Monday 30 November, 2020

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4

1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

For the church in Thessalonica, things were going from bad to worse. Persecution had intensified, so much so that Paul decided to write a second letter to them, to encourage them in their faith. And he starts by telling them that he proudly tells all the other churches about their endurance and faithfulness in the persecution and hardships they experienced.

I imagine Paul saying to a church, “you know that church in Thessalonica, they are really suffering, I’m so proud of them”. Thanks Paul.

When we hear of churches and believers overcoming and gaining victory, we celebrate that, and give thanks to God for what he has done. When we hear of churches and people being persecuted, we pray for them and ask God to bring that to an end. And we should. But Paul also understands how important it is for us to know that in our troubles, that we are not alone.

No matter how bad it seems, our troubles are not unique. Believers have always gone through periods of persecution and trouble. And they have endured. They have remained faithful. Paul’s encouragement not just to the church in Thessalonica, but all churches, is that we also can remain faithful, we also can endure. As believers, we are in “life” together.

Satan loves to try to isolate us, to make us feel all alone. If that happens, it’s easy for us to give up. But in the whole church family there is strength. It’s not that “misery loves company” instead “a person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.” There is strength in numbers, strength in community.

If you are feeling alone, going through trials and troubles, know that you are not alone. Be strengthened and encouraged, the whole church family is with you.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Sunday 29 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5:23-28

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters. 28 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 began 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 just melts away to peace … because of this evidence, I know Jesus will return.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Saturday 28 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-22‬ ‭‬‬

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

God you want me giving thanks always, praying without ceasing, testing everything, abstaining from every evil. Always, everything, all. This is literally impossible for me. But this is what you are growing me into. 

God your Spirit lives in me. And I can do things that either suppress your influence in my life or grow it. Finding things to be thankful for, being in constant communication with you, expecting you to speak in miraculous ways, but always trusting Your Word more than words of man, running from temptation – these all allow the influence of your spirit to grow in my life. And this allows me to grow to be more like you Jesus. 

Thank you Lord, that as I walk with you day by day you are growing me. I’m not at the ‘always, everything, all’ point yet, but that’s where your Spirit is taking me! 

Written by Rhiannon Mellor

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Friday 27 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

Prior to this passage, the Apostle Paul has been putting all earthly concerns into the context of Jesus’ return and the day of God’s judgment. As a follower of Jesus, I can look forward to Jesus’ return, not as a day of wrath, but as a day of rejoicing; my King is coming to reign forever. Sadly, some use Jesus’ return as an excuse to devalue relationships here on earth. But Paul assumes the contrary, because Jesus is coming back to rule forever, I should take very seriously my relationships on earth and seek God’s wisdom to act wisely towards each person I know or meet. I see there is a time to encourage, warn, be at peace, assist and honour. My relationships matter immensely to God and if I want to please my King when he arrives, I better be getting them right.

Lord show me where I am lacking honour, or if I am shying away from giving a loving rebuke. Show me what you see in my relationships, so I can be pleasing to you. Amen.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Thursday 26 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

5 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

This passage of Scripture has a title, The Day of the Lord, which is a phrase that we see in the Old Testament, referring to the time when God will come and intervene with judgment and/or blessing. However, in the New Testament the theme of judgment continues but is also referred to as the say of redemption.  The Hope of Jesus has changed the perspective and this is due to the fact we as Christians, thankfully, no longer live in the darkness but are children of the light.  I love that Paul directly links this with the action that as Christians we get to walk out.  We get to put on the armour of Faith, Love and Hope.  ‘Putting on’ requires intention and action.  Faith produces action, which needs to be expressed through Love and grounded in the eternal Hope.  This is the Christian walk, and our privilege. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for the Redemption that we have in Jesus.  That he died so that we can be in relationship with him.  Help us today to put on the breastplate of Faith and Love and the Helmet of Salvation, so that we may live in a way that reflects you to the rest of the world. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Written by Ps. Annique Botta

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Wednesday 25 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

No matter which culture we belong to, the universal response to the loss of something precious is grief. It’s the process we go through to come to terms with the change in our lives. In this passage Paul calls us not to grieve as they who have no hope. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have a significant emotional response to our loss but rather that, in this situation, we have a peace that we will be gathered together with the believers who have already passed away and that together we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore, despite our great sadness there is hope for our future because of Jesus death and resurrection. Praise God!

Dear Lord, we praise you and thank you that you desired for us to be made righteous so that we are able to spend eternity in your presence. That you made a way for this to happen through your very great sacrifice and we look forward to your return. Amen

Written by Jocelyn Petschack

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Tuesday 24 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

It is very easy for us to get caught up in wondering what the will of God for our life is. Where should we live, work, find community? Who should we marry, vote for, make friends with?

Life is full of important decisions! And we should absolutely include God in these choices, seeking His face first as we plan our steps. However, one thing I have found helpful is understanding that the will of God is found in upholding the ways of God, as I once heard a preacher say. 

This passage gives a good indication of the way God wants us to live. Loving the people around us more and more all the time. Upholding an unassuming life and not being idle. Using the skills and gifts God has given us and living in a way that draws respect from those around us. 

When we are able to submit to God like this, keeping our hearts soft to Him, we are able to be led by Him. He will show us His will for our lives as we make choices that honour who He is and the way He calls us to live. 

God, thank you that you do have a good plan for each of our lives. Thank you that you don’t hide yourself from us. Help us to remember that the best way to make sure we are following your will in our lives is to live in the ways that you call us to, day by day. Amen. 

Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarsenko

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Monday 23 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

4 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Paul here is urging the believers in Thessalonica, in no uncertain terms, to live a life that is holy and pleasing to God.  There is a clear call to lead a life that is pure as this honours God.  Not living this way is to, in fact, reject God.  So some rather hard hitting teaching here.  Paul really spells out how a believer should go about their life and the importance of beauty on the inside as well as the outside.

This is really a call to living a righteous and holy life before God. Our behaviour can either attract or repel God – no Christian wants to repel God or upset the Holy Spirit! Our lives should look different to those who don’t have faith in Jesus.  I am challenged by this passage – does my life say, “I know God?” Can people around me see that I honour God by the way I behave day in and day out?  Certainly things to ponder and pray about.

Dear Lord, help me to live a life that is pleasing to you, a life that honours you consistently. Help me to be pure.  Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Sunday 22 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

What a wonderful description of community. Paul is so excited to hear about these people when Timothy returns from seeing them. He talks about how much he cares about them, that he remembers his visit and that he is keen to visit again. He tells them how much their faith has encouraged him and hopes that those thoughts encourage them too. Then he prays for them – the only thing he could do given the circumstances.

How do we feel about the people God has put into our world? Do we get excited to hear how things are going for those around us? Do we talk to God about those around us – thanking Him for their influence in our lives, praying for God’s love and grace to overflow in their lives? This is a great picture for us to meditate on. God gave us relationship – with Him and those around us. Here is a picture of what He thinks that means. We can all get better at building relationships. Let’s take Paul’s example to help us focus around us and to be passionate about building community every day.

Lord thank you so much for building us for community. You know how tricky it can be for us to focus on love and grace in our relationships when things don’t go as planned or we get treated badly. Help us Lord to learn how to be focused on building people even when some relationships don’t go well. Help us every day to look for your help to build community with those You have brought into our worlds. Amen

Written by Therese Manning

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Saturday 21 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 3:1-5

3 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.

As I read Paul’s encouragement to the 1st century Church right through the New Testament in the Bible, including in this passage we read today, I confess that I really struggle.

It’s not just that I don’t really like the idea of people being persecuted for their beliefs (which I don’t), but there is something deeper and more personal going on for me.

I admire the boldness of those of the New Testament Church. Filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, they literally changed the world. And I aspire to follow their model, but as I read these passages, I realise that boldness in the face of persecution is an area that I feel like I will fall very short of the model described.

The people in the first century church were being overtly and publicly persecuted, yet they boldly proclaimed their faith and continued to effectively share the Gospel message. Today, I feel that there is a distinct covert persecution of Christians in the western world, particularly around the notion of sharing of the faith that we hold. But for me, I feel like there is a real timidity and over-cautiousness in how I have responded to this persecution.

Dear Lord, please send us a modern-day Timothy so that none of us would be unsettled by these trials. May we be encouraged in our faith and stand bold in witness to Your message so that we will be found faithful to You.

Written by Ps Justin Ware

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