Don’t Be Shaken

2 Thessalonians 2:1
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.”

One of the primary themes of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonian church is the return of Jesus Christ. Paul lived with the expectation that Christ would return in his lifetime, and urged others to always be on guard. He had warned in his first letter that, “the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Looking around at the condition of the world they lived in, through the lens of Biblical prophecy, had caused some of them to be alarmed, and even gripped with fear. Paul mentions how they were shaken in mind and troubled. The term ‘shaken’ would describe a ship being tossed to and fro by the raging seas. The word ‘troubled’ carries the idea of crying out for help. Paul had written to a group of Christians facing turbulent times, with the purpose of encouraging them with the “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Yet the message designed to give them hope, had actually robbed them of peace, filled them with fear, and was causing them to cry out in despair.

In my experience, this response is all too common. We look around at the present world conditions, and realize the sun is setting, and the day of the Lord is approaching. Because we do not fully understand what that entails, we are often gripped with fear, instead of being filled with expectancy, joy, and a new vigor to share Christ with friends and family. The Thessalonians were shaken and troubled because they misunderstood the Bible’s teaching regarding the return of Christ. Some thought it had happened and they had missed out. In an age without satellite TV, Google, or cell phones, news did not travel in real-time; rumors of what had taken place in a distant land could take weeks to verify. Paul wrote to assure them the return of Christ is imminent, but still ahead.

“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him…”

“The coming” is a translation of the Greek word “parousia.” This word was used to describe the visit of a king or dignitary to a city, in order to show his magnificence to the people. Paul is stating, King Jesus is coming back in all His glory to set up His kingdom and rule in righteousness. He assures them that before this event can happen, another ruler must appear on the scene. This ruler is called “the Man of Sin”, who will exalt himself as God. The Bible uses many different terms to describe this individual; the most well-known is the term Antichrist. Paul explains, before Christ comes back as King, the Antichrist will be revealed. If this verse stood alone, we might conclude that we should not be looking for the return of Jesus, but for the reign of this Man of Sin. Our eyes would be taken off Christ and His Word, and we would be searching the news feeds for information on world leaders. But this verse does not stand alone. Paul adds,

2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.”

Notice the words “And then the lawless one…” it is after the restraining force in the world is removed, that the Antichrist is revealed. It is after this event that Christ will return from heaven, with a shout and set up His earthly reign. It is believed by many, that the restraining force Paul refers to, is the church. Paul is reminding us, the next event we should be looking forward to is the sudden and instant removal of the church from earth, and into the presence of the Lord. He described this event to the Corinthians as something that would happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Rather than being filled with fear, we should be living in expectancy; looking forward to the trumpet sound when Christ will call His church home to heaven.

Pastor Jim

Questions for 2 Thessalonians 2

  1. Paul brings up a lot of the “signs of the times” in this chapter, what are some of the things in our world today that are proof that Jesus’ return is soon?
  2. He encourages the Thessalonians to stand fast (v. 15). Sometimes during trials we need to remember to stand fast. How can you stand fast in your faith during trials?

Old Testament:
Isaiah 35- Stream In The Desert
Isaiah 36- The Lord Will…

Answers

2 Thessalonians 1:1
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ . . .”

The Thessalonian Christians were going through great difficulties. Paul speaks of the tribulations and persecutions they were forced to endure. He also refers to sufferings, and their ultimate rest from these things will not happen until they are in the presence of the Lord. They are not alone in the these difficulties. Paul wrote to Timothy, explaining, “All who desire to live godly in Christ will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus explained, in this world we would face tribulation, but He was greater than the world (John 16:33). It is the lot of all Christians to experience difficulties that try the genuineness of our faith. What strikes me, is not that they were facing trials, but that they received answers from the Lord. This entire letter is God speaking to the Thessalonians regarding the difficulties they are forced to endure.

“To the church of the Thessalonians…”

We are often faced with trials that test our faith and cause us to cry out for answers. One of the most common questions we ask is simply, “Why?” Why am I experiencing this difficulty. Why, if God is loving and powerful, am I forced to endure such struggles? There are certain questions we will not find an adequate answer for until heaven. There are times when the only way to hear from God is to follow the example of Habakkuk, and get alone with Him and His word (Habakkuk 2:1). There are also times when the answer comes in corporate worship. Since their experience of persecution and hardship was common to all, the answer was found in a message to the entire church. Imagine what a blessing it must have been, when they met that Sunday to listen to this letter for the first time, and they heard a message from God directed toward their circumstances.

I have found corporate worship to be like that. It is not uncommon for me to experience God speaking directly to the concerns of my life, as I sit in church worshipping and studying of the Word. As a pastor, I am often accused of “spying” on the people (as they poke fun at me) after a message that so directly addressed the things they are experiencing, or even the conversations they have been having about following Jesus. The message the Thessalonians heard may not have been exactly what they wanted (I am sure they wished it left out words like tribulation), but it was exactly what they needed to hear, and was tailored in heaven, specifically to enable them to persevere on earth. I think this is one of the major purposes of the church, and why it is so dangerous to neglect regular fellowship and the study of the Word.

Allow me to encourage you to make a commitment to be in regular attendance at a healthy, Bible-teaching fellowship. Answers await, as you gather to feast at the table of God’s Word.

Pastor Jim

Chapter 1
1. Paul starts his letter to the Thessalonians talking about their faith and love for each other. What a beautiful thing to be known for! Do you think people know you for your faith and love? How could you improve your reputation on that subject?

2. Paul talks about the persecutions and trials that they are going through and how it counts them worthy of the kingdom of God (v. 5). Do the trials that we go through excite you for the rest we will get with Jesus in eternity?

Old Testament:
Isaiah 33- That Will Fix It
Isaiah 34- Search And Read

Get Ready!

1 Thessalonians 5:2
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.”

Years ago, when our twin sons were infants, my wife woke me in the middle of the night. Having been up with the babies, she saw someone in our yard. Concerned that we might be dealing with a home invasion, my instinct was to grab something to protect myself and head into the yard. As I peered through the front window, I realized that it was actually a group of teenagers who were toilet-papering our house. I immediately thought of grabbing the garden hose, getting on the roof and spaying them down. The problem was, the garden hose was in the front yard where I had left it after its last use. Frustrated that I was unprepared for the surprise visit, all I could do was run outside, make myself known and watch them run off. Thinking they might return to finish the job, I laid on the roof with the hose in hand for the next few hours, only to be disappointed by the fact that I had missed my opportunity. Paul reminds us that the return of Christ will be like an intruder in the night. The time to prepare for His return is not after His arrival, but in anticipation to His coming.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 “For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”

One of the most interesting signs the Bible warns us to be looking for is the fact that people will be suggesting He is not coming. Peter wrote, in the last days people would mock the very idea of Jesus’ return. They would be saying things like “you Christians have been talking about that forever.” Paul also reminds us, while many of the signs of Christ’s return are things that have been happening throughout history, they are things that will increase in severity and frequency. Like a woman having contractions, the pain increases the closer she gets to her delivery, so will the signs of Christ’s return increase as the day approaches.

1 Thessalonians 5:4  “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”

While we cannot know the day or hour of the return of Christ, we can be living in expectancy, so we are not caught unaware. The way to be prepared for His return, is not by twisting every current event into a fulfilled prophecy. Instead, we must be sure, that first, we have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, and second, we have surrendered to Him as Lord. You might be able to rattle off all of the signs that point to His coming, yet you are not living for Him. If that is your story, you will be overtaken as by a thief in the night.

There is little doubt, we are living in the last days. The State of Israel, the climate in the Middle East, the rise of immorality being accepted as good, all point to the imminent return of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The one question that remains is, are you ready should He come back today?

Pastor Jim

Chapter 5

  1. According to verses 1-3 Paul tells us that you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. People will be saying all is well and that everything is peaceful and secure. Then suddenly as a woman’s birth pangs begin, disaster will fall upon the world. We should be ready at all times. Suppose the Lord were to return today? How would He find you living? Are you ready to meet Him? Be prepared!
  2. Verse 6 tells us not to sleep as others do, but to watch and be sober. Jesus said in Revelation 3:3, “If you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief.” We must be watching for the return of Christ. Over and over Jesus spoke to His disciples about His coming. He said, “Watch.” We are to be watching for signs. Are you aware of what is happening around you? Turn to Luke 21:25-28. We need to be looking, watching, and to be sober. The Lord Jesus Messiah is coming for His church.
  3. Verse 9 is a glorious verse. We will not be here for the great tribulation. This is when the Lord’s wrath is upon the earth. Praise the Lord He has not appointed us to wrath. For reference and further study read Genesis 18.
  4. In verses 12-13 Paul tells us to recognize our church leaders. Express your appreciation and tell them how you have been helped by their leadership and teaching. If you say nothing, how will they know where you stand? Remember that Paul is urging you to reach out in support and love for the Pastor and the other church leaders.
  5. According to verses 16-18 we are to be a joyful church, a praying church, and a thankful church. This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. We should be joyful because our sins have been forgiven and we are going to heaven. We should be praying without ceasing. This does not mean on our knees twenty-four hours a day, but to be in constant awareness and communion with God. We should in everything, give thanks! Do you know for sure your life is in God’s hands? If God allows something to happen in our lives then He has a purpose for it. Be thankful for the good He will accomplish through the trial.
  6. In this fifth chapter, beginning at verse 11-27, Paul gives Christians a total of twenty-two commandments. The first commandment in verse 11 is, comfort each other and edify one another. The last commandment in verse 27, I charge you by the Lord that this epistle is read to all the holy brethren. Go through these verses and find the remaining 20 commandments. Jesus said if you love Me, keep my commandments. We are to always look for the coming of the Lord. It is also very important to be walking the straight and narrow while we are looking. Grace and peace to you.

Old Testament:
Isaiah 31- Throw That Out
Isaiah 32- Peace And Quiet

Headlines

1 Thessalonians 4:18
“Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

We are living in uncertain times. Violence rages in our streets, the threat of fires and hurricanes increases daily, we have the coronavirus, business shutdowns, the school’s uncertainties and the elections coming this fall.

At times, the thought of these things can become overwhelming, and we are struck with fear. While violence in the streets, fires, and civil unrest, did not fill the headlines in the newspapers of ancient Thessalonica, these believers had their own set of challenges, trials, threats and fears. In an attempt to encourage them through the difficulties they were facing, Paul broaches the subject of the return of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

While the threats we are currently facing are real, and the rising tensions around the world do cause concern, the Bible teaches that things as we know them, will culminate with the glorious return of Jesus Christ. A day is coming when living believers will be called home to join those who have gone to heaven before us, through faith in Christ. Paul explained to the Corinthians, this would be in a moment, as quick as the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52). While it is important for every believer to live a life that impacts the world for the Kingdom of heaven, we must also be living with an expectancy that Jesus Christ is coming back. Jesus said,

Luke 21:28 “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

As you head out the door to tackle your responsibilities, keep in the forefront of your mind the fact that Jesus Christ will be calling His church home soon. Let that impact the way you treat temptation, others, and the way you allow the current events to impact you. In light of the return of Christ, we should be doing all things heartily as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

Pastor Jim

  1. In verse 1 and 2, Paul makes a plea for purity. Sometimes we try to determine how close we can live to the world and still be a Christian. Ask yourself, “would God be pleased with my doing this”? Do I want to be doing this when Jesus comes back? If you want a great standard upon which we judge how we live, turn to John’s Gospel 8:29.
  2. Verse 3 gives us the will of God- “Our Sanctification.” Sanctification means to be set apart and set aside for God’s use. If you have put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ you are set aside for a Holy purpose. God wants to use you if you will let Him. Will you let Him? He is God!
  3. Verses 9-12 deal with Christian love and living an orderly life. God has taught us to love one another. Here Paul tells us to kick it up a few more notches. He tells us to live a quiet life, mind your own business, and work with your own hands as you are commanded. What a great example of a Christian who lives quietly, minds their own business, and works really hard. Are you using the gifts God has given you? Does your life mirror these three aspects of an orderly life?
  4. According to verses 16-17 Jesus is coming for His church. He’s going to catch us up. We will be taken by force out of this world. This is known as the rapture. It’s going to take us by surprise. Read Luke 12:40. God wants us to live in constant, minute by minute readiness for His return. Are you ready for this magnificent event?

Old Testament:
Isaiah 29- Hungry
Isaiah 30- Throne Of Grace

Prosperity

1 Thessalonians 3:3
“That no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.”

There seems to be a great deal of teaching in the church today regarding prosperity. The messages vary, but the basic idea is God wants to bless and prosper you. This prosperity is defined as being wealthy, healthy and successful. There is no question, by following Jesus, you will avoid many of the pitfalls in life that lead to suffering, but it is wrong to use a secular dictionary to define Biblical terms. The same Jesus who promised abundant life, also promised that in this world we would have tribulation (John 16:33). The same apostle who experienced what it was to abound, also went through times where he was abased; he said, “Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:12).

Here, in 1 Thessalonians, Paul speaks of the afflictions that the believers were experiencing. The word translated ‘affliction,’ means to press together. It would speak of someone who is experiencing trials that are squeezing in upon them,  making them feel as though they will be crushed. Similar words to affliction are: distress, oppression, or even tribulation. Paul tells the Thessalonians two things about the trials they are facing.

First, the word is in the plural form, meaning these afflictions come in many shapes and sizes, and are incidents we will experience throughout our Christian walk. Second, Paul reminds us, we have been appointed to theses afflictions. God, in His sovereignty and will, His unlimited love for us, and power toward us, not only allows difficulties, but appoints us to some of them. While it is wrong to blame every trial on God (some things are the consequences of our own sin, or the result of living in a fallen world that fights against God), there are difficulties into which God directs us. Why? Why would a loving, heavenly Father allow us to go through times of difficulty? The answer is manifold, but carries at least two primary thoughts.

First, we are appointed to afflictions so we will grow in Christ. The Thessalonians were known for their faith, love and commitment to the Lord. Their maturity had much to do with the difficulties through which Jesus led them. Second, their growth, through afflictions, worked to lead others to Christ. So often, it is seeing how a believer handles his trial, that leads others to trust in Christ.

Be careful you do not accept prosperity teaching at the expense of the Bible’s teaching on Christian growth and maturity. Paul said his desire was “to know Christ in the fellowship of His suffering”(Philippians 3:10).

Pastor Jim

Questions for 1 Thessalonians 3

  1. Verse 1 begins with the important word “therefore.” Anytime we see this word we ask ourselves, “what is it there for?” It is a linking word that ties this chapter back to what Paul had talked about in the previous chapter. His affection and love for the people, and the family relationship that exists in the church. Do you feel part of the church family?
  2. In verse 2 Paul describes Timothy three ways: as a brother, a minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ. The word minister is the Greek work “Diakonos.” This is where we get our English word deacon which literally means servant. Are you serving in the church? The Lord Jesus said He did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. In God’s economy, it is through service that you achieve greatness.
  3. In verses 6-7 Timothy comes back to Paul with good news of the Thessalonians’ faith and love. Good news does something to the soul, read proverbs 25:25. Paul goes on to say that they were comforted despite affliction and distress, how?
  4. Verse 11-13 is Paul’s prayer for the church. In verse 12 Paul prays that the Thessalonians increase and abound in God’s love. If we are full of God’s love it will overflow to others. The model or pattern should be the love of the apostles. Notice he says, “Just as we do to you.” Is your love growing? Ask God to fill you again. He has a never ending supply.
  5. In verse 13 Paul prayed that the Thessalonians would be ready when the Lord came with all of his saints. Are you living with a sense of urgency for the Lord’s return? Pastor Titus teaches and exhorts us what to deny and how to live in the present age. Turn to the book of Titus chapter 2:11-15

Old Testament:
Isaiah 27- Slaying Dragons
Isaiah 28- Objects Appear Larger

You’re Doing It Wrong

1 Thessalonians 2:13
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

A few days ago I was working at my computer using a program that had been updated with new features. While I had used the program before, these new features added elements with which I was unfamiliar. I was having trouble with what should have been a pretty simple task. Each time I tried to make it do what I wanted, the program would override my action, doing something else to the document. In frustration, I called out for help from one of the other pastors, who is quite computer savvy. When he came to my aid I said, “This stupid thing is not working.” To which he replied. “That’s because you are doing it wrong.” After a moment of being offended, I realized he was right and I humbled myself allowing him to show me the correct way to work the program. I was delighted to find it was not the program that was being stupid, and the upgrades were actually quite helpful. But what does that have to do with our text?

“The word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

I have heard people say something to the effect of, “I tried reading the Bible, but it did not work for me.” Others, might even goes so far as to say, “I tried Jesus, it did not work.” To which I think the proper response would be, “you are doing it wrong.” Notice that Paul speaks of the effectiveness of the Word of God to work in the life of the believer. He actually lists three necessities if we want the Word of God to work effectively in us.

You received the word of God which you heard from us”

First, they took the time to hear the Word of God. We read in Romans that “faith comes by hearing the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The first step to being transformed by God’s Word is to receive the Word. We must put ourselves in a place where we are ingesting the Word of God on a regular basis. This includes the need for daily Bible reading, as well as church attendance, where we are being taught through the Word of God. Sadly, not all churches teach the Word. Find one that emphasizes the Bible and teaches through it.

“. . .you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, . . .”

Second, as they read through the Word, or heard Paul teach, they recognized these were not the opinions of man to be argued with, updated or discarded. Instead, they realized the Bible is in fact, the Word of God given to man. Writing to Timothy, Paul declared the Word of God is inspired and profitable. We all like that word profit, it means we gain from it. When we understand the Bible is of great value, take the time to listen to it, not to argue with God, or try to conform its teaching to fit our lifestyles, we will find that it effectively works in us.

“. . . the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

Finally, Paul declares when they heard the Word, it was coupled with faith. They believed God wanted to do exactly what He said and they expected to see those things worked out in their lives. I recently read a tweet that said, “If you are not praying for a miracle you probably won’t get one.” The same idea is true when reading the Word. If you do not believe what God is saying, you are not going to be willing to put it into practice, and you will find yourselves accusing the Word of God of being impotent, instead of effectual.

Allow me to encourage you to approach your Bible as the Word of God, receiving it daily, trusting in its warnings and promises, so you, like the Thessalonians, may find that it has effectively worked in you.

Pastor Jim

  1. In verse 1, Paul says that his visit was not in vain. The Thessalonians themselves were living evidence that his work had been fruitful. People were converted and a church was established. To read more about the beginnings of the church in Thessalonica turn in your Bibles to the book of Acts Chapter 17.
  2. Verse 2 speaks about how badly Paul was treated in Philippi just before he came to Thessalonica. Paul had no fear of imprisonment. It didn’t keep him from preaching the gospel. If God wants us to do something He will give us the strength and courage to do it. Are you facing obstacles that are keeping you from serving God?
  3. Verse 5 deals with a very carnal motive-flattery. Flattery is phony and it is a cover up for a person’s real intention. Christians should not be flatterers but have a special responsibility to be honest. Are you honest and straight forward in your words and actions, or are you an ear tickler in order to get what you want?
  4. In verses 6-8 Paul uses the illustration of parenting to make his point. Paul said, “We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” He didn’t flatter them nor seek their praise or become a burden to them. Paul realized that new converts needed gentleness. Notice in verse 8 some of the phrases Paul uses: “So affectionately longing for you,” “Well pleased,” and “You had become dear to us.” We all have people in our lives that are dear to us. Are you being considerate, gentle, and meeting their needs?
  5. A mother is to be nurturing and a father needs to be strong, protective, and wise. Here in verse 11 Paul uses the parenting illustration of fatherhood to impart wisdom and consul. What does he exhort, comfort, and charge them to do in verse 12?
  6. Verse 14 talks about persecution. This can be very discouraging especially from your loved ones. It’s when you take a stand for the Lord Jesus that opposition, disapproval, and ridicule come. Sometimes it comes angrily and violently. Be mindful and read what the Lord and Paul had to say in Mark 8:38 and 2 Timothy 1:8.
  7. In verse 17 Paul states that his separation from them was physical, not spiritual and his affection for them never waned. He said he endeavored more eagerly to see their face with great desire.” That is intense! Have you ever wanted to see someone you have never met with that intensity?
  8. In verses 17-20 Paul is so very interested in going back to Thessalonica because he had pointed them to the Lord. He felt responsible for their spiritual growth. In verse 19 what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?

Old Testament:
Isaiah 25- Storms
Isaiah 26- War And Peace

Companions

I Thessalonians 1:1
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy . . .”

Serving Jesus is a team sport. If we are going to be effective, we must establish godly relationships with others who want to follow and serve Christ. Their lives, and commitment to Christ, will serve to propel us forward, just as ours does the same for them. In my earliest years of following Christ, a particular song was sung for almost every altar call, or response time, after a message. One line went, “I have decided to follow Jesus, though none go with me still I will follow, no turning back.” I remember clearly, grappling with the idea that if everyone of my friends walked away from the Lord, I would remain following Him. I believe we all must come to the point where we decide we will live for Christ, regardless of what others do. At the same time, I also realized, I needed help if I would succeed in this venture. I began to look for others who were committed to Christ, others whose example I could follow, and whose life would propel me to serve Christ more. Even the Apostle Paul understood this. We find when he ventured out to serve the Lord, he did not do it alone.

“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy . . .”

We know a lot about Paul and Timothy. Much of the Book of Acts tells Paul’s story, and many of the New Testament books were written by him. Timothy was an early traveling companion of Paul, who later became a pastor, and was the recipient of two of Paul’s letters. Silvanus (also called Silas) is a little more obscure character in Scripture; although with a little digging, we can learn much from his life. We are first introduced to him in Acts 15, where he accompanies Paul and others, delivering a letter written by the Apostles to the gentile believers, outside the borders of Israel. He is called a prophet, and described as a man who, “risked his life for the name of Christ” (Acts 15:26). After delivering the letter, Silas joined Paul and Barnabas in the ministry at the church in Antioch. It was there Silas saw a remarkable difference in the atmosphere of the church. While Jerusalem was constantly doing battle with legalists who wanted to add regulations to relationship with Christ, Antioch was marked by the grace of God. The atmosphere of the ministry was one that allowed Jesus to get a hold of people’s lives and transform them, by the Spirit, and through the Word. Having seen this, Silvanus decided not to return to Jerusalem, but to join Paul in his ministry endeavors.

“But Paul chose Silas . . .” Acts 15:40

Not long after joining the ministry team in Antioch, Silas was asked to join Paul, as he ventured out on his second missionary journey. They would visit the churches he had started on his first trip, and take the Gospel to farther unreached areas. From this point, Silas became a vital part of the mission work of the early church. While their travel was filled with wild experiences and great adventure, Silas is perhaps most well know for what happened in Philippi. It was there, he and Paul were arrested and imprisoned. Rather than complaining about the trial and how unfair it was for a child of God to suffer, they took the solitude as an opportunity to worship. Acts 16 records how, in the middle of the night, bearing the wounds of being beaten, and wearing the chains of incarceration, Paul and Silas began to worship. Of all the musicians who have ever been recorded, I wish we had a CD of those songs. Two men, facing great suffering, and perhaps even execution, lifting up their voices and celebrating the Lord.

It is exciting to read the stories of men who risked their lives for Christ. Their time has passed, and the mantle must be passed on to another generation. Will you pick it up? Will you be willing to commit yourself to Christ, and surround yourself with others who will propel you forward, as you follow and serve Jesus?

Pastor Jim

Questions for 1Thessalonians 1

  1. The letter opens with a greeting from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. In chapter 17 of the book of Acts they were accused of “turning the world upside down.” It was meant as a negative attack but it was really a compliment and a tribute to the work the Lord was doing in them and upon the world. When people look at your walk do they see a life that’s making an impact on this world?
  2. The address of this letter says, “To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” These are great things to say about a church; moreover these are great things to say about a Christian. Be encouraged and strive to be godly. You will never regret anything you gave up for the Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. Notice in verse 1 Paul’s typical salutation, “Grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Lord Jesus Christ is not first, middle, and last name. Jesus is His name, Lord is His title, and Christ (which means Messiah) was His mission. He came to save His people from their sins. The title Lord implies relationship and an obedient servant hood on our part. Is the Lord Jesus just Jesus to you or is He the Lord of your life?
  4. In verse 2 prayer was so much at the core of what Paul was doing. His conversations with God were ongoing. In our lives and especially during the course of the average day, people will come to mind. Do you make mention of other people and by the same token do you pray for them when they come to mind?
  5. In verse 3 Paul remembers without ceasing their work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. This famous trio is also mentioned in 1st Corinthians 13. Whatever we do vocationally or voluntarily should be done heartily unto the Lord as a work of faith. The love for the Lord should be an expression of our faith. A labor of love expresses itself in what we do. You love the people you’re serving. Love is an action. It’s a choice. It’s a verb. Patience of hope Biblically means “confidence that it’s going to happen and I’m sure of it.” You’re patient for what you know is going to be. These people were confident that according to the gospel Paul preached to them- the Lord Jesus was going to come again. He would return. In the areas of faith, hope, and love, where do you need encouragement? Don’t hesitate to reach out to the pastoral staff. Proverbs 11:14
  6. According to verse 4 Paul says “Knowing beloved brethren, your election by God.” In other words, they were chosen by God. How did they know they were chosen? They accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Have you been chosen by God? All you have to do is say yes to the Lord Jesus, confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved. That’s it!
  7. In verse 6 the Thessalonians became followers of Paul, Silas, Timothy, and the Lord. Notice that they received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Spirit. In other words, there is going to be trouble, pain, trials and tribulations in our life. In the middle of all that, we can have joy of the Holy Spirit; the perspective of heaven to come. Turn in your Bibles to Habakkuk 3:17-19. Praise the lord!
  8. In verse 9 Paul is talking about the Thessalonians’ witness because they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. The living and true God implies that everything else is dead and false. Have you put your faith in the one true and living God, the Lord Jesus Christ?
  9. In verse 10, is your life characterized by the verb “waiting”? Are you living your life knowing that the Lord’s return is approaching? It goes on to say, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come- not that He will, but that He has. If you’re a Christian, you’ve put your faith in the Son of God – You are saved from God’s wrath and judgment. Praise the Lord.

Old Testament:
Isaiah 23- Don’t Go Back
Isaiah 24- Priority Seating

Get To Work

Colossians 4:17
“And say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.’”

Paul closes out his letter to the Colossians by referring to the ministries of a number of believers. Luke, Mark and Barnabas are very well-known, while others, like Tychicus and Epaphras, are a little less familiar to some of us. In each case, Paul is referring to them in a positive light, and speaking of the effectiveness of their ministries. Tychicus was the faithful traveler who delivered this letter, and others, to its recipients. Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus are mentioned as fellow prisoners and fellow workers for the Kingdom, while Epaphras is called a bondservant, and described as one who labors fervently for the salvation of others. Tucked away in this list of giants, men who had a significant impact upon this world for God’s Kingdom, is reference to a man named Archippus. While we know very little about him, (he is mentioned only here and in Philemon), we do find him the subject of an important exhortation.

“And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

While we are not given great detail, we can surmise from what Paul writes, that Archippus had been called and equipped by God for a certain ministry and he was neglecting to fulfill it. It may have been during a Bible study, that Archippus was first stirred with the sense that God might want to use him. He may have contacted the leadership of his church and received prayer and instruction on the matter. However he received the call of God, it is quite apparent he was not doing that which God had called him. Paul’s exhortation might be paraphrased as “Archippus, get busy.”

I think his story is an all too common one. I believe, many of us have sensed the call of God on our lives as it relates to serving the Lord in our homes, churches and community, only to be discouraged by our own weaknesses or by the greatness of the task. Some have taken the initial steps to fulfill the call of God, only to be disheartened, and find themselves on the sidelines, watching. Paul’s exhortation to us is “take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” Get busy and get to work! While there may be a long list of excuses justifying why we are not currently serving the Lord, these are all trumped by the fact that God has called you, and He will always equip those whom He calls. If you do not sense that you are equipped, it may be because you are not doing what He asks. There was no reason for Peter to be buoyant until his feet touched the water. (Matthew 14:25-30)

It is encouraging to note, there is one further reference to Archippus in Scripture. He is mentioned in Paul’s letter to Philemon, where he is called a fellow soldier. It seems he took the exhortation seriously. He got busy doing what God had called him to do, the kingdom was furthered, and he was honored. If you are not sure what God has called you to do, simply sit before Him and make yourself available. Jesus said we should pray for more laborers for the harvest is awaiting.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Colossians 4
1. In verse 1, how does God tell us that Christian managers, bosses, and employers ought to treat their employees and staff? Why should they treat them that way?

2. In verses 2-4 Paul exhorts the Colossians to a diligent, thankful prayer life, and asks them to pray for him as well. What does he ask them to pray for? Read Ephesians 6:18-20 for a similar prayer. According to these two passages, how should the word of God be communicated? Pray for all those at Calvary Chapel who teach the Word of God, that they would communicate it in these ways.

3. In verses 5-6, how does Paul tells us to conduct our relationships with unbelievers? What elements should direct our conversations with them?

4. Tychicus and Onesimus are mentioned as two people who Paul has entrusted with some ministry responsibility. What characteristics do they share, and why are these critical to being a servant of God?
a. For further study, Tychicus is mentioned in Acts 20, Ephesians 6, 2 Timothy 4, and Titus 3 as well as this chapter.
b. Onesimus is the runaway slave whom Paul led to Christ in jail. His story in found in the book of Philemon. He was a criminal whose crime was punishable by death before God stepped in saved him and transformed his life. What does it say about God that He can use a life that was headed for destruction?

5. Paul mentions three Jewish friends who stayed with him in prison. No particular ministry is listed of them except this: they were a comfort to Paul. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Who might God want to use you to minister His comfort to?

6. In verses 12-13, Paul tells the Colossians about Epaphras, one who loves, prays for, and sends his greeting to the Colossian church. Epaphras stands as an example of the type of prayer life that Paul is exhorting them to back in verse 2. How do you feel when you find out that someone has been praying for you? The greatest thing that we can do for someone is to be praying for them, and sometimes it is the only thing we can do. Take time to pray for people in your life…no matter where they are!

7. There are a number of other people whose names are mentioned in the rest of the chapter. As you read about them consider that we are not all the same and can be at very different points in our walks with the Lord, with different callings, and different ministries. Do any of the following people’s lives minister to you?
a. Luke – the same author of the gospel of Luke, and a longtime ministry partner of Paul’s. He was a doctor!
b. Demas – a man who at one time served the Lord heartily, but later falls away.
c. Nymphas – a man who opened up his home for Christians to meet there.
d. Archippus – a man who had been appointed to ministry, and needed exhortation and encouragement to stay the course.

Old Testament:
Isaiah 21- Good New From The Bad News
Isaiah 22- One Nation Under God

I Haven’t Been This Way

Colossians 3:1
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”

Sin is a killer. It is guilty of taking the spiritual life from all of us. God warned Adam that if he disobeyed the command of God and partook of what was forbidden, he would die. While many years transpired before his physical death, the moment Adam sinned, he experienced spiritual death, or separation from God. Since we are sons and daughters of Adam, we have all joined him in his sin and its consequences. The remedy for that condition is faith in Christ. The moment we put our trust in the work of Christ on the cross, our sins are forgiven, and we who were dead in sin, come alive to God. Jesus called that being “born again.” Paul calls it being raised with Christ. Since this is such a miraculous event, it should have tremendous impact on the way we live our lives. Paul goes on to give a series of exhortations, all predicated on the fact that, we who were dead have been made alive.

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

While it is necessary to be earthly minded in the sense of meeting our responsibilities, caring for the needs of others, and impacting our world for the kingdom of heaven, it is completely unnecessary for us to be carnally minded. No more, should our thoughts be filled with the pursuits of the flesh. Instead, we should set our minds to think of ways to live righteously and love others.

“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth . . . ” Colossians 3:5

Paul is echoing the words of Jesus when He said, “if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out” Sometimes, we must take radical action against those traits that lead us to sin. If we are having a problem with one particular sin, we must take radical action to ensure we make it more and more difficult to fail.

“But now you yourselves are to put off all these . . .” Colossians 3:8

Paul lists the things that were part of our lives before coming to Christ; things we must eradicate from our lives now. While those things might have been acceptable before you came to Christ, they have no part in your life now.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on…” Colossians 3:12

Paul never reduced Christianity to what we don’t do. To him, meeting Christ meant a total transformation of our life. Old habits and actions would be replaced with new ones. After all, we are new creations in Christ, the old has passed away and all things have become new. The way I look at God, and the way I treat others, should be transformed since coming to Christ.

“Wives… Husbands… Children… Bondservants…”

A transformed life results in transformed relationships. Many of us grew up with poor relationship examples. Perhaps your parents divorced, or you had a particularly cruel father or distant mother. Often, those examples impact the way we treat our spouse and children. Without even knowing it, we are following the patterns set for us. The remedy for that is to look at each relationship in light of Christ. Paul gives us fresh insight into how a husband and wife are to relate to one another, how parents and children should treat each other, and what we should be doing at work. Our Christianity should radically affect the life we live.

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, . . ” Colossians 3:23

Before coming to Christ, my life was consumed with pleasing me. Now that I have been born again, my desires should be to please God, above all things. Paul exhorts us to look at life through the lens of pleasing God. Whatever we are doing, we should do it as unto the Lord.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Colossians 3
This chapter begins with an “if, then” statement: if you have been raised with Christ, then. The rest of the chapter fulfills the then, and tells us how we live should live in response to all that God has done for us. Much of what He has done is not visible, and is yet to be revealed.

  1. In verses 1-4 list some things that these verses teach us about Jesus.
  2. What does Paul tell us to do in verse 2? What earthly things do you personally need to get your eyes off of, and what heavenly things do you need to set your heart upon?
  3. Verse 3 tells us that we died with Christ. But then in verse 5 we are told to put to death the parts of us that are embracing sin and living in opposition to God. We begin a relationship with God when we identify ourselves with Christ, but we also need to daily cooperate with His Spirit’s work in our lives. Read Luke 9:2. Make a list of the things in verses 5-8 that we are to no longer take part in now that we are Christ’s.
  4. Read verses 9-11. The lifestyle that Paul is saying to put off is called the “old man”. The new way that Paul calls us to live is called the new man. What things do verse 10 and 11 teach us about the new man?
  5. In verses 12-17, we find some of what the new man’s life should look like:
    a. Make a list of all we’re called to do in these verses.

    b. Read verse 13. Why must we forgive others?

    c. Note verse 14. What is the most important thing for us to put on?
  6. Verses 18-25 deal with the ideas of submitting to the authorities that God has placed over us, and of righteously leading those God has put under our authority. Are there any of these instructions that are particularly relevant to your life?
  7. Read verses 17 and 23. These verses are “catch-all” verses that apply to our whole lives. Take some time and ask God to help you to obey these verses.


Old Testament:
Isaiah 19- The Whole World
Isaiah 20- Giving It Your All

Treasure

Colossians 2:3
“. . . in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Knowledge is a word which speaks of information. We increase in our knowledge of God as we read the Word of God and walk with Him daily. However, wisdom is another thing all together. We might define it as “the proper application of knowledge,” or more simply as, “knowing what to do.” How many times have you faced decisions in life where you were not sure what to do, because you have not been that way before? Wisdom is acquired by experience, by careful observation of the experience of others, or by receiving it from heaven.

Notice, Paul writes “All wisdom is hidden in Christ.” We can find great comfort in knowing, while we might not know what we are doing, Christ has been that way before and can provide direction through the fog of life. Notice also, Paul says this wisdom is hidden in Christ. It is not something hidden from us, so we cannot have it, but something hidden so we will seek after it. The primary purpose of salvation is to know God, and wisdom is hidden in Him so we will seek Christ more. The question is, how do we access the wisdom that is hidden in Christ?

James 1:5
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

The first step is to pray. We are exhorted to understand, that through prayer, we can cast all burdens at the feet of Jesus. Sometimes, the greatest burden can be facing situations for which we have no answers. Parenting can certainly be like that. As the children grow, we are constantly walking down roads we have never traveled before. We want desperately to make decisions that will positively impact our children for the kingdom of heaven, and ensure they have a bright and successful future. The problem is, we often do not have a clue as to what we are doing. It is encouraging to know, “in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom”. The secret to receiving His wisdom through prayer, is to be willing to do things His way. Sometimes, we do not seek the mind of God, because we have already determined we do not want to do what He says.

Deuteronomy 4:6
“Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”

Prayer is where we ask questions, and the Word of God is where we find answers. Sometimes, we will pray for things, then spend our time thinking up a solution, without considering what God has written to us in His Word. Israel was told, if they followed the teaching of the Word of God, it would lead to wisdom, and the people around them would be shocked at how smart they were. You see, doing what God says, even when it might not make sense, will always lead to the wisest roads. Other people, when the fruit of those decisions come to light, will be shocked at how smart you seem, all because you chose to do things God’s way.

If you are in need of wisdom because you are on a road you have never traveled before, or perhaps you went the wrong way in the past, the key is to lay your life out before the Lord in prayer. Then sit before His Word, and allow Him to write your road map for you. Using a concordance can be helpful to look up the subjects you are facing, and is a great way to learn to think and act Biblically.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Colossians 2

  1. Paul says in verse 1 that he has a great “conflict” for the Christians. This word means to contest or to struggle for, and carries the idea of striving in athletic competition. List the things that Paul struggling to see happen in these Christians lives in verse 2? How do you think he is struggling for them if he is not with them? Is there anyone that you strive for?
  2. In verse 3 it tells us that all knowledge and wisdom is found where?
  3. Read verses 4-7. Paul wants to see people established and solid so that they are not deceived and taken advantage of by false teachers. In verses 5-7 look at some of the ways that a person is established. List these out.
  4. Look at verse 8. What are some of the ways that we can be tricked or deceived? In verse 9-10 what/who is the antidote to being deceived? Is there anything lacking in Him?
  5. Verses 11-12 speak about how we died to the old life and that in Christ we are raised to a new life. Does your old life differ from your life now that you are a Christian? In verse 12, how do we access this new life?
  6. Read verses 13-15. Re-state in your own words all of the things that Jesus accomplished at the cross.
  7. In verses 16-23, Paul speaks of religious activity and rules (observing certain days, eating certain foods), and how all of those old testament observances were simply a shadow of Christ, but that He is the real thing. Shadows have no weight or mass, but they are a clue about the nearness of something this is real and does have substance. In other words, religious dos and don’ts are not what Christianity is really all about; Jesus is what it’s about!
    a. Paul warns about a certain kind of false teacher in verses 18-19. Note the false teaching and religious practices in verse 18, but especially note verse 19, which is what keeps a person on the right track.
    b. In verses 20-23, we see how there is a certain natural appeal to obeying religious rules, but note verse 23. What does following these rules do about the problem of our flesh (our self-serving nature)? Contrast this with how Jesus deals with the flesh in verses 11-14.

Old Testament:
Isaiah 17- Syria
Isaiah 18- Unstable