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1 Thessalonians free Bible notes

Daily Bible thoughts 941: Monday 10th August 2015: 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20: Spiritual conflict.

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20: Spiritual conflict.(please click here for todays passage)

I saw a pointed cartoon in a book on evangelism written by Michael Green. It showed a nurse leaving a brand-new baby just outside the door of a maternity unit. The caption read: ‘’You’re on your own now!’’ It made its point very powerfully. New believers need lots of love and care and attention.

These are surprising words. Paul and his friends were like spiritual parents to the new Christians in Thessalonica (1:7, 11). Surely the babes in Christ would feel ‘orphaned’ by the enforced separation (Acts 17:1ff) that came? But one translation of (2:17) says: ‘’when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time…’’ There was such a strong attachment between Paul and these infant believers. He/they felt like orphans. ‘’Do you have any idea how very homesick we became for you, dear friends?’’ The Message. New Christians need to be loved like that.

When you become separated from your young children, even if it is only for a short time, you are desperate to find them; to reconnect. So it was for Paul (17b, 18). But he came up against a problem. There is something of a mystery to the words: ‘’but Satan stopped us.’’ We have to understand this in the context of the Bible story as a whole, which tells us that God is sovereign. He is in supreme control. Nothing can happen without His permission. (Think, for example, of the story of Job: Jb.1:12). Nevertheless, we have a very real enemy who has the power to do things. ‘’I, Paul, tried over and over to get back, but Satan stymied us each time.’’ The Message. ‘’…but somehow Satan prevented our coming.’’ J.B. Phillips. Paul was also aware, though, that there is a way to clear spiritual roadblocks, and we will come to this in the next chapter (3:11). It is by prayer. This is how we bulldoze Satan’s barricades out of the way; this is the way to blow them up!

I heard a philosophy professor, Doctor Don Evans, preaching in Southport many years ago. He was an outstanding speaker. In one of his talks he referred to (19, 20). He said, ‘’If you take your children to London, and you stand outside Buckingham Palace, and the Queen comes out on to the balcony, your greatest joy will be that they are seeing Her Majesty; not that you are!’’ It’s a good point and it has stayed with me. But Paul looked forward to the day when he would actually present his ‘children’ to the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Thessalonians would see Jesus, and at the same time they would be Paul’s pride and joy; the fruit of his ministry.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please give us new ‘children’ to care for, and help us to care for the new children you give.

Daily Bible thoughts 937: Tuesday 4th August 2015:1 Thessalonians 2:14-16: Backlash!

1 Thessalonians 2:14-16: Backlash!(click here for todays passage)

‘’In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.’’ (John 16:33).

As followers of Jesus we can expect opposition and difficulty. He told us to. As someone said, ‘’Jesus sets you free from your problems so you can have His; and His are a lot worse than yours!’’ Amidst evangelistic success and people responding well to God’s Word, we can anticipate a backlash. The fledgling church at Thessalonica suffered from the beginning (see Acts 17:1-8; 1 Thess.1:6; 2 Thess.1:4). The gentile Christians in that city were persecuted by fellow- Gentiles, just as the Jewish Christians in Judea had been mistreated by their fellow-Jews.

Recently the Liberal Democrats appointed a new leader, Tim Farron, who is a believer in Jesus. I understand that early media interviews with him have homed in on his faith, and have been intent on ridiculing him for it. What is it with people? What are they so afraid of that they have to pour scorn on belief in Christ? In a way, it’s encouraging. There is blessing in persecution (Matthew 5:12). For me, this response underlines the reality of the Christian faith and the truth that there is a devil who hates it and wants to bring it down. Why does the name of Jesus, and belief in Him provoke such a violent reaction? Ask yourself that question.

‘’When you take a stand for Christ you may face opposition, disapproval and ridicule from your neighbours, friends, and even family members.’’ ‘The Life Application Study Bible, p.2162.)

Among the Jewish people there was a history of persecuting faithful preachers of God’s Word, culminating in the crucifixion of Jesus (Acts 2:23; see also Matthew 5:11, 12; Luke 11:47-51; Acts 13:45, 50; Luke 11:47-51).This was not true of all of them, obviously. There were Jewish Christians. Paul was one of them. But there were those Jews who wanted to prevent the good news about Jesus from going to the Gentiles. However, you may as well attempt to do a ‘King Canute’ and set yourself to hold back the tide. God’s purposes will prevail. The ‘’gates of Hades’’ (Matthew 16:18) will not.

‘’They’ve made a career of opposing God, and have gotten mighty good at it. But God is fed up, ready to put an end to it.’’ The Message.

We’ve read the final chapter, and we know how it all turns out. It’s a good ending. We’re on the winning team, even though it doesn’t always feel like it.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that in the end Jesus wins! Thank you for how this news affects us now.

Daily Bible thoughts 936: Monday 3rd August 2015: 1 Thessalonians 2:13: Good reception.

1 Thessalonians 2:13: Good reception.(please click here for todays passage)

Many of us will have visited places where it was hard to get a good mobile phone signal (or T.V. or radio signal for that matter, or Wi Fi connection.) We experienced poor reception. Jesus, in His parable of the sower (or the grounds) spoke about receptivity – about how we respond to the ‘seed’ of the Word sown into us; how we hear; what our hearts are like. In Thessalonica Paul found good reception. It wasn’t difficult to get a signal!

‘Impression management’ they call it. It’s when you’re trying to project an image of who you are but that isn’t who you are! You are trying to manage what people think about you. As we have seen, there was nothing of this in Paul’s ministry. ‘’When we witness for Christ, our focus should not be on the impressions we make. As true ministers of Christ, we should point to him, not to ourselves.’ ‘The Life Application Study Bible’, p.2161.

The verse opens with an expression of continual thanks, and it reminds us of (1:2). ‘’And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks.’’ The Mesaage. We have no greater joy as leaders than to see people respond well to the Bible (and, above all, to Jesus Himself.) We are gardeners, planting seeds, and we delight to watch our garden grow with beautiful plants. At the heart of any effective ministry there lies the effective broadcasting and reception of God’s truth, Big numbers and building projects may come (or they may not.) They are not the issue. Primarily we are workers with the Word; cultivators of spiritual gardens, watching God give the growth.

Notice three important things:

  • God’s Word must be broadcast: ‘’which you heard from us’’ (see also 1:5, 8);
  • God’s Word must be received: ‘’when you received the word of God…you accepted it…’’;
  • God’s Word is active: ‘’…the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.’’ ( see Hebrews 4:12). Just like the seed is alive and active below the surface of the soil, so it is with God’s Word. The B. Phillips translation says they received it ‘’not as a mere human message, but as it really is, God’s Word, a power in the lives of you who believe.’’ The power is in the Word of God. Preacher, can you believe it? Your ministry, which may seem ordinary and unspectacular in your eyes (and in the opinion of others), is one of immense power. If there isn’t a lot to show for it at the moment, don’t doubt that there is much activity in your ‘garden’. One of these days it will show up. Just be patient. (And don’t miss what is already happening!)

Finally, don’t lose sight of the further New Testament revelation that Jesus Himself is the living ‘Word’ (John 1:1). Ultimately our ministry is all about Him. We want to see people receive Him, and watch Him work to change their lives.

Prayer: Lord, renew our confidence in the power of your Word to change lives and achieve your purposes in the world.

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