Instant Communications

Instant Communications

4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.

6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6

Paul needed a firsthand report to validate his feelings toward the Thessalonians. Paul knew what had happened while they were there, but he needed to hear it from them. Timothy’s answer was in the affirmative.

In 2021, we think nothing of near instant communication. Back then, though, communication was painfully slow. First the event/stay, a departure, Timothy went personally and returned, finding someone who knew how to write a letter, then having a courier deliver the letter (despite the problems of the U.S. Postal Service, it’s usually much faster than a courier walking or riding a horse or donkey to a destination…usually), and letter is received. To reply, it was a little simpler but still time consuming. Weeks or months go by before letters were delivered.

Today, we can send an email and the person will receive it upon opening the email. If the person’s at a computer, the transaction could be less than a minute.

I recall the first time I heard about email. I was working for a Russian bank in Chicago in 1995 or so. An accounting firm representative came up from Indianapolis and he took me out to lunch (when he found out no one else was in the office that day). In our conversation, he was talking about his internal electronic mailing system at work. I was fascinated by it but couldn’t quite understand how it all worked.

Twenty-five years later, it’s hard to imagine life without it.

We have the technology to make differences in people’s lives. We can write them and affirm their importance and relevance to us. We can discuss complicated and well thought out doctrinal treatises. We can share our feelings about events that occurred and have those emotions come through on the other end.

How are you using email, texting, and the phones today? Are you careful what you say, knowing that people can’t really see you when you’re writing or talking so things can get distorted or misinterpreted? Are you using the best means for context. In other words, if it’s time critical, pick up the phone. If the message is more critical, don’t text. If you haven’t seen someone in a while, write or call.

We have powerful tools at our disposal to encourage others in this journey we’re on. Encourage someone today out of the blue with a text. It might even start a longer conversation. And who knows, maybe you can rekindle that old friendship again.

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Early and Often

Early and Often

So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 1 Thessalonians 3:103

The Bible says here we are destined for trials. It doesn’t say what kind, how long, or solutions, just that we are destined for them.

“But I don’t like trials.”

Doesn’t matter. Nobody does. We don’t really have a choice in the matter, but we certainly have a choice in how we deal with it. We always have a choice.

You see, we forget that trials are very much part of life. I think if we realized that more, the trials would go a lot smoother.

When we’re in the thick of it, though, things are fuzzy and we often think we’re alone. The situation engulfs us and we don’t focus right. This could last for hours or weeks or even months.

At that point, it’s just a matter of pleading with God about the situation. He knows all about it, the players, the outcomes, the frustrations, and even the anger. He has the solution, and often that comes with peace in your heart first. We just need to bring it to Him early and often through the trial. Have others intercede on your behalf.

Even though we’re destined for trials, we can also pray our way through them. Having that Peace of God in your heart eases the pain quite a bit.

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New Strength for a New Year

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

There are a number of verses in the Bible about new beginnings and getting fresh starts in light of the New Year that is upon us.

This verse, however, stood out and it only touches newness. It instead is a call to restoring our strength every day.

For many reading this, 2020 has been somewhat of a disaster or worse. Everyone I know wants a “Do Over.” Society and the economy is in upheaval, unemployment is through the roof, the Church is questioning what to do regarding meeting together regularly, and even the science seems all over the map regarding the virus. It’s enough to just weight you down, throw up your hands, and just give up – whatever that means in your life.

And economists, politicians, and scientists are saying it could get worse in 2021!

First of all, we need to remember that God is in control.

Nothing surprises Him.
Nothing throws Him for a loop.
Nothing worries Him.

He’s got this, whatever “this” is.

Secondly, knowing that He’s in full control, we can wait on Him to give us the strength we need to face each day. He will give it to us when we ask. Only He can give us that strength. Others can encourage and build us up, but strength from God will get you through each wearying day.

My prayer for you is that you will get that strength you need each day. Don’t let a day go by without that strength. Throughout the day when your tank is low, call on Him again.

He is more than eager and willing to give you strength.

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Prayers for Persecution

Prayers for Persecution

14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

Paul continued to heap praise on the church, encouraging them in their walk with Christ. He also railed against those who were hostile to the Gospel, Jews and Gentiles alike.

Not much has changed in all these years. Many – even religious people – are still hostile to the Gospel. Don’t be surprised if they are. Not all will be, but some may be.

In fact, hostility towards the Gospel and persecution may even be an answer to people’s prayers. Let me explain.

James T. Draper, president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention for Baptist Press, noted that some in the China house church movement are praying that America is persecuted. According to one believer, “We, in fact, are praying that the American church might taste the same persecution, so revival would come to the American church like we have seen in China.

What will you do with that thought? I’d be curious to know.

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9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

Paul makes a significant point in verse 13: the Word of God is just that, the very words of God. Yes, they were written down by man but wholly inspired by God.

In this post-modern era where there is no objective truth, we can rely on the word of God.

Many in the culture use this phrase: well that’s your truth. Truth is truth regardless of who told it.

As you read this many are gathering in Washington DC to stand for truth in the U.S. election system. What was the truth of this election?

Federal electors are meeting.

Both houses of Congress are meeting together

Hundreds of thousands of people have come from across the country in a rally to determine the truth of the election. Even as I write this in the evening, many are praying to that end.

As you read this, pray for the direction of this country. Pray that the truth will be revealed.

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