Guard the Deposits

(Repeat)

2 Timothy 1

Paul wrote a second letter to Timothy and the church and starts it out sending his grace, mercy and peace! As I was studying I ran across in a commentary that when Paul was writing to the church he would send grace and peace but when Paul would send letters to the church and to the minister of the church he would always include mercy. Hmm maybe that means we should be including mercy to our ministers too. The first thing he writes to Timothy in this letter is to remind Timothy that he prays for him night and day. He states he remembers Timothy’s tears. According to commentary it could mean that Timothy cried the last time that Paul and Timothy were together face to face. When I read it my first thought was that maybe Timothy had somehow communicated to Paul how hard ministry was and that he shed many tears for the people of his church. At any rate Paul is letting him know that he prays for him, he longs to see him and he is telling Timothy again to hold onto his faith. Faith that has legacy in his life with his mother and grandmother. Oh how important it points out to me to know that the faith that we walk today can and will be carried down to our children and our grandchildren.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7

I have often heard verse 7 quoted many times. We use this verse (as we should) when we fear things that are put before us, when we are uncertain about our next steps or when we are struggling with thoughts and our own actions that we don’t seem to think we can control. But I like the way it goes with verse 6. Paul is telling Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” that Paul himself had laid hands on him to do. What does it even mean to “fan into flame”? We all have gifts and purposes that God has put us here for. But those gifts and purposes can lay stagnate and dormant in our life if we are not using them. That’s the basic precept here. I know for me if I listen too much to the thoughts and voices coming at me, I can hear the “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not smart enough” “I could never do that” so loudly that I feel crippled in what I think or feel the things God may be calling me to do. The fanning into flame is simply doing the thing that God puts before you. It may be rocking babies in the nursery, it may be teaching the Sunday school class. It may be simply opening the door for someone. What are the gifts that God is putting before you? Fanning them into flame is taking the next right step. And see where God leads you next.

Paul also tells Timothy not to be ashamed of his testimony nor of Paul being in prison.

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,” 2 Timothy 1:8

There may have been things that people were saying about the fact that Paul was in prison. We have the benefit of the rest of the story. We know that God’s intent with Paul was to use him through the ages. But I wonder when Paul and Timothy were living, it could there have been doubts? Maybe Timothy was at the time having doubts about his own calling because well, look where it got Paul. Paul seems to be pretty steadfast in his calling but the words here to encourage Timothy make me wonder a bit if Timothy was doubting. Paul is encouraging Timothy to be steadfast too. In verses 8 – 11 Paul is laying it out there telling Timothy, don’t be ashamed of the gospel, share in the suffering of the gospel, that God has called each of us to a purpose and grace and that Jesus abolished death. Paul is very emphatic when he says

“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” 2 Timothy 1:12

I find this to be a very encouraging chapter if you are a christ follower. But I know that for me the only way for me to battle the voices that I feel tell me I am not worthy, and the wondering about my calling or the doubts that can fill my life is to guard what I feel He has put right in front of me. To guard the deposits he has entrusted to me, the things He has called me to do.

“By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” 2 Timothy 1:14

Please pray for the educators and the students.  Also, we have another hurricane! And this one appears to be heading straight for my kids on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Please pray for my kids and the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast. Pray this thing weakens and for zero property damage for all. 

Godliness with Contentment

(Repeat)

1 Timothy 6

Paul starts out this final chapter of 1 Timothy talking to how slaves should respond to their believing masters. He is telling them that if their master is a believer that they should treat them with respect and honor. This can also be translated into our workplaces today and that we as believers are meant to treat our employers with respect and honor especially if they are believers too.

The next thing Paul addresses in this chapter is false teachers. Paul is warning Timothy and the people at the church of Ephesus to beware. When people do not value the Christian faith and the words of Jesus they will go on and on with their words in ways that will tear others down and will bring themselves up. Paul says it best here.

“he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” 1 Timothy 6:4-5

Unpack that, can we see that happening in our world today or what? There are people puffed up, there is an unhealthy craving for controversy and quarreling and all of those things envy, slander, evil suspicions. But, the next verse is what we as believers should hold onto.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” 1 Timothy 6:6-7

In other words when we are content with Jesus and do not put our hope and faith into material possessions and the talk of this world then we are practicing “godliness with contentment.” 

Paul goes on to warn here that when you desire money and you put your hope and your peace into money that you may fall into temptations and wander away from the faith. This is not to say that having money or having material things is bad, but where is it in regard to your heart. Is money and wealth what brings you contentment or is it your faith in Jesus?

The charge is this:

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12

Paul is encouraging Timothy to hold tight to his faith and while he is at it, he is encouraging the people of the church to hold tight to their faith. One of the good things of the pandemic to me has been the re-focus on the things that are truly important in life. We are not to set our hope on riches/money or on our jobs or on people. If we have been blessed with riches we should be ready to be generous and to share, but above all, the rich and the poor should be setting our hopes on God.

“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.” 1 Timothy 6:20

The noise of this world has been so loud lately that it surely feels like irreverent babble. We have also seen contradictions. But we as believers must guard what has been entrusted to us. My hope and my prayer is that as we guard the words of Jesus in our hearts and lives that we can be light to others!

Please pray for the medical professionals today. 

Too Quick to Judge

(Repeat)

1 Timothy 5

In this chapter Paul is telling Timothy how to treat others in his congregation.  He specifically addresses how to treat people who are older, widowed as well as the younger generation who may also be widowed. First he tells Timothy to treat the older men with respect as he would a father, treat younger men as a brother, older women as mothers and younger women as sisters. He also addresses that if there is a member of the congregation who is “truly a widow” meaning she has no one for the church to care for her. But that if an older woman or man has family that the family should care for them.

Paul also addresses that a younger widow who can care for themself or remarry should do so that it is not the church’s responsibility to care for them. Paul is saying in this chapter that there is always work to be done. The older people who truly need help from the church should be helped but in so doing they still have responsibilities to the church in prayer, if nothing else. Paul has set out here as well as Jesus did during his earthly ministry that it is a good thing to work and to not be idle. I’ve often heard the phrase “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”.

Another theme I have seen in this chapter is gossip and accusations.

“Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 1 Timothy 5:19

We should be always careful about what we say as well as about what we believe. Just because one person said it does not mean it to be truth. Are there witnesses? Is there evidence? We have to be very careful of prejudging and showing partiality.

“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.” 1 Timothy 5:22

And here we are, the sum of it all. “keep yourself pure”. You know most of the time if we just simply worry about ourself then the rest will work out and I think that is one of the things Paul is telling Timothy here. Don’t judge too quickly the actions of others. One man may come in and act rightly in the beginning and yet he does not have the depth of character to sustain his actions and the other man may have people gossiping and telling all their sins outright and yet, the heart and what lies deep may be more pure than the one who looks to be acting rightly. It takes time to truly learn the character of another.

The last two verses of this chapter could sum up the whole.

“The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.” 1 Timothy 5:24-25

Another saying I have heard a lot “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. We must realize that making a judgment with one look can result in judging wrongly. We shouldn’t judge others too quickly. What is in a persons character will not remain hidden whether it be bad character or good. If a person is in the habit of sin and bad character, time will bring it to the surface, but the same with good works and good character. Time will be the true test to that as well.

Please pray for our president and government leaders. Also please pray for the upcoming election. 

A Good Servant

(Repeat, with edits)

1 Timothy 4

This chapter starts out talking about how some people in latter times will depart from the faith. We all know that 2020 has been the craziest year. We have had a pandemic, then all of the things that have brought on the protests, rioting, looting. The area I live in has seen multiple tornadoes. Easter Sunday we had two go within 2.5 miles of our house, one on the north side and one on the south side. The hurricanes this season, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida are all in recovery mode and we are all just holding our breath to get this season over with. These days you also hear things about people choosing their gender and coming up with their own truths. I hear it all the time that we are in the latter days. And we could be, but the truth still holds clear that only God knows the day and hour that Jesus will return. We could be in the latter days but these latter days could take years, decades even centuries before they are done.

“If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.” 1 Timothy 4:6

Above all else, whether we are in last days or not, we know this has been a crazy year. We know that life brings us all sorts of challenges. So I want to know what I can do to be a good servant of Christ. I want to be trained in the words of the faith. That is why I am studying and writing. To learn myself. And if I can encourage someone along the way, then all the better for it. Paul is telling Timothy in this chapter to train himself for godliness (v. 7). Paul tells him that godliness has “value in every way” because It holds promises for today as well as promises for the future.

“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness, for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Paul ends this chapter by telling Timothy to teach. Timothy is to teach the church. Paul brings attention to Timothy’s youth, yet that is not to be a deterrent to Timothy, nor should it ever be a deterrent to anyone. We as believers, no matter our age, are to set examples “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”. (v. 12)

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”  1 Timothy 4:13

All throughout this letter to Timothy and the church, Paul mentions his return at some point in time. But what he is saying to Timothy and to the church is simply read, learn and live the scriptures. The same holds true today. I believe going to church is a good thing and I am glad ours is back and I pray for all public houses of worship to be back in full swing. I know that God has blessed us even during this all but I believe we are made for community. That is where I believe the devoting to public reading and to teaching comes in. It’s biblical, so it will be back in full eventually. Then in verse 16 he simply says:

“Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:15-16

I love that “practice these things”. We aren’t expected to have perfection, just practice and persistence. And with practice and persistence maybe then we will be saved and maybe, just maybe someone else will be too.

Please pray for the small business owners and the service industry today.

The Mystery of Godliness

(Repeat)

1 Timothy 3

This chapter in Timothy is laying out the qualifications for people who held positions of service in the church. Paul gives a list of things that, at first glance can seem like they are a list of dos and don’ts which goes against the grain of grace. But you have to read that this is for those who feel called and led to high positions, whether it be deacon, teacher, or pastor.

This list however is not meant to scare you away or to say that those who hold these positions have to be perfect people. That is an impossibility as we know, Jesus was the only perfect human. Jesus was fully human and He was fully God which is why He was the picture of perfection. But what Paul is laying out here is that the person who serves the church must be someone who is striving for these things. When Paul lists out the list of dos and don’ts that he lists here he is saying this should be someone who has been following Christ for a time and his faith has stood the test of time.

“They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” 1 Timothy 3:9

Again, I believe that what Paul is saying without saying it is that it must be someone who is walking in relationship with Jesus.

Paul also addresses the wives of the church leaders. Some translations actually stated women who were serving as well.

“Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.” 1 Timothy 3:11

Oh ladies can we just skip over that word slanderer? (I wish) I know myself and I know my mouth can get in the way of myself, my ministry, my friendships, QUICK if I am not careful. The NIV says “not malicious talkers”.  The AMP says “not double-tongued”. TPT says “not known as those who gossip.” I tried and tried to look for a different way to look at that. But the bottom line is I know that my mouth will get me in trouble a whole lot quicker than the rest of this list here. So before I get up on a spiritual high horse let me just get right back down on my knees and ask the Lord to forgive me and to help me to be more dignified and oh I pray that He will find me faithful in all things. But I can promise you it only happens in any semblance of faithfulness if I spend my time with Him on my knees.

My favorite part of this chapter is the last verse. I am not sure I have ever picked up on it before but it is a praise to Jesus and it is something I want to memorize and keep in my heart always.

“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16

I believe I would end that statement with an exclamation point!

Please pray for your pastor and church leaders today! 

Pray!

(Repeat)

I Timothy 2

Paul starts this chapter with a “first of all”. In other words as he is setting Timothy up to lead the church of Ephesus he wants Timothy and the people to understand, before you can have success in church, in life, In anything, this is what you do “First of all”. PRAY!!

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. 1 Timothy 2:1

Supplications, are requests. We are not supposed to pray to God simply to ask for things. But we are supposed to come boldly to the throne to ask for what we need. Oh what a war that can be going on in your mind if you think on this too hard. I do think the Bible gives us direction to ask God. I think though where we, where I get tangled up is what is my motive for asking. I have to check myself over and over why am I asking. One thing I try to do when I am asking God for something that I can’t clearly see to be His will, I add if it be Your will Lord”. And then I ask God that if what I am asking for is not His will, for Him to change my heart. And I can honestly say I have seen Him answer my prayers with some of the things I asked for and I have sure had Him change my heart too. So ask God for what you need, for what you want, but also ask Him to only give it to you if it would be for your good and His glory and if it is not to be to change your heart in the meantime. He will answer!

Prayers is communication with God! This prayer thing is a two way street. As you ask God for your needs and your wants, you must also tune your ear and your heart to listen to Him. That is what Prayer is. We have the Holy Spirit living inside us to lead and to guide us, to communicate with us and to be with us all the time. Ask God to help you tune your ear and your heart to what He wants to say to you. He longs to communicate with us.

Intercessions are for other people. Who in your life do you need to be bringing to the throne of grace. If you have been following these devotions we have had a different people group that we are praying for daily. But we all have people that we need to pray for daily as well. It’s biblical, it’s right here. Pray for others, bring them to the throne and lay them at His feet in your mind. When Paul points that out here He was putting high importance on it for the church.

Thanksgivings is just what it says. Acknowledge to God the blessings He gives. How has He answered a prayer for you. What little blessings can you acknowledge to Him that He has given you. I have a journal that I try to write 3 blessings down every day. I read Ann Voskamp’s “1000 Gifts” where she counted her blessings daily and wrote them down until she reached 1000.  I have started and stopped this many times. Well I started back last summer and I am almost to the 1000 mark. I have probably missed a few days here and there, possibly but I have kept after it and I want to continue even after I make 1000. It has made me more aware and it has made me more grateful for all of the little things and the big things that God does for me daily.

There are some things in the rest of this chapter that I must admit I read and was like hmmm. However I do believe I have to take the whole of God’s word and that it is not right to pick and choose what we want to grasp and hold on to. However, I also think that it is ok to ask God to teach you what is meant and sometimes that takes a little more time. The main focus of this chapter though is prayer. Paul also states in verse 8:

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. (1 Tim. 2:8)

Watch yourself, check yourself, first of all we are to pray, but also lift your holy hands in prayer without anger or quarreling in your heart. That needs to be something you cleanse yourself of when you come to the throne as well.

There is some strong language in this chapter on women in the church. What I gleaned from this chapter as well as the whole of the Bible is that God did set up an authority for things. And that is what the directives are here. I love being a woman, I like dressing cute, and I like cute hair and jewelry. Maybe, and this is opinion and not something I can back up anywhere scripturally, but maybe the sin is putting too much focus on it. I think being a woman is a blessing and I for one will just keep having conversation with God over what I am supposed to glean from this one.

** Update: I made it to 1000 in my blessing journal and I am still counting. 

Please pray for the educators and students today. It’s a weird school year. 

Fight the Good Fight

(Repeat)

1 Timothy 1

This a letter that Paul wrote to Timothy, whom he was leaving behind in Ephesus while Paul went to Macedonia.  The commentaries state that Paul meant for the letter to encourage Timothy to lead the church at Ephesus but it was also written to the church, it was not just for Timothy’s ears. Paul is urging Timothy to remain at Ephesus and to make sure proper doctrine is being taught. Have you ever wanted to run from the task that you felt God had put before you. As I read the commentary and I tend to read the same chapter in different versions that is the sense that I got. Timothy may have really wanted to go with Paul. Paul, after all looked on Timothy as a son so Timothy may have felt that he really wanted to stay under Paul’s wings and be taught rather than to be left in charge. Paul is encouraging him to stay but he is also telling him that to teach these people he must do it with love.

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”  1 Timothy 1:5

I think it is duly noted that while Paul is issuing this charge to Timothy to stay behind and teach and direct the church he also tells him to do it with love. However, Paul does not negate the law.

“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” 1 Timothy 1:8

The law is there to direct us, but mostly it is there to point out the unlawful. We are not to live in the law. We allow it to point out what is unlawful. But then we know that Christ came to save us from the law. If we are living in relationship with Christ, the law tends to take care of itself because the Holy Spirit does the convicting.

In verses 12-17 Paul is thanking Jesus who saved him, and who has given him the strength to serve him. Paul recognizes here that he was a sinner, he actually lists some of his sins.

“though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:13-14

Paul is recognizing his deep need for Christ. In verse 15 he said “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” You know for years I would read some of the words of Paul and I put him way way up on a pedestal as the chief christian like he had some power or walk with Christ that I could not obtain. However, when you read and dig into what Paul was saying, he truly recognizes his own sin and his need for Christ and is trying to point us to him because of his past not just because of his state of mind when he wrote his letters.

In the last paragraph of this chapter Paul gives his charge to Timothy.

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 1 Timothy 1:18-19

Wage the good warfare, hmm, the NIV says “you may fight the battle well”, the CSB says “fight the good fight”. I think this charge was meant to be given to all of us. I know I can personalize it for sure. The prophecies made about us when we become a child of God are the same that were given to Timothy. God made us for service to him. And because of the strength, He gives and the direction and the Holy Spirit working through us we can “wage the good warfare”, “fight the good fight” and fight the battle that is put before us, whatever it is, well.

What battle is before you today? Is it sickness of you or a loved one? Is it finances? Is it a wayward child or just parenting in general? Whatever it is:

This charge I entrust to you, (insert your name here), in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you (if you are a child of God you have prophecies over you), that by them you may wage the good warfare, (fight the good fight and fight that battle well) holding faith and a good conscience (hold tight to that faith child). By rejecting this, (don’t you dare ‘reject’ the faith) some have made a shipwreck of their faith.

Keep holding on, keep fighting well and the best way to go to battle with the enemy is ON YOUR KNEES!

Please pray for the medical personnel today.

It’s the MOST we can do!

2 Thessalonians 3

“Finally brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2

Paul is seen asking for prayer from the churches he is ministering to over and over. Let’s let this be a lesson to us. Paul, who had a face to face with the resurrected Jesus and was struck blind and regained his sight and was probably as on fire for Jesus as anyone ever was asking for prayer. How many times do we say “well all we can do is pray.” Or “at least we can pray about it.” Friends the MOST we can do for each other is to pray! And then to BELIEVE in the power of that prayer!!!  So yes pray for me, pray for each other, pray for your pastor, pray for our president!  It’s the MOST we can do. 

Paul is asking for prayer to be protected from wicked and evil men. Paul had already been run out of Thessalonica by people who did not believe the gospel and we know that he would encounter many wicked and evil people in his lifetime. But he had faith and was encouraging the Thessalonians would continue to walk as he had already directed them and to remain steadfast in their faith. 

“But the Lord is faithful He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5

We have seen over and over again in Paul’s letters that he worked wherever he went and paid his own way. It is not that Paul thought that Apostles did not have rights to be supported by the church. They certainly did, just like our pastors today have a right to be supported by the church. I have read that it is supposed and especially here in Thessalonians that Paul worked as he did to be an example for the people. I also wonder (and these are my thoughts) if Paul didn’t somewhere in his mind think he should work harder because of his persecution of the church in his previous life. I think that would be a very human thing to think. But Paul also points out here that the church should not put up with those who will not work. 

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6

Be sure you read that right. Paul is not saying that we stay away from someone who can’t work or someone who lapses temporarily even but he says stay away from someone “who is walking in idleness”. If this is their way of life, it is not in accordance with scripture. Everyone should work as they are able. 

“For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 

That puts it pretty plainly don’t you think. Please note that while we are not to support those who will not work we are also to do our work quietly and not to be busybodies ourselves by pointing them out. 

“As for your, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13-15

Sometimes it’s hard not to grow weary if we feel we are doing good. This is Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians and we get to feel the benefit of it also. If you see someone who is idle and will not work you do not have to feel obligated to feed them. That’s hard sometimes because we want to be compassionate. I think the lesson here is to try to give them a hand up. If you have a job or know of a job for them, offer it to them. Warn them but if you can see that idleness or laziness or lifestyle is the problem you are not obligated to them. 

Paul closes this letter much the same way as he closes all. In his own hand with an offering and a prayer of peach and grace. 

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16-17

Please remember to pray for our president and government leaders today. 

Stand Firm

2 Thessalonians 2

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2

The Thessalonians seemed to be concerned that they were already in the middle of the great tribulation. I found that to be very interesting as it seems these days lots of people are saying we are in the middle of the great tribulation now. Lots of things going on in the world today seem to be pointing to “end times” according to scholars and generally people who are way smarter than me. Paul tells the Thessalonians not to be deceived. The day is not here until after the rebellion and the man of lawlessness is revealed. The lawless one is at work and has been at work on earth for all time. Paul says here that the Holy Spirit is restraining him but that when it is time for him to be revealed the holy spirit will get out of the way. 

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.” 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

I don’t pretend to understand all there is to know about end times and the day of the Lord and when it will happen. I know this that God’s word tells us no one knows when it will happen not even the Son. I admit I have always been of the mindset I just want to be on the first train out of town. Paul says “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work”. This is true of today as apparently it was true even back in the Bible days. We know that Satan is working to confuse things. Confusion and lawlessness have his stamp on them.

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” 1 Thessalonians 2:9-10

We, however, are to stand firm. We can be thankful that we are saved and that we are sanctified. 

“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15

We can be thankful that God has chosen us and that we hold fast to the truth. We are called to truth in order to glorify God. Stand firm on what you have been taught, stand firm on the traditions of this word. We are to live for Christ whether we think we are in end times now or whether end times will not be for another 1000 years. We are called to stand firm. 

I am going to end today again as Paul did and let Paul’s words be our prayer. 

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your (our) hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Please pray for the small business industry. Also if you feel safe, visit your local restaurants and shops and by all means if you can tip well. This has been a hard year on everyone. 

Evident Faith

2 Thessalonians 1

This is the second letter written to the Thessalonians. It was written by Paul along with Silvanus (aka Silas) and Timothy. Silvanus was with Paul in Thessalonica when he founded the church and Timothy had delivered the first letter so the Thessalonians knew them. Paul, of course starts his letter extending grace and peace. 

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:2

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3

The church in Thessalonica seemed to be getting a lot of things right. The emphasis that Paul puts on this verse with “we ought always” and “as is right” shows that they were possibly very humbled by the accolades that Paul had sent them with the first letter. They had possibly responded with humility and were uncomfortable with how much Paul had built them up before. But Paul is letting them know that he boasts in them and that he will continue to because of their faith and love that they have for each other and the fact that it is growing. 

“This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering- since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” 2 Thessalonians 1:5-8

Paul is saying your faith is evidence of the “righteous judgment of God” and their faith is what makes them worthy of the kingdom of God. And even though some may feel that their faith is bringing about their suffering, that God will repay “with affliction” those who afflict. When our faith goes through the fire it does nothing but grow if we hold fast to that faith. Suffering affliction and persecution and walking in it with faith is what shows the world the evidence of God in our lives. Don’t miss the encouraging words here too. That God will repay those who afflict christians and that he will “grant relief” to those who are afflicted. This too shall pass. When you are going through things- persecutions, trials, troubles, afflictions, and you continue to walk in faith, your faith will grow and you can know that the troubles and trials will pass and God will give you/us rest. And God will repay those who may be causing these afflictions. God takes it personally when his children are afflicted or persecuted. 

Paul ends this chapter with a prayer for them. 

“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus 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

This is another good one to pray over your people. I pray it for myself too.

Oh Lord Jesus make us worthy of the calling that you have placed on us. May others see the faith and power in our life so that You may be glorified according to the grace that You have given sweet Lord. 

Please pray for your church and your pastor today.