28 September 2012

1 Thessalonians 4,5

I've been working my way through the New Testament, and hit 1 Thessalonians. I read it initially, taking my time to work through the verses and allow the Holy Spirit to help me and speak to me from them.

I found it so difficult.

The earlier books; Acts, Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, I found much easier to read through and get blessed by.

I was extremely tempted to just forget about 1 Thessalonians and move onto the second book, but I didn't want to miss out on anything in there that God wanted to say to me. So I tried again.

On the YOU Version Bible App, there is a function on some translations that allows you to listen to the chapter as you read it, so this time as I read through 1 Thessalonians, I listened to it at the same time.

Massively helpful.

God really blessed me through the last two chapters, so I just thought I'd share with you guys what stuck out for me. Hope God blesses you with this too!

Ch.4 v.3-8

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord  is  the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects  this  does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit."

These verses talk about 'sanctification' (the setting apart of ourselves as Holy to God), keeping our bodies free from sexual sin in particular, remembering that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 3.16, Acts 13.52), and should be used to glorify God (show to unbelievers how awesome and great He is). I was particularly struck here by two things; first, that if we go ahead with sexual sin, not only are we sinning, but we are 'taking advantage of' and 'defrauding' the person we commit it with; and second, that when we reject this instruction, and deliberately choose to sin anyway, we aren't rejecting the person who told us we shouldn't do it, we're rejecting God, whose instruction it is.

Ch. 4 v.11-12

"that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and  that  you may lack nothing."

It's more verse 12 that I like, but the latter part of verse 11 I found very interesting as well. The whole concept of minding our own business and working with our own hands. We do not need to be busy bodies!!! There is a tendency in church, especially in smaller ones, to talk about what other people are doing all the time, and I also think a lot of the time this is when judgement can occur. God wants us to mind our own business and be quiet, we need to constantly be focusing on our own walk with God so that we can 'walk properly toward those outside'. For those of you who are Christians, you've probably heard the saying 'you might be the only bible/Jesus someone ever gets to read/see.' It's so important that we keep ourselves in check with God; number one, so we make sure that we stay on the right path, and also number two, so that others can see what it's really like to know Jesus, and how it affects our lives. I like to think of it as infectious Christianity, so that when people see how awesome it is to be in relationship with God, they can't help but feel a little bit jealous and want in.

Ch. 5 v.14
"Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all."

This verse speaks for itself really. (But if you aren't familiar with biblical terms, exhort means  to charge, or to commission, or to task someone to do something). It talks about how we are to relate among one another, and I believe this applies to how we treat everyone (Christians and non-Christians alike).

  • Warn those who are disruptive and disobedient
  • Comfort and encourage the fainthearted
  • Lift up the weaker people
  • Be patient with everyone

Ch. 5 v. 16-22
I won't quote this one because I'm literally about to go through it word for word, but feel free to look it up on Blue Letter Bible or Bible Gateway.

v. 16, 18 - Rejoice always/in everything give thanks; no matter what we go through in this life, as Christians we always have something to be thankful and praising God for. First, our salvation, and second, the way in which our salvation opened up the way for us to have relationship with God, the creator of the entire universe.

v.17 - Pray without ceasing; We serve the God who hears and sees, so even when we've been praying for a while and have not seen the desired effect, God wants us to keep on praying. Prayer is less about us getting what we want and more about us recognising God's sovereignty (how powerful He is), so every time we pray, we humble ourselves before God and tell Him we can't do anything without Him, that we need His help in all things and that because we know He is good, strong and knows what is best for us, we trust Him entirely. Pray until something happens.

v.19 - Do not quench the Holy Spirit; I think there are two ways in which we can do this. First, by grieving the Holy Spirit with our sin (Ephesians 4.30, Isaiah 63.10), and secondly, by not intentionally spending time soaking in God and His word and working on our gifting (speaking in tongues, prophesying etc. 2 Timothy 1.6)

v.20 - Do not despise prophecies; we can have no doubt that what God says will happen, will happen. What God says, happens. He said let there be light, and there was light. He said the walls of Jericho would fall down and they did. His word never goes out without accomplishing what it says it will (Isaiah 55.11). So when God says He's going to do something, trust Him that He will, hold onto it.

v. 21 - Test all things; hold fast what is good; In the same breath as verse 20, we are warned that whatever prophecies we do hear, we weigh them up with the truth. Anybody can say they heard from God, but we need to make sure that we aren't taking just anything that we hear to be gospel. God is still speaking to us now in the same way He spoke to people then, but He does not contradict Himself. Check that what you are told is in line with God's scripture, and if it is, hold on to it.

v. 22 - Abstain from every form of evil; this goes back to chapter four and the verse about sexual immorality, but this isn't just about sex. As Christians we need to live lives that show we are God's people and have chosen to live our lives differently (Matthew 3.8, Luke 3.8, Romans 12.2, Ephesians 5.27).

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