Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when God chose you. Not many of you were considered wise by human standards. Not many of you were powerful. Not many of you belonged to important families. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the things of this world that are common and looked down on. He chose what is not considered to be important to do away with what is considered to be important. 29 So no one can brag to God. 30 Because of what God has done, you belong to Christ Jesus. He has become God’s wisdom for us. He makes us right with God. He makes us holy and sets us free. 31 It is written, “The one who brags should brag about what the Lord has done.” (Jeremiah 9:24)
The wisdom of God is often mistaken as foolishness. What sort of people does God look for? God chooses those who have nothing to brag about.
It’s not important how important we are, before we were saved, we lived in darkness. Our talents did not save us – God chose us! We are called by His love. God wants us to know that we have nothing to brag about before Him, but that we are completely indebted to Him. We are in Christ because of God’s work; God elects His people in order to bring honor to His name.
Boasting in ourselves is an illusion that we have some power in ourselves and can succeed through our own abilities. We are deceiving ourselves; God will puncture our pride and shatter the illusion of self-sufficiency.
When we trust Jesus, God makes us right with Him, within ourselves, and with other people. Christ’s character is gradually revealed in us as we learn how to handle life according to God’s wisdom. God alone is the source of our salvation. If you feel inadequate, God can use you. If you have Jesus, you have the secret of true success. Jesus has purchased us from the power of sin. We can only boast in Christ.
Lord Jesus, forgive me if I have boasted in myself, I pray I do not rely on what I have, or who I am, but that I rely totally on You. Help me to do what You want me to do, right where I am, and to have You delight in how you are glorified in my life. Your wisdom is amazing – Thank you that you are continually changing and teaching me.
Written by Cathy Croft
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
18 The message of the cross seems foolish to those who are lost and dying. But it is God’s power to us who are being saved. 19 It is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of those who are wise. I will do away with the cleverness of those who think they are so smart.” (Isaiah 29:14) 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the educated person? Where are the great thinkers of this world? Hasn’t God made the wisdom of the world foolish? 21 God wisely planned that the world would not know him through its own wisdom. It pleased God to use the foolish things we preach to save those who believe. 22 Jews require miraculous signs. Greeks look for wisdom. 23 But we preach about Christ and his death on the cross. That is very hard for Jews to accept. And everyone else thinks it’s foolish. 24 But there are those God has chosen, both Jews and others. To them Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom. 25 The foolish things of God are wiser than human wisdom. The weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
As there are divisions happening in the church, Paul explains that the only thing any one of us can boast in is Jesus. It’s got nothing to do with who we are, who led us to the Jesus, how smart we are, or what position in society we hold.
I am so grateful about that! I have friends – well educated – and to them believing in Jesus is very foolish, others have seen or heard of miracles (signs) and still don’t believe. Jesus dying for my sins really is not reasonable, but as Paul says in verse 24 “Christ is the wisdom and power of God” and my faith can rest on nothing else but this.
Lord thank you that the Gospel is so simple, my faith in Jesus. Help me not to get carried away with the latest favourite teacher or church or such but to remember that Jesus is the only one that I should be boasting in.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
10 Brothers and sisters, I ask all of you to agree with one another. I make my appeal in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then you won’t take sides. You will be in complete agreement in all that you think. 11 My brothers and sisters, some people who live in Chloe’s house have told me you are arguing with each other. 12 Here is what I mean. One of you says, “I follow Paul.” Another says, “I follow Apollos.” Another says, “I follow Peter.” And still another says, “I follow Christ.” 13 Does Christ take sides? Did Paul die on the cross for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I’m thankful that I didn’t baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius. 15 No one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 It’s true that I also baptized those who live in the house of Stephanas. Besides that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else. 17 Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to preach the good news. He commanded me not to use the kind of wisdom that people commonly use. That would take all the power away from the cross of Christ.
Divisions in Church. People taking sides and choosing their favourite leader. This is not God’s desire for his people. I find so much peace in the family of God, in His Church. This is one of the defining characteristics of my experience of Church life. Here Paul paints a picture of divisions identical to the kind that the world commonly experiences. Where is the internal peace that the Church is intended to manifest?
I am not called to a certain brand of theology, neither am I called to follow a certain spiritual leader because I like his/her style. I am called to follow Jesus, the person. All of us who belong to Jesus are united not by an ideology, not even by a creed. I am united to other Christians by a person and Jesus is not divided.
Lord, because of you I always have unity with other’s in your family. Because of you I have more in common than I have differences. Lord you are our love, you are our vision, you are our strength, you are our hope, you are our peace and you are our God!
Written by Andrew Mellor
4 I always thank God for you. I thank him because of the grace he has given to you who belong to Christ Jesus. 5 You have been blessed in every way because of him. All your teaching of the truth is better. Your understanding of it is more complete. 6 Our witness about Christ has been proved to be true in you. 7 There is no gift of the Holy Spirit that you don’t have. You are full of hope as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to come again. 8 God will keep you strong to the very end. Then you will be without blame on the day our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9 God is faithful. He has chosen you to share life with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
How can Paul be so confident that God will act in a certain way? How can he be so sure that God will do one thing and not change His mind and do another? To me, the ways of God are, more often than not, a complete mystery. How come Paul is so sure of what God will do?
In verse 8-9 Paul uses some big ‘absolutes’ in his letter to the Corinthian Church. “He WILL keep you strong” “God WILL do this”. How do I get this confidence?
Maybe the answer is Jesus Himself.
Paul was absolutely sure of God’s faithfulness because the transaction for his salvation was bought with nothing less than the blood and life of Jesus, God’s son – the very person who wants to do life “in partnership” with us too. v9. Because of Jesus I can have rock-solid confidence that God is on my side. He will fight for me. He will help me. He will keep me safe in this life so I don’t miss out on the eternal life with Jesus. He is faithful. He will do it.
Oh Lord, may my faith grow to be as strong as Paul’s. I know you will never let me down.
Written by Boudy van Noppen
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
1 I, Paul, am writing this letter. I have been chosen to be an apostle of Christ Jesus just as God planned. Our brother Sosthenes joins me in writing. 2 We are sending this letter to you, the members of God’s church in Corinth. You have been made holy because you belong to Christ Jesus. God has chosen you to be his holy people. He has done the same for all those everywhere who pray to our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is their Lord and ours. 3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
You have to love Paul. He makes it so easy to understand who he wrote to and why.
I also love his encouragements that so commonly are part of the introductory verses of his letters.
He makes these great encouraging and sweeping statements that include all those who love God in Jesus.
This letter is for you – it’s not only historically relevant for the Corinthians – but it is relevant for you. Are you ready for the journey of Corinthians? Then let’s read every day and apply the truth of God’s Word to us day by day!
Father, as we read Corinthians open our hearts and minds to Your Word. Adjust us where we need it, comfort us where we need it, inspire and challenge us where we need it!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
2 Thessalonians 3:14-18
14 Keep an eye on anyone who doesn’t obey the directions in our letter. Watch that person closely. Have nothing to do with him. Then he will feel ashamed. 15 But don’t think of him as an enemy. Instead, warn him as a brother or sister. 16 May the Lord who gives peace give you peace at all times and in every way. May the Lord be with all of you. 17 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own handwriting. That’s how I prove that I am the author of all my letters. I always do it that way. 18 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Paul, in making his closing remarks to the second letter to the Thessalonians, makes a series of significant statements that he clearly wants the readers to keep in mind. The part of this scripture that catches my eye initially is in vs 14-16. My Bible has a heading before 16, but it was not there in the original, so I read around it: Paul initially in vs 14, calls the reader to have nothing to do with anyone who does not obey what the letter says, but quickly follows this up with the instruction to do this not as an enemy, but as a fellow believer. It then follows up with verse 16, which is a warm message of incredible peace!!
The next verse then intrigues me. Is Paul including this final statement because he is aware of others impersonating him? Is he wisely setting up protection of the true messages of scripture? Is there another reason that he is including this statement? Whatever the reason, it is an encouragement to me that the content of scripture is true to the eyewitnesses who wrote it.
Father God, help us to be loving and wise in the way that we deal with those who do not have faith in the scriptures and thankyou for giving us Your word!
Written by Justin Ware
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
6 Brothers and sisters, here is a command we give you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep away from every believer who doesn’t want to work. Keep away from anyone who doesn’t live up to the teaching you received from us. 7 You know how you should follow our example. We worked when we were with you. 8 We didn’t eat anyone’s food without paying for it. In fact, it was just the opposite. We worked night and day. We worked very hard so that we wouldn’t cause any expense to any of you. 9 We worked, even though we have the right to receive help from you. We did it in order to be a model for you to follow. 10 Even when we were with you, we gave you a rule. We said, “Anyone who will not work will not eat.” 11 We hear that some people among you don’t want to work. They aren’t really busy. Instead, they are bothering others. 12 We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. So we strongly command people like that to settle down. They have to earn the food they eat. 13 Brothers and sisters, don’t ever get tired of doing the right thing.
The last verse in this passage really stood out to me – “…never tire in doing what is good”.
There are many reasons why we might be tempted to tire and give up on doing what is good. Sometimes we may wonder what the point is when we don’t seem to see any results. Or we may be tempted to give up because we don’t seem to get the recognition from people that we feel we deserve.
It’s good to remember that we offer our service to God for His glory and not for earthly rewards or praise from man. We are part of God’s eternal plans and purposes. If we are being obedient to what we believe He has called us to do, then we are laying up eternal treasures that cannot be seen or measured with the human eye.
God help me to keep an eternal perspective when I am tempted to give up on doing what is good. Help me to seek obedience to Your word rather than the praise of man. Thank you for the privilege of partnering with You and serving You with my life.
Written by Shelley Witt
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
3 Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread quickly. Pray that others will honor it just as you did. 2 And pray that we will be saved from sinful and evil people. Not everyone is a believer. 3 But the Lord is faithful. He will strengthen you. He will guard you from the evil one. 4 We trust in the Lord. So we are sure that you are doing the things we tell you to do. And we are sure that you will keep on doing them. 5 May the Lord fill your hearts with God’s love. May Christ give you the strength to go on.
In this letter Paul pastors the Thessalonian church by encouraging and directing the people in following God; however, in these verses we see that Paul is not a lone ranger, but a team player. He supports the church in prayer and provides wisdom to help them stay healthy, but he also calls upon the Thessalonian church to pray for him and the work that God has called him to.
It can be easy for me to sit back and watch others go about serving God, passively waiting for someone else to encourage those in the congregation without work, or those who are in stressful situations, abdicating responsibility and saying to myself that someone else is praying for the leaders of the church, or for the people overseas on mission, for the scriptures teachers, the workers, the parents, the students, and the lost…. No. I belong to the body of Christ and I have a part to play.
God had a specific purpose for Paul’s life, to use Paul to spread the Good News far and wide, and to pastor new churches. Part of the role of the Thessalonian church was to stand with Paul and pray for him and the work God was accomplishing through him.
Lord, please help me to remember that I am a vital part of this body. My prayers make a difference. Help me to do what you’ve called me to, and to stand alongside your people and encourage them as they serve you. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh
2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
13 Brothers and sisters, we should always thank God for you. The Lord loves you. God chose you from the beginning. He wanted you to be saved. Salvation comes through the Holy Spirit’s work. He makes people holy. It also comes through believing the truth. 14 He chose you to be saved by accepting the good news that we preach. And you will share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Brothers and sisters, stand firm. Hold on to what we taught you. We passed our teachings on to you by what we preached and wrote. 16 Our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father loved us. By his grace God gave us comfort that will last forever. The hope he gave us is good. May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father 17 comfort your hearts. May they make you strong in every good thing you do and say.
Paul encourages the Thessalonians to “stand firm and hold on” v 15. There has been confusion in the church about the second coming of Jesus and the ‘lawless one’ … seems nothing has changed in 2,000 years! … there are still any number of ideas and interpretations about all of that … but Paul’s advise is just as relevant for me/us as it was for them.
I’m to stand firm and hold fast to my salvation, keep my eyes on Jesus and know His word. It really is that simple.
Thank you Father that the gospel is so simple, you love me, saved me by your grace and have given me eternal comfort and hope.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
2 Brothers and sisters, we want to ask you something. It has to do with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It concerns the time when we will go to be with him. 2 What if you receive a prophecy, report or letter that is supposed to have come from us? What if it says that the day of the Lord has already come? If it does, we ask you not to become easily upset or alarmed. 3 Don’t let anyone trick you in any way. That day will not come until people rise up against God. It will not come until the man of sin appears. He is a marked man. He is sentenced to be destroyed. 4 He will oppose everything that is called God. He will oppose everything that is worshiped. He will give himself power over everything. He will set himself up in God’s temple. He will announce that he himself is God. 5 Don’t you remember? When I was with you, I used to tell you those things. 6 Now you know what is holding the man of sin back. He is held back so that he can make his appearance at the right time. 7 The secret power of sin is already at work. But the one who now holds that power back will keep doing it until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then the man of sin will appear. The Lord Jesus will overthrow him with the breath of his mouth. The glorious brightness of Jesus’ coming will destroy the man of sin. 9 The coming of the man of sin will be Satan’s work. His work will be seen in all kinds of fake miracles, signs and wonders. 10 It will be seen in every kind of evil that fools people who are dying. They are dying because they refuse to love the truth. The truth would save them. 11 So God will fool them completely. Then they will believe the lie. 12 Many will not believe the truth. They will take pleasure in evil. They will be judged.
Who is the lawless one????
To be honest over the ages many have claimed it is this person or that.
I have no idea!
But what I do know is that the manner of my life is what will keep me away from the deception of the enemy and the lawless one. “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”
You and I need not fear, we do not need to be concerned – what we need to do is stay close to the truth – God’s Word and practice it.
How powerful is God’s Word that it keeps us safe!
Father help me to stay true to Your Word, reading, meditating and living it every day!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
2 Thessalonians 1:5-12
5 All of this proves that when God judges, he is fair. So you will be considered worthy to enter God’s kingdom. You are suffering for his kingdom. 6 God is fair. He will pay back trouble to those who give you trouble. 7 He will help you who are troubled. And he will also help us. All of those things will happen when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come in blazing fire. He will come with the angels who are given the power to do what God wants. 8 He will punish those who don’t know God. He will punish those who don’t obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be destroyed forever. They will be shut out of heaven. They will never see the glory of the Lord’s power. 10 All of those things will happen when he comes. On that day his glory will be seen in his holy people. Everyone who has believed will be amazed when they see him. That includes you, because you believed the witness we gave you. 11 Keeping this in mind, we never stop praying for you. Our God has chosen you. We pray that he will consider you worthy of his choice. We pray that by his power he will make every good thing you have planned come true. We pray that he will make perfect all that you have done by faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus will receive glory through what you have done. We also pray that you will receive glory through what he has done. We pray all these things in keeping with the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Thessalonian church was young, and maturing, and also under attack, infiltrated by false teachers. There are three main themes:
1) God is just.
2) Jesus is coming back to administer God’s justice.
3) We are praying for you.
In the face of persecution we need to be reminded that God is just. Persecution is evidence that we will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom. Rather than growing bitter when persecuted, the Thessalonians were growing in faith, in their love for one another, and in their ability to endure.
One day God will balance the books.
Open your eyes of faith to see beyond the limits of this life to the day when justice will be rendered. Where God’s people being oppressed, imprisoned and tortured, the truth is that God is just, and that God is not idle even when I don’t see Him intervening.
Why pray? Because God uses our prayers, and prayer changes us. God works in and through our hearts and minds, prompting us through the working of his Spirit.
Our prayers are an encouragement to those who are going through trials. We can be a blessing by praying for others. Remind them that God is just and that Jesus is coming back to make things right. If we do these things, we will have one of the most important ministries we can ever have: the ministry of encouragement.
Thank you Lord that even though I was once your enemy, I received Your forgiveness. When I feel upset by evil around me, I pray that You would intervene, give relief to the persecuted, and change the hearts of the persecutors.
Written by Cathy Croft
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4
1 I, Paul, am writing this letter. Silas and Timothy join me in writing. We are sending this letter to you, the members of the church in Thessalonica. You belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 3 Brothers and sisters, we should always thank God for you. That is only right, because your faith is growing more and more. The love you all have for each other is increasing. 4 So among God’s churches we brag about the fact that you don’t give up easily. We brag about your faith in all the suffering and testing you are going through.
The Thessalonians are described by Paul as a people who’s faith and love is noticeably growing and increasing, even in the midst of persecutions and trials.
There is a principle here, that can encourage me. That no matter what the challenge or difficulty I may be facing, I can continue to grow in faith and in love for others, even when such circumstances would seemingly frustrate or squash my ability or to believe God or love others.
Lord, thank you for the example of the Thessalonians. Help me to be someone who grows in faith, love, and perseveres in these even in the midst of challenge, for your word shows me that it is possible.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
1 Thessalonians 5:23-28
23 God is the God who gives peace. May he make you holy through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept free from blame. May you be without blame from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes. 24 The One who has chosen you is faithful. He will do all these things. 25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all the believers with a holy kiss. 27 While the Lord is watching, here is what I command you. Have this letter read to all the believers. 28 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Paul wraps up his letter to the church with expectation! Expectation that they will continue growing in holiness and expectation that Jesus with return (soon). And underpinning it all is God’s faithfulness and action in both of these.
How wonderful to know that it is God’s action in me to make me more like Jesus (holy) as my walk with Him goes on and in the whole of me, spirit, soul and body – not just one part. I’m so glad that I’m not left to my own devises for this to happen it’s His faithfulness to me that it is happening. Because I can actually see this for myself – I know that Jesus will return – it’s not a maybe but certainty – 2 certain things, God’s action in me and Jesus’s return – they go hand in hand. Wow, what complete peace that brings, no wonder Paul begins this with the “God of peace”.
Thank you Father for your unending faithfulness to us – to me. Thank you that you’re so continually working in me, even without me realising it that all striving can just melt away to peace … and because of this evidence, I know Jesus will return.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
12 Brothers and sisters, we ask you to have respect for the godly leaders who work hard among you. They have authority over you. They correct you. 13 Have a lot of respect for them. Love them because of what they do. Live in peace with each other. 14 Brothers and sisters, we are asking you to warn those who don’t want to work. Cheer up those who are shy. Help those who are weak. Put up with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back one wrong act with another. Always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus. 19 Don’t put out the Holy Spirit’s fire. 20 Don’t treat prophecies as if they amount to nothing. 21 Put everything to the test. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
5 Brothers and sisters, we don’t have to write to you about times and dates. 2 You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 People will be saying that everything is peaceful and safe. Then suddenly they will be destroyed. It will happen like birth pains coming on a pregnant woman. None of the people will escape. 4 Brothers and sisters, you are not in darkness. So that day should not surprise you as a thief would. 5 All of you are children of the light. You are children of the day. We don’t belong to the night. We don’t belong to the darkness. 6 So let us not be like the others. They are asleep. Instead, let us be wide awake and in full control of ourselves. 7 Those who sleep, sleep at night. Those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But we belong to the day. So let us control ourselves. Let us put the armor of faith and love on our chest. Let us put on the hope of salvation like a helmet. 9 God didn’t choose us to receive his anger. He chose us to receive salvation because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done. 10 Jesus died for us. Some will be alive when he comes. Others will be dead. Either way, we will live together with him. 11 So cheer each other up with the hope you have. Build each other up. In fact, that’s what you are doing.
Nobody likes the thought of a thief in the night. Although we don’t really expect it to happen to us, we consider that it could happen one day. So, we check that doors are locked before we go to sleep to protect ourselves and loved ones.
Jesus’ return will be like that. Unexpected. And threatening for some.
Like labour pains, Jesus’ return does not have an appointment set on our calendars, but his return is certain to happen.
For us, brothers and sisters, his return might come as a surprise, but we need not fear, as God has promised us eternal life with him. It is and was His intent to protect us from destruction. A life in light should give us a different perspective on Jesus return. Yet, there is tension between hope for ourselves and concern for people we love who don’t know the same hope. We can’t personally protect them, but we do know who can. It’s interesting that the promise of living together with Him is available for everyone, “whether awake or asleep” (v10). How do we live and awaken people to saving hope and faith?
This passage encourages and inspires us to live awake and alert. We should be marked by our encouragement and building up of each other. The way we live should demonstrate 3 key things – faith, love and hope:
faith and love worn right across our chests for all to see.
Hope, hope of salvation, on our head, and prominent in our thinking.
Written by Lyndall Gourlay
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know what happens to those who die. We don’t want you to be sad, as other people are. They don’t have any hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again. When he returns, many who believe in him will have died already. We believe that God will bring them back with Jesus. 15 That agrees with what the Lord has said. When the Lord comes, many of us will still be alive. We tell you that we will certainly not go up before those who have died. 16 The Lord himself will come down from heaven. We will hear a loud command. We will hear the voice of the leader of the angels. We will hear a blast from God’s trumpet. Many who believe in Christ will have died already. They will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them. We will be taken up in the clouds. We will meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with him forever. 18 So cheer each other up with these words of comfort.
Losing someone when they die is a painful process and too often we avoid thinking of and talking about the process of death and dying. I recently watched a great TED talk by an emergency doctor named Peter Saul on this exact issue.
Paul’s point here though is that as believers in Christ, our perspective of death should be framed by our faith in the everlasting and the expectation of resurrection to eternal life… my experience though is that it is really hard not to get caught up in the madness of everyday life. Even as a relatively mature Christian, it requires regular focus, prayer and reflection to constantly remind myself to maintain an eternal perspective on life and death.
God, help me to have your perspective and to see things with your eyes rather than my own. Keep me from getting caught up in the daily worries and mess and let me see the bigger picture through knowing you more.
Written by Justin Ware
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
9 We don’t need to write to you about love among believers. God himself has taught you to love each other. 10 In fact, you do love all the brothers and sisters all around Macedonia. But we are asking you to love each other more and more. 11 Do everything you can to live a quiet life. Mind your own business. Work with your hands, just as we told you to. 12 Then unbelievers will have respect for your everyday life. And you won’t have to depend on anyone.
I was challenged by Paul’s message. Do I do my best to “love each other as Jesus loved me”? Can I do more and more? Each year, after the dumpling- fundraising has finished, I am tired and exhausted. Sometimes, I ask myself “whether we should do it again next year?”
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John15:12).
“Love each other” is not an idea or knowledge or request, but the command of Jesus Christ. In this passage, Paul is not tried of reminding the Thessalonian church to love each other but to challenge/urge them to do so more and more.
Paul also asked the church people to lead a quiet life, to mind their own business and to work with their hands. As young Christians growing spiritually, living life in this way earns the respect of non Christians and would make the sharing of their faith in Jesus with others more effective.
Thank you Jesus, your word/love always inspires me: “Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees”, because “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Amen
Written by Allen Leu
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
4 Finally, brothers and sisters, we taught you how to live in a way that pleases God. In fact, that is how you are living. In the name of the Lord Jesus we ask and beg you to do it more and more. 2 You know the directions we gave you. They were given by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 God wants you to be made holy. He wants you to stay away from sexual sins. 4 He wants all of you to learn to control your own bodies. You must live in a way that is holy. You must live with honor. 5 Don’t long to commit sexual sins like those who don’t know God. 6 None of you should sin against your brother by doing that. You should not take advantage of him. The Lord will punish everyone who commits those kinds of sins. We have already told you and warned you about that. 7 God chose us to live pure lives. He wants us to be holy. 8 So if you refuse to accept my teaching, you turn your back on God, not on people. God gives you his Holy Spirit.
The Message version of the Bible has the first verse of this passage as
“One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.”
What a great idea. Living life as a spirited dance in partnership with God. To do that we need to take note of the things that God has said are not helpful like sexual sin or harming our brothers and sisters. A partnership means a conversation – that we talk to God and come to decisions about how we are going to live our lives together.
Thank you Lord that you are that interested in us and our lives and that you want to help us live life well. Help us to work in partnership with You. Help us to listen to the Holy Spirit so that we make great decisions.
Written by Therese Manning
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus open up a way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love grow. May it be like a rising flood. May your love for one another increase. May it also increase for everyone else. May it be just like our love for you. 13 May the Lord give you strength in your hearts. Then you will be holy and without blame in the sight of our God and Father. May that be true when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
Paul is thrilled that this group of believers has continued on in the Christian faith. He is very encouraged by this fact and wants to be with them. The Thessalonians were inspiring!
Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians is that they continue to grow in love for one another and for those around them. Basically Paul wants love to spill out into everything they do. If they can continue in faith and love they will be in the position the Lord wants when Jesus returns again. ie strong and blameless before Christ.
It’s a reminder to me of the importance of love in all we do. Here were a group of believers who, for the most part, were getting the Christian life right and Paul encourages them to love all and sundry. Loving those around us isn’t always easy and at times seems beyond us, none the less that’s what Paul was teaching the Thessalonians. We too, are called to love in this same way. Sure gives us something to aim for!
Dear God, please fill me with your love so that I can love those around me like Jesus did. Please help me to forgive when I need to and give me the strength to keep on loving even when I’m not loved or even liked return. Amen
Written by Ainslie Woods
1 Thessalonians 3:6-10
6 But Timothy has come to us from you just now. He has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have happy memories of us. He has also said that you long to see us, just as we long to see you. 7 Brothers and sisters, in all our trouble and suffering your faith cheered us up. 8 Now we really live, because you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you because of all the joy that comes only from our God? 10 Night and day we pray very hard that we will see you again. We want to give you what is missing in your faith.
Paul has received wonderful news from Timothy that the believers in Thessalonica are still going strong in their faith and growing in spite of his absence and the persecution they are facing.
I totally understand Paul’s words in verse 8 – “For now we live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord.” (NRSV) You can almost hear Paul’s sigh of relief since he was so concerned for this young church. There really is nothing like hearing that friends you love and have prayed for but haven’t seen for some time are still growing in their faith and walk, even though life has been tough and situations they are facing are hard, they are hanging onto Jesus. It really does bring a joy, comfort and peace to your spirit, it’s such a unique feeling.
It is my prayer that my life and walk with Jesus will bring life and joy to my friends too and especially to the one who initially led me to the Lord.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
3 We couldn’t wait any longer. So we thought it was best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent our brother Timothy to give you strength and hope in your faith. He works together with God in spreading the good news about Christ. 3 We sent him so that no one would be upset by times of testing. You know very well that we have to go through them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that our enemies would make us suffer. As you know very well, it has turned out that way. 5 That’s the reason I sent someone to find out about your faith. I couldn’t wait any longer. I was afraid that Satan might have tempted you in some way. Then our efforts would have been useless.
The Thessalonians are not to be disheartened by the trials or persecutions that are being faced by Paul and his companions. Paul knew they were coming and he had warned the church in Thessalonica in advance. Paul knew that just as his master Jesus had been persecuted so all his friends and followers will be persecuted. Ultimately Paul knows that persecution will not last forever.
Persecution and trials are not a sign for me to get discouraged. They are yet another way I am connected to my saviour Jesus. They can be an affirmation to me that by the grace of God, Jesus is living on the inside of me. Darkness is reacting against the light in me.
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:5
Lord Jesus, I want to be identified with you in every way, even if it means persecution and rejection by some. I know there will come a time when your light will vanquish all darkness. Thank you for making me a child of the light.
Written by Andrew Mellor
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
17 Brothers and sisters, we were torn away from you for a short time. We were no longer with you in person, but we kept you in our thoughts. We really longed to see you. So we tried very hard to do so. 18 We wanted to come to you. Again and again I, Paul, wanted to come. But Satan stopped us. 19 What is our hope? What is our joy? When our Lord Jesus returns, what is the crown we will delight in? Isn’t it you? 20 Yes, you are our glory and our joy.
How do I recognise the hideous work of Satan in my circumstances? How do I discern spiritual attack over other negative influences like depression, fatigue, illness or the consequences of my own bad choices?
Maybe Paul gives us a clue in verse 19. The Church in Thessalonica was Paul’s joy and hope. But Paul was prevented from seeing the people that brought him joy and hope. His joy was “stolen” from him and he diagnosed the perpetrator as Satan himself – the one who steals and kills and destroys (John 10:10).
I need to be more aware of Satan’s schemes. When I feel my joy getting stolen from me, that’s when I must resist the Devil in the name of Jesus and watch him flee. (James 4:7)
Dear Jesus, help me remember that You are the ultimate source of hope and joy. My “strong tower” – I’ll run to You and be safe.
Written by Boudy van Noppen
1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
13 We never stop thanking God for the way you received his word. You heard it from us. But you didn’t accept it as a human word. You accepted it for what it really is. It is God’s word. It is at work in you who believe. 14 Brothers and sisters, you became like the members of God’s churches in Judea. They are believers in Christ Jesus, just as you are. People in your own country made you suffer. You went through the same things the church members in Judea suffered from the Jews. 15 The Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets also forced us to leave. They do not please God. They are enemies of everyone. 16 They try to keep us from speaking to those who aren’t Jews. The Jews don’t want them to be saved. In that way, the Jews always increase their sins to the limit. God’s anger has come on them at last.
This passage reminds us of the suffering and persecution that the early believers had to face as followers of Christ. Like Paul, we too can thank God that these believers persevered and formed the church which we now benefit from. What a difference their lives made for the future of the world through the establishment of the church.
We may never know the difference that our lives will make to those who come after us. As we follow God’s word we are paving the way for future generations of believers!
It’s good to step back from day to day life and take a look at the big picture of God’s plan and how we all play a part of it. It helps us not to lose heart and give up. We are part of something great that God is doing through His church!
Thank you, God for the many believers who have gone before us – some paying the ultimate cost with their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Thanks that we have the privilege of partnering with You to bring Your word to the whole world.
Written by Shelley Witt
1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
9 Brothers and sisters, I am sure you remember how hard we worked. We labored night and day while we preached to you God’s good news. We didn’t want to cause you any expense. 10 You are witnesses of how we lived among you believers. God is also a witness that we were holy and godly and without blame. 11 You know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. 12 We gave you hope and strength. We comforted you. We really wanted you to live in a way that is worthy of God. He chooses you to enter his glorious kingdom.
I can imagine Paul and his companions with the young Thessalonian church, teaching the new believers how to follow God, and passionately declaring how great and how good God is. What a beautiful picture Paul paints of him taking on the role of a father encouraging his children, to show how passionate he was about the people of Thessalonica living for God. I imagine a father teaching a young child how to ride a bike, urging the child to push the pedals, and encouraging them that they can do it. Paul is imitating God’s way.
God does not condemn me for failing to follow Him perfectly. God does not give up on me, even when I’m frustrated with myself. God is present: full of love, encouraging me, comforting me, and urging me to live a life worthy of His greatness. God has called me to partner in His greatness; to be a part of the amazing story He is telling; a story of sacrifice, hope, and redemption.
Lord, thank you for encouraging me, thank you for calling me to such a worthy aim, to live not for myself or my agenda, but to live for you, and partner with you to see the impossible come about. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
2 Brothers and sisters, you know that our visit to you was not a failure. 2 You know what happened earlier in the city of Philippi. We suffered, and people treated us badly there. But God gave us the boldness to tell you his good news. We preached to you even though people opposed us strongly. 3 The appeal we make is based on truth. It comes from a pure heart. We are not trying to trick you. 4 In fact, it is just the opposite. God has accepted us to preach. He has trusted us with the good news. We aren’t trying to please people. We want to please God. He puts our hearts to the test. 5 As you know, we never praised you if we didn’t mean it. We didn’t put on a mask to cover up any sinful longing. God is our witness that this is true. 6 We were not expecting people to praise us. We were not looking for praise from you or anyone else. As Christ’s apostles, we could have caused you some expense. 7 But we were gentle among you. We were like a mother caring for her little children. 8 We loved you so much that we were happy to share with you God’s good news. We were also happy to share our lives with you. You had become very special to us.
Paul appeals to the Thessalonians making plain that the manner of his appeal and preaching is not manipulative nor from a motive other than true love for them and for God.
Sometimes we baulk, sometimes we duck, sometimes we weave yet we should without fear tell the Gospel and from a clear motive and pure heart!
Pleasing people is one of the biggest traps we can get ourselves into. Time and again I have fallen into this trap – its mouth is wide and it seems almost bottomless!!
Paul makes plain we need to avoid this trap of the enemy.
Are you falling into the trap of people pleasing? Or are you truly loving people? You’ll know by whether you are free to tell the truth to them or not.
Father help us to keep our motives pure!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
1 I, Paul, am writing this letter. Silas and Timothy join me in writing. We are sending this letter to you, the members of the church in Thessalonica. You belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be given to you. 2 We always thank God for all of you. We pray for you. 3 We never forget you when we pray to our God and Father. Your work is produced by your faith. Your service is the result of your love. Your strength to continue comes from your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 Brothers and sisters, you are loved by God. We know that he has chosen you. 5 Our good news didn’t come to you only in words. It came with power. It came with the Holy Spirit’s help. He gave us complete faith in what we were preaching. You know how we lived among you for your good. 6 We and the Lord were your examples. You followed us. You suffered terribly. Even so, you welcomed our message with the joy the Holy Spirit gives. 7 So you became a model to all the believers in the lands of Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you. That was true not only in Macedonia and Achaia. Your faith in God has also become known everywhere. So we don’t have to say anything about it. 9 The believers themselves report the kind of welcome you gave us. They tell about how you turned away from statues of gods to serve the living and true God. 10 They tell about how you are waiting for his Son to come from heaven. God raised him from the dead. He is Jesus. He saves us from God’s anger, and his anger is sure to come.
Do you feel quite ordinary? Not gifted or knowledgeable and does anyone notice your faith? Why are the Thessalonians loved by God?
No-one becomes a chosen one of God against their will. God chose them, and made the gospel come to them not just with words, but with power, the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. Their faith transformed lives, cultures and destinies.
What does it mean to be loved by God? The world’s perspective of being loved is to have a romantic relationship, being treated special, or having people adore you. People strive to earn love by changing themselves.
However, I have been loved because the gospel came to me. I don’t have to earn love or be loveable. God chose me even when I was a sinner. God allowed the gospel to come to me even though I was not interested in Him. No matter what the world says, I am loved by God. I’ve experienced the power of God’s words speaking to me and convicting me of my sins.
I need to continue to battle my false views of what it means to be loved by affirming that God loves me, and that he did whatever it took to allow the gospel to come to me.
As a young girl I didn’t understand the passages I heard, they were just words. Every encounter I had was significant.
People planted, watered, weeded, and tended the seed(s) that led me to ‘receive the word’. As an adult, the gospel message came alive as I heard it preached, and I knew I must get right with God.
Lord, thank you for the power of Your Holy Spirit, that when I encounter obstacles and doubts, I receive Your word with conviction. Thank You for Your understanding and the transforming power of the gospel. Amen.
Written by Cath Croft
11 Look at the big letters I’m using as I write to you with my own hand! 12 Some people want others to think well of them. They are trying to force you to be circumcised. They do it for only one reason. They don’t want to suffer by being connected with the cross of Christ. 13 Even those who are circumcised don’t obey the law. But they want you to be circumcised. Then they can brag about what has been done to your body. 14 I never want to brag about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through that cross the ways of the world have been crucified as far as I am concerned. And I have been crucified as far as the ways of the world are concerned. 15 Circumcision and uncircumcision don’t mean anything. What really counts is the creation of a new nature. 16 May peace and mercy be given to all who follow this rule. May peace and mercy be given to the Israel that belongs to God. 17 Finally, let no one cause trouble for me. My body has marks that show I belong to Jesus. 18 Brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
It seems that one reason the Judaisers were compelling the Galatians to be circumcised was to impress others, so that they (the Judaisers) wouldn’t be persecuted. In Australia today we rarely suffer physical persecution. Yet we are persecuted emotionally by being laughed at or criticised for similar petty reasons.
Just as the Galatians were admonished by Paul to not give in to circumcision, we should not give in to following the world just to avoid persecution. For example, giving into peer pressure and allowing our kids to watch the MA rated movie when they’re only 12, or downloading a movie, speeding or avoiding tax to stop others ridiculing us. This is avoiding standing up for what we believe in order to avoid persecution.
The other reason the Galatians were being compelled was so that the Judaisers could boast that they had made these men comply with the law. Paul points out that we should only boast in Christ – in what he has done, not what we have done.
What counts is not what others think of us. What counts is that we are a new creation. Let us stand tall in this fact and be righteous and honour God and be prepared to suffer if that is the result.
Written by Megan Cornell
6 Those who are taught the word must share all good things with their teacher. 7 Don’t be fooled. You can’t outsmart God. A man gathers a crop from what he plants. 8 Some people plant to please their sinful nature. From that nature they will harvest death. Others plant to please the Holy Spirit. From the Spirit they will harvest eternal life. 9 Let us not become tired of doing good. At the right time we will gather a crop if we don’t give up. 10 So when we can do good to everyone, let us do it. Let us make a special point of doing good to those who belong to the family of believers.
“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)
Jesus told a story about a farmer whose enemies sowed tares amongst his wheat (Matt 13:24-43). The seeds look the same. At the right time, the seeds germinate and grow. Then you can easily tell the difference. One will be a fruitful harvest to be gathered and the other will be burned.
In the same way, “good deeds” done to please our sinful nature, such as generosity in the hope of a reward (greed) or kindness in the hope of a good reputation (pride), superficially look like a life motivated by love for God and a desire to please Him. But God wants our hearts.
It can be easy to fall into the wrong motives. I need to actively focus my heart on Him every day.
When a farmer sows seed it looks like he has thrown his valuable seed away, until the right season comes and the seeds grow. It can be very discouraging when the things we have sown into the lives of others don’t seem to bless as we had hoped.
Paul encourages me to sow first to please the Spirit and to be patient as he brings good things from it at the right time. And he encourages me to bless those who bless me (such as teachers) with every good thing: perhaps with material things, but certainly with encouragement and with whatever spiritual gifts God gives me.
Father, how I love you and I long to please you. Please take my attempts at blessings for others and bring them to fruit. And please keep me from slipping into doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
Written by David Cornell
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
PO Box 2744,
Carlingford NSW 2118
PHYSICAL LOCATION SUSPENDED
Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118
PHYSICAL LOCATION SUSPENDED
Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118