Category Archives: 1 Thess

Grow More and More • Devotional #1: “A Quiet Life”

“And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11

The rapid advancement and integration of technology in our everyday lives have been such a positive thing. However, it comes with negative elements, too. With unlimited access to information and connection to others, why is it that we feel more disconnected than ever? That is not to mention that hostility levels are at an all-time high. From the moment you wake up, to the moment you lay your head on your pillow at night, the world is fighting for your attention. Be it the internet, billboards, tv, movies, or radio, there has never been more “noise” than there is right now. With schedules packed to the brim and an infinite amount of media to be consumed, Paul urges us in his first letter to the Thessalonians to “aspire to live quietly.”

This verse in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 is found within a portion of Scripture that has been labeled as “A Life Pleasing to God.” I do not know about you, but those five words hold a lot of weight! I find it interesting when I read this passage that a “quiet life” makes the list of a life pleasing to God. Are we not told, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15)? Yes, but I think this is a great reminder of how the manner in which we present the message may in fact be just as important as the message itself. The “quiet life” that Paul references in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 does not mean retreating from the world or moving out into isolation. It is the lens or the filter that drives the decisions on how we live and interact with the world.

In the context of the world we live in today, we need this now more than ever. I cannot help but also bring attention to our presence on social media as well. I do not think Paul had Facebook in mind when he wrote his letters, but these principles hold just as true. I love the way Paul words this in 2 Timothy when he writes, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:4). Even behind the safety and separation of a computer screen, phone, or tablet, we need to be careful to not entangle ourselves into “civilian affairs.” Even if our intention is “good” in our eyes, we can end up doing more harm than good.

As the salt and light of the Earth (Matthew 5), we are not to retreat or go hide until Jesus comes back. There is a quote from St. Francis of Assisi that says, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” I love this quote as it embodies the reminder that our “walk” is just as important as our “talk.” This matches the call for us “to live quietly,” which does not need to compromise our presence and impact on the world around us.

Grow • Devotional #6: “Living for the Lord”

The world around us is a mess! People do not give any thought to how they treat each other. There are television shows that stay on the air year after year airing peoples’ dirty laundry. The messed-up personal situations that people are willing to talk about on national television are amazing to me. They did not have a television in Paul’s day, but the world was a big mess then, too. In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul encourages them to be strong in their faith. He knew that they were surrounded by a world that had very low moral standards.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:6 (NKJV), he writes, “That no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.”

When you hear these words, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? What I think is that we are not to cheat, steal, swindle, deceive, or tell lies about the people in our life.

Paul is closing his letter with instructions to the people of Thessalonica so that they would understand how God expects His people to live. Of course, these words still hold true for us today.

As we read the text, we find that Paul was thankful for the growth that he saw in the Thessalonians, but he still was expecting them to continue to grow in their walk with the Lord. Paul hoped that the teaching he was doing with the Thessalonians helped them to know the purpose of their lives. He wanted them to understand that they should be living to please God, not themselves, and that would lead to living lives that showed their love and respect for themselves and those around them.

As Christians, we should not live as the world does, but to please the Lord, as instructed here in Thessalonians. The instructions in Paul’s letter, are not suggestions, they are commandments from the Lord that we all must follow. Paul explains to us in Romans that God judges those who are immoral. Romans 1:18 (NLT) says, “But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”

Commentaries say the first century Roman Empire people were immoral, and morality was not thought of or even practiced. This was an unknown virtue, they truly lived in the world of self-satisfaction, and in carnal sin. Paul made the instructions clear what the will of God was for them, and it is the same today for us. He tells the Thessalonians that they should live differently than those who did not follow the Lord. The world should see us as different, too. As believers, we should not be living a life that is viewed as immoral. We must remember that when we received the free gift of salvation as a Christian, we now should be living for the Lord.

That leads me to think about our walk, and our maturity with the Lord. Are we growing today? Is our fruit visible to the world?

Grow • Devotional #5: “God’s Will For Us”

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3

If you are reading this today, I am going to assume you are a Christian. If you are a Christian, I am going to assume you regularly desire to live your life according to God’s will.

As a young adult and new follower of Jesus, I would often ask that, “What is God’s will for my life?”  I was mostly wanting to know the answers concerning things like my career and where I should live. Of course, we need to go to the Lord in prayer, fasting, and seeking wise counsel in all of those things. The Lord will lead you with His peace. However, I know sometimes we wish we could find the name of the school we are supposed to go to, the career we are supposed to choose, and the name of our future spouse written in bold letters in Scripture. We really do, myself included, make it more difficult than it needs to be sometimes! While you may not find the name of the company you are going to work for or the major you should pursue spelled out in Scripture, the Lord does in fact show us His will for our lives!

While there are several places in Scripture we find God’s will, today we are going to focus on one section in particular.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Paul begins by saying ”For this is the will of God.” Did you hear that? Listen up! We are about to learn what God wills for our lives! Paul says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). God regularly calls us to holiness.

We often look for the life-altering decisions as needing God’s direction; however, we need to look to God daily for direction and strength. We need Him to help us do the right things and make the right choices. God cares about every detail of our lives. He does not want to just show up at “big” moments of our lives but cares about each step along the way. He does not just want part of us, He wants our whole hearts and lives.

My prayer for us today is to pursue holiness. In 1 Thessalonians 4:7, we are told, “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” 

Grow • Devotional #4: “Strive for Holiness”

“That each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.” 1 Thessalonians 4:4

Holiness is one of those words that sometimes seems daunting. Maybe it is just me but whenever I read the Bible and come across that word or anything to do with being holy, I just never feel good enough. I look at my own life and think, how can God love me? With all the mistakes I have made, with how far I feel like I am from holiness, how can God even care for me? Even after reading what holy means in the dictionary (“Morally and spiritually excellent”), I feel further away than I ever have. 

The good thing about having a relationship with Jesus is that He will always love you and long for you to join Him in Heaven. Even in seasons when we feel like we are far from God and when sometimes we are running away, He is always looking for a way to bring you and me back to Him. I just recently became a father, and until now I thought I knew what that feeling was like. However, when I look at my daughter, I think there is nothing you could ever do to make me not love her and make me not want to be with her. That is the love that Jesus has for us! 

So knowing that, why would we not strive to do everything we can to be as close to God as we can? To be in His love, grace, and presence is something we should want, right? Holiness is something we should strive for. I say strive because holiness is something we will never achieve, but it is something that we are constantly chasing. When we chase holiness we become someone different. In life, it is impossible to be neutral. Everyone has something that controls them, either God or sin. Being a Christian myself does not mean I cannot sin, it just means I am no longer a slave to sin. I strive for holiness because I love and belong to God – and so can you. When we have hope that we will have eternal life with Jesus in Heaven it gives us a new joy and purpose. That is something that should make us thankful every day! 

Romans 6:22 (NIV) adds, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”

Grow • Devotional #3: “Be Different”

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)

It takes work to be intentional in our thoughts and actions. Sometimes we have time to consider decisions we are about to make and other times we just react.

Oh, I wish I could change the thousands of times that I reacted to a situation or someone’s words and it did not sound good when I was responding or feel so good afterward. Thankfully, there have also been times for which I am so grateful that my brain took a pause before my mouth started moving. 

We cannot expect the world not to act worldly. However, God expects believers to live a life that pleases Him. As followers of Christ, we are called to live lives that look different, because, in Christ Jesus, we are different. When the sorrow of our brokenness leads us to repentance and we have asked for forgiveness of our sins, Jesus promises that He will forgive us and cleanse us from our sin. Then we have to work at changing the way we think, act, and react. We should not be living like the world, but striving to live a holy life that pleases God. 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (NLT) Paul writes, “God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor – not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.”

The Lord does not leave us on our own to try to guess what He means by these verses. The Thessalonians received very clear direction from Paul as to what this would look like for their lives, and those instructions are still relevant for the world we live in today. They were to abstain from the immorality around them; stay away from the temptation. The Psalms begin very plainly telling us to stay away from places we should not be. Psalm 1:1 tells us that walking by can lead to standing around which can lead to sitting down in the middle of the sin and getting comfortable. Paul is reminding the people of Thessalonica that they have to make conscious decisions to stay away from the sin that is all around them. 

Growing in our Christian walk is a process, but it is a process that we should always be working on. Like the Thessalonians, we should be encouraged to give ourselves to the Lord because of all that He has done for us. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we continue to grow stronger and become better able to resist the pull of the world. This is truly the way to worship the Lord.

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.

But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”

Romans 8:6 (NLT)

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