Tag Archives: 1 Thessalonians

Proverbs 29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4

“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”  1 Thessalonians 2:13

Sometimes I treat the Bible like a coffee table decoration. I may read through the words as if they were nice theories or a self improvement project or gloss through the difficult passages and patronize them by passing them off as antiquated and therefore, irrelevant. God’s word is far too powerful to remain in the box that I attempt to keep it in. In reading the Word, God invites me to sit with him, wrestle with my questions and doubts and dance with hopes and dreams. All these things I lay before God in the light of his Word.

God’s Word asks me if I truly believe that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness? Do I really, REALLY believe that Christ died on the cross and physically rose from the dead so that I might live? When the truth of Jesus Christ sets in, I awaken from my stupor and the world changes; I change. His resurrection brings light and joy into unexpected places.

Following Christ is not a quest to be a better person or to find fulfillment; those things might happen, but they are not the end. God wants something much greater, wilder, and more beautiful for me; He wants holiness.

“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God who gives the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8.

Holiness is the odd combination of laying aside my idea of righteousness to accept that of Jesus and leaning forward in gratitude to live the life He has called me to. It means being transformed by his love into the his likeness. It’s being willing to let go of my ego long enough to be to take risks and believe that God’s power will win the day. A holy life focuses on God and not man’s ability to get things right or wrong.

The people that I know who live holy lives are “clothed in strength and dignity” that comes from God and isn’t stuffy and judgmental. Quite the opposite. They are people who can laugh and have grace for themselves and others. Think of the woman in Proverbs 31. Knowing and living the truth of the Gospel opens the door for the Holy Spirit to do that kind of work in ordinary lives.

Lord, I believe you are who you say you are. Help me when unbelief slips in. Keep me focused on you today. Holy Spirit, please be at work in and through me today. Amen.

Klueh

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Proverbs 24-25; Psalm 41; 1 Thessalonians 2

3It takes wisdom to have a good family.

It takes understanding to make it strong.

4It takes knowledge to fill a home

with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4 (ICB)

As a mother my desire is to have a great relationship with my kids. I want my home to be a place of safety, full of wonderful things and even better memories. I want my kids to be connected at the heart with me, their Daddo, each other. And, most importantly I want them to love Jesus with all their being.

There are many days I feel like a failure in all this; days when my bad mommy moments vastly outweigh the good ones. I am probably my own worst critic. It’s probably better than I sometimes think it is. I choose to hold on to the hope that my kids remember more of the positive moments, the fun times, and forget the times I’ve lost my patience and my self-control went the way of the dodo.

28A person who does not control himself

is like a city whose walls have been broken down. Proverbs 25:28 (ICB)

When I lose self-control, yell, scream, lecture, spank…I immediately witness the tiniest thread of connection my daughters and I have in that moment disintegrate like a hiker walking through a spider web stretched across the trail. Even if my calm, steady voice paired with “the look” isn’t working to get their attention, the tension-filled, impatient, MOM voice and ugly face, turns them away from me even faster.

7But we were very gentle with you. We were like a mother caring for her little children. 8Because we loved you, we were happy to share God’s Good News with you. But not only that, we were also happy to share even our own lives with you. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (ICB)

I don’t want to go through life feeling like I had a good day simply because I didn’t make front page news. I want to know that my family had a good day because I was gentle, caring, I was patient and full of self-control, even if my kids weren’t. I want them to experience my love first hand, not just hear the words come from my mouth. I want to show them who Christ is through my example. I want my family to be happy that we share our lives together. I want my house to be filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

On Sunday, I actually had it together. I had some alone time, with God (an important key), and then miraculously got everyone dressed, fed and out the door on the way to church 10 minutes early. Once I got us all belted in and we were on the road, I looked in the rear view mirror at my oldest and asked her how the morning was. She thought for a moment and told me it was a good morning. I asked her why. She said, “Because, we didn’t fight.”

The treasure chest filled up a little bit more…

Yesappa, Thank You for showing me how it can be when I rely on Your wisdom and understanding to build my family up and fill my home. Help me in those moments that I struggle to see what You see. Help me love my kids more like You love them. Help me discipline like You discipline Your children. Give me strength to choose self-control and patience, and make me into a gentle mother. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

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Proverbs 26-28; 1 Thessalonians 3

People who conceal their sins will not prosper,

but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Blessed are those who fear to do wrong,

but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble. Proverbs 28:13-14

Before I was a believer, I thought that if I kept my ‘junk’ – my insecurities, envy, jealousy, anger, and the other sins of my heart – hidden from people that it would be as if it didn’t exist. I could put on a good face, a mask of innocence, and convince people that I was doing okay.

I came to a realization that no matter how well I kept it all hidden from my family and my friends (and I was probably deluding myself about how well I was keeping things secret anyway), I wasn’t keeping anything hidden from God.

He has full access to my heart, mind, and soul. He knows when sin has entered my heart, regardless of whether or not it shows to people. He knows when I am being stubborn and He knows when I am truly repentant.

Now that I follow Christ, I strive to walk in the freedom offered through salvation which Jesus granted to me through His finished work on the cross. I do my best to avoid what people consider the ‘big sins’, but in my humanness I still often commit sins of wrong attitudes.

I believe that God understands that I am going to sin, as much as He hopes that I wouldn’t; and, because of that awareness, He gives me second, thirds, fourth, etc. chances. Because He loves me so much, He extends His gift of grace to me each time I bring my failures to Him and lay them down at His feet.

When I confess my sins to Him, He forgives me and offers me mercy, allowing my past to no longer dictate what my future will look like. He heals my heart, gives me wisdom, and alleviates the trouble that may have been stirred up by my bad choices and He helps my destiny flourish. He gives me a testimony of His goodness and made me an overcomer.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your mercy and Your love. Thank You for Your forgiveness, and for helping me be transparent and vulnerable before You. Please, check my spirit when I sin in my heart so that I am more aware of my need to confess.And, grant me continuing grace as I journey through life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Isaiah 62-64; 1 Thessalonians 5

Yesterday my friend shared her story with me; it was one of darkness and shame, abandonment and addiction. Once abused, she came the abuser. Tears fell down her face as she confessed to the horrible moment that she discovered she had become the monster her parents had been. She sought help. To this day, she begs forgiveness from her adult children and has difficulty sleeping at night. Nightmares take her back to horrible times and waking is a relief.

Honestly, I was stunned by her confession.  I had always considered child abusers to be subhuman, far different from me. Not true. In fact, I think that my friend’s honesty is admirable. It took great strength and humility to tell me what she did. She fights hard for healing; it is a work in progress. I pray that one day, the Holy Spirit will bring her to the place where she will receive the forgiveness and peace Jesus longs to cover her with.

This morning I was on the phone with my sister. Before I knew it, snarky, judgmental words about some people who had done me no harm came from my lips. After I hung up, conviction came knocking. Maybe I hadn’t flung someone across the room, but in reality I had done malice to someone who couldn’t defend themselves. My sin felt like a ball and chain. The truth is, my friend and I stand before a holy God, and sin is sin. There’s no gradation.

Isaiah understood this:

All of us have become like one who is unclean,

all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

we shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away…

Yet, O Lord you are our Father.

We are the clay, you are the potter;

we are the work of your hand.

Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord: do not remember our sins forever. 

Oh look upon us, we pray for we are all your people.

Isaiah 64:6-9

Try as we may, on our own, we can never be good enough. The good news for all of us is that we can know forgiveness, peace and healing when we confess our sins, repent and grab hold of the grace that Jesus offers us. Our past doesn’t have to own us. Jesus takes our shame and replaces it with gratitude and celebration.

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

Lord, forgive me when I fall short. It happens so easily. Thank you that through your Son, I grab hold of your grace and come home to you. Thank you for my friend and her honesty and trust in me. Please open her heart to your healing and grace so that she is fully restored to you and knows your peace. Amen.

klueh

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1 Kings 18; 1 Thessalonians 1; Ezekiel 48; Psalms 104

Elijah approached the people and said, “How long will you not decide between two choices? If the Lord is the true God, follow him, but if Baal is the true God, follow him!” But the people said nothing.

Elijah said, “I am the only prophet of the Lord here, but there are four hundred fifty prophets of Baal. Bring two bulls. Let the prophets of Baal choose one bull and kill it and cut it into pieces. Then let them put the meat on the wood, but they are not to set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull, putting the meat on the wood but not setting fire to it. You prophets of Baal, pray to your god, and I will pray to the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to his wood is the true God.”

All the people agreed that this was a good idea.

Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “There are many of you, so you go first. Choose a bull and prepare it. Pray to your god, but don’t start the fire.”

So they took the bull that was given to them and prepared it. They prayed to Baal from morning until noon, shouting “Baal, answer us!” But there was no sound, and no one answered. They danced around the altar they had built.

At noon Elijah began to make fun of them. “Pray louder!” he said. “If Baal really is a god, maybe he is thinking, or busy, or traveling! Maybe he is sleeping so you will have to wake him!” The prophets prayed louder, cutting themselves with swords and spears until their blood flowed, which was the way they worshiped. The afternoon passed, and the prophets continued to act like this until it was time for the evening sacrifice. But no voice was heard; Baal did not answer, and no one paid attention.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Now come to me.” So they gathered around him, and Elijah rebuilt the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. He took twelve stones, one stone for each of the twelve tribes, the number of Jacob’s sons. (The Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel.) Elijah used these stones to rebuild the altar in honor of the Lord. Then he dug a ditch around the altar that was big enough to hold about thirteen quarts of seed. Elijah put the wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood. Then he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the meat and on the wood.” Then Elijah said, “Do it again,” and they did it again. Then he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it the third time. So the water ran off the altar and filled the ditch.

At the time for the evening sacrifice, the prophet Elijah went near the altar. “Lord, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,” he prayed. “Prove that you are the God of Israel and that I am your servant. Show these people that you commanded me to do all these things. Lord, answer my prayer so these people will know that you, Lord, are God and that you will change their minds.”

Then fire from the Lord came down and burned the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the ground around the altar. It also dried up the water in the ditch. When all the people saw this, they fell down to the ground, crying, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!” 1 Kings 18:21-39 (NCV)

Elijah played a vital role in God’s strategy to reveal to the people of the time His glory and His power. God used Elijah to send a message to the men and women of Israel. God placed Elijah in the center of a miraculous event designed to challenge the status quo of those who had chosen to worship false idols, to definitively prove that He was, is, and will always be the ONLY Living God.

Elijah’s faith in the reality of God’s power gave him the ability to step out in boldness to proclaim the truth and confront the priests of Baal and the unfaithfulness of the people of Israel. He gave them an experiential demonstration of the uselessness of putting their trust in counterfeit gods, the hopelessness of rituals intended to convince a statue to relieve suffering and provide for needs.

Daring the believers of Baal to authenticate their god, Elijah goaded them with taunts of a deity too busy to listen, too preoccupied with thinking or traveling or sleeping. It didn’t matter how loud the priests prayed, how hard they danced, or how much blood they let flow from their bodies, an imitation with no eyes to see or ears to hear would never be able to ease their desperation. Elijah allowed the priest to expend themselves in the futility of calling on a fake.

When it was Elijah’s turn to take part in the competition, he upped the ante, asking the on-lookers to pour twelve buckets of water over the altar he had rebuilt, soaking the sacrificed bull and drenching the firewood. A simple, yet fervent prayer – “show us who You are Lord” – called on God to take the impossible, and make it possible.

I have seen first-hand the fruitlessness of rituals, the worthlessness of worshipping a stone or a tree or an animal or money. I have heard the stories of men and women and children who have no hope and no peace. I have looked in desolate eyes that are seeking a savior, but were never told of Jesus. And, I have encountered the desperation of hearts seeking the joy of salvation without even knowing what they were searching for.

My whole being, praise the Lord.

Lord my God, you are very great.

You are clothed with glory and majesty…

I will sing to the Lord all my life;

I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.

May my thoughts please him;

I am happy in the Lord. Psalm 104:1, 33-34 (NCV)

I have also experienced the faithfulness of God. I have felt His Father arms wrapped around me, offering hope, giving a second chance. I have surveyed the wondrous cross, His sacrifice, partaking in Christ’s Blood and in His Body, my sins cleansed. I have been comforted by the assurance of Holy Spirit, convicted in the certainty of my Savior. I have witnessed His power to make the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the blind see. I offer testimony to His miraculous works.

It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 (MSG)

Like Elijah, like you, I am an integral part of His story, of God’s plan to establish His Kingdom on the Earth. I was created to exhibit Truth, to reveal His goodness. I was born to carry mustard seed faith, hope in the One, True God, the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing. I was called to walk in boldness, receiving courage from Holy Spirit to exhort the undecided, the complacent to make a choice between false idols and the Genuine Article. I was sent to carry His love, His grace, and His mercy to my family, to my neighborhood, to my city, and to the outreaches of the world.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

P.S. Thank you for your patience with the delay in this post…we had a full day shut down, no electricity for 8 hours, no internet access for 8 hours. Helps me remember the blessings of living in America. 🙂

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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Psalm 113, 114, 115; 1 Thessalonians 3

There are an unfathomable number of reasons why the Lord is worthy of praise. There are so many, that even if each person in the world could list 100 reasons, together, we would still not even name more than what would fill the palm of His hand.

We are called over and over in the Bible to praise the Lord, all the time, every day, in the good times and the bad. Praise is offering words of homage as an act of worship, love and admiration. It is an expression of approval and tribute, an applause and a compliment. It is an act of gratitude, an act of devotion. It is a celebration.

So many of the Psalms are filled with explanations as to why God is worthy of praise. Here are some of the reasons according to Psalms 113, 114, and 115 (based on the Message version):

Psalm 113

  • God is higher than anything and anyone, outshining everything you can see in the skies.
  • God cannot be compared with anyone.
  • God is majestically enthroned, surveying the heavens and the earth.
  • God picks up the poor from out of the dirt.
  • God rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash.
  • God gives us a place of honor among the brightest and best.
  • God gives childless couples a family.
  • God gives joy.

Psalm 114

  • God brought Israel out of Egypt.
  • God made Judah a holy land.
  • God made Israel a place of holy rule.
  • God parted the seas and the rivers.
  • God moved mountains.
  • God opened the earth.
  • God turned the rock into a pool of spring water.

Psalm 115

  • God is full of glory.
  • God is merciful and loving.
  • God is faithful.
  • God is in heaven, alive.
  • God is real, not made of metal and wood by a craftsman.
  • God has a mouth and talks to us.
  • God has eyes to see us.
  • God has ears to hear us.
  • God has a nose to smell the incense of our living sacrifice.
  • God has hands to hold us.
  • God has feet to walk with us.
  • God has a throat that utters sounds to us.
  • God can be trusted.
  • God is our Helper.
  • God is our Ruler.
  • God is to be feared.
  • God remembers us and blesses us, both small and great.
  • God enlarges our families and helps us grow.
  • God gives us life.

I love praising God through song. One of my favorite times happens at every family gathering on my mother’s side. When we are preparing to eat, rather than saying a traditional ‘thank you for our food’ prayer, we sing the Doxology. Everyone sings, an ever growing family chorus, full of talented musicians and those who simply make a joyful noise. A humble song, yet one that reflects our family’s gratefulness to the Lord for all He has done for us.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him, all creatures here below.

Praise Him, above ye heavenly hosts.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.*

DOXOLOGY – THE SAUER FAMILY, 2010

My prayer for you today, dear reader…

May you be a walking doxology. May the Lord be praised through your life – your words, your actions, the content of your heart. ‘Just to remember God is a blessing—now and tomorrow and always. From east to west, from dawn to dusk, keep lifting all your praises to God! (Psalm 113:2-3; MSG) ‘…May the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from [me] to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father…’ (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13; MSG). ‘May you be blessed by God, [the God] who made heaven and earth.’ (Psalms 115:15) In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sthoththiram! – Praise the Lord!

 

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India

* Doxology, Thomas Ken, 1674 © Public Domain

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Leviticus 8; Psalm 9; Proverbs 23; 1 Thessalonians 2

“On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4, NIV

My friend whose husband is a pastor told me about a conflict in their church. Her husband had made a decision that he knew obeyed and honored God, but several church members were angry with him. Publicly. And then they left his church. Even though he was discouraged, the pastor  summed up the situation with these words: “I’m called to be the pastor God wants…which isn’t always the pastor they want.”

I admire his humble and faithful obedience, even in the face of rejection and scorn. In the same way, Paul wrote the believers in Thessalonica that he wasn’t about trying to please men, but God. Paul cared little for man’s approval–but he lived to bring glory to God alone.

Lord, bring me to a place where I want Your favor more than the praise of man. Too often I jump to please or impress people. But God, test my heart. Be my vision and my motivation. Let Your name and renown be the desire of my heart! (Isaiah 26:8) Amen.

amystorms

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