I Thessalonians 2 Part 2–Shining God’s Glory

Paul was actually distraught; because, while he wanted to return to Thessalonica to minister to the young church, he was blocked again and again.  He had opposition from enemies of his ministry to the Gentiles, but the young church had opposition as well. Many in their country did not want to see them have an influence on the lives of their community and persecuted them much as the Jews persecuted the Christians in Jerusalem. Paul wanted the Church to know that their faith is what was a shining example of God’s power and influence in the lives of people.
 
In that same way, our continued faith and walk with God display the Glory of God and His influence in men’s lives.  We walk in faith and the Lord overcomes the world’s fears, influences, and chaos. Often, it does not seem possible, but in the end, God makes a way when there seems to be no way.  It is faith in the difficult times and events that makes God stand out.  When God stands out, he also allows us to do so.  We continue to stand firm, even when it is difficult. Then when others are in need, we are generous and kind as God was kind to us.  It is an amazing outcome, and it helps His chosen to become what God has called us to be–His ambassadors.  
 
God Bless You

 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way, they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.[b]

Paul’s Longing to See the Thessalonians

17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

I Thessalonians 2 Part 1–The Heart of Ministry

Ministry can never be about one’s personal gain. People see right through that. Paul expressed to the Thessalonians that he and Silas ministered with pure hearts and right motives.  They worked to earn their own keep, they took on dramatic opposition and in the midst of that, they spread the Gospel, discipled believers, and spiritually raised the church.  They remained transparent, kind and nurturing in the midst of their own trials and testing.
 
Ministry is never easy. We are at war. Our enemy wants to destroy and neutralize our impact on the lives of others.  He will use personal gain, open opposition, trials, and temptation to confuse and minimize our impact.  As Christians, we have to fight on, but, in the midst of the battle, remain kind and Christ-focused as we minister to others. Rick Warren’s premise “it is not about you” is truth in your walk with God and your ministry to others. The more it becomes about you, the less effective you become. It is critical to lay all your concerns on the alter and continue to seek God’s direction and provision no matter what is before you. It is never easy and sometimes seems completely hopeless. But God does protect, provide and prepare us for what lies ahead. He did it for Paul and He will do it for us–if we will allow Him.   Help us Lord to trust you and minister in all circumstances you have set before us.
 
God Bless You

 You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God, we dared to tell you His gospel in the face of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children[a] among you.

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

I Thessalonians 1–Being Imitators of Christ

Paul loved the people in the Church at Thessalonica.  He planted the Church but was abruptly escorted away after only a few weeks.  Once Paul settled in Corinth, He pinned the letters to the Thessalonians.  Paul was thrilled at the reports he was receiving about the church’s growth, faith, and presence. They were overcoming trial, winning others to Christ and living life in the midst of trials and temptations.  The folks in the neighboring communities were being influenced by their faith and walks.  Not bad for a church that was set up and going in 21 days.
 
In our lives, We also are to be imitators of Christ. We have to walk each day, living life and honoring God whatever the circumstance.  We need to be faithful, we need to be open and we need to walk humbly in the love of Christ. As we do, we will influence others and glorify God. There is no better way to leave a lasting legacy than to simply honor and follow the Lord imitating him in all that we do. 
 
God Bless You

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace to you.

Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians’ Faith

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

For we know, brothers and sisters[b] loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Colossians 4–Final Thoughts

 As Paul closed his letter to the Colossians, He asked for prayer.  Interestingly, he did not ask for them to pray for his release; instead, he asked for them to pray that the message of Christ would be clear and spread. In those days, it was important for them to be prayerful, watchful and thankful. Paul reminded them to treat folks respectfully and with kindness. Finally, He urged them to make the most of every opportunity to share Christ by being kind, relevant and well informed.

That message is today’s message as well. we need to stay in prayer, be informed and be ready to give an account to anyone willing to listen. The Gospel is as critical today as it was in the time of Paul. It is our job to make that message available to all who will listen. We do so with kindness, we treat all with respect. But, we neither fear nor come unprepared to give an account of the Gospel we have received. God’s spirit will guide us if we allow. We can make a lasting difference in our lives and the lives of others, so let’s be ready!

God Bless You

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Final Greetings

Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant[a] in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our[b] circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.

10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews[c] among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

Colossians 3 Final–Living the Life

When one looks to live a life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ, there are some basic tenets that must be followed.  Being a good spouse, a good parent, an obedient child, a hard worker and even a respectful boss. Paul was making clear to the Colossians and all that read the letter that Christ is a part of everything men do.  He influences every role that people live in their lives. Christ is not only a factor of our worship as we go to church or Bible study. He is our guide at work, at home and at everything we choose to do.
 
We choose each day to incorporate Christ into every aspect of our lives.  As we do, He leads, guides and directs our paths toward becoming like Christ. He prepares us for the journey we face and fills us with his spirit to assure we can accomplish all He has set before us. In the process, we allow God’s word to dwell in us and we act as a people of peace and respect.  In turn, through the best and worst of times, He guides us and transforms us into His image.  It is a great gift and a lovely part of our salvation and restoration in the Lord.
 
God Bless You

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Instructions for Christian Households

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers,[c] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor; but, with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

Colossians 3 Part 2–What God’s Folks are Wearing This Season

It is like the new Fall Line, Paul tells the Colossians how to look and dress spiritually.   Earlier he said to change one’s focus to be on the eternal. The “Things Above”.  In order to successfully focus on the Eternal, Paul told the people what not to wear–evil thoughts, coarse discourse, envy, greed, dishonesty, etc. Paul said it was time to unify, quit making petty distinctions and focus on what is inside and not what is on the outside. 
 
Then, Paul changes course.  Now, Paul turns his focus on what Christians are sporting this year…compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and especially patience.  Learn to bear with one another, forgive, be truthful and love without condition. Be peaceful people, grateful for what God has provided. Never lose sight of God’s word, His spirit or worship.  Bottom Line, act as though you were wearing a sign that said “God’s Chosen” on your back–because, like it or not, you are! That is something to be grateful for, and something you will never have to live without.
 
Then and now, we are called to be different.  We are called to allow Christ to rule, lead and build us up to a point where we can be like the Lord. It is never easy, and it is always sacrificial.  But at any day’s end, we will be grateful and better, if we will choose to live a life clothed in Christ!
 
God Bless You

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3 Part 1–Spiritual Focus

We are simply called to think and be different. Paul laid it out quite simply to the Colossians, Live with your heart and mind focused on eternity.  What a difficult proposition. We are all focused upon what is in front of us. Life’s day to day struggles surround and take up focus and energy.  But Paul puts it simply–set your hearts and minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Such focus raises our hearts and spirits out of today’s struggles and focuses them on eternity.  
 
In addition, such focus helps us to better deal with our sinful attitudes and actions. We no longer live as lustful, coarse and hateful people because that person died with Christ and as new creations, we focus upon becoming like Christ.  It is not only a process by which we stop living like the world but we start living selfless, purposeful lives in Christ. We rise above the old and live as one that is focused upon Heaven. We do that through time in God’s word, time in prayer and time in fellowship with other believers.  Help me Lord to live as one that is eternal not one focused upon this world’s struggles.  
 
God Bless You

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.