1 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians has been a good book for reinforcing what I’ve learned in the previous Pauline letters.  It emphasizes the strong points that come into play on a daily basis.  It does get a little weird toward the end, and I’ve had a hard time trying to comprehend or even stay interested with the same kind of intensity.

As I keep working through it I’m really being convicted to be holy as He is holy. Paul is appreciative of the Thessalonians, but he does not ask them to take a break, or just rest for a while.  He challenges them to reach further, look further up.  What an encouragement, and a real heads-up – knowing that the end is Christ, and the schedule there – is really full.

☆ 1:2-3 So, these guys are really into praying!  He says the same thing about the Colossians and the Philippians he even says I thank God for you in every prayer of mine.  Wow!  Paul was an extremely busy man but he prays for the Phillipians every time he prays!  This puts my prayer effort to a very shameful low.  I need to pray right now.
Father, teach me how to pray with passion and sincerity without one eye on the clock.  Show me the power and purpose of prayer.  I want to glorify you and know your power even as Paul did!  If you will, Dad, I pray that I might pray like Jesus.
Another thing that this verse brought to my attention now, is that Paul sees good use for telling people when you are praying for them.  He doesn’t give us a reason why it’s good, but he obviously thinks it’s good because he introduces three letters with I am praying for you! My speculation would be; to remind them that they are not alone in seeking God’s favour and provision over the church.

☆ 1:4-5a 4For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. I feel that this is quite a heavy verse.  At first I was captured by the lines but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction . Power, Holy Spirit, Full Conviction, Power, Holy Spirit, Full Conviction.  The words are gripping.  I can recall the feeling of that dynamic combination – tingling, fearful, excited, strength.  After being caught by the words I went back to review what the combo was pertaining to?
we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction What a spin out.  This is the strongest confirmation I can think of right now, that confirms my salvation.  In truth, I have at times, questioned whether or not I am really saved – not any more.  What a blessing.

☆ 1:9-10 This is a subtle reminder of the image of the church.  The Thessalonians had a reputation.  They forgot their idols, they served God, and they were waiting for Jesus!

☆2:4 Not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. Paul instills confidence by saying that he is not merely saying whatever he thinks will work, but he speaks knowing that he is accountable to God.  His concern is not just to convince us because he knows that no-one can be convinced apart from the power, and conviction and that comes from the Holy Spirit. ☆ 1:2-3.  He is concerned with appealing to God.  His words are chosen to reflect God’s will and not his own.  He is accountable to reflect god’s will and not his own.

☆ 3:15 While Paul is explaining how he was nervous for the Thessalonians because of the affliction that would come, he is making a clear statement for all Christians.  We, as Christians, will face affliction. This may seem obvious for anyone who is or has ever known a Christian, but I’m taking a note of it because I think this is a front line issue.  As Christians we pray for peace and fullness, but while on earth our religion seems to bring us more disturbance than peace.  A lot more disturbance.  Being led by the Holy Spirit disturbs us in many ways.  1) It calls us to live outside the physical, mental, and emotional comforts  our sinful flesh longs for. This is disturbing.  2) It calls us to live inside the accusations, scoffing and bad favour of the sinful world we live in. This is also very disturbing – especially now we’re aware of a better way.
But Paul writes to correct us if we become disheartened by the disturbance – and consistently in his letters reminds us to look up, toward the day of Christ, when the disturbances will come to an end.  Woot!

☆ 3:10a Ok, this is getting rediculous!  These guys are praying ALL THE TIME.  Wow, Father, I pray you make me like this – I want to have this kind of desire and passion in prayer!

☆ 3:10b Supply what is lacking in your faith?.  What does that mean?  At the first attempt to understand this verse – I see there is a question mark.  Paul is asking a question – …  Nope, I still don’t get it.  So I ask myself, “What is lacking in my faith”?  Well for the most part I would say knowledge and the confidence that comes from knowledge.  I experienced this today when I was listening to a John Piper podcast.  He was teaching on divine election.  Something about the topic makes me a little nervous – but at the same time I love the Glory of the Supreme Sovereign God.  As Piper taught, I learned, and my faith was edified.  Is that the kind of lacking that Paul is eluding to here?  I sure would like to find out 😛  Maybe I can ask him when I see him 🙂

☆ 4:1   More and more. I always like to make references to places that I see slow sanctification, because I’m constantly needing to be reminded that this is going to take a while.  (*deep sigh*)  This verse is a subtle hint. Walk and please God more and more.

☆ 4:3-6 This sheds a serious light on sin, especially that of sexual nature. I should be paying close attention to this, because sexual sin is a weak point for me.  The verse says three strong points.  1) God wills for you be sanctified.  2) This will require self control – he specifies sexual sin, which speaks miles to me. That each one of you control his own body in holiness and honor 3) This is a serious thing.  That no-one transgress and wrong his brother says that our sin goes beyond our individual self and hurts the church.  This gets even more serious when Paul says The Lord is an avenger in all things, as we…solomnly warned you. Paul is giving us the impression here that this is no joke.  God is serious about sin, so control yourself.
I also find the emphasis on self control interesting.  With all that I’m learning about total depravity, I’ve allowed myself to slip into a little complacency, thinking, I am nothing God is everything, if anything good happens it will be because God wanted it to, therefore I don’t have to do anything. This verse corrects that kind of thinking.  It calls me to self control. At this point my train of thought leads to God empowers repentance and sanctification, but we have self control to choose his divine instruction.  Emotionally, I’m not 100% confident in that thought but we will see how God shapes it as the sanctification continues!  Woot!  PRASIE THE LORD!

☆ 4:11-12 How will this verse play out in my life?  I remember reading this at age 17 or 18, and feeling disappointed and a little depressed.  Actually disappointed is the perfect word.  I actually felt – de-appointed.  Like God had a plan for me to live loud, and upon reading this verse I was thrust into a different paradigm.  In hindsight my opinion has changed slightly.
I still think that this verse calls for humility – which is not what I had in mind as a teen.  Aspire to live quietly, don’t aim for fame.  Fame really isn’t the goal, remaining inside God’s will is the Goal. Mind your own affairs, don’t be a busy body, always snooping around, and bossing people about – you’ve got enough in your own life to deal with, you don’t have time to take care of other people’s lives.  Work with your hands. This was the hardest one for me to swallow, and is still hard for me today.  This verse is actually what convinced me to start off in trade labour.  In retrospect I can see why it was useful for me to get my hands dirty at that point of my life.  Up until that point of my life, I had achieved everything either by word or stage.  I had a flase sense of security in my intelligence and didn’t understand what it meant to work hard, and come home tired.  I think this verse is pointing out that walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no-one principal – the understand of hard work, so that I don’t get lazy and I am able to walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no-one.

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