II Thessalonians 2 Part 2–Artificial Vs Truth

I was praying with a good friend yesterday. During our discussion, he brought up the topic of artificial intelligence. Artificial literally means a very realistic but NOT authentic copy of the truth. What Satan has done his entire existence is to make artificial likenesses of God’s holy truth.  Eve was tempted to be like God through eating the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The truth was that Adam and Eve were already like God. He made them in His image. The artificial knowledge they received brought sin and death–everything that was NOT God!  Since that time, Satan has used artificial means to fool people into rejecting God–again and again. Usually, Satan’s trick is to ask the same two questions–“Did God Really Say…?” and  “Don’t You want to like a god?”  That is why most sin circles back to Lust of the flesh (Control, gratification, and power) Lust of the eyes (Power, independence and did God really Say…) and Pride of Life (Power, control and being God!)
 
Satan has been using these tactics since the dawn of time. God allows people to be fooled and blinded by them.  But, Christ freed us from the artificial means to “be like God”. When we receive Christ in our lives, we become new creations. We are hidden in Christ–free from sin and death.  But, we are still tempted and do fall, from time to time, back into the trap. In that place, we must stand firm in the power of the spirit; and, we must cling to the truth. We do not need any of the artificial stimuli the enemy offers to receive life. We simply need to trust and follow the Lord and allow Him to transform us into the true image of God. He intended such a life for His chosen. 
 
We must then stand firm in God’s truth. We do not have to believe the lies and fall into the trap of deception our enemy sets each and every day. God reminds us that if we will resist the enemy, he will flee. It is never easy, but it is always effective. Satan’s most beautiful artificial copy can never compare to God’s reality. What is more, when put to the test, Satan’s lies are easily exposed and fall apart.  We simply must trust God, follow our Lord’s lead, and focus upon His truth!!!
 
God Bless You

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The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Stand Firm

13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits[b] to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings[c] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

II Thessalonians 1 –Perfect Vision and Perfect Plan

I have always told my kids to act as if Jesus was sitting right beside you…because He is.  It is crazy to think and act as if you are acting in secret. The Lord sees all things and knows all things.  That is why throughout the Paulian epistles, Paul reminds his readers to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel.  While living our lives, we can rest assured that God will repay evil and reward good.  He will not miss a thought or action and will seek to restore that which is taken.  As His chosen, God’s people must endure the trials and temptations set before them, but as they do, they do so with the assurance that all will be made right in the day of Christ Jesus.
 
In our lives, we too can rest confidently in God’s grace and provision.  There are times and things that seem insurmountable, but, no matter how hopeless, we can cling to the faith and hope we receive as gifts from Christ Jesus. Paul reminded us that three gifts from God remain–Faith, Hope, and Love. Because of the greatest gift, Love, we can hold on to the faith and hope we place in the Lord. We can also cling to the love we have and share with one another as His children. We are God’s and should always look to pray and serve one another–without hesitation, without agenda, and without any alterior motive.  We simply trust God, love others and follow Him closely. In that pursuit, God will lead, provide and prepare us to be like the Lord and to serve others. That is the hope of glory and the gift of our Lord.
 
God Bless You

 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters,[b] and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result, you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you because you believed our testimony to you.

11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ

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 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.