“[…] The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the wicked one.”
~2 Thessalonians 3:3
It would be a mistake on my part to think I could be strong enough to make good choices without God’s guidance.
While everyone benefits from an innate conscience, gone unchecked that very conscience could end up justifying immoral or selfish behavior. (Rom. 2:14,15; Tit. 1:15)
And while I could live a fairly decent life solely based on the values my parents taught me, parents are imperfect and that approach would most certainly doom me to repeat their mistakes. (Pr. 22:6; Rom. 3:23; Eph. 6:4)
On top of this, God’s word explains that one’s personal struggle against Satanic influences is very real. (Eph. 2:2; 6:11,12; 1 John 5:19)
Knowing all this, modesty ought to move me to seek out God’s guidance through prayer and through reading the Scriptures, as well as by staying close to the congregation. (2 Thes. 3:5; Heb. 4:12)
Only then can I truly benefit from ‘protection from the wicked one.’ (Ps. 37:28)
“[…] Just as you are in fact walking, we request you and appeal to you by the Lord Jesus to keep doing it more fully.”
1 Thessalonians 4:1
The members of the Christian congregation in Thessalonica were not perfect.
They had moral standards and love, but could improve on both counts. (1 Thess. 4:3,4,9,10)
That is why Paul commended them while tactfully encouraging them to “pursue what is good toward one another.” (1 Thess. 5:15)
Regardless of how long it has been since we became Christians, ‘making sure of all things’ and ‘holding fast to what is fine’ is something we have to remember to do every day. (1 Thess. 5:4,6,8,21)
We cannot afford to take our faith for granted, and as long as we are imperfect, there will be things we can improve on.
“So now, also complete what you started to do, so that your readiness to act may be completed according to the means you have available.”
~2 Corinthians 8:11
It is important to try to follow through on our promises to the best of our abilities.
Perhaps our health has declined and we feel that what we can offer God is no longer good enough.
We may feel irrelevant and be tempted to give up altogether.
But instead of focusing on our limitations, God focuses on what we can do, and on our attitude. (Luke 21:1-4; 2 Cor. 8:12; 9:7)
We can be confident that whatever sacrifices we make in his service do not go unnoticed (Mal. 3:10; 2 Cor. 9:10; Heb. 6:10)
“[…] We are coming off completely victorious through the one who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This was my favorite Scripture as a teenager. I am happy to say it still rings true.
When the Apostle Paul was introducing this verse, he quoted Psalm 44, written by the three loyal sons of the rebellious Korah when they were evidently undergoing tremendous stress.
Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph did not join their father’s rebellion against Moses in the desert, and instead retained the privilege of continuing to serve Jehovah as priests. (Num. 26:10,11; 1 Chro. 26:19; 2 Chro. 20:18,19)
Sometimes life’s trials, either major or minor, may have us doubting whether we deserve God’s love or if eternal life is all it’s cut out to be.
In order to endure joyfully we need this conviction that is the foundation of our faith.
We need to be convinced that if we adopt a Christian attitude, we can battle our demons and ‘conquer the world.’ (John 16:33)
God promises that no creation- not even ourselves- can separate us from his love.
“Stop judging by the outward appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
Jews sought to kill Jesus because he miraculously cured a man on the sabbath. (John 5:8,9,15,16)
Their worship was based on a strict literal interpretation of Mosaic Law and rabbinic traditions.
It neglected the Law’s foundations: justice, mercy and faithfulness.(Prov. 21:3; Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:8; Matt. 23:23)
Judging with “righteous judgment” implies not believing everything we see or hear, and treating others fairly, regardless of their social status. (Is. 11:3,4)
If we are so concerned with proving we are right that we act recklessly toward others, we could become ritualistic in our form of worship, forgetting that the gist of God’s law is to love. (Matt. 22:37-40)
“I must go on today, tomorrow, and the following day, because it cannot be that a prophet should be put to death outside of Jerusalem.”
Jesus says this while traveling east from Perea back towards Jerusalem, where he knows he will be killed.
Despite Herod’s threats, he still has work to be done. He knows he has nothing to fear while he carries out his commission to the end.(Luke 13:31,32)
Today, we never know what we will encounter when we go out into the community to fulfill our ministry.
Regardless of what obstacles we face, we know God is on our side and we do not let man intimidate us into inactivity. (Prov. 29:25)
To that effect, it helps to meditate on people such as the prophet Elijah and the apostle Peter, who learned to be brave in their ministry. (1 Ki. 19:2-18; Mark 14:66-71; Gal. 2:11,12; 2 Pet. 3:14,15)
“He said to them: ‘You will indeed drink my cup […].'”
When James and John asked their mother to ask Jesus if they could sit on either side of him in his kingdom, Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are asking for. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” (Matt. 20:22)
To this, they resolutely replied, “We can.”
Jesus’ companions had already left behind a successful fishing business to follow him, and he trusted them. (Mark 1:19,20)
He affectionately called them “the Sons of Thunder” perhaps because of their impetuous zeal. (Mark 3:17)
About eleven years later, James proved he could “drink the cup” of martyrdom when Herod Agrippa executed him. (Acts 12:1,2)
Despite outliving the other apostles, John also followed Jesus’ example of self-sacrifice when he was exiled to the island of Patmos for bearing witness. (Re. 1:9)
Jesus trusted they would remain loyal, and they did not disappoint.
They learned to slave for their brothers instead of seeking prominence. (Matt. 20:25-27)
Like Jesus, we should trust our brothers in the congregation will remain loyal despite their imperfections as we strive to do the same.