Not Alone in Our Struggles

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3

When men and women oppose the Gospel message, they are considered wicked and evil, as the context of these verses indicates. Certainly they are redeemable but they just do not have faith. In fact, their non-believing thoughts and ideas can dissuade us against the righteous life. I’ve seen many believing Christians come to the United States as students and leave university without the faith they once had. The philosophies and ideas of the world permeate a university environment, and without strong support from fellow Believers, it’s nearly impossible to protect oneself from influence.

That’s of course academia, but it’s also true with television, movies, music, and daily life.

But Paul recognized that we are not alone in our earthly struggles. We merely need to rely on the Holy Spirit to sustain us and guard us from errant and worldly ideas.

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Encourage Encourage Encourage

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17

Paul concluded this passage with a prayer of encouragement. Throughout the New Testament we have seen Paul strengthen and encourage Believers with similar words. Why did he do this? He realized that Believers can get discouraged so easily. Not only do we face general life struggles, but often morals, ethics, and beliefs are challenged by friends and in the marketplace. Teacher and theologian A. W. Tozer once said, “Compromise is everywhere.” The temptation to compromise is also everywhere.

Be strengthened today. You’re not alone in this battle. Millions around the world face similar struggles and temptations. You are not alone even though the enemy would like you to think you are. Call or write a friend to encourage today. I am of the opinion that you can’t encourage enough nor can you receive too much encouragement.

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Sharing in His Glory

13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

It’s rare that we get to share in the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ because after all, He is the second person of the Holy Trinity. But Paul noted that we do that because of the gospel. And he said that we were firstfruits. Firstfruits of what exactly? The sanctifying work of the Spirit.

In Bible School we learned it like this, we are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. We are saved from eternal damnation, we are being sanctified or set a part day by day, and in the latter days our salvation will be completed when we are in heaven. The point of this passage is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He is setting us apart and working in us day by day. We would do well to consecrate our lives to him each day. Only by His power can we conquer sin and live a victorious life.

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The Lawless One

5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:5-12

Paul gave us some insight into what he considers “the lawless one.” We know that he’s a deceiver of the highest order but his power is limited.

Believers really have no reason to fear because of his actions. What is the proper time he will be revealed? No one knows but the Father. It’s not clear the lawless one’s role except to continue to deceive.

Rejoice Brothers and Sisters that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life, but pray for those you know who have not accepted Christ so that Christ will be revealed in their lives. If they wait until these end times, it will be next to impossible to overcome the deceiver.

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Interesting and Exciting Times

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

These verses could have easily been written in 2018 (when Syria, Iran, and Russia are all involved in a Middle East war with Israel as the enemy, we’re living out Biblical prophecies). The closer we get to real life end times, the more people will make up and disseminate deceptive end times scenarios. And of course more people will believe them and take action to prepare for devastation and disaster that may or not come.

The Bible cautions us to be vigilant because we are so prone to deception. The day will occur without anyone predicting it. We’re getting closer but it’s unhealthy to pinpoint a date.

These certainly are exciting times we live in.

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What If?

11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul ended the first part of his second letter to Thessalonika with a prayer. Notice it touches upon faith and the natural output of faith: good deeds. God loves us and wants us to love others. We do that by helping them in whatever way we can. The ultimate reason is so that we would glorify God. Isn’t that what our life is about anyhow?

What if…

What if everything we thought, said, or did was based on that principle alone? To get to that point, though, it would have to be in the forefront of our minds. Too often life gets in the way of what we really want to do, but that’s an excuse, isn’t it?

Don’t lose heart though. If your life is built on solid Biblical principles, you will glorify God. Sure you’ll slip up from time to time, but we still live in a fallen world. Know that God wants to be glorified through you just as much as you want your life to glorify Him. Just keep living life and giving Him the glory in everything you do.

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Perfect Justice

6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

There is quite a bit of end times theology packed into these verses, but the first three words sum it up: God is just. Whether it’s punishing the bad guys or providing relief for us, God is Just. One of the interesting questions people ask during a tragedy begins with “How could God allow….” We understand justice to a small degree. God, however, will mete out perfect justice.

I don’t think we’ve ever seen perfect justice here on earth. We see justice handed down in courts but often it is flawed. The guilty go free because of lawyers who know how to manipulate the law. Sometimes innocent people are incarcerated because of lousy lawyers not knowing how to go up against better lawyers. And that’s just through the legal system. What about the crimes and injustices that never make it into the court room?

God knows all and sees all. Nothing escapes his watchful eye. Nothing. I really don’t know how God will sort it out in the end with the impossible number of wrongs and injustices committed, but God certainly does. We need to have faith that He will do what is right and just in the end.

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He’s Got This

5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 2 Thessalonians 1:5

Seven billion people roam the earth every day. The Lord Almighty keeps track of their thoughts, words, actions, and motives every single second of every single day. Nothing escapes his watch. It certainly may seem like the world is out of control at times, but it’s not.

God is in control, has always been in control, and always will be in control. Every wrong that has ever been committed is noted. As the verse began, God’s judgment is right. And yes, it takes a bit of faith to acknowledge and accept that truth.

He’s in control, and we’re not.

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Faith in God and Love for the People

Paul, Silas, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4

The two key elements of the Christian life are encapsulated in these verses. Their faith had been growing, and their love had been spreading. Perhaps even their love was growing because of their faith in Christ.

In an event, we should learn a strong lesson about the power of faith and love in our lives. Those two characteristics could easily change us and the world around us.

Are you up for the challenge?

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