Good Advice

I know that I finished 1 Thessalonians yesterday, but that isn't going to stop me today from relaying God's message on this blog.  Keep in mind that I'm not saying that I, Janna, am the sole provider of "God's message", but I do believe that any time God's word is sent forth, it is of Him. These words definitely aren't mine. 

With that said,  I decided to post today on about something I read in the last chapter of Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians.  Keep in mind that so far we've seen how much Paul has cared for these people.  He has some good advice for them, to either keep them strong in the faith or protect them from impure doctrine sneaking into their chuch. We find some more great advice as Paul closes out his letter. What Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to do is still very applicable to us today.  Here is Paul's advice to them and God's advice to us from 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22:

1.  Support the weak with love.  (v 14) We need to gently speak the truth in love to others to build up those that are in sin, being patient with those and comforting those who are less fortunate than ourselves or who are going through difficult times. (Ro 15:1)

2.  Be kind no matter what. (v 15) In other words, turn the other cheek, so to speak. (Mt 5:39)

3.  Rejoice evermore. (v 16) No matter what is going on, if we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, we will have no choice but to be joyful because we are so thankful for who He is and what He has done.

4.  Pray without ceasing. (v 17) What more can I say here?

5.  In every thing give thanks.  (v 18) God does have a plan for everything.  Remember who is in control and that He only wants what is ultimately the best for us.

6.  Quench not the Spirit. (v 19) Are you letting God have all of you?  Do you try to stifle His still small voice?

7.  Despise not prophesyings. (v 20)  God's word is right, true and good. Period.  Are you trying to fit your way of thinking to what the bible says or trying to fit what the bible says to your way of thinking?

8.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (v 21) Prove everything - what you read on blogs, hear in church or bible studies or see on TV - by the truth of God's word.  If it is good, hang on to it tightly.

9.  Abstain from all appearance of evil. (v 22) Don't you just love this gray area?  Bottom line:  Christians are held to a higher standard than everyone else, especially Christian leaders.  A good testimony that took years to build can be destroyed in minutes.

That is all for now.  This kind of reminds me of the 22 questions list I posted about a few weeks ago.   I'm once again reminded how much prayer that I need!!

P.S.  I pray that this post is exactly what someone needs today.  My internet connection has been acting crazy since I've been trying to write and post it to the site.  Thank You, God for answering my prayer that the connection problems cease.  You are bigger than the itty bitty prince of this world.  Amen.

Reverse Skydiving

I finished up 1 Thessalonians today and I have to say that I smiled at this verse because I once again thought of Paul as the proud "papa" of his little Thessalonian children.

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. (1 The 2:11-12)

Now there is a whole study unto itself in those verses.  You know, work, family and ministry responsibilities just get in the way of great bible study!!  :)  I need to get moving here so I can get to the office. 

While I'd like to discuss more on shepherding, I just have to write about the rapture of the church.  I'm not going to debate here the pre/post/a/? tribulation concepts now, even though I do have a view.  Suffice it to say that if we are alive at Christ's return we might just be in for a ride wilder than we've ever seen.  Let's dig in.

Reverse skydiving.  What a concept!  Do you think that is what it would feel like to be one of the living raptured church members?  Apparently in Paul's letter, he is addressing questions about the second coming of Christ.  I pity Paul here in trying to address something as complicated and potentially scary in a letter.  I wonder what I would be thinking as a new believer upon hearing what Paul had to say in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17:

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with him in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Do you get mental images of what will happen?  I wonder how quickly the living will be taken up? Will it be a blink of an eye? or the 120 mph backwards skydive?  (note: I really don't know the speed of a falling sky diver - it seems I've heard something like it before).  Paul is saying that the day is coming when we will be reunited with our loved ones again.  Our Christian brothers and sisters will see Jesus first at this time, whenever it may be, and we who are living will follow shortly behind. 

All coolness aside about this moment, knowing that it will happen someday according to the scriptures but not knowing when it will happen, should bring us a sense of urgency to tell the people in our lives about Jesus.  What if today was the day?  Think about how much more difficult it will be for people to come to know Jesus if all of the people who really knew Him were gone? 

Just some thoughts to think about.  I better stop before I get into the pre/post/a thoughts, which are for another time and place.

Gospel Power

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. (1 Thes 1:5)

Don't you wish you could write a letter like the apostle Paul writes a letter? I love the introductions he makes as he always thanks the addressee and lets them know that they are in his prayers.  Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians is no different.  As I type this, I am imagining how proud Paul must have been of his new believers in Thessalonica.  The proud "papa"! :)

Paul thanked them for their well doing (v2-3) and reminded them that they were special to God.  To me, Paul is an outstanding model of how a leader should shepherd his flock - with loving care.  Can you imagine back in Paul's day what it would have been like to be a believer?  Christianity was new and crazy stuff!  There wasn't the internet or the Christian bookstore or Christian radio or TV to go to for answers.   I wonder if they felt lost when Paul left them to carry on his work? 

I'm thankful for leaders like Paul who take the time to really shepherd their flock.  Like the new believers carrying out the work of the church in biblical times, members of modern day churches also need the same encouragement.  We need the same reminders sometimes that:

1) We are chosen by God to complete His earthly work. (1 Th 1:4)
2) We are deeply appreciated by our pastors and leadership for all of the volunteer work that we do. (1 Th 1:3)
3) We are able to do what we've been called to do because the Holy Spirit is with us. (1 Th 1:5)
4) We really are noticed for the things that we do and the examples that we are.  (1 Th 1:7-9)
5) The work we are doing is worth it.  Someday we will again see Jesus.  (1 Th 1:10)

Lord, help me to remember to put into action the thoughts I have regarding shepherding my faithful volunteers.  Show me how to best remind them that they are equipped with the same power of the gospel and Holy Spirit that the Thessalonians possessed so many years ago.  Help me to put their needs, concerns and growth before a desire to just get something done as efficiently as possible.