1 Thessalonians – Chapter 4

Directions For Growth

Verse 1 – Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;

verse 2 – for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

Verse 3 – For this is the will of God, your sanctification, that you should abstain from sexual immorality;

Verse 4 – that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,

Verse 5 – not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

Verse 6 – 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.

Why do you think Paul felt the need to bring up sexual immorality to each church? I haven’t heard a sermon on this subject by a pastor in years. Has everyone forgotten how important this subject is, especially to the young teenager? I think it’s because people have grown so sensitive to correction, they would leave the church all together.

And here lies the problem with sexual immorality: First of all this is more than just sex outside of marriage, it also includes incest, homosexuality, bestiality, and adultery.

No one in our society wants to talk about any of these mentioned. However, the Christian is held to a higher standard, and that standard is set by God throughout Scripture. We are to be sanctified, made holy, by the process of living the Christian’s life according to the guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit, conforming us into the image of Christ.

Verse 7 – For God did not call us to uncleanness, but into holiness.

Verse 8 – Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.

Paul makes these commands and principles very clear: If you reject what he just said about sexual immorality, then you reject God!

Verse 9 – But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

Verse 10 – and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more;

Verse 11 – that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you,

Our lives, as Christians, should be peaceful, I said should be. We are not to gather as others do as gathering a “mob,” would be involved in. We don’t gather in the streets, shouting insults or causing destruction just because we disagree with others. We in America let our voices be heard at the voting box. And as far as working with our own hands, every person should have a vocation that earns a decent living. And yes, there are some who are not able , but there are many more who are able, but choose not to work and live off the government.

Verse 12 – that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.

Did you catch that? If you lead a quiet life, working with your own hands, then you will lack nothing!

Revelation Concerning the Dead in Christ

Verse 13 – But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

The term “fallen asleep” in this context is a metaphorical reference to Christians who have died. Paul wanted to reassure the brethren, Christian, that those Christians that had died, were merely at peace and have a hope of one day rising again when the Lord Jesus comes. However, those who were not Christians when they died had no hope, so their sorrow over a loved one was and is great.

Verse 14 – For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

So where does the Christian’s spirit go when they die? They are with Christ!

Verse 15 – For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means proceed those who are asleep.

Verse 16 – 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.

Did you ever wonder where the phrase “Loud enough to wake the dead” came from? When Christ returns to call His saints, it will be powerful enough to wake the dead and raise them up!

Verse 17 – 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.

Verse 18 – Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Paul wants all believers to know that there is no reason to fear death. In verse 14, Paul says, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus !” Because we are in Jesus and Jesus in us, we will rise from the dead to be with Him forever more! You must believe to receive!

 

 

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Colossians – Chapter 4

Verse 1 – Masters, give your servants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Verse 2 – Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

Verse 3 – meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,

Verse 4 – that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

When we pray, we are to pray with an expectation and a thankful heart. We don’t stop praying just because an answer might be delayed.

Verse 5 – Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.

As a Christian, our conduct should be appropriate dealing honestly with those that are not born-again. Show integrity, so that they don’t have any reason to call you a hypocrite about your faith. and we should always look for an”open door” to tell them about Jesus who loves them.

Verse 6 – Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each other.

Verse 7 – Tychicus, who is a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me.

Verse 8 – I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts,

Verse 9 – with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here.

Tychicus, a native of Asia, first joined Paul in Acts 20:4 and continued to serve alongside him. He may also have been the person who delivered this letter to the Colossians as well as the letter to the Laodiceans. Onesimus, a native of Colosse and was a runaway slave.

Verse 10 – Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him),

Verse 11 – and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.

Verse 12 – Epahras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

Verse 13 – For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.

Verse 14 – Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.

Verse 15 – Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.

This is the only place in the New Testament where Luke’s profession is identified. Demas, one of Paul’s companions, later abandoned the gospel ministry because of his love for the world (2 Timothy 4:10).

Verse 16 – Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

Verse 17 – And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

Verse 18 – This salutation by my own hand – Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen.

To understand the letter to the Colossians, we must keep in mind they were also being pressured by false teachers who were preaching heresy that promised deeper spiritual life through secret knowledge (Gnosticism). The false teachers were destroying faith in Christ by undermining Christ’s humanity and divinity.

Paul makes it clear in Colossians that Christ alone is the source of our spiritual life, the Head of the body of believers. Christ is Lord of both the physical and the spiritual world. The way to a more spiritual life is a closer relationship with Jesus Christ!

2 Corinthians – Chapter 13

Paul’s Warning to Examine Yourselves

Verse 1 – This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.

This quote is from Deuteronomy 19:15 – the testimony of two or three witnesses established a pattern for verifying the truth of accusation. Jesus reaffirmed this in Matthew 18:16 as a principle for church discipline. If the Corinthians sinners did not repent before Paul got there, he would expose the evildoers.

Verse 2 – I have told you before, and foretold as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare –

Verse 3 – since you seek a proof of Christ speaking to me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.

The Corinthians had called in question Paul’s authority. Paul was about to show them by whose authority if they did not repent before he got there.

Verse 4 – For though He was crucified in weakness yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.

Verse 5 – Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified.

Should we not examine ourselves – spiritual check-up, to see if we truly are who we say we are? Are we taking steps to grow closer to God? You have to be a true believer yourself in order to know an impostor.

Verse 6 – But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

Verse 7 – Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified.

Profession of faith and possession of faith are two different matters. There is assurance of those who are in Christ: (1) believing the truth about Jesus Christ, (2) living according to Christ’s commands, (3) and the love test – love for God and all those in God’s family. We will show this love in how we treat others.

Verse 8 – For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.

Verse 9 – For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete.

Verse 10 – Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.

Paul’s intention was to build up the body of believers, not tear them down.

Verse 11 – Finally, brethren farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Verse 12 – Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Verse 13 – All the saints greet you.

Verse 14 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Love means that sometimes we have to confront those we care about. Paul cared deeply for the Corinthians, enough to correct them. Too often, people don’t want to confront because they know how the other person is going to react. Why can’t people just admit when they have wronged another? Christians should do so without having to be told by another to do so. We are to confront in love, wanting to restore, not destroy!

2 Corinthians – Chapter 11

Verse 1 – Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly – and indeed you do bear with me.

Folly in boasting. The idea here seems to be boasting is generally foolish, and not to be indulged in, but tolerate him just a little.

Verse 2 – For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Paul had taught the Corinthians to prepare themselves for the Redeemer, Christ, as a virgin bride is presented to the bridegroom.

Verse 3 – But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupt from the simplicity that is in Christ.

The Corinthians sincere devotion to Christ was being threatened by false teachers. Just as Eve lost her focus by listening to the serpent, we too can get side-tracked with our devotion.

Verse 4 – For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it.

Every preacher, teacher, or prophet, has to be proven by God’s Holy Word. Scripture is your authoritative guide. If they contradict God’s Word, they are false teachers. There is no other Messiah but One – Jesus Christ! People get led astray because they don’t know the Original!

Verse 5 – For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles.

Paul had given them proof in the miracles which he had performed and the abundance of labor in teaching them, and didn’t want false teachers getting their affection that they should have for him. Paul had also proven to them that he was sent by God.

Verse 6 – Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things.

Paul was a brilliant thinker, but was not good at public-speaking. Evidently, these false teachers were great public speakers, because they were getting the Corinthian’s attention enough to question Paul’s authority.

Verse 7 – Did I commit sin in abasing myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?

The false preachers may have suggested that Paul was an amateur because he didn’t charge for his preaching.

Verse 8 – I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.

Jesus Himself, taught that those who minister for God should be supported by the people to whom they minister. But Paul thought that by asking support in Corinth, it might be misunderstood, so he supported himself.

Verse 9 – And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what was lacking to me the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.

Verse 10 – As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

Verse 11 – Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!

Verse 12 – But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast.

In other words: Paul will continue to preach at no charge, which was a contrast between him and the false teachers.

Verse 13 – For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.

They pretend to be apostles, but they had no divine commission from God.

Verse 14 – And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

Verse 15 – Therefore it is no great thing is his (Satan’s) ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

I don’t know why false teachers, false prophets, and false preachers think that they can pretend to be speaking the gospel and really are doing it to get rich. They think that their motives will escape God in the Day of Judgment. It won’t!

Verse 16 – I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me a fool, that I also may boast a little.

Verse 17 – What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.

Verse 18 – Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast.

Verse 19 – For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise!

Paul was being sarcastic.

Verse 20 – For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.

You bear patiently with people who impose on you in every way, and those who are constantly defrauding you, though you claim to be so wise.

Verse 21 – To our shame, I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold – I speak foolishly – I am bold also.

Verse 22 – Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.

Verse 23 – Are they ministers of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.

Paul presented his credentials to contradict the charges that the false teachers were making against him.

Verse 24 – From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.

Verse 25 – Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;

Paul was sacrificing his life to bring them the gospel, something the false teachers would never do.

Verse 26 – in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

Verse 27 – in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness –

Verse 28 – besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

Verse 29 – Who is weak, and I not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?

Paul was identifying with the converts.

Verse 30 – If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.

Verse 31 – The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.

Verse 32 – In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to apprehend me;

Verse 33  – but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.

Paul wanted the Corinthians and all who read this letter to know what he endured in order to bring the gospel. We may not ever go hungry, get beat, or thrown in prison for preaching the gospel, but we will be mocked and ridiculed. Can you handle it?

 

2 Corinthians – Chapter 8

Verse 1 – Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia:

Verse 2 – that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberty.

The church in Macedonia were in poverty themselves, but yet they gave in abundance out of their poverty. The gift is measured by what it cost you. It seems like those which have the least to give, give the most.

Verse 3 – For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing,

Verse 4 – imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

Verse 5 – And this they did, not as we had hoped, but first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

Verse 6 – So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well.

It’s not going to do any good to just give money without first giving yourself to God.

Verse 7 – But as you abound in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us – see that you abound in grace also.

Paul tells the Corinthians that they are abounding in everything including their giving. When love is sincere, it will cause you to give.

Verse 8 – I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others.

Verse 9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Verse 10 – And in this I give my advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago;

The giving had been interrupted by the divisions within the church at Corinth. Paul was telling them to “Get back to what they were doing before they started quarreling!”

Verse 11 – but now you also must complete the doing of it, that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.

The need to help the poor was still there. They were not released from their obligation to give just because they had paused a while.

Verse 12 – For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.

A willing heart in giving is acceptable to God, whether large or small. However, giving grudgingly, selfishly, or out of obligation, is a waste of time. Always keep this in mind when giving: If God has given you much, then give much. He doesn’t bless us for us to be hoarders.

Verse 13 – For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened;

Verse 14 – but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack – that there may be equality.

Verse 15 – As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

This quotation comes from Exodus 16:18, when the Israelites gathered their daily manna. The rich Christians at Corinth should give freely to the poor brethren. They had gathered more wealth than was necessary for their families.

The one who gathered much were to give much, therefore having nothing left. And the one’s who gathered little, did not go without. Paul is talking about giving to the sick, disabled, or too old to gather. He’s not taking about those who are able to work but won’t!

Verse 16 – But thanks be to God who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus.

Verse 17 – For he not only accepted the exhortation, but being more diligent, he went to you of his own accord.

Verse 18 – And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches,

This brother is not named, but it may have been Luke.

Verse 19 – and not only that but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind,

Verse 20 – avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us –

Verse 21 – providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

Paul explained that by these three traveling together, there could be no suspicions and that the gift would be handled honestly.

verse 22 – And we have sent with them our brother whom we have often proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, because of the great confidence which we have in you.

Verse 23 – If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.

Verse 24 – Therefore show to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love and of our boasting on your behalf.

We as Christians, are to have a heart for the needs of others. Maybe more churches ought to preach on this chapter for the sake of letting people know that the offerings and gifts collected are not just for themselves.

One time, I needed help and went to my church pastors and asked for help. Did I get it? Nope! The answer I got was, “If we do that for you, it will open a can of worms, and we will have to do it for everyone else who asks. That was horrible! Here’s the result though: Find a loving and  giving church to attend that cares for the welfare of others to give your gifts to. Watch closely whom you support.

 

 

 

 

What is the Judgement Seat of Christ?

The apostle Paul guarantees that every believer will stand before God at the judgment seat of Christ. He says in 2 Corinthians 5:10 – “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” No believer will escape this.

At the end of this verse, Paul says, “good or bad.” This is not referring to righteousness or sin. It is talking about the works we do and did while living on earth. Are they acceptable to Christ or not. Our motives behind every deed done will be exposed.

In 1 Corinthians 3:13, Paul writes that “each one’s work”…, will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

When we stand at the judgment seat of Christ, it will be about the motives, not how much work we did. If any of our motives are less than pure, they will be burned up.

For instance: Whenever you reach out to help someone, are you doing it to actually see them better off with nothing given back to you in return? Or are you just doing it to show others what a good person you are? Those that do things in secret, will be openly rewarded.

Honesty with yourself plays an important role in why we do what we do for others. Love plays an even bigger role.

Hosea – Chapter 8

Willful Idolatry

Verse 1 – “Set the trumpet to your mouth! He shall come like an eagle against the house of the Lord, because they have transgressed My covenant an rebelled against My law.

Verse 2 – Israel will cry to Me, ‘My God, we know You!’

Verse 3 – Israel has cast off the good; the enemy will pursue him.

Verse 4 – “They set up kings, but not by Me; they made princes, and I did not acknowledge it. From their silver and gold they made idols for themselves – that they might be cut off.

The Israelites would cry out to God for help, but refuse to give up their idols. Some today will cry out to God to avoid the consequences of their actions, but yet have no intention of turning away from sin. This is what Israel did when the Assyrians started to devour their city.

Verse 5 – Your calf is rejected, O Samaria! My anger is aroused against them. How long will it be until they attain to innocence?

Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom. Jeroboam I, had set up a calf to worship at Bethel and Dan (1 Kings 12:25-333).

Verse 6 – For from Israel is even this: A workman made it, and it is not God; but the calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces.

Verse 7 – “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind (Proverbs 22:8). The stalk has no bud; it shall never produce meal. If it should produce, aliens would swallow it up.

A crop yield is the result of good seed planted in good soil with water and fertilizer. A single seed can produce multiple fruit in good conditions. However, Israel had sown spiritual seeds to the wind. When we seek advancement without God, we are on our own and are exposed to the enemy to scatter. The Assyrians will come and take what Israel meant to produce.

Verse 8 – Israel is swallowed up; now they are among the Gentiles like a vessel in which there is no pleasure.

Verse 9 – For they have gone up to Assyria, like a wild donkey alone by itself; Ephraim has hired lovers.

In 732 B.C. Hoshea, when he became king, went to Assyria for help. He wanted to stop Tiglath-Pileser III from ruling Israel.

Verse 10 – Yes, though they have hired among the nations, now I will gather them; and they shall sorrow a little, because of the burden of the king of princes.

This burden was when Hoshea was king and he imposed high taxes on the people.

Verse 11 – “Because Ephraim has made many altars for sin, they have become for him altars for sinning.

Verse 12 – I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing.

The altars that were supposed to remove sin were actually increasing sin through their misuse in worshiping Baal.

Verse 13 – For the sacrifices of My offerings they sacrifice flesh and eat it, but the Lord does not accept them. Now He will remember their iniquity and punish their sins. They shall return to Egypt.

The people’s sacrifices had become mere rituals and God rejected them. They forgot that God sees motives and intentions of the heart. Beware of a repeating rituals to : Gain God’s favor or gaining others approval. When God said they will return to Egypt, it is a metaphor, they would return to being captives in a foreign land under foreign leaders which didn’t know their God.

Verse 14 – “For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and has built temples; Judah also has multiplied fortified cities; but I will send fire upon his cities, and it shall devour his palaces.”

How sad that Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and now Hosea, all warned God’s people to repent and return back to Him, but ignored them all!

I don’t believe there is or ever will be a person living on God’s earth that at one time or another will not be warned about what will happen after death without Christ. Romans 1:20, says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” If anyone doesn’t know God, its because they simply don’t want to!