Posts Tagged '1 Thessalonians'

Devotionals Online: 06

The Day of the Lord
Verses to Read: 1 Thes. 5:1-11
There’s a wonderful song that’s a favorite of mine: People Get Ready by Margaret Becker. The concept in the song is that Christ could be coming back at any time, and we’ve got to be ready to go. What do you need to do to get ready to leave on vacation? Now how would that be different if you knew you were going to be leaving for good?
The Thessalonians were getting some pretty mixed up advice about how to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Paul sets them straight, and encourages them to be sober minded as they think about what they need to be doing in their lives.

This is great advice for me as well – to be sober minded as I think about what I need to get done. I have no idea how long I’ll be on the planet – so while I’m here, I want to be like Jesus, and be about “my Father’s business”.

Lord, make me aware of not only what I need to do, but who I’ll be working with, and for WHOM I am working (I’m serving You, not just the ideals that You laid out). Amen.

People, get ready… there’s a train a’comin…

Title of the Devotion:
Verses to Read:
Opening Thought / Illustrative Story – 1 paragraph:
What is the bible author saying to you in this verse? – 1 paragraph:

How can I apply this to my life? – 1 paragraph:

Closing Prayer:

Ending Thought – a short, one line thought to end the Devotional

Online Devotionals: 05

People Get Ready
Verses to Read: 1 Thes. 4:13-28
When I became a follower of Jesus, I was taught that God was going to “vanish” all of the people of God at any given moment… and that if you weren’t ready to go, you’d be left behind. This was a teaching that was originally designed to give hope, but because it was based in fear, it ended up causing more anxiety than hope.
Paul was dealing with people who were being told wrong things about the final Ressurection in Thessolonika as well. To give them hope, he spelled out the “final countdown” of how God would rescue all of the people of the Kingdom. It’s very simple, and doesn’t have a lot of date-specific details. MUCH more hopeful.

I need to remember that God WILL rescue all of us who are part of the Kingdom – and to do whatever I can to encourage as many as possible to be a part of that Kingdom as well. But GOD is the one who does the rescue; I’m just doing my small part, and staying hopeful.

Closing Prayer: Lord God, come quickly. But if you choose to wait, please use me to expand your Kingdom while I’m waiting for You. Amen.

Showing my age: “It’s the Final Countdown!” (from the band Europe)

Devotionals Online: 04

Control Yourself
Verses to Read: 1 Thes. 4:1-8

1 Finally, brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God (as, in fact, you are doing), you should do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; 4 that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, 5 not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one wrong or exploit a brother or sister in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Have you ever been so anxious to be involved in something you just can’t wait? As a child, I used to love going swimming at American Lake… I just couldn’t wait to get into that cool water, and I’d just jump in at the first opportunity.
What is the bible author saying to you in this verse? – 1 paragraph: I’m drawn to the word “abstain” in verse 3. Paul is telling the Thessalonians that they are to abstain from intimacy outside of marriage. I looked the word up, and the word can be translated “hold back”. The idea is that while the draw – the lure – of extramarital closeness is understandable, we need to hold back.

There are lots of things in my life that function as lures to me; things that do their best to draw my attention away from Christ, away from my relationships with my family. I’ve found a great freedom in recognizing those lures (“oh, yeah, I sense that temptation”) but then reminding myself that I’m dead to that draw.

Lord, help me to “abstain”, to back away from those things which do their best to draw me in to places or situations that I shouldn’t be in.

Be a zombie – the living dead!

Devotionals Online: 03

Variations on a Benediction

Verses to Read: 1 Thes. 3:11-13

One of the things that I really appreciate about a good worship service is the benediction at the end of of the service. It’s almost always a short saying that is a good thought about God’s glory, and our response to that glory. Often it’s said as a sort of a blessing, a directed prayer that God’s goodness and grace would impact us and change us in some way. That’s often what I think about when I hear a benediction.

This phrase at the end of 1 Thes. 3 reads like a benediction at first glace. But upon reflection, I see something else; it’s like Paul is “riffing” (an improvisational theatre term) on the idea of a benediction, but his prayer isn’t just directed towards God, or towards the reader. Paul’s words are multifaceted: he prays for himself (“may God… direct our way…”), he prays for the Thessalonians (“may the Lord make you increase and about in love…”), and he lifts up God for praise as well (“…before our God… at the coming of our Lord Jesus…”).

I want to be multi-faceted like this! I want my words to be prayers that bring my personal concerns to God, while at the same time lifting up my concerns for others AND giving glory to God. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be single-minded (or compartmentlized?) in prayer. I saw these words from Paul, and I’m encouraged and challenged to make my prayers do double (or triple) duty.

Lord, as I learn to pray, please give me a heart for others’ needs that at least equals my personal concerns, so that in lifting others before You in prayer, we are all drawn to see Your glory and grace for us. Amen.

“To You be glory… to You be fame… to You be honor… Glorify Your name…”

Devotionals Online: 02

Making Up for Lost Time

Verses to Read: 1 Thes. 3:6-10

Facebook has become one of the fastest growing social media sights in the history of the Internet. Why? I think it’s because there is something very special about reconnecting with old friends, and being able to catch up on what has been happening in their lives.

I’m convinced that Paul would have definitely added the Thessalonians to his Facebook friend list if he’d had access to that technology. When I read that Paul had been concerned about his friends in Thessolonika, and after getting a good report from Timothy that they were doing well, he said that he “had been comforted about you through your faith.” I’m especially struck by Paul’s earnest desire to meet face to face with his friends, and supply “what is lacking” in their faith.

I have to ask myself: do I earnestly desire to supply what is lacking in the faith of those who are around me? do I concern myself with my friends’ walk with Christ so much that I become agitated when I don’t hear of any encouragement regarding their faith walk? I hope that I do (but not in a creepy, controlling kind of way); I want to be a consistent voice for encouragement amongst my friends, my family, my community of faith – reminding them again and again to get to know and trust Jesus more and more.

Lord God, I realize that YOU are far more concerned about our spiritual journey than I am. Help me to reflect Your priorities in my own life, so that I can rightly encourage others to follow you as well. In the words of Paul, “follow me as I follow Christ”. Give me that kind of boldness, Lord. I ask it in Jesus’ name; Amen.

When people think of me, I want them to think, “He’s like Jesus… but with louder shirts.”


Pastor Ed Backell

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