Pray That the Word May Run

 “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all have not faith.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 (KJV)

When I think about the running of the word, I think of the runners in Old Testament days running to tell the king the outcome of a battle (2 Samuel 18:24-27).

Paul is speaking of the word of the Lord, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Prayer for the word to be spread with haste, with speed, and certainly we need that in 2019.

If any of you are of the type who like to see good in everyone; we need to always keep in mind that there are those who are not in the faith of  our Lord Jesus, and some of these try and twist the word of God to suit their own ends and means.

Christian all we have to stand on is Christ our Rock; and we do that through faith in Him and all that He has said. His word is His way, His law, His commandments, His statutes, His testimonies, His judgments, His  holiness, and His righteousness.

Let us stand upon that Rock or we will be crushed by Him (Matthew 21:44).  Pray for the speed of the work of the word of the Lord.

A Joy of the Heart

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (KJB).

Paul was a thankful man.  It gave his heart joy to see people come to saving faith in Jesus Christ through the  preaching, and teaching of the word of God.  Remember what he preached was from the Old Testament. That was what they had. Some of the New was out there, but not readily available.

These people had been people bound in darkness. The Apostle had come to them with the good news of the gospel – the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and they had heard, and believed.  Lives had been changed.  There was true repentance; a complete turn around, a change in their lives.

All the talking and powers of persuasion are not always effective at changing someone’s mind or heart.  With the gospel it is only the power of the Holy Spirit who can reveal the truth of the gospel, the power of the gospel, and the light of the glory of Jesus Christ; that He is the Son of God, God the Son.

Will you be the joy of someone’s heart today?  Has the Spirit of God revealed to you the truth of who Jesus is?  Turn to Him, away from sin, believe Him, and be saved.

The Name of the Lord Jesus Christ Be Glorified in You

“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is right, because that your faith grows exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other abounds; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure: a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer: seeing a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 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.
Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

REFERENCES: 1 Corinthians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 4:16; Revelation 6:10; 14:13; Psalm 68:35; 79:6; Deuteronomy 33:2; 2 Peter 3:7; 1 Peter 1:7

Stedfastly Set Your Hearts Unblameable

“Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; and sent Timothy, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: that no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.  For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.  For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain.
But now when Timothy came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that you have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also you: therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: for now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.  For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
Now God Himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all even as we toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”  1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

REFERENCES: 1 Corinthians 7:5; Acts 17:15; 18:1; 26:7; Philippians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 13:9; Zechariah 14:5

Brethren, Pray for Us…

Even the apostle Paul; maybe I should say, “The apostle Paul” needed prayer just as any of us do.  Prayer must not be something we do only when we have an emergency situation.  We “…ought always to pray and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).  Sometimes we get requests for praying for specific personal needs from others, and that is good.  Paul had need in the following request because he sensed, that the word and gospel of Jesus Christ were being attacked and hindered.

“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (KJV)

I am certain Paul had other more personal needs, but this request shows that his heart was on the things of Christ, not of the flesh.  Note that he first asked that the word have free course; that it would spread throughout Thessalonica, and surrounding areas freely, in power, and with speed.  He requested that we pray for the glory of God, and His word, and to be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for there are people in the world who get hateful toward the word of God, and the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, and His cross.  That is true in 2017 as well.

He tells us that “…For all men have not faith”, and the state is a continuation of the “Unreasonable and wicked men” in the areas we live.  Some of these unreasonable people do not want God in anything, even to the point of using law to oppose God, who is the One who has given us law.

Let me end by encouraging you to stay faithful to the Lord in His word, and prayer, living for Him; being a faithful witness of His power and glory; knowing that He is coming soon.  Let us wait patiently for Him.

Remember He loves you so much He willingly went to the cross, died for our sins, was buried, and He rose again, and He is returning.

Our Walk With God

Those of us who follow Christ Jesus have been set apart unto Him that He might be glorified.  Being set apart is what is meant by the word “Sanctified” or “Sanctification”.  At salvation we are sanctified; but throughout our lives we are being sanctified unto Him, until we are finally, and completely sanctified eternally.  Hear the words of Paul…

“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (KJV)

The prophet Amos in chapter three of the prophet’s prophecy asked the question,  “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)  Well, the answer to that is – “Not in peace and harmony.”

I heard someone say, fairly recently, “The Christians greatest battle is not with Satan, but with God.”  That would be because we still battle those old temptations to rule our own lives.  The continuing work of sanctification deals with this in our lives.

We must continually deal with sin and its ugly face. Sin separates us from God.  Sin will lead us on a detour away from God.  Walking with God means walking His path, His way. It means obedience to His word.  It is hating sin, and loving the Lord, and they cannot dwell together.

Reading the passage of Scripture you will notice that last sentence, “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit.”  If you can turn away from that truth and say something so foolish as “I will live my life my way, and nobody can tell me how to live”, then, God has a word for you;  “You fool”.

Cry out to God in repentance.  Come to Him through Jesus Christ who died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and was raised from death and the grave.

Christmas Day Forty Three

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want for this Lord’s Day to be a day the people appear in their Sunday morning Bible Studies, Worship and evening Worship to only sing, pray, praise, preach and glorify Jesus Christ; to be prepared for the week ahead, to be the witnesses of Christ, filled with His Spirit, walking with Him; so that others might desire to know Him.

“For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 2:5-6 (KJV)

Christmas Day Forty Four

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to have a renewed sense of love for God, His Word, His people; for revival in my own life, family and Church; for revival in God’s people throughout the U. S. of A. and the world; because the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5 (KJV)

Christmas Day 50

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to always be faithful in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and to never balk, or bail my responsibilities as a Christian man who loves the Lord Jesus and is expectantly awaiting His coming.

“For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.” 1 Thessalonians 1:8 (KJV)

Christmas Day Fifty and One

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to always be open, praising and thankful; to the Spirit of God to work in me, through my family, friends, Church, work, recreation, troubles, trials, sorrow, and strife to make me a sanctified vessel for the glory of Jesus Christ.

“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 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (KJV)

Christmas Day Fifty and Two

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to be more knowledgeable about the return of the Lord Jesus, and to aid others in being ready for His return in the clouds to take His chosen, redeemed to the place He has prepared for those who love Him.

“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.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (KJV)

Also read John 14:1-6; and 1 Corinthians 2:9

Christmas Day Fifty and Three

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to grow and abound in love for my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus; and to love all others as God does; especially as the coming of the Lord Jesus is getting closer.

“Now God Himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (KJV)

Christmas Day Fifty and Four

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want my life to bear the fruits of the Spirit of God, and the word of God working effectively in me that others might come to faith in Jesus Christ for the honor and glory of God.

“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NKJV)

Christmas Day Fifty and Five

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to let Christians around the world know that Jesus Christ is Lord, and He has all the problems of your life and this world in His hands, and that there is no need to fear or dread; He is still God, He is sovereign and He loves you; and I want those who do not know Him to know that He died on a cross for your sins, was buried, and He arose and came out of the grave alive, and is today alive waiting to come and set up His righteous kingdom on earth.

“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 (KJV)

Day 260

What do I want for Christmas?

This being the LORD’S Day this week; I want Christians to realize the power that we have with God in prayer; and that we ought to pray continually, often, diligently, never doubting, full of faith, fervently, and passionately; every day of the week; for the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:24-26

“Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” Mark 13:33

Day Two Hundred Eighty and Seven

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to hear my King’s shout, and His trumpet call, for all His people to gather to Him; preparing for that day when He will come to judge the world and put an end to sin.

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 (KJV)

“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. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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 remain 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Day Three Hundred and Two

What do I want for Christmas?

On this LORD’S Day I want my whole life, and every day to be spent in nothing more and nothing less than praising Him, and glorifying the name of Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.

“Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (NKJV)

Through the Bible in a Year – 090813

Our Relationship to the Time We Live
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4;  3:1-5

1.  DO NOT BE SHAKEN OR TROUBLED (2 Thessalonians 2: 1-2).

2.  A FALLING AWAY SHOULD BE EXPECTED (v. 2:3; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 4:2-5).

3.  PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER AND THOSE IN LEADERSHIP (2 Thes. 3:1).

4.  PRAY FOR THE WORD OF GOD TO MOVE FREELY (3:1).

5.  PATIENTLY AWAIT THE COMING OF CHRIST (3:5).

Words for Christian Living – Thanksgiving

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

A person’s attitude says a lot about who they are.  Your attitude is not fixed by your surroundings, your friends, or your enemies.  Your attitude is from your own heart.  A good attitude is best attained by having a thankful spirit and heart.

When you are thankful; despite your circumstances, despite criticism, or cruelty from others; despite sickness, or economic situation; then you will have a good attitude through all those things.  Whoever or what ever controls your attitude is your god or your idol.

When the Christian is thankful the great attitude you have shows that God’s will is being done in your life.  Your thanksgiving to God shows He is Lord of your life.

The Psalmist wrote…

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”  Psalm 100:4 (KJV)

When bad circumstances, or “mean” people start getting under your skin; thank the Lord for your job, your family; or most of all just thank God for being God, and in control of your life; then do something nice for the perpetrator with a smile.

Words for Christian Living 061313

“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 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.”  1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 (KJV)

Sometimes it seems so hard to know the “Will of God”; yet it is given to us in God’s written Word.  Many Christians spend their time “Searching for the will of God”.  Is it God’s will for me to be a missionary, go to Africa, go to Russia, go to the jungles of the Amazon?  The problem is we spend our time searching and it is right before us in black, red and white.

Notice Paul’s words above, and all this instruction can be summed up with Jesus’s words quoting the Old Testament,

“…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”  Mark 12:30

and He went on and said,

“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:31 (KJV)

If we are not doing the will of God at home, in our daily labors, in our recreation, in all our daily activities; God’s will will not be found in Africa, Russia, or the Amazon.  God’s will is as close as your heart and the Word of God.  Let us commit ourselves to doing the will of God.  The search is over.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Working and Eating

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.  For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.  For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.”  2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 (KJV)

The apostle considers it to be a disorderly thing for people to eat without having worked for it.  Read the above passage.  We here in the U. S. of A. and many parts of the world have many people who think everyone is owed a meal; even if they do nothing to contribute to the home, neighborhood, State or Country.

Now, let me try and clear something up.  There are many people today unemployed by no fault of their own and are in need of financial assistance, some in need of food assistance, and that is well and good; however, there are many who who have been dependent upon the aid most of their lives, have never learned to work, contribute a thing to society or their own home.

It has been said, “God helps those who help themselves”, and there is much that could be said of that statement, but it is not in the Bible; as some purport.  It could be understood to be taught by “If any would not work, neither should he eat”, but that applies only for the work ethic.

Some will say,  “Well I can’t find work”.  Have you looked?  Have you noticed that there are many things you could be doing?  If you are getting a government handout; do something in return.  If you are getting food from a food bank; do something for that food bank.  You might just find yourself feeling worthwhile for a change; or again.

-T.A.

What We Do In Troubled Times

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.  See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
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.
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 Thessalonians 5:14-24 (KJV)

Since the time of the resurrection of Jesus and until today Christians have not been without troubles.  Just like the rest of the world we have sickness, disease, financial setbacks, and ruin.  “In the world you will have tribulation” Jesus said.  He also said, “…Be of good cheer; for I have overcome the world.”  I am so thankful for those words.

Many times I have asked myself the question, “What am I supposed to do in such a time as this?”.  The answer is given in the above verses.  In short we are to keep on doing what we are supposed to do; live by faith; trusting the outcome to our beloved Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

-T.A.

The Living, Efficient Word of God

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

In recent years there have been many in the political realm who claim that the Constitution of the United States is a “living document”.  My understanding of their meaning is that the document is always changing with the culture and the times, which I believe to be completely false.

There is only one Living document which has been given to man, and that is the Word of God, with 66 books we call the Bible.  When we speak of the Bible as a living document we do not mean that it is always changing with the times and/or culture.  We mean that it lives to make changes in the people whose lives God touches in and through His Word.

In the above verse of the Bible the people of Thessalonica received the message of God’s Word from Paul, as though it came from God Himself; and Paul the apostle noticed that it was a powerful, living word; because he saw change in the people.

The author of Hebrews says, “The Word of God is quick [living] and powerful…” (Hebrews 4:12) and it surely is.

-T.A.

Day 83 – Living, Until Jesus Comes Again

Most of us can say we enjoy living.  Though Christians have a longing to see Jesus face to face, and that would mean leaving this life; the life we live in the here and now; we  too have a joy for living in this world and life.  That is as it should be.  My reading this morning was Colossians 1-4; 1 Thessalonians 1-5, and 2 Thessalonians 1-3.

There are many who are believing that the freedoms we have in Jesus Christ means there are no laws or rules we must obey.  What it really means to be free in Christ is that we have even greater responsibility to live right, just and holy in this world for the glory of Christ our Lord and Saviour.  We have living within us the presence of the Holy Spirit; which is Christ in us.  He lives in us to make us more like Jesus.  We are no longer free to sin; we are, however, free from sin.

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power…”  Colossians 2:8-10 (KJV)

The world we presently live in is out to pervert the gospel of Christ through the teachings of men [philosophy].  Christianity is not a philosophy; it is a life to live; a life to give; a fellowship with the One who gave His life for us.  Our lives are not our own.  Christ Jesus is the “Fulness of the Godhead bodily”.  Remember what Jesus said to Philip, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians was one about living in this world too.  In the Thessalonian letters he does address the second coming of Christ, even the rapture of the church; which I know some Christians do not believe in, or believe that Jesus has already returned; but so did some of the Thessalonians.

There are five chapters in the first letter addressed to the Church of Thessolonica.  Each chapter ends with a mention of the return of Jesus Christ,

“And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”  1 Thessalonians 1:10 (KJV)

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  For ye are our glory and joy.”  2:19-20

“Now God Himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”  3:11-13

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  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 remain 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”  4:14-18

“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.”  5:23-24

In each of these letters Paul admonishes believers to live faithfully in this world.  He even addresses the issue of not working.  It would appear that some Thessalonian Christians had quit their jobs, because “Jesus was on His way” and they did not need to work anymore – so they thought.  The apostle has written,

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.   And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  2 Thessalonians 3:10-15 (KJV)

How should we live until Christ comes?  As though His coming might be today; yet living in this world, working, faithful toward God, as though it might be a thousand years away.  Jesus’s words, were “Occupy til I come” (Luke 19:13).

-Tim A. Blankenship

B F & M – Last Things (Eschatology)

The study of “Last things” is one of my own favorite lines for ruminating Scriptures.  There are a vast aray of differences of the understanding of “Last thing”, that the BF&M of 2000, covers most of what we as Baptists believe concerning the return of Jesus Christ.

Studying the Revelation, the Major and Minor Prophets of the Old Testament, and their prophecies concerning the first coming of Jesus, and also concerning the second coming of Jesus is a fascinating endeavor.

There is blessing and reward for those who love the appearing of the Lord: “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” 2 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV).  This is clearly concerning the appearing of Christ when He comes in all His glory, and becomes King of Jerusalem, and the world.

Our Statement of Faith:

“X. Last Things

God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27,30,36,44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40,48; 16:19-26; 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 15:24-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; 2; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Revelation 1:18; 3:11; 20:1-22:13.”

There are many things which happen before the appearing of Jesus in His glory.  There are several views concerning these events, and some views which do not believe in some of the events that I do.

Some believe in the “Rapture of the Church” which there are probably three views concerning this as to the timing of the rapture.  There is the “pre-tribulation rapture” view; then, the “mid-tribulation rapture” view, and some who believe in a “post-tribulation” view.  There are some who do not believe in a rapture.

There are some of us who believe in a millennial [one thousand year] reign of Christ on earth when He comes in His glory.  There are some who believe that all prophecy has been fulfilled.  I will not get into that study here.  The study of “Last things” is called – “Eschatology”

For my beliefs on these “Last things” you can go to Fire and Hammer, or click Revelation or Thessalonians in the sidebar called Gleanings (categories).

-T.A.

Honor In Marriage

The following article is one I wrote this morning as a devotion for Wings As Eagles.  It strikes me though as a message that needs to get out as much as possible, so I am posting it here as well.

“That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 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.” 1 Thessalonians 4:4-6 (KJV)

Taking control of your own body by the Spirit of God, and keeping yourself pure before God; was the lesson for the previous study.  Some seem to think that we have no control over our “feelings” so we should just let them fly, or let them loose.  Sadly, that is how fights and wars eventually begin.  That is also how many “unwanted” babies are murdered in the womb or born and abused and neglected.

The Christian life is a different life.  When a man, woman, boy or girl meets Jesus Christ and gives their lives to Him; they do not give with the mentality that they can live “However I please”; but with a new heart of, “What can I do that will glorify Jesus?”  The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Whether, therefore you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

We look at our present society in the USA, and when 80 percent of USA citizens claim to be Christians; 50 percent of Christian marriages are ending in divorce.  There is something drastically wrong.  We can rant and rave all we want about homosexual unions going to desecrate marriage; it seems to me that we already have by divorcing so easily.  If marriage was sacred to Christians there would be less divorces, and there would not be all this drivel about homosexual marriage.  Before anyone goes balistic with me about this NO! I am not for homosexual marriages.  Let’s not blame them for the loss of sacredness of the marriage union; it has already been lost.  Let’s pray that we can begin healing hurting Christian marriages.  Let’s pray that a Christian husband who has entered an adulterous relationship will have his eyes opened to the sin he is commiting against God and his wife and family; repent of his sin, seek forgiveness from God and his wife and family, and be restored.  Let’s pray that wife who is thinking of leaving her husband and children because of some quack she has met on the internet will repent, confess her sin and seek forgiveness and be restored to her husband and family, and most of all to fellowship with God.

Christian you are not an animal who is not in control of your thoughts, your feelings, or your body.  You have the Spirit of God within you.  If you do not have the Spirit of God in you, showing you, convicting you of what is right and wrong, then you don’t know God, His Son Jesus, and are yet in your sins.  (Read Romans 8:9-11).  The people whose hearts do not know God through Jesus Christ follow their flesh, the desires of their bodies, and condemn themselves.  They are already condemned in their sin (John 3:18).  If you profess Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and can live in a sinful, shacking up, adulterous, life of fornication, and do it without guilt or remorse, then, you most likely have never truly trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.  You are living after your passions and lust, and not after the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Professing Christian men taking another man’s wife.  You thief.  You will pay.  You are taking someone who does not belong to you.  Professing Christian wife; you are sleeping with another woman’s husband.  You thief.  You take someone who does not belong to you.  The writer of Proverbs writes,

“Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.” Proverbs 6:25-35 (KJV)

Likened to a thief, one who steals another’s spouse will pay, and the payment will be tremendous.  Paul writes above,  “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.”  Live to serve and glorify God and His Son Jesus Christ.  The way of the world and the flesh is evil, and is the way of destruction.

-Tim A. Blankenship

WHAT WE ARE TO DO WITH GOD’S WORD

WHAT WE ARE TO DO WITH THE WORD
2 Thessalonians 3:1-18As Christians we must continue to pray for the freedom of the proclamation of God’s Word, to keep order in the Church, and to recognize or discern what the Word of the Lord is; especially as the ‘day of the Lord’ draws nearer.

“Living As Christians In Our Modern World”. Is there not an example of truth in that title. We would think by looking around our world that God has already removed all restraints. He has not. It is yet, to get even worse.

If you are a believer – one who has yielded your life completely to Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, you are trusting Him and only Him for salvation, then you need not worry about the time without restraint. We must be diligent about the work of the ministry of our church.

This final chapter begins with, “Finally”. Even in these final days we must heed the request of Paul. Especially in the final days does the Word of the Lord need to have a “Free course”. In the past two decades or so we have seen amazing answers to the type of praying that God answers. East Germany, the Soviet Union, and others have opened their lands to be exposed to the Word of God – the gospel, and thousands are being saved. What a wonderful grace God shows for mankind.

There is also a great need for the churches of our Lord to get things straightened out. There is such rebellion in the Church toward the Word. The rebellion goes beyond this, this is what Paul mentioned here: the unwillingness to work, such laziness is against the commandment of Scripture. There are some so lazy they depend entirely on the generosity of the church, or government in our case, to live. These are always meddling in other peoples affairs. Just plain ole disobedience to God’s Word. These are beggars. If the Word is not obeyed, then action must be taken, whether it be physical or spiritual laziness.

In the last three verses Paul makes it clear that this epistle [letter] is from him. We must be sure to use discernment in interpretation, the speaking and the hearing of the Word of God.

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: 2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.” 2 Thess 3:1-2 (KJV).
We must constantly be in prayer. One of the most important aspects of prayer is for the Word of God to work the work God intends for it. This often means the tearing down of walls – sometimes literal physical walls, sometimes political walls, and sometimes spiritual. In order for theWord to have “Free course” the old religions, the old fleshly ways must be torn down and destroyed. Of course, prayer, and the proclamation of the Word accomplishes this.

There are many who are wicked who attempt to stop the gospel from being preached. They are liars, cheats, thieves, and deceivers caring for nothing but their own positions in their work, town or church. These are those who have no faith.

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. 2 Thess 3:3-4 (KJV).
When we are not faithful we can be assured that our Lord is. It is He who will cause us to stand for right, and keep us, guard us from satan’s deceptive attempt to lead us astray.

Notice where the confidence is – who the confidence is in. It is in the Lord. Knowing that God is faithful we can be confident that He will enable all those who are His to do those thingss which are commanded.

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. 2 Thess 3:5 (KJV).
The guidance of the Lord is into His love, and into the “Patient waiting for Christ”. Patience for the return of Christ, yet fully expectant, longing, and looking for with joy His coming in the clouds for His bride.

It does not matter how long the wait is. It matters most that we be hungering for that day.

In summing up verse one through five Warren Wiersbe said, “Here, then, are four great responsibilities for us to fulfill: believe the truth, guard the truth, practice the truth, and share the truth”.

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. 10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 2 Thess 3:6-10 (KJV).
Verse six begins a command from the apostle. Coming from Paul we can rest assured it is from the Lord through Paul, to him and us.

The word “tradition” used here is like verse fifteen of chapter two which again is not speaking of religious traditions of men, but the Word of God which we are commanded to pass on from generation to generation.

The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is part of that tradition. His sinless life, His glory and power are a part. The promise of His return is as much a part as the crucifixion. Also these commandments that have to do with work.

Paul had no desire to be associated with the socially elite of his day in the city of Thessalonica. They despised work; had slaves who did their work for them. There were also those who had quit their job or business because of the false teaching that had gone on among them, and now were totally dependent upon the church for support. Paul has made it much better for the church of today by his sacrifice. There are many pastors, evangelist and others who do work in the gospel ministry who are supported by their church, because the Word of God teaches it should be that way. It should be that way in order for the Word to be preached and understood.

Verse ten is a strong statement that many need to be reminded of. This is a commandment, not a request.

For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 2 Thess 3:11-15 (KJV).
Those who do not work are some of the disorderly. This is, of course, speaking of able bodied people who will not work. They are meddlesome, mischievous rascals who need to be dealt with for the good of the church, and for their own well being.

If any will not hear the Word, we are told, “Have no company with him”, so that, they will be ashamed. He is speaking of saved people, because he says, “Count him not as an enemy, but…as a brother”.

Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all. 17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 2 Thess 3:16-18 (KJV).
The salutation of this letter is apowerful one for discerning the Word of God from the words of men. This was signed in Paul’s own hand. They couold recognize Paul’s handwriting. So, Paul’s signature confirmed it was from him, as he had received it from the Lord.

We must be careful in the study, the teaching, the preaching, and the hearing of God’s Word. Is God’s signature on it: It is, if it is in agreement with what He has formerly said. God never contradicts what He has said. He, His Son Jesus, and the Spirit are in agreement. That is God’s signature.

WHAT ARE WE TO DO WITH THE WORD? We are to read it, study it, hear it, obey its Author, believe it. Especially in this day in which we live. The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is near. BE READY.

THE HAND OF RESTRAINT

THE REMOVING OF THE HAND OF RESTRAINT

2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

The Day of the LORD is coming. That is a promise and warning of Scripture. It is a day of darkness not of light. It is a time of judgment. For the Christian there is also promise of deliverance from it. Chapter two will give assurance of deliverance from this day of destruction; and tells us not to be troubled by the trials which will come our way, and that we will go through.

Just how are we to know when the “Great Tribulation” or “The time of Jacob’s trouble” begins? There are some distinguishing signs which show us. There are some who teach that the Church will go through the Tribulation. If so, why did Paul write verses one and two of this chapter? There were teachers [false teachers] teaching that the Church would go through this time of trouble, even then, and were even saying they were already in it. That same teaching is still being taught in our day in 2006 A.D. (The year of our Lord). Not only was their teaching bad enough, but they were signing (forging) Paul’s name to the letters, and accusing Paul of writing them.

In this chapter Paul tells how we can know, and if the lost would pay attention, even how they can recognize the ‘Day of the LORD’. There mus tbe something that sets the timeof the beginning of the ‘time of sorrow’. Paul says there will first of all be a great apostasy [falling away or departure]. This will happen among many who profess Christ as Savior, but have only joined a club [‘church membership’]. There has never been any relationship with Christ, no joy of salvation, no hope for life, and no exciting expectation of the return of Jesus Christ. Most who do not know Christ are not longing for His return, but rather fear it. The falling away will occur – I believe – because the Church will endure a time of purification [persecution] and the reprobate church members will flee from the fire. Of course, in some parts of the world Christians are being persecuted for their faith, and only those who know Him will suffer for Him.

There is not much need for the Church to know; when the Day of the LORD comes; because the day Jesus calls out from the clouds, “Come up here” is the day the Church goes to be with the Lord, and the time of desolation begins. When you truly know the Lord Jesus you need not fear the ‘Day of the LORD’.

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 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 (KJV).
There will be a gathering of the Church. It is stated quite clearly in verse one, “…By our gathering together unto Him…”

The church was clearly troubled. They had been troubled by false teachers and false letters from those teachers, by forging Paul’s name. In doing so they were confusing the Thessalonican church and hoping to gain some thing for themselves. These teachers and letters were telling people that the ‘day of the LORD’ had already come, and they were living in it. As mentioned in the introduction that same teaching is going on today (2006), and leading many sincere Christians astray from the truth. Yes! You read me right, “Astray from the truth”. The day of the Lord has not come. The Revelation of Jesus Christ has not been fulfilled. There is much of the prophecies of the Old Testament and of the Revelation yet unfulfilled. The rapture has not ocurred, Jesus has not returned as He promised, we are not living in the Millennial reign of Christ (Isn’t that a relief to know), nor has the wicked been judged; nor the righteous received their crowns.

The false message contradicted what Paul was teaching. Paul’s clear teaching, and the Bible’s teaching is that the ‘Day of the LORD’ is a time of great trouble, sorrow on earth. The day is marked by sudden disappearance of a certain group of people – namely the Church. those fundamental, Bible believing, Jesus worshipping, “Blessed Hope” watching, born again people will be taken out of the way in order for lawlessness to have its way.

The words, “…day of Christ is at hand…” in verse two is literally the “Day of the LORD”.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 2 Thess 2:3-4 (KJV).
This letter was written in part to warn the church, that there are deceivers. Deceivers have a way of robbing people of their hope, joy and peace. Do not let anyone deceive you.

The ‘Day of the LORD’ is not the rapture of the Church. “The day of the LORD” will not begin until after the ‘rapture’, or ‘catching away of the Church’; the falling away [apostasy]; and the revealing of the ‘man of sin’ (though many will not recognize him as the man of sin because of his deceiving power).

The apostasy is a rebellion against all that is godly. It will even involve professing christians who do not know Jesus. They see Him as any other religious leader. This christianity to them is only a religion of choice just like the others. It is, in fact, a personal relationship which one is called into – chosen by God; the living God, and it is the only way to eternal life in heaven.

There are some prophecy teachers who see this word “apostasia” a little differently in this text. It can also mean – a departure – thus it could possibly mean the rapture of the Church where many depart from the earth. I have to admit it would fit in the text. And if this is true, then, it is deffinitely clear that there will come a rapture in the order that is listed here. I myself, do not need this verse to prove the point. I will stick with my afore mentioned assessment until I am shown to be wrong. It just seems that the word ‘apostasia’ would imply a departure from the good and holy, and righteous and just.

The apostasy is in effect a militant uprising against all that is pure and against God, Jesus and the Church. There is, even today, an attempt to silence the Church, and the Word of God.

There is also, ‘the man of sin’, also called the ‘son of perdition’ who will be revealed, probably very near either side of the Rapture. Jesus mentions the ‘son of perdition’ in John 17:12. He was in the person of Judas Iscariot the betrayer. This man who will come on the scene will exalt himself, call himself God, and will sit in the temple of God – this will be in Jerusalem. This man will be revealed just before ‘the day of the LORD’. His introduction will be as a man of peace and seeming ability to end world economic, religious, and environmental problems (See Revelation 6:1-2). he will be a world ruler.

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 2 Thess 2:5 (KJV).
These were things Paul had spoken to them about when he was with them. This is only a gentle nudge to call to remembrance what they had heard.

And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 2 Thess 2:6-7 (KJV).
These two verses seem to be much clearer on ‘a taking away’ or ‘a departure’. It is not yet time for the ‘son of perdition’ to be revealed. Really, only God knows when that time is. When God removes the restraints, then, and only then, can this deceiver who is also called ‘Antichrist’ have a free hand.

That raises a question. Who or what is the restraint? Whoever or whatever it is must be the greatest power of all the universe. He is like the wind – unseen, but you can hear Him at work; you can feel Him touch the cheeks of your soul; you hear His still, small, sweet voice; and you can see His effects upon the lives of people. It is a person who is restraining. Yes, it is the person of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. He lives, abides in the Church.

There is already, has been since the garden of Eden; the working of iniquity. When the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is gone iniquity will have a free hand for awhile. The Holy Spirit is present and powerful in the Church. If Jesus said, “I will not leave you Comfortless” (John 14:18) He will not leave the Church on earth. The restraining of the Holy Spirit will continue until the Church is stolen away, “as a thief in the night”.

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 2 Thess 2:8 (KJV).
After the removal of the Spirit the ‘son of perdition’ the ‘antichrist’ who is the devil incarnate (counterfeiting what Jesus did) will be revealed.

Notice, though Paul’s encouraging words, “Whom the Lord will consume…” (See Revelation 1:16; 19:11-21). This, of course, will take place after he deceives the world.

Out of the Lord’s mouth comes a sharp two-edged sword. The two-edged sword is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). The “Breath of His mouth” referring to the work of the Spirit of the Word – which is the Holy Spirit. The glory of the lord is His brightness at His coming.

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2 Thess 2:9-10 (KJV).
The ‘son of perdition’ will come in the power of satan. He will use signs, and miracles to deceive the nations (Revelation 13:13-14). These miracles will deceive only those who are perishing. These are people sho will have heard the gospel, but had/have no use for God. They are people who are independent of God and depend solely on self.

The time of deception seems ripe as fruit ready to pick. There are even professing christians who cry out for a sign, or may not be will not make a cognitive decision unless they have some “sign” or something happen to convince them it is right to do. We have the Scriptures. We who live by faith in Christ need nothing else. Jesus Himself said signs are the seeking of a wicked generation (Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:12; Luke 11:29). Notice that Jesus mentions this twice in the gospel of Matthew. That is how the antichrist will deceive the world. If our heart/emotions, head, and feet are not established upon the truths of the Word of God, we too can be deceived.

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess 2:11-12 (KJV).
This seems – in its context – to apply to those who have rejected ‘the truth’ after receiving the required mark (See Revelation 13 and vv. 16-18 in particular). Only those receiving the mark, ie. rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will receive the ‘strong delusion’ sent by God; believing ‘the Lie’.

Because they refuse to love the truth; God will cause them to believe the Lie. When someone hears the message of the gospel, and rejects it one time his heart grows a little harder toward it. Each time he hears and rejects the chances of her/his being saved grows weaker.

God can, at any point in the Christ rejecter’s life, harden the heart. When God hardens the heart it is late, very late for saving grace, and very near to judgment. Do not harden your heart. Believe and receive Jesus before it is too late.

These are also those who, ‘had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (See Romans 1:18-32). They worshipped and served the creature [self], rather than the Creator.

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess 2:13-14 (KJV).
We should all be thankful for God choosing us for salvation- if indeed we have been chosen. How we are chosen, just as all believers are: 1.) Set apart by the work of the Holy Spirit called unto the Lord God; 2.) Believing the truth, and calling on His name.

It is done by the gospel, and for the purpose of ascribing to the Lord the glory due unto Him.

These messages to the Thessalonicans are as much a part of the gospel, as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Receive, and believe the whole gospel or perish.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. 2 Thess 2:15-17 (KJV).
“Stand fast”, or do not be shaken from – do not be moved from your stand of faith.
“Hold the traditions” is not speaking of religious man made ideas, but the truths of God’s Word. Paul is here saying, pass on what I have written to you, as being from God – it is Scripture. Pass it on from your generation to the next.

Man made tradition, most often, goes against Scripture, and we are to shun those that do. Many times though, we want to hold to these and forsake the Scriptural tradition. God forbid.

There is comfort in heeding the word of God. We find comfort in His grace, knowing in Him we have everlasting life.

Our lives are to be established in good words and works; established in God and His grace

Are your works done to glorify Jesus, and to reflect His image to a lost world? Does the lost world look at you and see comfort and peace, or fear and torment?

The ‘day of the Lord’ is not for the believer, but the unbelieving. In this is comfort. BELIEVE.

Some have equated the “Restrainer” to the gospel. I have no problem with that. At any rate the text says, ‘ye know what restrains until he is taken out of the way’, so there is a point in time the message of the Church – the gospel – will cease. The power of the gospel is the Holy Spirit. He is THE HAND OF RESTRAINT.

NO REST FOR THE WICKED

NO REST FOR THE WICKED

2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

The suffering we may endure for our faith is evidence of righteousness, and that contrary to what some believe, judgment awaits all who reject God and His gospel.

When your hopes have been dashed and smashed to pieces what do you do? Most times we give up. We say, “What is the use? Jesus is coming soon I can quit my job; I can quit trying to lead people to Jesus. He is going to come and all this just won’t matter any more. God forbid that we feel this way and worse practyice these feelings.

The church at Thessalonica was praised by Paul for their faith and love. The last verse of 1 Corinthians 13 mentions faith, hope, and love. Why did Paul not admire them for their hope? They had lost hope. They had quit their jobs saying, ‘ What’s the use?’ Some false teachers were telling them they were already in the ‘Tribulation’. Kind of sounds like some today who tell us, “The Lord has already come and all prophecy has been fulfilled”. What a terrible thought that would be. There is certainly no hope in that. Of the faith and love of the Thessalonian church they had plenty, but hope had been lost in the persecution they were experiencing, and because of false teaching. When you hope is taken away there is just not much left worth living for. Paul is writing to reestablish hope in them.

Sometimes hope is dashed when we look and see evil prospering. God will have His day on the evil, wicked of the world. They will not be able to stand the judgment.

We need not lose hope. The very evidence of our endurance in the midst of persecution is evidence of God’s righteous judgment. He gives endurance to those who are His – He strengthens us to persevere to the end.

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess 1:1-2 (KJV).

This introduction is very similar as the first letter, if not identical, therefore, not too much need for commentary, except to say Paul was very high on the grace of God. he depended on it. His life, our lives must depend on God’s grace for eternity.

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; 4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 2 Thess 1:3-4 (KJV).

Paul has noticed something missing at Thessalonica – hope. They were quitting, just giving up. The persecution they were experiencing even affected their work. Those who owned a business were being shunned because of their faith [we would call it a boycott].

It does seem somewhat odd that Paul is encouraged by their ‘growing faith’, yet they seem to be without hope. Maybe Paul sees their faith growing because of their lack of hope. It seems that that may be possible. It is in times of hopelessness that our faith can grow, and since these people were bearing much persecution due to their faith, that they just might be losing hope yet growing in their faith in God; learning to trust Him more; without seeing any way of an out. The apostle to the Gentiles is thankful for them, and that word has gotten out to the other churches of their growing faith.

In this time of trial in their lives they were clinging together in the love of Christ. What joy this must have brought to Paul and the other churches hearing of these things.

They needed hope. Hope is the life-blood of progress. People who have hope can accomplish about anything. The only hope for mankind is faith in Jesus through whom God gave the gift of salvation – eternal life. If we understand hope; hope is the motivation of faith and love.

People who are without hope – especially a church that is without hope is dead or dying. We preach and teach that Jesus is coming soon, but where is our hope. If we had hope, would we not be telling everyone to get ready? Understand, our hope – “The Blessed Hope” – is not wishful thinking which has no substance. Faith is the substance of our hope (Heb. 11:1). God said it, I believe it, so that settles it. It is settled whether I believe it or not. Our hope as Christians is backed up with what God has said.

Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 2 Thess 1:5 (KJV).
God uses persecution to build us and make us stronger in faith and to root out those without faith. Those who endure the persecutions because of their faith show the ‘righteous judgment of God’, and those who do not persevere show it as well. God truly know those who are His.

Many complain about trials and persecutions in their lives, but does an athlete complain about running tell his legs ache, lifting weights until his arms hurt. If a mountain climber doe not hurt he probably has not climber a mountain for a while. We can think, ‘Well these people voluntarily do that’. Amen! Do we as the people of God not choose to suffer for our faith as well? We chose Jesus. We are called to suffer with Him. Suffering with Him we are raised with Him. If we are to be strong in faith let’s face the weights, the running, and the mountains for the glory of our God, Savior, Lord and Righteousness.

Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 2 Thess 1:6 (KJV).
Those who fall away are many times the very ones who will cause the faithful trouble. There are some who seem to remain fiathful to the church, but never endure any persecution, because they live outside the church like everyone else. They are trouble to the church, in the church whether they actually lift a finger against her or not. It is a righteous act of God to cause them trouble. Sometimes even to the point of causing them to leave a church in order that He may cleanse her.

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 2 Thess 1:7 (KJV).
While the rest of the world will be suffering from God’s judgment the Church will be at rest.During that period of seven years we will be in the presence of our Lord and Savior enjoying His glory. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ there is a phrase which is used throughout John’s writing. It is the phrase, “…That dwell upon the earth”. It is used three times in the Revelation – 3:10; 11:10; and 13:8, and every time it is dealing especially of those who are not the people of God. They are rather, mockers, liars, and haters of God and His righteousness, and haters of God’s people.

Where will you be when He comes?

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 2 Thess 1:8-9 (KJV).
In Hebrews 10:31 it is written, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 12:29 also says, “For our God is a consuming fire”.

Just as surely as Jesus is coming for His Church, He is coming also to take vengeance on the unbelieving – those who obey not the gospel. Many cannot see a loving God doing this. This loving God made a way possible for unholy men to become holy, and the unbelieving spit in His face, stomp His blood under foot and say, “I don’t need that, God is love, he won’t cast me into Hell”. If this holy, loving God will not cast unbelievers into Hell, then, His Word is not trustworthy, there is no salvation, and there awaits nothing but damnation for us all. PERIOD.

Notice the forms of judgment mentioned: Flaming fire, Vengeance, Punishment, Everlasting Destruction, Separation from the Presence , and Glory of His Power.

I am so thankful for the death, burial, resurrection and promise of the soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the only hope for mankind. It is your only hope.

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 1:10 (KJV).
What glory that will be when He is glorified in us. What is that glory? That others believe. Others believe because we share our testimony of faith in Christ, and because to this they will be saved. Because of this Christ will be glorified, in all the earth. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.

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: 12 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 1:11-12 (KJV).
Hope can often be restored by letting people know you are praying for them, and how you are praying for them.

How was Paul praying? 1.) That God would count you worthy of this calling; 2.) Fulfill the good pleasure of His goodness; 3.) The work of faith with power; 4.) That Jesus’s name be glorified in you; 5.) You in Him; 6.) According to His grace; 7.) Fulfilled through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is a necessity that we pray. It is a part of our calling to pray for one another and to pray for God’s glory. He will be glorified.

We can rest in the grace of God, that He will deliver us from the wrath to come on all the earth, if we are in Christ. We have that hope in Christ. If our lost loved ones, friends, and neighbors die in unbelief there will be no rest for them. After Jesus comes it is over.

PEOPLE OF THE DAYLIGHT

PEOPLE OF THE DAYLIGHT

1 Thessalonians 5:1-28

Since the coming of the Lord is a certain event those who are born again will not be surprised at that coming, but will be prepared and ready, by being prepared by God for that great day.

In the last chapter, the last six verses, we saw the blessing of being in Christ, whether we are alive at His coming or dead [asleep].

It is exciting thinking of our Lord’s certain return. There may be many who name the name of Jesus, but call this teaching myth, or someone’s wild imagination run wild. Jesus, our Savior said He was returning. If He lied about this how can we trust Him for salvation? We virtually cannot, because His coming is further evidence of His bodily resurrection; especially when He raises those who have died as His followers. The only way He would not return is if He did not rise bodily from the grave. He will return as He said.

In this present chapter and the final chapter of First Thessalonians we find more encouragement for the bornagain child of God, but it is also a warning to those who do not know Jesus. Verses one through eleven tell of the “Day of the Lord”. The “Day of the Lord” is also mentioned in the Old Testament books of Joel 2:1-2, ff; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:14-18; Isaiah 2:12-21. It is also called “The time of Jacob’s trouble” in Jeremiah 30:7. This is a day of darkness for the reprobate and unbelieving. A day of struggle and sorrow.
In verses twelve through twenty two we are instructed in our daily lives, how we ought to live. It involves respect of our spiritual leaders, warning those who reject authority, being thankful, rejoicing, praying, our responses to the preaching [prophecy] of the Word and other such things.

Verses twenty three through twenty eight is the conclusion of the letter. There is much to this conclusion – Our sanctification, the faithfulness of God (v. 24; Also see Philippians 1:6), a request for prayer, and the way we are to greet one another. There is much in this chapter as there is in the whole letter.

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2.

Paul had evidently spoken to the church concerning times and seasons before he was ran out of town, but here is a friendly reminder.

Why should the teaching of the rapture of the Church and “The day of the Lord” be preached and taught? 1.) For the comfort and encouragment to the believers; 2.) For the purity of the believer, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” (2 Peter 3:13-14); 3.) For a zeal in the hearts of believers for those who are lost, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:9-10), “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” (2 Cor. 5:11); 4.) “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10).

Jesus will come like a thief when He comes in the clouds. Only those who know Him (not know about Him) will rise to meet Him in the air. When people suddenly realize a co-worker, a wife or husband, son or daughter, a friend, the driver of an automibe, the pilot of an airpland, the pastor, the deacon, or a Sunday School teacher is missing, there will be such chaos as the world has never seen. There are people who are unaware. These are people who are still in darkness.

The “Day of the Lord” will be a time of darkness. If Jesus comes “Like a thief” that means something is taken. It is He that “Hinders” who will be taken, and that will include the Church and its witness (2 Thes. 2:6-8).

I think there is a point of clarity that needs to be made at this point. I read someone’s comment the other day about the one’s missing would be the unrighteous, but that will be for the millennial period. The missing at the Rapture of the church will be true believers in Christ Jesus taken to Heaven to receive their reward. Following the departure of the Church there will be such an unprecedented time of horror on earth. It will be the time God uses the torments upon the earth to call the people of Israel back to Himself. They will look upon the One whom they pierced and believe.

“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. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” vv. 3-4.

The world is longing for peace, even while there is war raging in the Middle East, there is a longing for peace. We are hungry for it. We can almost taste it. When it appears there is peace; when it appears that economic recovery is here, that is when people are at ease. Nothing destructive will happen, people believe. Who would dare upset our progress? Jesus will come and the unprepared “Shall not escape”.

This day will come “As a thief” for the prepared (Matthew 25:1-13). This work “Darkness” is used in reference to those who are outside of Jesus. Therefore, if one is in the Light he is not in darkness. When you know Jesus is on His way you will always be ready, and witnessing, calling others to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus.

“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 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.” vv. 5-8.

Sleeping is a time in our life where we are unaware. When we are asleep we could almost care less for what goes on around us. It is in fact the most dangerous time for us all.

This sleep is of the spiritual sort. Unaware of the darkness. Unaware of the peril that is in the path ahead. It means satisfied with the way things are – COMPLACENCY. Indifferent, uncaring about what is ahead – you know but you are unwilling to act upon it – APATHY.

“Let us not sleep”, but let us be aware, able to control ourselves, watching, waiting for the Lord’s appearing, which is the “Blessed Hope” (Titus 2:13). Those who are watching are those “Who love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). Jesus commands us to watch (Matthew 24:42-43); Luke 12:35-40). The person [believer] who is watching is an alert believer. We are to be “Watchmen” sounding an alarm to the populace (See Ezekiel 33:1-6). The “Watchmen” must remain awake.

There are all kinds of evil wickedness going on in the darkness. people doing their evil hate for the light to expose them (John 3:19). The ones who participate in the darkness are not people of light. They too, need the light.

The “Breastplate of faith” is to turn the fiery darts of satan, which is constantly hurled at the children of light. The “Helmet of salvation” is on our head where we have most of our sense – sight, smell, hearing, and tasting; and the head is also the control center for the body. We reason with our head. At least hopefully we do. Is it any wonder we must have the “Helmet of salvation”.

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” vv. 9-11.

Of course, the Thessalonian people knew they had, by faith in Jesus Christ, been saved from the punishment of sin and death. Paul must be talking of an event coming up in the future. It must be an “Appointed” day of wrath which will be experienced by any and all who do not trust Jesus Christ, as God, Lord, Savior, Creator, Redeemer, Master, etc..

It is evident by verse nine that God has not intended for the Church to go through the “Time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), which we call the “Great tribulation period”. It does not stand on the one verse alone, though, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev.3:10-11); “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (2 Thes. 2:7). It stands on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The comfort of these words are not empty. Where would the comfort be if we had to endure “Great tribulation”? We endure tribulation already, but nothing the like of which awaits the “Day of the Lord”, when all living unbelievers will be tried, “And they shall not escape”.

“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’ sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. 16 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not the Spirit. 20 Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.” vv. 12-22.

Here is listed some things which seem to indicate those who are awake, aware, and ready for the Lord’s return.
vv. 12 – 13 — Having resspect for your pastor(s), deacon(s), teachers, the ones who are responsible for your spiritual well being. Hold them up in prayer for boldness, love, and encouragement.

This is certainly not an excuse for overlooking a false preacher or teacher, but one who teaches and believes the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, Holy Spirit inspired Word of God.

PEACE = Not constantly squabbling, quarelling, but working in unity for the same cause and purpose. If the church cannot be at peace with one another there is little hope for the world to be at peace.

v. 14 — The word “unruly” means insubordinate (in religious matters) which is an unwillingness to submit to authority. We are told to warn of such. We are not to be in such a case.

Encouragement is always needed. When others encourage us we are motivated to serve the Lord in a greater capacity. We can minister to others with encouragement. Patience is a necessity for Christian living in an impatient world. We ought to be pictures of patience, especially with the unbelieving, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need patience for understanding why a new brother in Christ might still use a swear word, now and then, and we certainly can understand why the unbelieving would do so. Unholy things come from unholy people.

v. 15 — Always pursue the good. Do good to others even when they treat you evilly. When someone, lost or saved, does you wrong, do them a kindness. It pays great rewards. Peace of heart and mind, and you make friends that way.
v. 16 — Rejoicing is a sign of no fear, a sign of peace and contentment. When we rejoice in our Lord ther is also a witness to those around us.
v. 17 — Pray with perseverance. Keep on bringing your request to the Lord until He answers – He will either give what you ask, or He will say “No!”, or you may learn patience, and to “Wait on the Lord…”
v. 18 — When others around are complaining, whether about their work, home, family, sickness, or church, we are to be thankful “In everything” knowing that God is in control of the circumstances and He is using them to make us stronger and better Christians.
v. 19 — The Holy Spirit is likened unto fire. To quench a fire we often dump water on it – we put the fire out. To “Quench the Spirit” is to hear Him speak to us, but determine we will not heed His leading, and do our own thing. This is sin, and one that is very often committed by us all. We do not have time, or not right now, or somebody else can do it are words often expressed that quenches the fire of the Spirit.
v. 20 — Prophecy is the “Foretelling” of the future or the “Forthtelling” of the Word of God. All the prophets of the Bible “Foretold” the future – but even more importantly, they were “Forth-Tellers” of God’s Word. Many, many times when God’s prophet told of some future event it was confirmed as the Word of the Lord by a present sign. Today the prophet of God only foretells by the written Word of God, and it is confirmed, and authenticated by that same Word. He also forth-tells by that same Word.
The word ‘despise’ means contemptible, least esteemed – to have no delight in. It means you may like music in the worship, but you cannot stand the preaching of God’s Word. It makes you uncomfortable, you want to get out of the building, just as quickly as you can. Ask yourself “Why?” You are uncomfortable in the presence of God and His holy Word. That is why.
Proverbs 13:13 says, “He who despises the Word will be destroyed.”
v. 21 — This verse goes along with verse twenty. When a man stands to deliver God’s message there is to be a test. Does it come from God, or does it contradict His Word? It it goes against the Bible it is not a message of God.
v. 22 — Staying away from every form of evil is the Christian’s calling, if we are prepared for His coming. If it shows up, and you are tempted by it, flee from it; run with all the streength you have away, away; far, far away from that temptation.

“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. 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” vv. 23-24.

God Himself is the One who sets us apart from all others, and He preserves us blameless for the coming of Jesus His Son.

God is faithful. He started the work, and He has never left anything undone which He started to do, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6).

“Brethren, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. 27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” vv. 25-28.

A request for prayer, greeting and a charge or challenge to read this epistle to all Christians is given by Paul in closing.

His request for prayer was not just empty words. Paul knew the importance of prayer, and how powerful it is when Christians pray for one another.

Never short on grace he always left it with others. So ought we.

WORD STUDY:
1. Despised = contemptible, least esteemed (v. 20).
2. Unruly = insubordinate, unwilling to submit to authority (v. 14).
3. Complacency – satisfied with present situation, even though in need of work.
4. Apathy = knowing the way things are, able to do something about it, but unwilling to act.

THE WALK WHICH PLEASES GOD

THE WALK WHICH PLEASES GOD

1 Thessalonians 4:1-18

As Christians we are to grow in the faith, live a life that honors God and show forth His holiness working in our livs; we are to love one another, and to comfort one another with the words of hope concerning the Lord’s return.
In the Christian life growth occurs as one is obedient to the principles of God’s Word. To participate in the demeaning, immoral activities of the world system, as a Christian is to rob one’s self of spiritual growth.
Verses one through twelve have to do with a Christians growth. The same man who [under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit] wrote about our freedom [liberty] in Christ, also writes about abstaining from certain activities. Paul is here concerned abou their sanctification, as he would be ours as well. Our being separate, peculiar, different, is to be a distinction even others can notice. In the first chapter verse four, Paul recognized some individuals as being, “The elect of God”. He knew this by the way they lived, and so did “those who are outside”. Their lives were different, certainly in the way they loved (v. 9). There had been changes wrought in their lives; dramatic changes.
The growing Christian is changing daily. Each day he is more like Jesus than the day before, at least that is how it should be. Yielding to the Father; trusting Him with lifes ups and downs, ministering to others needs, never taking advantage of a brother’s weakness(es) to profit himself. Paul warned that, “The Lord is the avenger of all such” (v. 6).
The people at Thessalonica were concerned about their deceased loved ones, who had died in Christ and verses thirteen through eighteen handle that teaching for us. These fit together real well, because a clean and holy life is the only one God will accept into His Kingdom (Psalm 15). We can only live that life in the power of God’s Spirit, and that through faith in the shed blood of Jesus and His finished work. Our redemption finished when the bodies of the Saints shall all be redeemed by Jesus’s coming in the clouds.

Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.  2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. vv. 1-2.

Pleasing God, to even professing Christians is often as difficult as walking a narrow pole across the Grand Canyon. It is not that difficult if one is born-again through Christ Jesus. It is a matter of trusting Him to carry you across the canyon.
This leader (Paul) is calling on them to get nearer to Jesus. The life of a Christian is to be lived as an example to others, keeping the commandments, and being pleasing to God. We are not being saved by keeping the commandments, but being saved we keep the commandments.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 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. vv. 3-6.

Knowing the will of God is at times difficult, especially when we get confused about what is important, confused about what should take top priority in life, and when we are not giving to God what we already know to be His will.
The Word of God tells us God’s will for our lives. If we shun His Word why should we expect Him to show us His will in what boy or girl to marry, which house to buy, or which job to take? If we keep His commandments, because we love Him (Not for salvation), we will know His will, and can then, seek His counsel in every day questions.
There must be holiness in the Christian’s life. “This is the will of God”. It means abstaining from all forms of immorality, having self-control and knowing how to treat your spouse, caring for the weaker brother, and even the stronger. It means loving the Lord Jesus. Paul warns that the Lord is the one who avenges in such cases.

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. vv. 7-8.

God has called us to be holy. Holiness is being clean for this Person of purity [the Holy Spirit] to live in and use for God’s glory. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart [belly] shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). How can the water be clean if the vessel is dirty? If you are living in sin who is going to believe you when you say, “Jesus can set you free. Look what He has done for me!”? No one will. You can count on it.
To reject is to wreak havoc upon your life. These are God’s words, God’s instructions to His people. If you will not believe His Word at this point you do not believe it at any place, therefore, you are lost and condemned to the fires of Hell.

But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; 11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. vv. 9-12.

The lack of love was not a problem, yet Paul says, “We urge you…increase more and more”. In what? In love. You cannot love, with God’s love, too much.
It is because of love we are to work, and not meddle in other’s lives, and to take care of our own business. Out of love our work life is to be just as good a witness to the condemned world as our faithfulness to attend worship. Others are watching. Those who do these things will live a life of joy, peace, and lack no good thing.

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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not preventd them which are asleep.  16 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: 17 Then we which are alive and remain 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. vv. 13-17.

These verses speak of the “Blessed hope…”, which Paul writes of in Titus 2:13, and says, “Looking for that blessed hope…”. Paul was looking for it then, why are we not “Looking for that blessed hope” today?
A proper walk with God is not only conducive as a witness to the condemned, but also in preparation for the coming of Jesus.
The Thessalonian Christians were uncertain about their dead loved ones in Christ. What would become of them? For some reason the church – or at least many of them – were afraid that their loved ones who had died in Jesus would miss “the victories and glories” of Jesus’s return. It is made clear that, that just is not true. The word sleep is used in reference to the body, not the soul and/or spirit. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
There was some ignorance concerning those who “Slept”. Some, evidently thinking it was over for the dead; no hope, no glory, no eternal life.
Verse fourteen clarifies that those who are dead will be with Him [Jesus] when He comes for His Church. Their spirit and soul will be united with a new resurrected body. It will be a body like that of Jesus’s resurrected body.
Verses fifteen and sixteen make it clear the living believers will not go before or without the dead in Christ. The dead will rise first (v. 17); then, the living will rise with them to meet the Lord Jesus; the Lamb of God; the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words. v. 18.

We need this kind of comfort. Knowing Jesus is coming back should cause us to be comforted. Notice though who is to be the comforter – we are to one another; “With these words…”. There is comfort in reading the Scriptures of prophecy in the prophets, Moses, the apostle John, and in Matthew chapter 13, and 24-25. These should be encouraging words for the Christian, and real motivation to warn those who are condemned by sin.

In conclusion of these verses, our lives should be lived for Jesus. This is certainly a world in desparate need, but the child of God can live in comfort and peace by taking heed to God’s Word. We need each others encouragement if we are to live in this “Modern World”. We need to be encouraged to abstain from things that displease God. We need to be encouraged to live clean lives. We need to be encouraged about the return of Jesus.
Not only the people of the world, but the earth itself is in a state of madness. Earthquakes where they have never been before – in recorded history. The weather odd and unseasonal, breaking into storms that cause multibillions of dollars of damage; thousands and thousands of peoples lives destroyed by death and destruction.
The Christian can live in peace. She/He can live, because they know God has their life in His hands, and we encourage one another to this extent.
THE WALK WHICH PLEASES GOD is when we walk with Jesus Christ our sin-bearer, Redeemer, and expecting His soon return. “Even so, come Lord Jesus”.

A ROCK SOLID FAITH

A ROCK SOLID FAITH

1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

In the day we live every Christian needs to be encouraged to live a life of purity and faith in the sight of God, and others, and to always be prepared for the glorious appearing of Jesus our Lord.

When we are not with our children we wonder, ‘How are they doing without us present?’ We may be away a little longer than expected. Some unexpected traffic jam, or we make a detour to WalMart, or the bookstore, and we are there longer than expected. Parents seem to never end in their wondering about their children.
Paul was in a similar situation, only he was being hindered from his “parental” duties by satan. He just could not take it any longer, and sent Timothy to be with them in his place; to find out how they were.
Timothy brought back that encouraging report, but still, Paul longed to see his children in the faith, to visit with them and encourage them.

“Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith…” vv. 1-2.
The word, “Therefore” means this carries on from chapter two – especially vv. 19 & 20. Paul sharing with the church how he could not wait to be with them and find our their physical and spiritual condition.

“That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.  4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.” vv. 3-5.
Many times when afflictions hit us we tend to think that God has forgotten us. When we feel that way we can get to a place where we can not-care, and really get into a state of depression. You could say, “We faint” in the faith.
Suffering for Christ’s sake should not come as a surprise to us. When we live holy in Christ Jesus it will come, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’ sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”(1 Peter 4:12-14; 2 Timothy 3:12).

“But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: 7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:” vv. 6-7.
There is a mutual love between the “Parent and the child”. There is great comfort, even in persecution for the one who founded the church, to hear of the people’s desire to see him again. It would have been a great encouragement to Paul as well, in his afflictions to hear of their faith. What a joy it is to the spiritual leader in Christ when they hear of others desire to be with them.

“For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” v. 8.
Caring can steal the strength away. Being unable to build up the church in faith Paul was fearful for them, that they might fall away. The heart was heavy. Sleep was slow in coming, if it came. When Paul was not working, preaching, or sleeping he was praying for this church, and others. They were “Babes in Christ” and they needed nourishment and care.
At receiving the news, Paul rejoiced. He could now live free from the worry and care of this infant church.

“For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?” vv. 9-10.
A desire to see them and help them grow in the faith. A new born child does not have all it takes to grow. It needs fed. It needs to be nourished, and sheltered from harm. The same is true of a spiritual child or church
Prayer is for the church, what breathing is for our bodies. The study of God’s Word is for the church what food is for our bodies.
Note Paul’s joy when he has received the good news of their growing and active faith.

“Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.” v. 11.
If we are to care and to be cared for we must trust our directions to be led by Jesus in us. Paul realized, that if he was going to see the people of the church of Thessalonica it would be by the direction and provision of the Lord Himself. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus in this fashion the problems we face in life do not seem so large, and burdensome.

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. vv. 12-13.
This is Paul’s prayer for the church. 1) Increase and abound in love – “Godlike love”; 2) In order to ‘establish’ [be grounded] in heart. Set them up as stable, unshakeable sanctuaries of peace; 3) Blameless in God’s holiness – To be holy is to be clean and fit for God’s Spirit to use.
We are called upon throughout the Word to be fit, to be holy for His use and service. Here we are told to be, “Blameless in holiness” meaning God’s holiness. We must be clothed in that if we are to be caught up with the rest of the saints. The true child of God will, by the power of the Spirit of Christ in us, keep ourselves holy and fit for that glorious day.
The saints mentioned are the souls and spirits of the departed dead in Christ referred to in chapter 4:14, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”
Notice that in each of these three chapters there is reference to the coming of Jesus. “…wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” 1:10. “Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” 2:19. Then in chapter 3, “…at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. v. 13.

WORD STUDY –
1. Establish (vv. 2 & 13) – To set fast – to turn resolutely in a certain direction;
2. Holiness (v. 13) – Quality; sacredness;
3. Increase (v. 12) – To do , make or be more;
4. Abound (v. 12) – To be in excess; to excel;
5. Direct (v. 11) – To straighten fully;
6. Moved or shaken (v. 3) – to wag; to disturb. 

THE CHRISTIAN’S HOPE

This is the second part of LIVING AS CHRISTIANS IN OUR MODERN WORLD. Paul the apostle, an instrument in the hand of God was and still is teaching God’s people how we ought to be living in any age we find ourselves. This second part, will itself be in two parts. In this part we will look at verses 1 – 12.

In these verses we see that caring Chrisitans live, not for themselves, but for the Lord, and those who have come to Christ through their ministry.

Paul calls the Thessalonian church to remember how it was when he came to them. He reminds them how he worked and labored; how he had suffered persecution, realizing they were as well.

The concern Paul had, as any man of God does, is that the people be strong in the faith. There were and are temptations which lure God’s children off the path of living the Christian life. It is especially so in the time of Paul’s letters, and in our time as the time of Christ’s return draws ever nearer.

What joy there is for a mother and father who raise their children in the precepts, statutes, judgments, and commandments of the Lord when their child gives their life to Him. When a father teaches his son how to safely operate the farm tractor, and that boy takes it up like he was born on it, and almost may have been. The joy, the hope of the Christian is when he/she sees one they have taught living according to God’s Word. What joy Paul must have felt and received when word came to him how these had grown in the faith.

“For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:  2  But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.”

There is great assurance in these verses. The work of God is never in vain. If one person comes to Christ as a result of our presence it is not in vain. This church was a very active church, and very much alive. They were not in the least way in danger of losing their candlestick.

Even though persecution arises we are to continue to be bold with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we are persecuted for our faith, and because of our boldness of speech we should approach it just like Peter and John, and all the apostles in acts chapter four. They were commanded not to speak in that name (the name of Jesus). They went and told the others, and they all just prayed for more boldness.

“For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:  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.  5  For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:  6  Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.”

The concern of a parent is noticed in these verses. Paul, having been gone for several days, maybe weeks or months, shows his concern for their growth. He reminds them of his work and faithful ness, and the things which the taught them the three weeks he was with them.

“A flatterer can use either truth or lies to achieve his unholy purpose, which is to control your decisions for his profit.” WARREN WIERSBE. Paul did not use flatterery, or manipulation. He was not in it to please Paul or other men. that should also be the heart and attitude of any man who is called by God into a position of leadership and service to God’s people.

If a Christian is to lead he must be sure of his/her motive. If it is to receive glory from man he can be bought off. The man of God does not seek to please anyone, but God and His Son Jesus.

 “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:  8  So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.  9  For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.”

Today there is much said about expectant mothers and their drinking of alcoholic beverages. It is because the alcohol gets into the bloodstream from which the baby is sustained and can cause awful deformities and even addiction to alcohol.

The loving caring mother will not eat or drink anything that would bring harm to her baby, either before or after it is born. She feeds, and cares for that child holding it close to her heart.

We are to be as a caring and nourishing to the unborn-again, and the new born-again as an expectant and nursing mother – just like Paul.

“Ye are witnesses, and God also , how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:  11  As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,  12  That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. ”

Servants of God see themselves not as dominant leaders, but as servants to the people, while remaining faithful to God. The witnesses of Paul’s service was the people which he served. He had faithfully ministered to them the Word of God, words of encouragement, hope, exhortation, and reminding them that they were God’s children in His kingdom.

That is our calling as Christian leaders. How do our people view our service?

CHANGE, BY THE POWER OF GOD

This will be the beginning of a study through the Thessolonian letters by Paul. The series is titled LIVING AS CHRISTIANS IN OUR MODERN WORLD. I pray these articles will help and encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

I will try to keep them fairly short. If they seem to get a little long I will split them into two parts.

CHANGE, BY THE POWER OF GOD

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

As the second coming of Jesus is drawing near, we as Christians must know how we are to live in the world. “In the world, but not of the world”.
In looking at the first Thessalonian letter it appears that some of the people in the church were being led to believe the return of Jesus being near, they should leave their jobs, sell their homes and lands, and just “Live by faith”. The Scripture, no where, encourages God’s people to be foolish, but wise concerning the times.
The two letters to the Thessalonians teach a complete opposite of the above practice. Jesus’s coming is definitely near. We are to keep on yielding our lives to Him, and going about the daily Christian life as though He might not come for another million years. We are to keep on trusting and believing that He is returning soon.
First Thessalonians mentions the second coming of Jesus at the end, or near the end of each chapter. Chapter four gives us an indepth look at the “Catching away” of the Saints which is commonly referred to as the ‘Rapture of the Church’.
In Thessalonica there was much heathen, pagan worship. The church was greatly persecuted because they were living their faith. They would probably be called radical by even many professing christians of this day.
We live in a society that is quite similar to theirs. People do not mind what god you worship, or if you worship anything, as long as you keep it to yourself. “Keep it in the church building. Don’t take it to your job. Don’t take it on vacation. Don’t take it to your friends”, because if you do you will be tagged as a trouble maker, a rabble rouser, and you will be shunned by your peers.
Our world, society is certainly unfamiliar with God and godliness, and godly things. As Christians we need to be what Christ called us to be, and that is the salt and light of our world.Looking at these first ten verses we see the church of Thessolonica commended for their faith, and the hope that is in their heart. They are challenged, as are we, to live exemplary lives to show forth the change that God has wrought in their [our] lives.
The study actually begins in Acts 17:1-10 which tells of Paul’s short ministry there. It was only about three weeks in duration, but three weeks there was an established church – a body of believers worshipping, praying, studying the Scriptures, and breaking bread together. The believers fearing for Paul’s and Silas’s safety sent them away (Acts 17:10).
Paul is man of God greatly concerned about this young church. He sends Timothy to them and Timothy sends word back to Paul of their growth and stedfastness of faith. Paul is thrilled, and fully knows that it is the work of God’s Spirit. He sends them a letter to assure them of his prayers, to encourage them, and to exhort them to continue strong in the Word and faith, no matter what comes their way.

“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” v. 1
In looking at verse one Paul begins the letter in pretty much his normal way. Only he adds Silvanus [Silar] and Timothy. These are men the people at Thessalonica were familiar with. He also acknowledges that they are a church in God and the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what counts. It really does no matter if a board of men or a government recognizes a church; as long as it is in God and the Lord Jesus, it is a church.
Paul sends them a familiar greeting “Grace and peace”. True grace and peace can only come through God and His Son.

“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;” vv. 2-3
There is thanksgiving in Paul’s heart for this church, and their faithfulness. He also assures them of his prayers for them.
Their faith that works; the love they show to others ministering to others and one another; their patience in God – knowing He always knows best in every situation; these were all known by Paul as their spiritual leader and he remembered them.

“Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” v. 4
Paul knows these people as the “Elect of God” – chosen by God to be His representatives to others, and to live an exemplary life holy and pure. That is the life every child of God is to live. We have been chosen by God. We are the “Elect” of God. You have been chosen, and from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). That is one of the blessed things of the gifts of God, ie. knowing that God has chosen us, elected us as His own. As the “Elect of God” we are called to live lives which are holy and pure.

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” v. 5
The gospel, when it is to be effective, is to be not only words, but there is also power [signs of change], and it is in the Holy Spirit – He who convicts of sin is also the One who comforts in Christ.
These messengers of the gospel lived exemplary lives. Paul, Silas, and Timothy kept themselves in the power of the Lord.
People who are messengers of God in the world today should live lives to glorify our Lord as well. There is no excuse for sin, and it should be especially so in the lives of the people of God, and the spiritual leaders whom God calls out. As Paul, Silas and Timothy were living lives that honored Christ and brought no shame on others who were serving Christ Jesus, so too should all God’s people in our modern world.

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” vv. 6-7
Everyone needs an example to follow. Everyone [Believers in particular] needs to be an example to others. As Paul, Silas and Timothy were following the Lord, so was the people of the Thessalonian church. Even in the midst of affliction [persecution], they were living int he joy of God’s Spirit, and it had reached Paul that these people were having an impact on others lives.
Many in our modern world like to follow others. The sad thing about that is, many of these people are not people to follow for righteousness and holy living. There are sports figures who many follow, taking drugs, steroids, and indulging in immoral behaviors that would cause shame to the child of God who is right with God.
We as God’s people need to be sure we do not exalt figures in sports, or movies, etc., or even the pulpits of the world who are not living exemplary lives which do not glorify Jesus Christ.

“For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.” v. 8
When people have a real faith in God it not only is spoken, but is acted on by others and themselves.
There was no rebuke needed here. Their faith had been heard about, even in other lands.
What have “other lands” heard of the faith of the Christians of the United States of America? It is my fear, that what others are hearing is not good. In looking it appears to me that there is a lack of dedication to Christ Jesus in living and more dedication to gaining the worlds things. There is a great lack of prayer in God’s people of the USA. There is a lack of burden for calling the condemned people of our nation to faith in Christ Jesus. There is more of a push for pleasure, leisure, for entertainment, than there is for the glory of the Lord.
O God, give us a heart for Jesus like those who are suffering for the cause of Christ in other parts of the world.

“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” vv. 9-10
Jesus had so impacted their lives, that the idols they had previously worshipped had been destroyed. They repented [turned from idols, and turned to God], and decided to worship the living God. The One wo could, would, has and does answer prayer. The One who has promised to deliver from “The wrath to come”.
To wait is to continue living the life until He returns with great expectancy. This “Living God” raised His Son from the dead, and has promised He will return.
Being ready means living by the power of the Spirit of the Lord which is in you who know Jesus as Savior. We must always be ready. We do not know the day or the hour when our Lord will come in the clouds and call us away.
BE READY!!!!

Let’s look at a comparison of verses 3 and 10 –
In verse three Paul refers to “Your work of faith”. Verse 10 says, “You turned to God from idols”
Verse three, “Your labor of love”. Verse 10 “To serve the living and true God”.
Verse three, “And patience of hope”. Verse 10 “To wait for His Son from Heaven”.