Husbands and Wives

HUSBANDS AND WIVES

In Ephesians 5:1 Paul tells us to imitate God in everything we do. That’s pretty hard to do, since God is an infinite being. However, throughout the Book of Ephesians Paul gives advice on how to approach doing that. He says, “Live a life filled with love.” He says “Live in the light as God is in the light.” He says, “Walk in wisdom”. He says, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit”. And then he says “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”.

In today’s blog we are going to talk about submitting to one another. Specifically, we will talk about doing this in the marriage relationship.

Let’s begin with how the marriage relationship got started. It was first established by God. After God created the first man, Adam, He said it was not good for man to be alone – so He created Eve. This is described in Genesis 2:21-24.

“So, the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. ‘At last!’ the man exclaimed. ‘This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called woman, because she was taken from man.’ This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

We can see that God planned for men and woman to join together and become one. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve contaminated that arrangement by committing the first sin. That brought about problems in the marriage relationship, as well as in everything else that God created. Today we are still experiencing its effects. For example, today there is rampant infidelity, homosexuality, abortion, open marriage, and divorce. Materialism and the pursuit of the “good life” have become a preoccupation. Many people are choosing to live together rather than make the commitment of marriage. The number of single parent families is increasing at an alarming rate.

In addition, children are being raised in permissive environments, and are not being taught how to make moral decisions or how to govern themselves. The result is moral decline, and role of the Lord in marriage and family has been deemed irrelevant.

Fortunately, Paul provides solutions to these problems by defining the roles of the husband and wife. Let’s start with what he says about the role of the wife in Ephesians 5:22-24.

“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.”

After reading these verses, many people believe that Paul was a chauvinist, because he tells wives to submit to their husbands in EVERYTHING. He doesn’t qualify his statement. He doesn’t say, “Only if the husband is a good leader”. Or, “Only if the husband is a caring and loving person”. Or whatever. He simply says submit without qualification. So many believe Paul felt women were inferior to men. However, that’s contrary to what he said in Galatians 3:28.

“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

So, what is Paul talking about in Ephesians 5:22-24?

Well, he is talking about the organizational structure of the family unit. In any organization there has to be someone in charge. If there is not a designated leader, there will be anarchy. This is true in the marriage relationship. It has nothing to do with men being superior to women or vice versa.

Paul says wives are to function under the LEADERSHIP of the husband. In this role husbands are to love and protect and provide for their wives, which Paul talks about later. Paul says husbands are not to treat their wives as servants or as children or as otherwise inferior persons.

In the first marriage God created Eve to be Adam’s helper and companion. Unfortunately, neither one fulfilled their God ordained roles. Eve acted independently from her husband and ate the forbidden fruit. Adam didn’t exercise his God given authority, and he also ate the forbidden fruit. From that point on the marriage relationship became corrupted. And down through time feminism — chauvinism — complementarianism — egalitarianism and many other “isms” have emerged. And the battle of the sexes is heating up.

Paul says that wives submit to their husbands –AS TO THE LORD. That means they must do it as an act of obedience to God. It’s a command. And whenever God commands something, He always provides necessary resources to meet the command. In this case He provides the Holy Spirit — Who enables the wife to submit to the leadership of her husband — notwithstanding the fact that her husband may be a lousy leader.

That’s all Paul has to say about the role of the wife. It’s very concise. However, he has a lot to say about the role of the husband.

We will get into that next week….

Enjoying Life in the New Year Part 3

ENJOYING LIFE IN THE NEW YEAR PART 3

 In today’s blog I would like to talk about one more important purpose for our lives — and that is to get ready for heaven. I think God’s plans for us are much bigger — than just the plans that He has for us here on earth. I think His plans extend into eternity. After all, that’s where we will live forever.

Have you ever wondered what we will be doing there? I don’t have any idea, but I am sure God has it all figured out. And I’m sure that it’s far beyond what we can think or imagine.

In heaven, we will be in a state of ultimate existence. That’s because we will be perfect. We will be like God.
Obviously, we won’t be God, but we will be like Him. Our minds will be expanded. We will know all things.
We will have perfect bodies that will never deteriorate. We will never have a bad day. Life will be a series of continuous and exhilarating events.

So how does one get ready for such a place? Well, God is the only One Who can do it. He starts the moment we are “born again”. At that point God begins making us perfect. The process is called sanctification. In sanctification God progressively makes us more and more like Jesus. Galatians 5:22-23 describes what He does.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

These fruits describe the character of Jesus. The Holy Spirit produces these fruits through our daily circumstances. For example, if we are in a situation where we must be loving, He will produce the fruit of love.
If we need to be joyful, or peaceful or patient depending on the circumstances, He will produce the required fruit. As He does this he makes us more and more like Jesus.

However, throughout this process, the Holy Spirit has to compete with our sin natures. Our sin natures naturally oppose what the Holy Spirit wants to do — and sometimes they prevail. Let’s look at Galatians 5:16.

“So, I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

So, what is our part to play in this process? Very simply WE MUST COOPERATE with the Holy Spirit in the sanctification process. And since sanctification occurs through our circumstances, we must be constantly aware of them, and when we need His fruit. That means no more “auto pilot”. We have to be aware of what’s happening to us moment by moment. We must be aware of when we encounter situations that need the fruit of the Spirit, and when we recognize that we need this fruit, we must ask God to produce it right then and there.
That’s how we cooperate. I have included a sample prayer to show you how to do this:

Dear Lord, I am faced with the following situation ___________. I believe I need the fruit of ______________ to handle this situation in the way You would. Please produce this fruit in me as well as any other fruit You feel is necessary. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Let me close by asking you several questions.

A) Are you “born again”?

B) If you aren’t, what are you plans to become “born again”?

C) What are your plans to find out your spiritual gifts?

D) What are your plans to use your spiritual gifts to do the good works God has planned for you long ago?

E) What are your plans to let the Holy Spirit produce the “Fruit of the Spirit” in you through your circumstances?

We’ve got a whole New Year in front of us. Are you going to be any different at the end of this new year — than you have been in the past? Are you just going to repeat the same year you’ve always had? No change, no difference, no significance, no purpose? I sincerely hope not. I pray that you will take this message to heart and put it into practice.

Let’s close in prayer:

Father, we are not in the dark. Thank You that You have given us Your Word which tells us what we must do with our lives. Forgive us for thinking that other things will bring fulfillment and enjoyment. Lord, I realize today that my life is not an accident — that You put me on earth for a reason. I don’t want to waste another second of whatever life I’ve got left. I want to make it count. I want to live life as You meant me to live it.

So, as I begin this New Year, I want to make a fresh start and begin building my life around finding out my gifts and using them. And I want You to build in me Christ like character throughout this year.
At the end of this year I want Your mission for my life to be clearer than ever before. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for dying to make this all possible. I pray this in Your name. Amen.

Enjoying Life in the New Year Part 2

ENJOYING LIFE IN THE NEW YEAR PART 2

An essential part of enjoying life in the new year is finding out and using our spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are special talents, skills and abilities that people didn’t have BEFORE they were “born again”. They are given by the Holy Spirit to each person at the moment they become believers.

Romans 12:6-8 talks about this.

“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So, if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 is a companion passage which also talks about this.

“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.”

So, how do we find out our spiritual gifts? We have a self-test that can help you find out. It’s called, “How God Has Formed Me”. If you want a copy, send us an email, and we will send it to you.

Once you have completed the test, you will have a reasonable idea of how God has gifted you, and you can start using your gifts. The best way to do that is by simply trying things out. It’s basically a trial and error system.

For example, if you think you have the gift of teaching, find opportunities to teach, and then go ahead and do it.
If you think you have the gift of encouragement, find people to encourage. It’s not that hard to find them.
If you are successful in using your gifts — and it seems easy to do — chances are they are legitimate gifts — and that will show you the kind of works that you will most enjoy doing.

It’s important to understand that as we step out in faith and use our gifts — we will not always use them perfectly. The reason is because we are not perfect – even though God’s gifts are perfect. We still have sin natures, and our sin natures influence our efforts. However, we must not let this discourage us. God wants us to use our gifts, and He wants us to keep on using them. He will strengthen us and empower us as we do. In Philippians 4:13 Paul says, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

One day we’re going to stand before God to give an account of how of how we lived our lives. The first question God may ask us is, “Are you ‘born again’”? “Did you let me create you anew in Christ Jesus?” “Did you develop a relationship with Him and get to know Him?”

A second question God may ask is, “What did you do with the spiritual gifts I gave you?” “Did you ignore them, or did you find out what they are?” “Did you use them, or did you get discouraged and quit?” “Did you say, ‘I’m not good at this, or I’m not as good as that person over there,’ so you stopped.” “Or did you depend on my power to use them anyway.” These are important questions, and we must be ready to answer them …

Enjoying Life in the New Year

ENJOYING LIFE IN THE NEW YEAR

Ecclesiastes 11:9 says, “Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do.”

It’s clear that God wants us to enjoy life. That’s what He says, BUT notice He gives us an important condition.
We must be able to substantiate everything we do to God, and depending on what we do, that could be a problem.

So, how can we be sure that what we do will be acceptable to God? Well, fortunately, the Scriptures give us some guidance. For example, let’s look at Ephesians 2:10.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT

The passage starts by saying we are God’s masterpiece. A masterpiece is an original creation by an expert artist. It’s unique and has unusual beauty and application. Masterpieces are designed to be seen and appreciated. Unfortunately, many of us don’t see ourselves as masterpieces – even though that’s what God says we are. Instead many of us are unhappy with the way we are, and we often complain about it to God. Paul talked about this situation in Romans 9:20-21.

“No, don’t say that (Paul was talking to the Romans about questioning God). Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?”

Paul never minced words, and he always went right to the point. Here he’s talking about functions that God has designed each of us to perform. He’s not talking about our personal value. That’s already established by God. Remember we are masterpieces created by God. That’s true whether we are the President of the United States or a garbage man.

The Ephesians’ passage also says, “He has created us anew in Christ Jesus”. That’s the essential part of being God’s masterpiece. Being “created anew” means being “born again”. Being “born again” means being saved by God. It means accepting Jesus’ payment for our sins — so they can be removed. It means having the Holy Spirit come into our lives — so He can transform us into the image of God. That’s transformative work, and that’s why God says we are His masterpieces, because He is recreating us to be like Jesus.

God is doing this for a specific reason. He’s doing it so we can do good works. Notice the word “so” in the passage. It says, “He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, SO we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” In other words, God says we have to be “born again” to do the good works that He wants us to do.

We can see from this passage that God’s purposes for us are interrelated. His first purpose is to make us masterpieces. God wants us to be like Jesus. And as He changes us into the image of Christ — He puts us on display for all to see. God’s second purpose for us is to be “born again”. He wants to equip us to do the good works — which He has wanted us to do for all eternity. So being “born again” is central — to becoming a masterpiece — as well as being equipped to good works.

The question is how do we find out the work God wants us to do? There is only one way – we need to find out our spiritual gifts. Next week we will talk about how to do that. Until then, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Problem of Idleness

THE PROBLEM OF IDLENESS

In 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 Paul discusses the problem of idleness in the church. Let’s look at what he says.

6 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us.
7 For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you.
8 We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you.
9 We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.
10 Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”
11 Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business.
12 We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living.
13 As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.
14 Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed.
15 Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister.

In this passage Paul provides several incentives for people to go to work.

In verse 6 Paul states the first incentive is to AVOID BEING OSTRACIZED.

Paul tells believers (in the name of the Lord Jesus) to stay away from people who refuse to work. This is not a suggestion – it’s an order.

Matthew 18 provides steps for implementing church discipline in cases where there is disobedience to God’s commands. The first step is to confront the sinning believer privately. If that doesn’t work, step two is to confront the sinning believer with two or three witnesses. If that doesn’t work — step three is to bring the offense to the congregation and ask the sinning believer to repent. If that doesn’t work step four is to remove the sinning believer from fellowship in the church altogether.

It appears that Paul is at step four in this process, which means that the first three steps had already been taken.
He is now going to step 4 which is to ostracize the sinning believer. So, Paul’s message to believers who refuse to work is — “Rather than being kicked out of the church – go to work!”

In verses 7-9 Paul gives a second incentive to work, which is to FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE.

Paul says, “You ought to imitate us”. He backs up his statement by saying, “we were not idle when we were with you”. He said he and his team worked hard to pay for their food. They did not rely on the Thessalonians, even though they had the right to do so. He’s telling the Thessalonians that he is the model, and they must follow it.

In verse 10 Paul provides a third incentive for working – he says IT PROVIDES RESOURCES TO PAY FOR NECESSITIES.

Paul says “those unwilling to work will not get to eat”.

Notice Paul addresses those who are “UNWILLING to work”. He is not talking to those who are unable to work, because they are infirmed or are otherwise unable to work. Actually, the church has a responsibility to help these individuals.

In verses 11-13 Paul points out a fourth incentive for working — IT HELPS AVOID THE PROBLEM OF MEDDLING.

In this passage Paul is using a play on words. He says they were not BUSY (meaning they didn’t work) – instead they were BUSY BODIES (meaning they were meddlers). These people used their unoccupied time to interfere in the lives of others. They became irritants – causing disunity and discord – and that affected harmony in the church. Paul’s solution was for them to settle down and earn their own living. Settling down simply means – “live an ordered life”. It means stop causing unrest and dissention. It means focusing on one’s own affairs and not the affairs of others.

Finally, in verses 14-15 Paul provides the ultimate reason for not associating with an idle believer.

He says, “so they will be ashamed”. The reason was to make them feel shame, so they would be motivated to go to work. Paul was interested in correcting the problem. His ultimate goal was restoration.

These four incentives still apply to us today. From time to time we will encounter individuals who are “unwilling to work”. We must deal with them. Paul provides the biblical solutions to do that. It’s incumbent upon us to follow them …

Born Again

BORN AGAIN

There is an old spiritual song entitled, “Everybody Talkin’ ‘Bout Heaven Ain’t Goin’ There”. If you are interested, you can listen to it on YouTube.

Unfortunately, this song accurately describes many people in the church today. These are people who identify with Christ, but in fact haven’t made a genuine profession of faith. They say they are Christians, but they don’t produce any fruit.

I think one of the main reasons these people are confused about this is the proliferation of false gospels that are being preached in many churches today. These gospels are often called “feel good” gospels. They are based on emotionalism and subjective thinking and have no connection to Scripture. In many cases they teach that any profession of faith is OK, as long as the individual thinks it’s right.

This is in stark contrast to what Jesus taught. Jesus never compromised the truth or gave anyone false hope. He always spoke the hard truth. Unfortunately, in many cases – it was not well received. A good example is the story of the rich young man who was seeking the Kingdom of God, which is in Matthew 19:16-26.

“Someone came to Jesus with this question: ‘Teacher, what good deed must I DO to have eternal life?’ ‘Why ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only one who is good (meaning there is only one good thing to do). But to answer your question—if YOU want to receive eternal life (in other words do it yourself), keep the commandments.’ ‘Which ones?’ the man asked. And Jesus replied: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘I’ve obeyed all these commandments,’ the young man replied. ‘What else must I DO?’ Jesus told him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ But when the young man heard this, he went away very sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!’”

In this story the young man who came to Jesus wanted to know what HE MUST DO to get into heaven. He was talking about personal performance. So, Jesus told him what he needed to DO – “YOU have to keep the commandments”.

But nobody can do that – not even this young man, who thought he could. He was in serious denial, so Jesus told Him the hard truth. The only way to get into heaven is to be perfect, and the only way to be perfect is to follow Jesus. Jesus told him that he needed to start by getting rid of his distractions, which in this case, was his wealth. Unfortunately, the man couldn’t do that, and he went away sad.

In today’s blog we are going to look at another story about someone who came to Jesus and wanted to know how to get to heaven. It’s the story about a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Let’s look at the story.

1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee.
2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.
6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.
7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
9″How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?

Let’s break this story down.

Verse 2 says that Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night. He was a Pharisee which was a sect of Judaism. There were several sects of Judaism in those days, and the Pharisee comprised one of them. Nicodemus was also a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, which was the ruling body of Israel.

Nicodemus had become interested in Jesus. He thought Jesus was an exceptional Rabbi (teacher) — with the possibility that He might be even more than that. So, he went to Jesus to find out, but he didn’t want his fellow Pharisees to know what he was doing. Jesus was becoming very popular with the people, and most of the Pharisees viewed Him as a blasphemer and a threat to their position as religious leaders. So, Nicodemus decided to visit Jesus under the cover of night.

Jesus could see into men’s hearts, so, He knew what Nicodemus was seeking — even though Nicodemus wasn’t sure himself. Let’s look at what Nicodemus said.

“Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

Jesus was not interested in discussing His miracles, or His pedigree for that matter. He went straight to the issue, and He answered Nicodemus’ unasked question. He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus didn’t understand, and unfortunately that’s where we are going to leave off today.

Not to worry – I won’t leave you hanging. Next week we will talk about why he didn’t understand and what Jesus was trying to tell him. Until then, have a good week …

Learning To Be Like God

Learning To Be Like God

God created man in His own image. That means God intended for us to be just like Him. Obviously, that doesn’t mean we will be divine beings with supernatural powers, but it does mean that God wants us to have His characteristics.

Unfortunately, when Adam and Eve sinned, that all changed. Adam and Eve acquired a sin nature which has been passed on to us. The sin nature is a defect of character, and it prevents us from being like God.

However, God is gracious, and He has a plan to correct this problem. It’s called salvation. God sent Jesus into the world to pay for all the sins of mankind. That enables God to forgive men. However, men have to agree that they are sinners in need of forgiveness, and they have to accept God’s offer of forgiveness. When they do, God comes into their lives and begins to make them just like Him – which was His original plan before Adam and Eve sinned.

One of the characteristics that God works on is love. God wants us to love like He loves. His love is unselfish and unconditional. It ALWAYS wants the best for others, and it always leads to patient endurance.

People often tell me that they want to be more patient. I have even said that on many occasions, because I am not the most patient person. So, here’s the way to learn patience — it’s to love like God loves, and the only way to do that is to let Him teach us.

Galatians 5:22-23 says,

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

The expression, “No law against these things”, means these behaviors cannot be legislated. You can’t pass a law that says love others or be joyful, or be patient or whatever.

Notice the first fruit is love. That’s God’s love – the kind of love we have been talking about. The passage says the Holy Spirit produces it, and He does it through our circumstances. So, when we are in a situation where we are called to love like God — we HAVE to ask Him to produce that kind of love in us — and we have to do it right then and there.

I recently had a situation where I had to do that. One of my extended family members decided to visit us. Unexpectedly. He called the day before and asked us to pick him up at the airport at 5:00 AM the next day. Needless to say, I was not pleased. So, I asked the Holy Spirit to produce in me love, so I could love him like He (the Holy Spirit) loves him. I found myself being courteous and gracious the entire time he was with us.

We have only talked about letting the Holy Spirit teach us how to love like God. However, we can ask Him to do the same for all the qualities listed in the Galatians 5:22-23 passage. That’s joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. As we allow Him to produce these fruits through the circumstances of our daily lives, we will become more and more like God. However, it’s a process. That means it takes time and diligence. However, it’s worth it.

If you haven’t yet done it — I strongly recommend that you give it a try …

Strength From God

Strength From God

2 Thessalonians 3:3 says, “But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

In this verse, Paul focuses on the struggles that were besetting the Thessalonians. They were new Christians and were under attack from Satan. However, Paul knew that the Lord was faithful.

Paul identified two things that God would do for the Thessalonians. He said God would strengthen them and guard them against the evil one. The evil one is Satan.

So, what is Paul talking about?

Well, strengthening is where God provides His strength in place of our human strength. That’s something God says we can ALWAYS count on. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 31:6.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them (enemies). For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

How good is that?

Paul also said that God would guard the Thessalonians against the evil one. That meant that God would limit Satan’s access to them.

Both strengthening and guarding are necessary to resist the strategies of the devil. Now I know Paul was talking to the Thessalonians, but this is true for us as well. If we try to resist the devil on our own — without what God offers — WE WILL FAIL. Has that ever happened to you?

OK, so how do we use this?

The answer is doing what is called “pleading the promises”. What that means is we find a promise of God that pertains to the situation we are involved with, and we ask God to do what He promises.

So, let’s say we believe Satan is attacking us. We can “plead the promise” in Deuteronomy 31:6. We can do that through prayer. Let me show you how.

Dear Lord, You tell me in Deuteronomy 31:6 to be strong and courageous. You tell me not to be afraid or panic. You promise that You will go before me and You will not fail or abandon me. I believe You. Right now I believe I am under attack from Satan. Here’s what’s going on ______________________________________. I trust You and I ask You to strengthen and guard me from him – just as You promised to do for the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 3:3. Thank You for doing that. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

That’s a prayer God will ALWAYS answer, because it lines up with what He promises to do. God is faithful and He will ALWAYS do what He says He will do.

So, the next time you feel that you are under attack from Satan, or under attack from any other place, try it out. I know you will be amazed….

The Day of the Lord Part 3

In 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 Paul gave the Thessalonians a command.

“So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”

Paul says, “be on your guard”. That means watch for the signs that Jesus predicted about the Day of the Lord. Be clearheaded means don’t let anyone tell you that there are other signs. Don’t fall asleep means don’t become complacent – keep looking for the signs. Continue to live in the light means continue to follow the Word of God.

Paul told the Thessalonians that they had special protection. They had the armor of faith and love and the helmet of salvation. So, what are these elements of protection and how do they work?

Well, first of all – let’s talk about faith. Faith – for all that it is or isn’t — is based on God’s love. That’s why Paul calls it the armor of faith AND love. Let me explain what I mean. God loves us unconditionally. To demonstrate His love, He has given us over 7000 promises of things He wants to do for us, and when we believe His promises and act on them – our faith is increased. That’s because God always does what He says He will do, and as our faith grows – we start depending on God more and more.

Let me give you an example. Let’s look at Isaiah 41:10.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

This is a great promise of God. It says when we believe that God is with us — and that He’s our God. He will do 3 things. He will strengthen us – help us – and hold us up. How good is that? That’s everything we could ever need. And when we see God doing these three things — our faith grows, and our trust in God grows. That’s the key to living the Christians life.

OK, let’s talk about the helmet of salvation. Salvation acts like a helmet, because it protects our minds. Satan loves to play with our minds. One of his favorite strategies is to point out our failures and weaknesses and tell us that God is disappointed in us. The antidote to these attacks is salvation. Salvation tells us that God has removed our sins, and He’s making us perfect. Yes, we’ll still fail — and we’ll still have weaknesses — but that’s not the end of the story. God will complete His work and make us perfect. So, you can see how salvation protects our minds from Satan’s lies.

So there you have it. The Day of the Lord is coming. There are signs that we can look for which herald its arrival. We need to look for them and be ready ………

The Day of the Lord Part 2

Several weeks ago we began a discussion of the “end times”. We talked about an event known as the “Day of the Lord”. We said this is when Jesus comes back to take His church to heaven and end world history as we know it.

Jesus’ disciples were aware that these events were coming, but they wanted to know when. So, they asked Him, and He told them. Jesus said one of the “signs” of the coming events is called the “birth pains”. Let’s look at what He said in Matthew 24:3-8.

“Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, ‘Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?’ Jesus told them, ‘Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.’”

Jesus used the term, “birth pains” to describe a series of preliminary events which lead up to the “Day of the Lord”. He said there will be a proliferation of false teachers. Some will even claim to be the Messiah. Many people will be deceived. And He said there will be lots of wars, famines, and earthquakes all over the world.

So, let me ask you. Do we see these things happening today? Absolutely. Some say even in increasing amounts. But here’s the important question. Are these things occurring in sufficient amounts to inspire a one world government to form? In our last blog we talked about this. We said a one world government — with a leader known as the antichrist – is predicted to be in place at the time the Day of the Lord occurs.

So, do we see that happening now? In other words — is there someone on the world scene today that says, “The world’s a mess, but I have the solution for world peace and economic harmony. Please follow me.”

I don’t see anyone like that – at least not yet.

When a woman is pregnant, birth pains are the signs that the birth of her child is eminent. In the case of the “Day of the Lord” birth pains are wars – rumors of wars and all the other things that Jesus predicted. I believe these birth pains will set the stage for this person known as antichrist to rise to world prominence.

So, back to the question — when are the birth pains going to start? Have they already started? No one knows for sure.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 Paul talked about this. Let’s look at what he said.

“But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.”

When Paul starts with the words, “But you” — he is making a transition from a prior statement where he talked about people who were ignorant of the signs of the end. He says the Thessalonians are not ignorant. He says, “You are not in the dark”. He says they are children of the light and the day. He says people who belong to darkness and night can’t see the truth of God.

And then in 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 Paul gives the Thessalonians a command.

“So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”

Paul says, “be on your guard”. That means watch for the signs that Jesus predicted. Be clearheaded means don’t let anyone tell you that there are other signs. Don’t fall asleep means don’t become complacent – keep looking for the signs. Continue to live in the light means continue to follow the Word of God.

Paul told the Thessalonians that they had special protection. They had the armor of faith and love and the helmet of salvation. So, what are these elements of protection and how do they work?

Well, that’s what we will talk about next time. Until then have a great week…