Monday, June 22, 2015, 9:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Thessalonians 1 (ESV). Steadfastness (vv. 1-4) Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. Is your faith growing abundantly? How does it grow? How does mine grow? The Bible teaches that we grow in our faith through being in intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and by his Spirit within us, teaching, guiding, counseling, encouraging, instructing, convicting, empowering and strengthening us in our walks of faith. We grow in our faith as we abide in Christ, and his word abides in us. We increase in faith as we daily spend time with Jesus Christ, at his feet, studying his Word, listening to him speak, talking with him in prayer, and obeying what he teaches us (See: Eph. 2:20-21; Col. 2:18-19). We also grow in our faith through our relationship with the body of Christ, and through each part doing its work. We help one another to grow to maturity in Christ, as well, when we speak with one another the truth in love (Eph. 4:15-16). Also, when we go through times of hardship, affliction, trouble and distress, these trials help to mature us and to strengthen us in our walks of faith (Ro. 5:3-5; Phil. 3:7-11; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 4:12-17; 1 Thess. 3:1-5; Jas. 1:2-4; Matt. 5:10-12; Lu. 21:12-19; 2 Co. 1:3-11). I know that when I go through difficult times, it draws me closer to Christ, and to greater dependency on him, and through these trials I gain a greater understanding of who Christ is in relationship to his people. Are we steadfast in faith in all our persecutions, and in the afflictions we are enduring? Are we putting our trust in the Lord Jesus through all these things, or are we giving way to our emotions? I can tell you that I don’t always feel like serving the Lord. Sometimes I just get tired, discouraged and disheartened. I wouldn’t ever stop, mind you, but I’m just being honest here. I am not a rock. I am real flesh and blood. I get hurt. I cry. I get angry sometimes. Sometimes I just cry out to God, because I just need understanding of what is going on so that I know how to pray, and how to act, and how to respond. I don’t have it all together. I am a clay vessel in the Potter’s hands. I don’t have answers for everything. I must depend on my Lord moment by moment and day by day for the strength and the will power to keep going, and to keep doing what he has called me to do. It gets really hard sometimes. And, lonely, too. But, there isn’t anything else I would rather do. When Jesus is Revealed (vv. 5-10) This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. God will repay with affliction those who afflict us, though it may not be in our lifetime. I do not wish for this. I am not interested in people getting their due, i.e. I don’t want to punish people. I just want to see people come to faith in Jesus Christ, and for Christians who have wandered off to be brought back and to follow the Lord in obedience. Yet, I know that God disciplines those he loves, because sometimes we need it to correct wrong thinking or wrong behavior. Sometimes it is meant merely for our training in righteousness. As well, I know he is a God of justice, and that judgment must come, which I believe will produce new salvations and a revived church, yet I know that not all will be saved, and that breaks my heart. I don’t want to see anyone go to hell, no matter how many evil things they have done. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. I do so look forward, though, to being relieved of my suffering, when Jesus Christ returns for his bride, and when he comes in judgment on those who have not believed in Jesus Christ, and who thus do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. So, what is meant by “who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”? What does it mean to obey the gospel? What is the gospel? What part of it must we obey? Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives of sin, we will lose them for eternity, but if we willingly die with Christ to sin, we will gain eternal life. He said his sheep (his followers) know his voice, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him, and they will not be snatched out of God’s hand. Paul said that coming to Christ means we put off our former way of life of living for sin and self, we are renewed in the spirit of our minds, and we put on the new self, “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (See Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 10:27-30). Paul, as moved along by the Holy Spirit, said that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. They are those in whom all the righteous requirements of the law will be met (or will be fulfilled). He said that if we live according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See Tit. 2:11-14; Ro. 8:1-14; 2 Co. 5:15 & 1 Pet. 2:24-25). So, to obey the gospel means we must die to sin so we can live to righteousness. It means we must turn from our sin and turn to walk in obedience to Christ. It means we conduct our lives no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of our sinful flesh. If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we continue to conduct our lives in the darkness, we are liars, and we don’t live by the truth. If we say we know God or that we love God, but we don’t keep his word, then we are liars, as well. We must repent of our sin, and we must turn to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives. This is true faith. And, true grace delivers us out of bondage to (the control of) sin over our lives. To This End (vv. 11-12 NASB) To this end also wepray for you always, that our God willcount you worthy of yourcalling, and fulfill every desire forgoodness and thework of faith with power,so that thename of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God andtheLord Jesus Christ. In other scriptures we have read, we have been instructed that we must conduct our lives in a manner worthy of the calling we have received from God (Eph. 4:1; Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:12). Now here is a prayer that God will regard us worthy (commendable) of our calling. I believe this is a reference back to the beginning of this passage where it talks of how the believers were growing abundantly in faith, increasing in love, one for the other, and were steadfast in faith in all their afflictions and persecutions. Literally, to be regarded as worthy means “to reckon as worthy, matching value to actual substance – i.e. worth as it corresponds to reality” (biblehub.com). In other words, their faith in action was an indication of the genuineness of their relationship with Jesus Christ, which was accomplished in their lives all in the power of the Spirit of God within them, as they surrendered to Christ. The prayer, I believe, is primarily that the genuineness of our faith in Jesus Christ, as a present reality, will be evidenced by how we conduct our lives in the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh. It is a prayer that God will fulfill in our lives every desire of his for goodness and faith, by his power working in and through our lives for his glory and honor and praise. We can’t do this in our own flesh. We can only do this in the power and working of the Spirit within us, as we cooperate fully with his work of grace in our lives. The goal of all of this is that the name of Jesus will be glorified in our lives, and us in him. So, we must not give up, but we must be steadfast in faith and persevere in all affliction, so that we will be counted worthy by God of the calling we have received. Trust Him / An Original Work / August 15, 2012 Based off Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be of courage; Be strong and take heart today. Do not fear when foes attack you. Trust in God always. He will rescue you in times Of trouble and distress, He’ll comfort you in all ways As you trust Him with your life today. Trust in Him always. God is with you; He’ll not leave you. You can always count on Him. He will fulfill all He promised Before you began. His word teaches you All that you need for this life. Let Him lead you. Open your heart; Let his truth envelope you today. Listen and obey. Love your Lord God; follow Jesus. Repent of your sins today. Make Him your Lord and your master; Trust Him and obey. Follow Him where’er He leads you In His service; be His witness, Telling others about Jesus’ Price that He did pay For your sins always.