us into a bad-off state. We needed rescue and He chose to rescue us.
God’s motivation was love. It was not a decision or choice based upon anything selfish or wicked. His whole purpose was merciful.
Consistent with the Apostle’s assessment is the reason for his certainty in their faith journey. He knows that the good news of Jesus Christ, His Death and Resurrection came to the Thessalonians with transformational power. It was much more than good-sounding words.
In our day as it was in Paul’s, there is no shortage of people who talk. Faith living is not about words as an end in themselves, rather it is the truth and subsequent faith-living that responds to what is true. The gospel is not about what we say or where we are members or how we present an argument.
Rather it is how we live, what we believe and who the focus of our faith is. That then demonstrates itself in how we live. Is our example in life a reflection of how Christ would be living if He was doing our job, having our conversations, laboring with our intensity, giving up personal desires for the benefit of others or displaying a beyond earthly joy that comes from above?
A life that is transformed by the truth of Christ, through a faith response to the gospel demonstrates the presence of power of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is characteristic in that person’s daily routine. No, that Christian is not a puppet. Instead, a deep sense of conviction of what they believe oozes into every aspect of their life. It is not a matter of what they know. The facts are not an end in itself. Rather, it is what they believe. It is a deep unshakable belief in the truth of Jesus Christ. The resulting life from this is a life that is worth putting on display. Do more than just know the facts. Live what you believe.
1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices† so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other,
“Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe† sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6“Don’t be alarmed,”
“You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.
He has risen!
He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter,
‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee.
There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”
Mark 16.1-7 NIV84
narrative arrangement by Bruce Fong
When they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples 2 and told them, “Go into the village ahead of you. As soon as you enter it, you will find a young donkey tied there, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here right away.’”
4 So they went and found a young donkey outside in the street, tied by a door. They untied it, 5 and some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the donkey?” 6 They answered them just as Jesus had said, so they let them go. 7 Then they brought the donkey to Jesus and threw their robes on it, and He sat on it.
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
10 The coming kingdom
of our father David is blessed!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
Mark 11.1-10 (HCSB)
photos of modern-day Jerusalem and the road from Bethany to the city by brucefong photography