January 23, 2021

Love others

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

The next two verses begin a list of conduct of living for the Thessalonian church.  Paul gives them steps to order their Christian lives by. He says:

  1. warn those who are unruly/rebellious,
  2. comfort the fainthearted/anxious,
  3. uphold the weak in spirit,
  4. be patient with all
  5. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone,
  6. always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

Wow!  That’s quite a list!  Quite frankly, a list of not so easy things to do.  A list of things that do not come naturally.  However, these actions can be cultivated to become second nature.  All it takes is a little practice.  I want to make a note here that all these items are to be done in love, not with hostility.  For example, warning those who are rebellious is not to be started with the phrase “I’m warning you!”  It is in the attitude of coming along beside someone to walk through life and encouraging them to soften their heart, especially toward the things of God and His people. Gently help them to see God’s great love for them and let that be the inspiration for breaking down walls.

Comforting the fainthearted, upholding the weak and being patient with everyone can easily be done in love.  By preparing your heart ahead of time to be aware of people in these conditions, you can already be in a position to be compassionate when they step into your life.

Don’t repay evil for evil, but rather pursue what is good for you and those around you.  Pay back doesn’t accomplish anything and certainly doesn’t encourage others to walk closer to God.  When you feel a wrong has been done to you or someone you love, be prepared to first of all forgive, second recognize that hurtful act came out of brokenness. Thirdly, the love of God is the only response strong enough to break through.

Today I want to encourage you to make a plan to incorporate these actions into your daily walk.  Decide today that you are going to walk in the love of God toward all those around you.  These are steps you can take to become effective for Kingdom progress and also for living a fulfilled life.  Let’s take these examples from the early church on how to show the love of God to others.  You will be a blessing to all those you come into contact with and will be blessed yourself in the process.

Today’s scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

January 22, 2021

Esteem highly

And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish (give direction) you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.  1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

These next verses in 1 Thessalonians (verses 12-22) are a comprehensive list of exhortations to the church.  I will spend the next few doses unpacking these admonishings because I am quite sure they apply to us today just as much as they did to the church in Paul’s day.  Today we are looking at verses 12 and 13.  Paul starts out his list by talking about those who labor among us and are over us.  In today’s church, this can be a long list of people ranging from pastors to small group leaders to team leaders of various teams within the church.  Paul says to first of all recognize them.  He does not say this with the intention of knowing who they are when you see them. He is saying to recognize they are there to help you grow spiritually and also as an authority to submit yourself to.  He says to esteem or honor them very highly in love because they labor/serve for your benefit.  They are serving as a leader in the church so that they can encourage and help you to grow strong in your faith.  They are not doing it because of what they get out of it, especially if they are volunteers.

Next Paul says to be at peace among yourselves.  That means when the leader is not around, you serve each other just as the leader would if they were with you all.  You honor and respect your peers.  Even if there are some that you don’t always see eye to eye with, make every effort to focus on the things you do agree on.  Make it your goal in every relationship you have to turn your attention to the things that draw you closer together and to God not the topics that push your away from each other.

These are the heart and attitudes we are to take with our fellow believers.  Our goal should always be to work together in agreement to get God’s plans accomplished here in this world.  We are here for His honor and glory not our own.  That is where we need to start in working with others.

Today I want to encourage you to recognize, acknowledge and identify those who labor and serve around you.  Those who are in the Lord to help you grow in faith and lead you in the way to go.  Begin to esteem them highly in love and be at peace with those around you.  This is crucial behavior for the work of ministry.  It is also vital to the plan of God for us to first love each other before we can love the lost and broken world.

Today’s scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

January 20, 2021

No Surprise

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.       1 Thessalonians 5:4

I take issue when people bring up the scripture that no one knows the time when Jesus will return for the church.  I know that in Matthew, Jesus Himself said: “no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen in Matthew 24:36 However, He also rebuked the Pharisees because they could not discern the times. (Matthew 16:3)   Jesus expected the priests and the religious people of His day to be able to recognize the timing of His arrival here in the earth.  He expects the same thing of His people today.  How do I know?  Today’s verse is only one of a number of passages that says the church, His family, are not in the dark and will not be caught off guard.  In fact, Peter tells us not to be taken off guard. (see 1 Peter 4) We are to be watching and noticing what time it is. Look around, it’s pretty easy to see that the time is close.  Sure, we don’t know the day or the hour, but we can certainly discern the time and it is now.

Let’s go through a short list of scriptures that tell us how we can know:  2 Timothy 3:1-5 says there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Matthew 24:7 says nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  Daniel 12:4 says people will be running to and fro, and knowledge will increase.”  Matthew 24:14 says the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.  1 Timothy 4:1 says in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,  Luke 21:11 says there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.  Matthew 24:12 says lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.  2 Peter 3:3-4 says scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  Luke 21:25 says there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves.

The world is not headed in this direction, we are there right now.  It’s easy to take a look around and shake your head to show your disapproval, but really, the way the world is today should be no surprise to us.  By looking at the scriptures, it is clear that we are in the last days.  The good news is, God is still saving people.  The fact is, more people are getting saved than ever in history.  As quickly as the evil can be spread in the world today, the good news of salvation can move just as fast.  The resources we have available today are making it possible to reach the nations of the world with the love of God.

Today I want to encourage you to discern the times and know that Jesus’ return is soon.  Even if we are here another 10 or 20 years, we are closer than we have ever been before.  Use this time to reach out to the world around you.  Serve and love others like you never have before.  Look for opportunities to bless and build up those who are lost and hurting.  We are not in the darkness and we know time is running out. Make the most of every day and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction so that you can be a part of all He is doing in the world in these last days.

Today’s scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10

January 19, 2021

He is coming soon!

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  Then we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.  1 Thessalonians 4:17-18

What a day this is going to be!  I must admit, I have been looking forward to it for most of my life, but even more so now as we see the day getting close.  There was a time in my life when I thought: “I’m just not ready right now for the LORD to come back and get me”  I don’t know why I thought that other than I was deceived into thinking I was happy right where I was.  Ha!  What a joke that was and a disappointment.  To compare anything in this world with the glory that will be when we are with the LORD Jesus is unimaginable.  I guess it was because I didn’t really know Him that well back then.  Then I started hanging out with Him more and getting to know more about how much He loves me and how wonderful He is to be with.  I enjoy Him so much now in the Spirit, when we are in person with each other it is going the be the best day of my life so far.  Oh, what a day that will be. 

What about you?  Are you looking forward to that day?  The day when Jesus comes back to get His people?  The day when we finally get to leave the darkness of this world and enter into His glorious presence?  Or are you like I once was, still hanging on to pleasures in this world.  Can I tell you, they are so dim compared to His glory!  So short and so fleeting, you will be disappointed in all you put your hope in, in this realm.  Turn you eyes and heart to Him today and start to rejoice because He is coming back to get us and it won’t be long now!

Today I want to encourage you to start looking for Jesus.  Start looking for Him everywhere you go.  His evidence shows up in the goodness around us.  As dark as the world seems, when you see the goodness of God in this world, it shines so bright the darkness disappears.  Stop clinging to the temporary things that this life has to offer and begin to live life with eternity in mind.  Don’t give your heart to the things going on in this world, realize there is a far greater world beyond us and you are a part of it. Today, start making time spent with God your priority and set quiet time aside to hang out with your Father everyday.  Get to know how wonderful, loving and gracious He is.  Then begin to tell others He is coming and take as many people with you as possible.  He’s coming back soon and each day that passes is one day closer to His return!

Today’s scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

January 18, 2021

We have hope

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13

This scripture is a great comfort and I often think about it when I think of loved ones who have already passed on.  Sure, it hurts when they leave, but I am so thankful for the hope that we have and that we can know that we will see them again one day.  Without salvation in Jesus, there is nothing to hope in.

The verse today talks about sorrowing as those who have know hope.  I have such a feeling of sadness and hopelessness when I hear of a famous person passing away.  Especially under some of the saddest circumstances.  Many times you hear about a terrible tragedy and know they were at a point of no hope.  I know this is going to sound absurd, but I pray for so many of these people.  Even though I know I will never meet them or be able to share the good news of salvation with them personally, I know who they are and so does God.  I know He hears my prayer for them to be saved and I pray that He will send laborer to them and that their heart would be ready to receive Him.  We live in such a unique day where we know so much about so many famous people, you can pretty much predict who are going to come crashing down.  Take time to pray for these people.  You may be the only person in the world who will care enough to bring them before our loving Father.

Then there are the people you do know.  Whether it’s family, friends or co-workers, let them know there is hope after this life.  There is assurance of a good life after this one and that is available to all who would ask.  God isn’t trying to keep people out of heaven, He died so all could come in.  We have this hope of eternal life, so remember next time a loved one passes on that they are not in your past only, but now they are in your future too.

Today I want to encourage you not to sorrow as those who have not hope.  Even in the midst of someone close to you passing, you can rejoice that you will see them again some day in heaven.  They haven’t ceased to exist; they have just moved to a new location.  Remember that some day you will be able to join them and leave this life of pain.  We have a future and a hope, and it is an eternity in paradise with our loved ones and our Savior.

Today’s scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 4 13-18

January 17, 2021

Your greatest witness

Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.  1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Here is your greatest witness as a child of God to the outside world around you.  Lead a quiet life, take care of your own business and get a job.  In this way you are walking out the example of godliness to unbelievers and you will have all that you need to complete your mission.  Let me put it another way that might make it a little clearer.  Don’t be loud with constant protest about what you don’t agree with, don’t give your opinion/comments on other people’s way of living, don’t be lazy and unproductive never accomplishing anything, because then you will live an improper/struggling life toward others and always be wanting more.

Maybe that’s a little extreme but take a look around you and consider if that isn’t the way that a lot of the world lives today.  What about you?  Are you the kind of person that is loud with your objections to the way society is?  I don’t mean in volume only but that you feel it necessary to complain to others and talk about how the world is so messed up.  What about getting involved in other people’s business?  Do you try to tell people what to do and where they are going wrong?  Working a job?  Do you work hard at your job regardless of what level you are on, or do you do the minimum requirement to just get a paycheck.  Even worse, do you stay home and just think that it is God’s job to take care of everything you need while you spend your day on frivolous things like media, television and snacking?

This scripture is clear that we are to live life a step above the world’s ways.  Not in a superior, judgmental way, but in an empowered and full of God’s grace way.  Our example gives us credibility when we speak. If we are spouting complaints and criticisms like the rest of the world around us, when it comes time to talk about spiritual things, those people will just tune us out like they did when we were spouting.  Let’s be the kind of person that walks to a higher standard than the world around us.  We are empowered to do more, give more and encourage more than them.  We have the greater one inside us.  That’s not just to bail us out when we get in trouble, He’s there to give us the grace and strength we need to live differently and help others along the way.

Today I want to encourage you to live a quiet life by minding your own business and doing your best work everywhere you go.  Be an example to those around you without even saying one word.  Set a standard wherever you are that will cause others to rise up and become better at what they do.  Then be ready to answer the questions gracefully when people notice that you live life differently than others.  Let your success and carefree living be your greatest witness and let the Holy Spirit be the one who draws people to Him through your greatest witness.

Today’s scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

January 16, 2021

Please God

Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 1 Thessalonians 4:1

Pleasing God!  Do any of us really do that?  I know most of us try to be good and do the right things, but inevitably, we all fall down sometimes.  Is that what really pleases God?  Is it all about keeping a set of rules and then feeling condemned when you break one of them?

In today’s passage, Paul lists some of the behaviors that we are supposed to do that will please God.  Things such as:  being set apart, abstaining from sexual immorality, self-control, don’t be lustful, don’t take advantage of others, don’t be unclean, be holy.  While these are all good rules to follow and certainly pleasing God would result in these behaviors, we can see what really pleases God if we look at verse 9 in this chapter.  It says that God teaches us to love each other.  The best part about that is, if we love others, we won’t be doing the long list of things that were listed in verses 3-7. 

You can look at it this way, selfish behavior does not please God.  It is the way that we love others and put them first that shows how much we love God.  We don’t do this because it is a law or rule of some kind, we love others because we love God and are close to Him.  When you spend time with God each day, getting to know Him more, your love for Him will grow.  The result will be that you want to do the things that please Him and it won’t be hard.  Here’s the thing, it is like other relationships we have here in the world.  The more you hang out with someone, the more you become like them.  The more you hang out with God, He will begin to rub off on you and you will start loving the way He loves.  You will love people because you are becoming more like your Father and the reason is because of the amount of time you spend talking with Him, listening to Him and His Word and following the example He has given in His Word.

Today I want to encourage you to walk out your life with the intent to please God.  Not by keeping a list of rules, but by setting time aside each day to get to know and love your Father more.  Let the love of God rub off on you and the automatic result will be that you love others the way God your Father loves them.

Today’s scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-9

January 15, 2021

Overflowing love

May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.  1 Thessalonians 3:12

Here is the solution for all the world’s problems.  It was the solution in Paul’s day and it continues to be the answer now.  Love one another with a growing to the overflow kind of love.  This kind of love leaves no room for anger, stress and anxiety.  It is to busy overflowing with God’s kindness and love.  The kind of love that looks for every opportunity to bless others.  The kind of love that isn’t preoccupied with selfish desires and ambitions.  It’s the kind of love that takes time to listen to and connect with others.  To genuinely care about what others may be going through.  Who has time for that?

Today’s world has become so busy, it’s no wonder everybody is so angry all the time.  Constantly complaining about and criticizing how things are so messed up.  They are messed up for sure but complaining and criticizing isn’t going to make things any better.  What will make things better is to be a voice of love and concern for people.  Take time to know how others are doing and when you ask someone how they are doing, take time to listen to the answer.  Then the next time you see them, ask about how that situation came out.  Show people that they are important enough to impact your life just because you took time to listen.

All people are important to God; therefore, they should be important to us.  Let’s begin to love those around us like never before.  Pray for your love for others to grow and overflow in the same way that our Father’s love overflows for us.  Take time to talk to and get to know people and make a difference in the lives of all God would bring across your path.

Today I want to encourage you to pray for an overflowing love for others that grows stronger each day.  Begin to serve people with the God kind of love wherever you are.  Don’t let the busyness of life rob you of the joy of loving on those who just need to know that God is real and really loves them.  Instead, take time to share His love and become the solution to your world problems by loving, not by being angry like they are.

Today’s scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

January 14, 2021


To keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles.  1 Thessalonians 3:3

Trouble?  It seems to be all around us.  So much so that the media can’t even keep up with all the trouble going on in the world today.  Most people expected the new year to be a fresh start, but it really looks like (in the natural circumstances) just more trouble ahead.  Even though we are still in the middle of a pandemic, the craziness around us seems to be growing.  These are definitely the signs of the end time.  2 Timothy 3:13 says it is going to get worse and worse and things sure seem to be getting worse and worse.  We are definitely closing in on the end of this age.

In today’s scripture, Paul is talking about trouble they were going through way back then.  Even more trouble than we are today as Christian people.  Paul sent Timothy to make sure the Thessalonian church was able to stand through the trouble they were up against.  He was concerned that evil had gotten a grip on them and all of his team’s work there had been for nothing.  Timothy’s visit assured Paul that the Thessalonian church was standing strong and growing in their faith.  With this news, Paul was able to rejoice and thank God for their growth. Yet, he continued to pray for them night and day.  Paul knew they needed God’s help to stand firm in the trouble of their day.

This is the same thing we need to be doing today.  Even with all the trouble in the world, we need to remain strong in faith and not give up hope.  We need to encourage each other daily and keep from being shaken.  Praying day and night not only for the faith and hope to get through, but also to be the answer the world is so desperately looking for.  In this passage, Paul says trouble is inevitable and is destined to come, but we, the body of Christ, are the hope of the world in these times of trouble.  We are the ones that know what is really going on and we are the ones who have the answer . . . Jesus.

Today I want to encourage you to be strong in your faith and know that we do not need to be afraid.  Even in the middle of so many uncertainties in today’s world, we are certain of our God and our salvation.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  He is the greater One inside of us and we will fear no evil, because He is always with us.  Stay on mission with the grace and gifts He has given you to reach your part of the world.  Most of all, show everyone around you the love of God by the way you love them.

Today’s scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:6-8

January 13, 2021

Cooperate with God

We sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, 1 Thessalonians 3:2

Have you made yourself available?  Available for God to work through.  Have you become a vessel filled with His Spirit to give Him access to reach into this world?  In today’s scripture, Paul sent Timothy to visit the Thessalonian church.  In his introduction of Timothy, he calls Timothy his brother and God’s co-worker telling the good news. This seemed a little strong to me . . . God’s co-worker?  Does God need a co-worker?  Isn’t He able to reach the world without a co-worker?  As I thought about it, I considered that Timothy offered himself to be a vessel for God to speak through.  A voice for God to use to share His heart and message with the world.  Timothy was cooperating with the Holy Spirit to get the message of the good news to the world, or at least to the people of Thessalonica.

Isn’t that still our job today?  To be a co-laborer with God by giving voice to His message of love and salvation to the world.  Aren’t we still here to proclaim His message to the lost and broken people of our day?  So, this concept of working along side God isn’t so far fetch after all.  We do co-labor with Him.  We speak as the Holy Spirit prompts and then He shows up to do the supernatural part of saving, cleansing and raising people up.

Does God need us?  Probably not, but He has set up this world to be a place to work with us.  It is a supernatural work for sure!  God made us in His image to be His Family and to work together in the Family business.  The business of saving lives and the business of rescuing, strengthening and encouraging others in their faith.

Today I want to encourage you to offer your body as a living sacrifice.  Become a vessel for God to speak to others through.  Listen closely as the Holy Spirit leads you into all truth and be a voice in the business of God.  A voice that proclaims salvation, encouragement and hope to the lost and dying people of the world.

Today’s scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5