II Thessalonians 2–When is the End?

What is to come and when it is to occur is a Great Mystery that is only known by the Father.  Some thought the end would occur when the Temple was destroyed in AD 70. Then at various points through the years, WWII, When Isreal was made a Sovereign nation, the ’80s, the ’90.s the Millennium and even now people are sure this is it.  IT MAY BE!  The point is really that we need to focus on becoming like Christ and not be neutralized by the fear or hope that it is time for the rapture.  God intends for us to live as if He could return any day. He does not try to trick us, but he intends to train us to live as if for eternity–not for a single day.
 
As Children of God, this was never intended to be our home.  We all look ahead to the day we will be with the Lord and be like the Lord; no more pain, no more sorrow, no more tears. We strive to be like Christ. We long to be with Him.  We listen to His word, follow His spirit and spread his name.  As we do those things, it becomes less important when He returns and more important that we are prepared for His return.  We do not need to fall for the trick of false profits and false promises. We take Paul’s advise to be content whatever our circumstance. Whether well fed or hungry living in plenty or in want–We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!
As we go forward let us set our hearts and minds on things above and not be concerned about when or how He returns!
 
God Bless You

 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 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.

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 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 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 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 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.

Philippians 3 Part 1–Bragging Rights

Paul was the super pharisee.  If one wanted a poster child for how to “do religion” Paul was easily that guy. He was circumcised, Part of the tribe of Benjamin, trained by Gamaliel the ultimate Rabbi.  He knew all the traditions, all the law and exactly what to do.  He attacked the Christians with zeal and complete abandon. Any Jewish leader would be proud of Paul’s record.  Paul, however, realized that it was not his knowledge or performance that made him righteous.  Paul went as far as to say that stuff was bio-waste compared to the surpassing greatness of Christ,  Paul no longer needed to flaunt a resume–He simply needed to trust God and allow God to transform him into the image of Christ.
 
We are the same.  We are not a product of our accomplishments.  We can never “DO” Christianity to a level that our actions bring us justification.  In fact, as Paul so elegantly articulated it, our efforts to earn salvation look, smell and feel like bio-waste! We need to know Christ! As we get to know him we quickly see that it is His grace and His mercy, not our background or performance that brings us salvation. If we will simply trust and follow His lead–He will restore our relationship with God, and he will prepare us for the journey that lies ahead.  In addition, the Lord will change our hearts and our desires to conform to His image.  There is simply no greater gift than the salvation we receive by trusting Christ alone.
 
God Bless You
 

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.