Friday, July 31, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 26: Glory

 Day 26: Glory

Throughout this passage we have looked at over the past few days, 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12, the word glory/glorified has appeared a number of times. The Bible tells us throughout, that the ultimate glory belongs to God. It is the call of His Holy people to bring Him glory through His Son Jesus Christ. And, by His grace, we share in His glory.

In our daily lives God's people are called to live holy lives that are expressed by attitudes and deeds prompted by their faith in God and revealing a goodness that reflects Christ. Those in the world see the lives that have been changed as a result of Christ's redemptive work and power in them, and this results in exalting God, giving Him glory. 

We have been created to bring glory to God.

"Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;

    no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
    will come and worship before you, Lord;
    they will bring glory to your name.
For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
    you alone are God." Psalm 86:8-10

We are called to live holy lives as His holy people, that by our holy living Jesus will be revealed  in us and through us, bringing glory to God. Everything we do is to bring God glory.

"...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:10-11

On the day of the Lord, when He returns "from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels" (2 TH 1:7), all people, those who know God and those who don't, will see the greatness of His glory. On that day God will make all things right, bringing retribution and relief to those who have faced trouble in His name (2  Th 1:5-7), and He will be fully glorified in His holy people (2 TH 1:10). And we will glorified in Him. In the next chapter Paul will reiterate this and say that God called us through the gospel so that we "might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 TH 2:14).

"So when Jesus is revealed in His glory, He will be glorified in His people. We will not only see, but share, His glory...We will be radically and permanently changed, being transformed into His likeness. And in our transformation His glory will be seen in us, for we will glow forever with the glory of Christ, as indeed He glowed with the glory of His Father (John 14:13)." ~John Stott

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen."
Romans 11:33-36

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 25: Power

Day 25: Power

"With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith." 2 Thessalonians 1:11

Today let's look at what the Bible says about the power of God.

Scripture tells us that the cross, the Gospel, the kingdom, and Christ, Himself, are all the power of God:
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

"Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1 Corinthians 1:24

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power." 1 Corinthians 4:20

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes." Romans 1:16

Jesus Christ was declared with power to be the Son of God :
[Jesus] "who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord."
The same power which raised Christ from the dead, will raise us to Him as well:
"By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also." 1 Corinthians 6:4

"For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him." 2 Corinthians 13:4

"That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 1:19-20

And that same power is at work in us:
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Ephesians 3:20

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being." Ephesians 3:16

"I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power." Ephesians 3:7

"To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:29

The power of God holds all things together; it provides, it strengthens and it shields.
"The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word."  Hebrews 1:3

"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3

"...being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience." Colossians 1:11

"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

"..who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:5

Finally our faith rests in God's power and reveals God's power:
"So that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power."  1 Corinthians 2:5

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:7

Today read the Scriptures above. Dig deeper in the ones that stand out to you. Connect with all that the power of God is and ponder His wonderful and powerful ways. Rejoice that, we who are in Christ, have His power at work in us and through us, revealing the power and glory of the Lord!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 24: Worthy

Day 24: Worthy

"All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering."

Counted worthy. This term is Paul's high call to the people of God, that they would be counted worthy of His kingdom. In connection with the above verse, as we saw in yesterday's post, the suffering the Thessalonians face and are persevering through is evidence that God's judgment in calling them is right. Paul uses this word 'worthy' in a similar manner in two other places in his writings to the Thessalonians, as well as in some of his other epistles.

"...encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory." 1 Thessalonians 2:12

"...we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling." 2 Thessalonians 1:11

"I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Ephesians 4:1

"...conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." Philippians 1:27

" that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way." Colossians 1:10

To understand Paul's call to God's people, we must understand the use of this word in the context of the day and the culture in which Paul lived. In our day the word 'worthy' is used most often of something deserving, of something that has adequate value or merit. In Paul's day, however, this word was used in the market and in banking for bringing up the other beam of the scales. When one thing had the same weight as another it was worthy. It has the same value, weighs as much as, balances the scales.

Paul's use of the word 'worthy' was very intentional on his part. When he says that God's people are to live lives or conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel or the kingdom or of God's calling, he is actually calling them to live up to something they already are. To be worthy in Paul's doctrine is to live out what you already are in Christ. It is a positional statement. 

A number of years ago my church went through the book of Ephesians. When we got to 4:1 and saw this positional language we attached this statement to it: Be who you are. It became a saying around our church to remind us that we are to live up to and become what we already are in Christ. In Christ we are holy, loved, God's children, a royal priesthood, redeemed, forgiven, complete, adopted as sons, accepted, and the list goes on and on. Whether we feel it or not, these things are true of us because of who we are in Christ.

So Paul is actually saying live lives that are worthy - that balance the scales - of who you say you are and how you live. Live a life worthy of the kingdom - live in a manner that reflects who you are in Christ. May your talk and your walk match each other. These "worthy" statements and callings are expressions of who we already are and expectations to become who we already are in practice, attitude and lifestyle.

John stated it this way in one of his letters: 
"Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6

In the letter to the Colossians, Paul links living a life worthy of the Lord with pleasing God. The passage in 2 Thessalonians  1 ends with Paul's prayer that God-worthy living will result in the Lord's name being glorified in His followers and they in Him. Jesus Christ is, after all, the One, the worthy Lamb of God:  Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Revelation 5:12

Today we look at how to respond to what we have discovered in observation and interpretation with Scripture memorization and meditation. Look for this document on the Bible Study Techniques page.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 23: Perseverance

Day 23: Perseverance

3 "We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:2-12 (NAS)

With today's word we now turn to the second letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. We have already learned as we journeyed through the first letter, that the Thessalonian Christ followers faced many trials and suffering right from the start of their faith. As we begin the second letter Paul continues his encouragement to this young church, and will continue to address concerns they had. 

It would appear one of those concerns is questions about the place of suffering in the lives of Christ-followers. So he begins this letter to them much like he began his first letter: Commending them for the faith and love that is seen in them. Even more so, their faith and love is increasing and growing, as indicated in verse 3. This is indeed answer to the prayers in Paul's first letter where he prayed:
"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else" (1 TH 3:12).  He goes on to commend them even more so, telling them that he speaks proudly of them because their increase of faith and love is in the midst of and in spite of trials and suffering. They persevere and remain steadfast in their pursuit of holy living. 

Paul encourages them, going on in verse 5 that their suffering and perseverance are signs of God's righteous judgment that they will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, as it is for the kingdom of God that they suffer. Paul again with this encouragement reminds them that relief and reward will take place when Christ returns. This is what they are to look to and gain hope from. This is what will motivate them to remain steadfast, to persevere through it all. 

In verses 6-12 Paul contrasts the final judgment for the Thessalonian Christ followers and for those who persecute them. The Thessalonian Christ followers will find relief, God will avenge their suffering, and Christ will glorified in them and them in Him. For those who persecute them God will repay them the persecution they have doled out on His people. They will face His retribution and they "will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (vs 9).

In the midst of suffering and trials the Thessalonians needed someone more mature in Christ to help them see beyond their current situation to the promises of a just, faithful and loving God. To their cries of 'Why isn't God doing something about our suffering?', Paul responds with the purpose for their suffering and for their perseverance. God is using their suffering. Their perseverance is proof that how they are responding to the trials will prove they are worthy of their calling into the kingdom of God when Jesus Christ returns. They may face injustice now, but when Christ returns they will see His righteous justice.

Through it all Paul encourages, imparts godly perspective, gives thanks for their growing faith, love and endurance, and prays that God's power would continue to glorify the name of Jesus Christ in their lives.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 22: Thank

Day 22: Thank

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Yesterday we looked at Paul's model of praying continually and how he made prayer his lifestyle. In this passage where Paul urges the Thessalonians, and us, to pray continually, we notice that he has sandwiched this call in the center of two other commands. Rejoice and give thanks. It makes you think that Paul might be communicating that prayer is key to being able to rejoice always and to give thanks in all things. Or, is he saying that rejoicing and giving thanks is key to being able to pray continually? Or, possibly, are both true?

In another letter from Paul, he also combines rejoicing, thanksgiving and prayer.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7

Paul tells the Philippians that rejoicing in the Lord always and praying with thankfulness results in reducing worry and anxiety, and giving us the peace of God.

To the Colossians, he again combined prayer and thankfulness:
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

The call to rejoicing and thanksgiving seem to be an attitude that Paul continually calls God's people to live out of. He reminded the Colossians that part of living a life worthy of the Lord is "joyfully giving thanks to the Father" (1:12). He called them to live in Christ "overflowing with thankfulness" (2:7), to "be thankful" (3:15), and to do all things "giving thanks to God the Father" (3:15). 

To the Ephesians he also reminded them to "always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (5:20)

We are best able to rejoice when we are able to see with eyes of gratitude. When we are thankful for who God is and for all that He has done for us through Jesus Christ. Rejoicing and thanksgiving then naturally lead us to going to the Father in prayer. A lifestyle of continual rejoicing and thanksgiving then means a lifestyle of continual prayer.

Prayer reminds us that we are not alone. It reminds us that we cannot do life alone, it helps place us in continual dependence on God. Thankfulness and joy flow from a growing trust in God and belief that He cares for us and provides for us.

Through constant prayer we are better able to have the mind of Christ, to see things as He does, and thus be able to rejoice and give thanks in all things. Prayer with thanksgiving helps us focus on what we have in Christ, and leads us to rejoice in Him. 

Thanksgiving, rejoicing and prayer are so intimately connected that they constantly work together: thanksgiving in prayer results in joy; rejoicing stirs up thankfulness and moves us to pray; prayer brings both thanksgiving and joyfulness as we talk to and depend on the Father.  

It all brings us to the end of this passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19: "for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." A lifestyle of continual rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving is motivated in us because it is God's will for us. But we are not left to go it alone, for it is God's will for us in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ provides us with the ability and the power through His Spirit. The more we grow in Christ's likeness, the more we are able to grow in rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving.

Today on the Bible Study Techniques page we take a look at my thoughts on the third step in the Inductive Bible Study Method ~ Respond: Application. Then over the last week of our words challenge we will look more closely at some of the Response practices listed in today's document.