Thursday, November 8, 2018

I Thessalonians 1

I Thessalonians 1

The book of I Thessalonians was written to encourage the believers in Thessalonica to remain steadfast in their faith in spite of the pagan society which was all around them. The First Epistle of Thessalonians is a call for Christ-centered living. I Thessalonians is a call for a radical transformation in our lives, because we belong to the Lord.

Paul saw much evidence of Christ-like living in the hearts and lives of the believers in the Thessalonian church. Paul said in I Thessalonians 1:2-3, "We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually 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." Paul knew that a working and fruit-bearing faith was true faith. Paul saw this in the Thessalonian believers, and he was thankful to God for them. Do others see Christ in our lives? Do others thank and praise the Lord because of the evidence of faith they see in our lives?

One characteristic that Paul mentioned in I Thessalonians 1:3 as a characteristic of true faith is "work produced by faith." True saving faith always results in holy living. We still continue to struggle with sin as believers in the Lord Jesus, but it must be our consuming passion to live lives which are pleasing to the Lord. Our relationship with our Lord must be primary in our life, and our relationship with the Lord must be shown in every area of our lives. We must have a passionate desire and love for the things of the Lord. We must have a passionate desire to bring about the fruit of obedience to our Lord in all areas of our lives.

Yet another characteristic of true faith mentioned in I Thessalonians 1:3 is "labor prompted by love." We must love God and others to the point of exhaustion. This kind of love in not necessarily a sentimental feelings type of love, but it is a love produced by the Holy Spirit. Love sometimes involves hard work and perseverance. I Corinthians 13 reminds us that sacrificial love does not always come naturally. Love is patient and kind. Love is not envious, proud, or self-seeking. Love is not rude or easily angered. It certainly does not keep a checklist of the wrongs committed against us by others. God's sacrificial love requires the Holy Spirit's help and involves perseverance and hard work.

A third characteristic of true faith mentioned in I Thessalonians 1:3 is "endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." True faith proves itself by patience and perseverance. God's children can be patient and persevere in their faith; because they have the certainty that they belong to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for time and for eternity. Because of this blessed certainty they can endure and persevere even in difficult times in their lives. God's children can remain steadfast and patient in their faith even under pressure. This is because they rest their lives in the Lord Jesus Christ, and know they are secure in Him.

We were chosen by the Lord to live for His glory. The Lord has called us to changed lives, and He has called us to be imitators of the Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 1:6) We must reflect the Lord and His character in both pleasant and difficult times in our lives.  I Thessalonians 1:7 tells us that Our lives must become "a model" to all our fellow believers and also to those who do not know the Lord. May we be such good examples of perseverance in love, joy, and peace that our faith will be evident to those all around us. May others see the power of the Holy Spirit and Christ-like character in our lives. May others know that our lives have been touched and changed by our Lord and by His presence in our lives!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Psalm 91

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust."  Psalm 91:1-2

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."  Psalm 91:4

God's children dwell "in the shelter of the Most High."  The Lord is our shelter in the trials and storms of life.  As His children Psalm 91:1 reminds us that we "rest in the shadow of the Almighty."  The Lord is our shadow of protection from the oppression of the heat of life's difficult circumstances.  Psalm 91:2  tells us that the Lord is our "refuge" and our "fortress." He is the God that we can trust and run to for protection and shelter, because He is the "Most High" and the Almighty God who has power to help us.  The Lord also loves and cares for us.  He is our security and place of safety.

Psalm 91:3 also suggests that the Lord protects us from many unforeseen dangers and pitfalls.  He is often protecting us when we don't even see the dangers surrounding us.  Do we ever stop to contemplate how many "accidents" and other unforeseen things the Lord protects us from each and every other day?  Psalm 91:4 tells us that "He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

The Lord will protect us in His eternal love, faithfulness, and great power!  We need not fear anything whether it be day or night.  The Lord will always protect His own!  Nothing will happen to us that the Lord did not  plan from eternity.  Verses nine and ten of Psalm 91 reminds us that if we make the Lord our dwelling place and our place of refuge no ultimate harm will ever come to us!  Psalm 91:11 tells us that the Lord commands "His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways."  The Lord will even use His angels to help protect us against many dangers and frightening situations!  What an awesome and exciting thought!

Verses fourteen through sixteen of Psalm 91 promises us that because we love the Lord and acknowledge Him as Lord, He will come to our aid and rescue us in life's difficult moments.  The Lord is our protection and security in the many uncertainties and dangers of life.  When you and I call on the Lord for help in life's troubles, He will receive us with open arms.  He will then deliver us and rescue us and even honor us!  The Lord will do all this, because He loves His children!  He will also bless us with abundant life and give us His eternal salvation!  What grace!  What love!  Praise His name!  Why would we ever give way to self-pity or worry with such a loving and faithful God always protecting us?  Let us always rest our lives in the Lord!