I Thessalonians 4 Part 1–Living Holy Lives

As Paul saw things, the chosen of the Lord should live lives that honored God. Paul reminded the Thessalonians that the salvation process was a process of sanctification. Simply put, sanctification is the transformation that happens as Christians trust God and follow his daily lead. The areas that Paul discussed included sexual impurity, attitudes toward others and their treatment, and the thoughts we have about life, love, and God.  Paul reinforced the idea that Christians should live quiet lives, not looking to satisfy sexual cravings, not hurting or stealing from others, and not seeking instant gratification or attention.
 
In our lives, we are to do the same. We need to live quiet lives that seek God and not our own whims and desires.  We need to treat others with respect, kindness, and selflessness.  We need to live a life that reviews our actions and deeds and continually lays them on the altar.  The sanctification process prepares Christians for eternity.  This world is not our home, and as we pass through, we need to exhaust the effort to be like Christ.  While it is not a performance-based faith, we have to allow God to change our hearts and lives to be like Him.  When we do, we will experience peace and purpose that will help us to complete the Amazing Journey and to follow God with confidence.
 
God Bless You

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. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.[b] The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

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.

I Thessalonians 3–The Power of Standing Firm

Sometimes it feels like a waste of time and effort.  Paul and Silas were in Greece having escaped attack and persecution in Thessalonica. But, as time marched forward, Paul had the nagging feeling that his abandonment of the Thessalonians made their time in the region useless.  So, Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica to check on the group. Paul was pleasantly surprised to find out that the church had remained strong and was growing.  He had not labored in vain.  
 
It was a great reminder to Paul that while he ministered to those people, It was God that completed the work. The reminder is important on two fronts. First, we have to continue to trust the Lord to complete the work we start.  We do not save or disciple people. God does.  We are simply available and prepared to deliver God’s message and allow God’s spirit to do the ministry. We simply trust the Lord in ministry as we do in our personal walks–to prepare and provide what is needed to carry the day.  Second, we must remember that it is not about us. We are not the message, we are simply the messenger.  We cannot stress or grow prideful as we minister.  To do either takes the emphasis off of God and puts it back on us.  We simply obey and trust God to do the work. As we do, God will do amazing things just as He has always done.  
 
We march forward, stand firm in our faith and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us to impact our families, community and the world for His sake!!!
 
God Bless You

So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 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, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 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. 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.

Timothy’s Encouraging Report

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. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 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.

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.

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.

Colossians 1 and 2 Part 1–The Real Gospel

In the early Church, there was much persecution of leadership.  Of the original apostles all but John were killed as martyrs. John was also martyred, but when he was dropped in a cauldron of boiling oil he was not injured in any way. He was subsequently banished to Patmos where he wrote the book of the Revelation.  The point is, that as Paul delivered this letter to the Colossians, he was suffering for the Gospel.  He wanted the Colossians to understand that that was part of the deal.   As they preached the Gospel, there was a spiritual war going on and those that fought for the cause of Christ did so knowing the cost.
 
He encouraged them to not be concerned for the persecution, but, also he asked that they not follow other forms of the gospel and make his suffering a waste.  Paul reminded the people that Christ was the entire Gospel. There was no Christ plus knowledge, Christ plus tradition, or Christ plus a checklist. It was Christ and that was all. Christians that considered performance a part of the salvation process nullified the purpose of Jesus Death and resurrection.  Christ plan was never to act as an accountant and somehow balance the books! He came as an advocate–our defense lawyer, and as a sacrifice the only legitimate restoration and redemption for people’s sinful lives.
 
That Gospel is as true today as it was when Paul penned the letter. We still need to celebrate the fact that our ministry is an act of war in the spiritual realm. We need to embrace the idea that we will never earn the salvation we have been so kindly given.  We are still the chosen of God only because Christ acts as our advocate and our atonement. As of this day, Christ is all and Christ is enough to save us from our broken lives and restore us to eternal beings with hope and a future.  Let’s not try to earn our way into God’s favor; instead, let us run the race set before us and follow Christ’s sanctification in our lives humbly and graciously.
 
God Bless You
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them, God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
2  For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

Colossians 1 Part 2–The Supremacy of Christ

 

One cannot begin to understand the sacrifice Christ made on the cross until there is a clear picture of the amazing supremacy that Christ holds.  “Let there be Light” and there was light…Christ created all things physical, spiritual in heaven and on earth. Let’s make man in our image…Christ did that. When scientists talk of the galaxies that stretch for an inconceivably astronomical distance across the universe Christ did that.  Not only did he create it, but by Him, all this stuff holds together. Jesus was that guy and walked away from the immortal, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscience the Lord had–only to demonstrate His love by humbling Himself to be a human and to die a horrific death–in order to restore our relationship with God.  The very One that provided life and purpose sacrificed both in order to give spiritual Life back to men.
 
So, knowing that, we should leap at the opportunity to build a relationship and follow Jesus Christ our Lord. We have the great gift of being able to step up to God’s throne and ask whatever, whenever and however. God loves us and wants nothing more than to be in relationship with us.  It is that amazing gift that drives us to our knees and into God’s word.  We must live equally sacrificial lives and walk humbly in His love. As we do, we experience peace and purpose. We see the world falling into hopeless chaos and still are able to piece together a life of hope and joy. We live for the eternal not for the now. We know that ultimately God is Supreme and has a plan to restore all that was destroyed by sin.  He is supreme, amazing, and personal.  He loves each of us and would have made the sacrifice, even if we were the only beneficiary. That is true love, and that is who our Lord really is!
 
God Bless You

 


He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation[g] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Colossians 1 Part 1–“Christ Plus” Theology

The Church at Colossae was unique in Paul’s writings.  Paul had never visited the city or the church.  The church at Colossae was started by Epaphras, one of Paul’s disciples. The great story of Colossae was that even without Paul’s direct involvement in its growth, the Church was having an impact. Epaphras had been a great friend to Paul and served him while he was in prison. In addition, he was an evangelist and pastor starting this church.   Paul had received the word, however, that the Colossians had been infiltrated by teachers that pushed the Christ plus heresy. Whether it was Christ Plus Judaism, Christ plus ceremonialism or Christ plus other knowledge–Paul was writing to tell the church that Christ was sufficient–no other thing, tradition or knowledge was necessary!
 
It has been and is still hard to accept that when we come to follow Christ, His salvation is a gift and requires nothing more than our acceptance. If there was a plus to Christ’s gift, in short, it would no longer be a gift. Interestingly, that is what makes men chase these false doctrines. Then and now, we simply cannot stand the idea that we cannot achieve salvation on our own.  We want to help. We want to be able to point to what we have done. God says no. To receive salvation, we simply have to trust God and accept the plan that He has offered.  The great news is that Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection opened the door for us to have fellowship with God if we will simply believe.  That does not seem like a bad thing at all!!!
 
God Bless You
 

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,[c] who is a faithful minister of Christ on our[d] behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.