Acts 17:16-18:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5:11
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Today we begin Paul's first letter to the church in Thessalonica! What is the best way to spell Thessalonica – with a “k” like this: Thessalonika? Or with a “c” like this: Thessalonica? It is indeed a deep mystery. One we won’t really get to the bottom of in Paul’s two letters to the church in Thessalonica in our readings this week. . . :) But these are 2 great letters of Paul’s nonetheless coming up! Let’s go!
~ First Thessalonians ~
Author: Paul the apostle
Date: A.D. 50 or 51
Content: On Paul’s second missionary journey he visited Thessalonica but was forced to flee because of the intense persecutions that arose there (see Acts 17:1-9). After making his way to Athens and finally to Corinth, Paul heard from Timothy, whom he had sent to inquire about the Thessalonians, that they were standing fast in spite of their suffering. Paul wrote this letter to comfort and encourage the young believers in the Lord. He also wrote to confirm their faith in the basic doctrines of the church concerning God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, Christian living, but especially concerning Jesus’ second coming. Apparently because some believers had died, the remaining Christians were concerned lest the believing dead miss out on the resurrection. Paul writes to assure them that the dead in Christ rise first.
Theme: Paul comforts the persecuted believers with the assurance that God is with us and has assured us of ultimate victory. The final victory will occur at Jesus’ return, when the Lord himself shall descend from heaven and gather us to himself, ever to be with him. In the light of this we should bear up under persecution, living lives that are godly and above reproach. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 28) A wonderful commentary on First Thessalonians by J. Hampton Keathley, III, titled “The Birth and Growth of a Church” is at this link.
Today in First Thessalonians 1:5 we read: "For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know that the way we lived among you was further proof of the truth of our message." This is a great reminder that while we are out and about in the world being salt and light, we're not just out there on our own. The Holy Spirit is doing work concurrently in other people's hearts. And indeed, the Holy Spirit is doing the true work of salvation, not us. I do like that Paul wrote that "the way we lived" was further proof of the truth. Christians are called to be in the world, but not of it. And I do think people pay attention to how we live. How are we living our lives today? Are we living a life of love? Are we compassionate? Are we caring? Are we serving the poor? Or - are we bought into consumerism? Are we selfish? Are we serving ourselves? Does the way we spend our money and time look different from how the culture says we should be spending our money and time? Are we giving to our church? Are we worshiping God at a church once a week? Are we praying frequently? How are you living your life today? If someone took a look at your life would it be abundantly clear that you are following Jesus?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Thessalonians chapter 2 titled "A Compelling Example for Ministry" is at this link. Below is a fun image for First Thessalonians 1:3 from today's readings -
I found 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 18 to be an interesting verse: "We wanted very much to come, and I, Paul, tried again and again, but Satan prevented us. " I think this is an important reminder that Satan can indeed prevent good work from taking place in our lives. Through prayer, reading the Word, and obedience we can avoid some attacks. But, they will still come while we are in this world. I would just encourage you to keep in mind that Satan is real. Don't dwell on this, but realize it is true. And that by growing your relationship with Jesus & God, I do believe great protection can come over you - but keep in mind that even a person as close to the Lord as Paul was prevented by Satan from doing some things Paul wanted to do. How is your prayer life today? Do you pray to God to protect you and keep you from Satan and all his tricks and lies and temptations? Let us be prayer warriors for not only ourselves, but also for others in our lives! Do you consider yourself to be a prayer warrior? Would you like to be a prayer warrior? What is stopping you from being a prayer warrior? All it takes is prayer...
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Thessalonians chapter 3 titled "The Concern Expressed" is at this link. Below is a great Fall image of 1 Thessalonians 3:12 from today's readings:
The First Thessalonians verses today are great teachings on living to please God and the hope of the resurrection. A verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:2 that I actual use fairly frequently is: "the day of the Lord will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night." I confess that I don't get too into predicting "end times" scenarios. Pre-trib, post-trib, etc. I know many good friends who are into all of this. I guess I just come back to this verse about the day of the Lord coming unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. I think this also applies to each of our own lives. We don't know how many years we have - hopefully many. But, you just don't know. And I don't really dwell or worry about it. The end of our lives will likely come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. And if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we do not need to fear the day of the Lord!
In First Thessalonians 4:3-5 today we read this teaching of Paul’s: "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust." Are these verses contrary in any way to what you might see in our culture today? Are these verses contrary to any way that you might live your life? Do you see the value in this teaching of Paul’s? Is the lust / sexual immorality that our culture sells full of life or emptiness? Is this teaching of Paul’s full of life or emptiness? Are you controlling your own body in a way that is holy and honorable? What does Paul mean when he says it is God’s will that you should be sanctified? Do you want God to sanctify you? Will you participate in the sanctification process with God? Will you avoid sexual immorality?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Thessalonians chapter 4 titled "The Call to Holiness" is at this link. Below is a great image for 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 from today's readings:
Worship God: Our readings today in First Thessalonians reminded me of the Santus Real song called the "Face of Love" - and I pray that we each look more like Love everyday!
Do you know the Face of Love? Click here to look more like Love today!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you." 1 Thessalonians 3:12 (NIV)
Prayer Point: Pray that your love is increasing and overflowing for Christians and non-Christians in your life. Pray that your love is increasing and overflowing for your family, friends, neighbors, city and world.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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