What a prophetic book! We loved it, especially in this season. Let’s look at this book in three areas:
Remember the Charlie Brown specials? Lucy loved setting up Charlie, then grabbing the football away right when he hoped to kick it. We laughed; Charlie groaned. We identified with Woodstock and his many trials and felt solidarity with the tough life of a beagle named Snoopy. Some suffering is just part of life, right?
This past year suffering was at an all-time high. We saw crime rise and many homes where anger escalated into violence. We saw bullies mercilessly harm kids at school. The nightly news reported people rioting and harming others- sometimes just because of their skin color or political affiliations. People were persecuted for their faith at work and pastors endured hate in their communities… the pain varied in intensity but suffering abounded. The Bible addresses these issues.
Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians was aware of their trials. In spite of them, Paul says their faith was growing and the love of all was abounding – even towards one another. That is a healthy church! Perhaps suffering comes to remind us that we are not alone – we are in this together. Martyrdom has a way of lessening vanity and all the “isms” – racism, sexism, elitism, territorialism. Hard times often bring solidarity that comes no other way. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that God will repay those who were troubling them. Good grief!
We often hear of the Lord of love, but He is also an Avenger. He stands up for His own. God does not let pain go on forever. I love Toby Mac’s lyric in Help is on the way – “He’s rolling up His sleeves again.” Paul tells them that they will REST– when Jesus is revealed with His mighty angels. Better days are ahead – in eternity. This trial is not your destination, it is only a small detour. Paul finishes that chapter letting them know that he would be praying for them always. It is a HUGE thing to have pastors who not only pray– but pray for you. Prayer works and is critical in these days. If you have a praying pastor, you are doubly blessed.
Today, as we go through our various trials, we, like the Thessalonians can be encouraged that one-day REST from persecution will come and the Deliverer will appear to set things right. Not right according to our standards or opinions but according to God’s kingdom. Even so, come quickly, Jesus. May I encourage you to pray for your leaders, (spiritual and national) and if you have not recently –let them know how much their prayers are needed and appreciated! Encourage one another – HELP IS ON THE WAY!
Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVgetIvEIAs HELP is on the way (maybe midnight)
by Toby Mac
While CNN, NBC and other news outlets give us reason to be shaken and afraid, the words from Paul tells us in Thess. 2:1 to NOT be shaken in mind or troubled whether by spirit or by word or by letter. Shaken means agitated, disturbed, insecure or cast down. Do not BE that! You may feel it, think it, identify with that –but do NOT allow it! The day of the Lord has not come and there is still HOPE. He is coming, He is coming soon! In verse 8 Paul says, “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. Gods fight is a Fixed fight – we know the outcome. Just by His breath, He will conquer. That puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? Believers often talk about warfare or the battle between good and evil. “Wwhoosh” by His breath God alone can set things aright. No army, no weapons, no bullets – by HIS breath! The Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth.
When we forget HIS power, we forget our outcome. When we forget HIS promises, we forget our victory. Lift up your heads, it is TIME to remember why we have hope.
When we realize WHO we are serving we will stand firm, not easily shaken. When we realize He is coming back to take us HOME, we will increase our confidence. Do not be shaken, Gods not only got this but is rolling up His sleeves as we read this. (I recommend every time you brush your teeth, or use mouthwash –remind yourself of Gods GREAT, awesome power! Whatever it takes for you to remember – remember and then remember again – HOPE is on the way. Hope has a name, and it is Jesus.
In the middle of this letter Paul prays a blessing:
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved you and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in EVERY good word and work.”
Throughout Thessalonians, we hear of prayer, faith, hope and working for God. Could those things be the very things that kept the Thessalonians growing and abounding? In spite of persecution, trial, and suffering? It is a pretty good recipe for overcoming. We need to know our pain has an end. We need to know our Deliverer is coming. We need to remind others that that is true.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8-NxI_IWd0 My Deliverer is Coming. Rich Mullins
In this holiday season, lift up your heads and comfort one another with these words. HOPE is near! God promised He would send Messiah. He did. People forgot– and a fragile baby slipped in their common, dusty midst and fulfilled what ancient peoples longed to see. In the darkness, a light appeared. Herod slaughtered countless children to eradicate every trace of Him, yet a collection of Magi slipped in and worshipped the true king. God promised He would send His son. He did. In the darkness, a light appeared. In our darkness, while we watch, while we wait… we must lift our eyes above the tinsel and garland and shift them to that darkened sky outside. God is about to fulfill His promise to end All suffering and send the Redeemer. He will. In this darkness, very soon a light will…..
Prayer is a huge part of Paul’s ministry in the Thessalonian church. At the end of this letter, he will pronounce the benediction: “Now may the LORD of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.”
Peace (Greek Eirene) means having harmony in relationships, rest in the nation, quietness in churches, reconciliation between God and man, wholeness, full shalom – nothing missing, nothing broken. Peace for Paul meant the Gospel would have free course in their ministry – not hindered by the enemy or immoral, divisive people. Prayer oils the levers. Prayer is needed to recognize and be delivered from evil of all kinds. Prayer loosens sins tight grip. Prayer is needed to follow examples like Paul’s, while stepping aside from those against the Lord. It directs our focus. Prayer strengthens us to keep going even when we are spiritless, exhausted, lacking courage, weak and faint-hearted (the very definition of weary).
We have started listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack which makes my heart happy. It reminds me of times past and celebrates what we love now. When I work or pray, I listen to worship and praise songs – the soundtrack of one waiting for that trumpet call. It keeps me focused on what is important. What soundtrack is playing in your heart this season? Does it direct you to God and those who are HIS or away from God’s peace and plan? Paul tells us to follow the example of those who are righteous. Thessalonians calls us to pray for those we stand with – those suffering, those waiting for His appearing. Solidarity. The star on the Christmas tree is fun – but it will not eradicate the worlds darkness. Are we waiting like those who know the Messiah?
The Lord is faithful who will establish and guard (keep, preserve) you from the evil one.
It is what God does – Full time. Paul’s prayer is that the Lord will direct the Thessalonians and one day our hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. If you are looking for a goal, a purpose, a focus in the midst of trial, it is this – ask God to direct (guide, make straight) your heart into the love of God and into the patience of Christ (vs5). Peace will be the result and gift.
Maybe instead of meditating on the next variant or vaccine we meditate on the victory of a God who loves, adopts, and chooses us. Maybe instead of meditating on the next protest or power struggle we meditate on the patience of Christ who reigns triumphant? He patiently waits for you and me to recognize His offer of salvation, His payment of our debt and return.
God is our help, our hope and soon coming King. If you want Him to be that for you then pray:
Lord I have sinned against You, and I repent. I believe You are the One who died to pay for my sins and the only solution for my brokenness. Come into my heart and make me born from above – I want to obey you and I give you, my life. I want to spend eternity in Heaven with you. Use my life for Your glory from this moment forward. I love you. Amen.
That is the gift He wants – our hearts. You can go to the Rest for you tab on this website for more information on living life as a Christian.
I pray you have a wonderful holiday. I pray you feel comforted by these words. Help, hope, peace, and Jesus – are all on the way!
Merry Christmas to you and yours, Renae Roche 2021
O come, O come Emmanuel!