Sober and Alert

Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 5.

Paul’s language is the language of battle and war. We have an enemy that is ready to take advantage of every chink in the armor we have. So, Paul reminds us we are children of the day. We aren’t children of the night. What does that mean? It means we need to be sober and alert. We need to be vigilant and clear headed. Obviously, he isn’t saying we are never allowed to sleep (consider Psalm 127:2). And, frankly, I’ve almost given up on trying to convince even Christians that maybe God wants us to stay away from intoxicating drinks (people don’t seem to want to hear that anymore). But, I know this. He wants sobriety and alertness to describe our lives and our days. How alert and sober does He want us to be? He wants us to be as sober and alert as an on duty soldier. Interestingly, to be sober and alert, we actually have to get appropriate amounts of rest and sleep. On the other hand, to be sober and alert, we need to stay away from intoxicants. So, if you were at war and your life was in the hands of a wing man, how sober and alert would you want that person to be? How much rest would you want them to have had as you go on duty together? How much alcohol, pot, or narcotics would you want them to have just had? Why not strive for that same kind of sobriety and alertness today in your war? After all, night time behaviors do not become us, we are of the day.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Thessalonians 1.

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Do This More and More

Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 4.

As we learned yesterday, God will grow us in love and establish us. Yet today, we read Paul’s affirmation that we must “do this more and more.” As some translations say, we must excel still more. Again, we must not think we can accomplish growth by our strength and power. However, neither must we think we are to do nothing, sitting on our backside, waiting for God to pick up the reins and force things to happen. I think of Jacob who prayed that God would protect him from Esau, and then developed a plan to send gifts and divide up his family as they entered the land. I think of David who prayed for God to thwart the counsel of Ahithophel, and then sent Hushai to counsel Absalom. Pray that God will grow your love today, and get busy loving as best you can and even better than you did yesterday.  When you have grown, you will not be able to take the credit, for you would have been unable to grow despite your best efforts. However, if you don’t grow, you will be to blame. For God has done and is doing His part. Will you do yours?That is how growth works.  

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 5.

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The Lord Make You Love

Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 3.

What an interesting prayer Paul offers. “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love…” I know in tomorrow’s chapter, he is going to stress that the Thessalonians need to excel more and more in love. But here he prays the Lord will cause that. Don’t be confused by the ESV translation. Paul wasn’t saying the Lord would “make” them grow in love against their will. But it is still the idea that the Lord is responsible for their abounding love. What a powerful prayer. It shows we are not alone as we strive to grow in Christ. Yes, we must excel even more, but one step in accomplishing that is praying that the Lord will excel us and others. Let’s get praying. Let’s start excelling.

Monday’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 4.

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Speaking to Save, Not to Please

Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 2.

The most sure way for us to destroy the gospel is to make pleasing our hearers the goal. Don’t get me wrong, those who surrender to the gospel will be pleased in the end. Salvation has a way of doing that for people. However, our goal is salvation, not pleasing people. There is a great deal the folks in the world simply will not like about the gospel and living according to it. The more we try to adjust it to get them to like it, the more we are distorting it. The most sure way to uphold the gospel is to speak to please God who is the author of the gospel. His way works whether folks like it or not. Let’s speak the gospel to save people, not to please them.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 3.

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A Little Help From My Friends

Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 1.

“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.” That’s how this letter to the church in Thessalonica begins. Of Paul’s letters to congregations, two-thirds begin by listing more than one author along with Paul. I know I rarely think of any of these letters as having co-authors. I almost skip over those other fellows as if Paul included their names merely out of some kind of politeness. To be truthful, I’m not really sure why these other names are included. Did they contribute to the message or structure of the letters? Were they merely Paul’s companions at the time? I wonder why Paul included them at all. Wouldn’t that detract from his prominence? Wouldn’t that diminish his own authority? Yet, Paul is perfectly fine with demonstrating a reliance upon friends and brethren in the writing of the majority of his epistles to congregations. I so often try to go it alone, to prove I don’t need others, to demonstrate that “I’ve got this.” Paul…not so much. Think about that today. If Paul was willing to get help and rely on others even in the writing of these letters and in leading, directing, guiding congregations, how much more should we be willing to get a little help from our friends?* Who will you be leaning on today?

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 2.

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Pray Without Ceasing

Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 5.

It’s another day.  What do you have planned for today? Will it be a good one or bad one?Is it stressful? Is it leisurely? Is it hectic? Is it peaceful? I don’t know what kind of day yesterday was for you. And I don’t know what kind of day today will be for you. But I know this; in whatever circumstance, the right response is prayer. Don’t let the bad things anger you so that you cease your praying. Don’t let the good things make you so content you cease your praying. You need God today. Pray without ceasing.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Thessalonians 1.

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Comfort One Another with These Words

Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 4.

If you’ve kept up with these Bible reading blogs for long, you already know that when we get to this chapter, I pretty much have nothing more to say than this:

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 5.

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