Thessalonians

How To Give Thanks When Life Is A Mess

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In the Bible (1 Thessalonians 5:18) we’re told, “In everything, give thanks.” Now stop right there. Let’s be honest and let’s not read that casually. That is a startling statement! We live in a world where a lot of nasty things happen. And God didn’t say “in all the good things give thanks,” He said “in everything give thanks.” Let’s notice what else He did not say. He did not say “for everything, give thanks.” There are a lot of things that come into my life that are not good. They come in a fallen world with devastation as their goal and it’s so wonderful that God does not call me to thank Him for the pain that comes into my life. He didn’t say “for everything,” He said “in everything.”

Now what does that mean? It means that I am going to choose to believe that God is going to fulfill His promise. I choose to believe that He is so powerful that all things will work together for good in my life as I trust Him. So what comes into my life as pain I can fight against it. It’s going to cause me emotional turmoil but I can bring it into harmony with what God says He will do and who God is. And when my life is hard I can say, “In this, I’m going to give thanks because this is not the end of the story.” Remember what the Bible says, “God will restore the years that the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). God will take the ashes and He’ll bring beauty out of them. He’s going to take the sorrow and the suffering and put it around your neck as a garland of praise.

I love what He says to the widow in the book of Isaiah, “You will not remember the bitterness of your widowhood” (54:4). Now, that’s so cool because it’s so honest. He doesn’t say “You’re going to forget your widowhood.” He says, “You won’t remember the bitterness of it. I’m going to bring good out of it.” So we don’t live in a fairytale world where bad things don’t happen. We don’t have to say “Oh, I’m doing great. My mother just died.” That’s stupidity! No, we can say “My mother just died and it broke my heart and the tears are streaming down my cheeks, but that’s not the end of the story.” That’s the key. It’s not the end of the story. We are the people of the good ending. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). It’s good! That’s why in everything we can give thanks and we can live a thankful life today.

Bring to God whatever comes into your life by faith and trust Him that even if it’s bad, it’s going to end good because of who He is. In the Psalms it says “He is good and does only good” (Psalm 119:68).That’s a God I can trust. That’s a God you can trust.

Walk in faith today, my friend, in Jesus’ name.


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How To Live A Radical New Life

Can you relate to the cycle of trying and then failing, only to try harder again and fail worse than before? In today's short video, Frank reminds us that God doesn’t require us to meet a certain code of conduct through our own resources. Our gracious Father dwells in us and because of Him we can live differently!


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Want Others To See God in Your Life? Here’s What Not to Do

What does it mean when the Bible tells us to not quench the spirit? Today, Frank untangles a confusing verse for us, as he reminds us that the Holy Spirit will never overpower us or control us; it is always up to us to allow Him to transform our lives.


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Want Others To See God In Your Life? Here’s What Not To Do

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In 1 Thessalonians 5:19 there’s a very curious verse. It says, “Do not quench the spirit.” That’s puzzling because “quench” can be used so often in a very positive way, especially when we’re talking about thirst. When I’m thirsty, what do I want to do? I’m going to quench that thirst. When I have a desire, what do I want to do? I want to quench that desire by fulfilling it. But here it’s being used in a very negative fashion. “Don’t quench the spirit.” What does that mean? I think the key to understanding this verse is to realize that throughout both Old and New Testaments, the Holy Spirit is viewed and represented as fire. Fire is a very powerful commodity. Fire purifies everything that it touches. That’s the important part. The Holy Spirit has come into our life as a fire to empower us so He can purify us in our walk. Wonderful! Do not quench that!

Let’s think about this clearly. Fire has one real enemy and that’s water. Water can put out the fire. The Bible talks about water—living water—and so we want to draw a real life from God as living water but by implication there are other kinds of water. There are other things that can temporarily satisfy our soul, never satisfy our spirit, but certainly satisfy our soul. When we take satisfaction from those things, we are quenching the power of the Spirit to completely satisfy all of my needs. So we’ve got to be very careful here, my friends. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He will never overpower your life. He will never overtake you, never control you. And also, He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He will always be available to you. But in the moment when you quench the spirit, you’re looking to other things than God as a life source, and you’re not allowing His power to transform you into the image of Christ.

Don’t quench the spirit, let Him energize your life in a way that transforms it so that the world will be able to look at you and see you as a letter of God and say, “There goes a man or a woman who knows God. I can see it in the way they live.”

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He is Faithful, Even When We Wander

The world calls us in every direction, and we sometimes head down paths we shouldn’t. In today’s short clip, Frank assures us that no matter where we go, what we do, or who we become, our loving Father never leaves us or forsakes us. In His faithfulness, our God perpetually calls us to Himself.


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He Is Faithful, Even When We Wander

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I want to share another one of my favorite verses with you today. It’s found in 1 Thessalonians 5:24  It says, “Faithful is He who calls you.” Stop right there. A lot of times we’ll read this as “Faithful is He who has called you. That’s not what it says! That would imply that God reached out and He called you to Himself, and now He’s not doing anything else. The Greek word is not in the past tense, it’s in the present tense. Let’s translate it correctly and let’s read the Bible carefully. “Faithful is He who calls you.” The present tense means there is an element of continuousness in the action. So God is calling you and calling you and calling you and calling you. Why is that so important? Because like the old hymn writer said, “I’m prone to wander.”

There’s this thing in me called the flesh that is not me. There’s this thing in me called the power of sin that is not me. It’s like having a splinter. I have a piece of wood in my body, but it’s not me. And the flesh and the power of sin that are in me are attracted to the things of the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life (1 John 2:16). As Psalm 23 puts it there’s a lot of different paths out there, and sometimes I can be called to those paths. But God is so faithful. He calls me again and again and again and again. “Don’t go down that path. Don’t go down that path.” And sometimes I do it anyway and He continues to call me to Himself. Remember what God said? “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

We serve a God who calls us to Himself perpetually. That’s how faithful He is. Isn’t that glorious? And for that, we praise you, Father, in Jesus’ name, have a great day my friends, bless you.

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Receivers Instead of Achievers

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A paradox is defined as something that sounds contradictory but is actually true. We find such a paradox in the first letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. There he told them to make it their ambition, to be zealous and to strive eagerly - but let’s not complete that sentence just yet...

When I see a phrase that calls me to STRIVE or to be AMBITIOUS, I instantly think of the culture of the world we live in, and conclude that I need to "strive" to be a “mover-and-a-shaker,” or have "ambitions" to become an influencer or motivator; a heart charger who yearns for impact in this world. That is what I would expect would follow a call to "strive" or "be ambitious."

Paul, however, had no such conclusion to that phrase. Instead, he said that we should strive to be quiet; that we should be ambitious to mind our own business and take care of our own work. Pretty strange command, isn’t it? Not really though, when you think about it. We are made by God as human beings, called on the first full day of our existence in Genesis 2 to REST! Oh, we went out to work on the 8th day, but we worked from a position of rest. We labored, but not to achieve, because we had already been given everything by God. WONDERFUL!

Man sinned, however, and we bought the lie that we should eat from the tree of right and wrong, and in that instant we went from a human being who received all that they needed from the hand of God, to become human doings, achieving for themselves. This became our new normal, our default mode – to perform. To do.

The glory of the New Covenant placed us back into relationship with God and provided the potential for us to once again become receivers instead of achievers. To rest instead of LABOR. To simply be significant in Christ instead of trying to achieve significance. This is not easy for anyone, because we have been conditioned to achieve instead of receive. That is why the author of Hebrews said, “Labor to enter into the rest.” In other words, it is hard work to rest. And that is why Paul here in Thessalonians said that we should make it our ambition to lead quiet lives.

We have been made some kind of special in God’s eyes. It is time for us to really believe that and let it dramatically influence the way we live.

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Is the Truth on Your Lips Lived Out in Your Life?

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Sometimes I hear people say that they don’t care what others think. Though I agree that it is the Word of God that is to be the main source by which we order our lives, we should lend some consideration to what others think about us – especially the unbelieving world.

The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonian believers that they should be quiet, work hard, and mind their own business; that they should strive to do so. It is pretty clear from what Jesus said that there is more than enough on our plate every day to concern us. In fact, there is so much on our plate, that we should not even worry about tomorrow. This also means that there is so much on our plate each day that we should not have occasion to worry about what is on the plates of others. As it has been well said, “If you are not busy, you are in danger of being a busybody.” A point well taken, and it is this diligent pursuit of our own responsibilities in daily living, that will have such a great influence on what the outside world thinks of us.

Paul told the Thessalonians that when they follow his counsel to work hard, be quiet, and mind their own business, they will not be lacking. What he meant by this, is that we will be working, and barring some calamity, will be able to provide for the needs of our own lives. In other words, we will not have to go on the rolls of some charity in order to meet our needs.

It is at that point that Paul added that this hard-working lifestyle will have a dramatic effect on the unbelieving world, and we will win their respect because of it. The truth is that we are performing on the stage of life, and the unbelieving world is the audience. They are watching to see if the truth that is on our lips is also in our lives.

One anonymous saint put it this way, “Before we tell others about Jesus with our lips, we need to make sure they can see Jesus in our lives!” Perhaps Francis of Assisi said it best, “Preach Christ always, and sometimes use words!” I love that! Don’t you? Let’s preach Jesus with our lives!

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A Heart's That Good

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I want to tell you one of my favorite stories.

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning, while eating breakfast, the young woman noted that their neighbor’s laundry, which was hung out to dry, was not very clean and added that the poor woman must not know how to wash clothes properly. Her husband looked on but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang out her clothes to dry, the young woman would make the same comment that her neighbor’s laundry was not very clean and that the poor woman must not know how to wash clothes properly.

One morning, however, the young woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look at those clean clothes next door! Someone must have taught her how to wash clothes. I wonder who got to her?” The husband responded, “Actually, I got up early this morning and washed our windows.”

Unfortunately, this is all too often a very common experience. We as human beings spend so much time thinking negatively about our neighbor, that we fail to see the negative in our own lives. This is something we should especially avoid when thinking of our Christian brethren.

In the first letter to the Thessalonians Paul, who had to leave Thessalonica because of persecution, wrote to them that he wanted to get back to them but was unable to do so. It would have been very easy for the Thessalonians to listen to the negative voice of the enemy and think that Paul did not value them, or did not have the time for them, or perhaps that he was too busy for them.

Timothy, who had been sent to Thessalonica when Paul could not go there, returned with the news that the Thessalonians ALWAYS had good remembrances of them. They knew that Paul had a new heart and a good heart, (Ezekiel 36:25-26) and so they chose to believe that Paul had the best in mind for them always.

If only we would choose to believe the best about other people. How much needless conflict might we be able to avoid if we chose to believe that the heart of a believer is always good, instead of giving in to negative imaginations? Remember, Paul said in 1 Corinthians that love believes and hopes all things!

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The Balance of Love

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The great American entrepreneur John D. Rockefeller stated, “I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.” The most powerful leadership tool available is the ability to get along with other people; to be able to relate to people and not only to understand people but encourage them. The apostle Paul certainly fit this bill.

In the second chapter of the first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul states that he cared for them like a nursing mother gently cares for her own children. There is nothing so dear as the love of a nursing mother. Paul also went on though, to declare that he was like a father to the Thessalonians. In that context, he affirmed that in the role of a father he exhorted the Thessalonians; simply put, he spoke the hard words, the strong words that we all need to hear sometimes.

I love that he chose the word "parakaleo," which literally means to "come alongside." What a great lesson for us to learn! When we have to speak those hard words to the ones we love, those words are best spoken not with a finger in another’s face, but instead with an arm around them, communicating our love and acceptance of them, even if we do not necessarily accept their behavior.

Further, Paul instantly added that he encouraged them. It is not enough to just exhort others. If all we do is exhort people, we will soon have very few friends because they will run when they see us coming. Paul, however, balanced his hard words with loving words; words of encouragement. It is the same word used when Jesus comforted the family of Lazarus. It is the word "hekostan," and it means the "tender, compassionate, restorative empathy given to one who is struggling, burdened, or heartbroken."

Paul knew that in a very harsh world it's easy for someone when they hear a negative word, to become discouraged. He was quick to add words of encouragement, quick to play the role of a cheerleader and stress that he believed in them and anticipated that the best would be expressed by and through them.

Paul is a great example for us in terms of dealing with people. May we love others enough to say the strong words, but care enough for them to speak the encouraging words as well.

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