Posts tagged ‘1 Thessalonians’

April 8, 2014

843 Acres Lent Tweetable Tuesdays: Pray Continually

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 26 (txt | aud, 2:47 min)
1 Th 5 (txt | aud, 2:28 min)
Highlighted: 1 Th 5:16-18

Discerning Brokenness 

According to a 2010 Gallup poll, 92% of Americans say there is a God. 83% say he answers prayers. But what about “unanswered” prayers?

“Unanswered prayer forms a barrier that blocks desire to keep company w/God + poses serious threat to faith of trusting children.” #Yancey

“I do not doubt that God answers prayer. Rather, I struggle with the inconsistency of those apparent answers.” #Yancey

Imagining Redemption

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Th 5:16-18

In 1976 Joni Eareckson Tada became quadriplegic. She prays daily for healing. Also she paints w/her teeth + sings praise songs in elevators.

Tension: “My Father, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will” + “For the joy set before him, he endured the cross”

Praying ACTS

Lord, we #adore you for not answering Jesus’s prayer to take the cup from him, but instead you answered his deepest prayer-to redeem us.

We #confess that we doubt whether you answer our prayers, which often keeps us from praying and, in turn, experiencing your fullness.

Yet we are #thankful that you listen to our deepest desires. For we often do not know what to pray. Hear our prayers and hear our hearts.

As we pray continually, may we always pray, “Not as I will, but as you will.” For we struggle to know our own desires. #supplication

____________________________________ 

 Lent - logo

We invite you to join us and the Women’s Bible Society to a Lenten Bible Listening Event on Thursday morning, April 10th.
Click 
here for more details.

____________________________________ 

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________   

 

April 7, 2014

843 Acres Lent: Clothed in Christ for Eternity

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 25 (txt | aud, 2:59 min)
1 Th 4 (txt | aud, 2:18 min)
Highlighted: 1 Th 4:14

Specialness: Our need to deny death motivates us. Hoping to avoid its bitterness, we strive for immortality by pursuing lives of significance. This longing for “cosmic specialness,” as Ernest Becker puts it, leads us to create a “heroic self-image” that convinces us that our lives are meaningful and significant.

Mausoleum: Although our heroic self-image inspires greatness, it also instigates evil. In his forward to Becker’s The Denial of Death, Sam Keen writes, “Becker’s radical conclusion [is] that it is our altruistic motives that turn the world into a [mausoleum] … At what cost do we purchase the assurance that we are heroic? … [H]ow easily we will shed blood to purchase the assurance of our own righteousness.”

Immortality: The Thessalonians thought about death and immortality, too. Although they knew that Christ had risen, they seemed to believe that Christians who died before his return would be lost forever. Paul, therefore, wrote this letter to assure them that the dead would be resurrected to eternal life: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” [1]

Living: Paul encourages the Thessalonians to live in light of their immortality. Rather than polishing their heroic self-image, they can encourage others and embrace grace. [2] Since the unchanging work of Christ secures their immortality, they can be unwavering—rejoicing “always”, praying “without ceasing”, and giving thanks in “all circumstances.” [3]

Righteousness: Knowing that we’ll receive eternal life frees us from our need to deny death, and knowing that we can rest in the righteousness of Christ frees us from our need to establish our own. We can release our heroic self-image when we see that Jesus is our hero. As Becker writes, the most remarkable thing about Christianity is “that it could take slaves, cripples, imbeciles, the simple and the mighty, and make them all secure heroes, simply by taking a step back from the world into another dimension, the dimension called heaven. Or we might better say that Christianity took creature consciousness—the thing man most wanted to deny—and made it the very condition for his cosmic heroism.”

Prayer: Lord, Embracing our weakness and mortality is the condition for our receiving the strength and immortality of Christ. Therefore, may we come to you as weak and needy so that you may clothe us in him. Amen.

____________________________________ 

 Lent - logo

We invite you to join us and the Women’s Bible Society to a Lenten Bible Listening Event on Thursday morning, April 10th.
Click 
here for more details.

____________________________________ 

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________   

Footnotes

[1] 1 Thessalonians 4:14 ESV | [2] 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 | [3] 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

April 4, 2014

843 Acres Lent: What Is a Christian

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 22 (txt | aud, 2:45 min)
1 Th 1 (txt | aud, 1:19 min)
Highlighted: 1 Th 1:4, 9-10

Background: Paul planted a church in Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia and a flourishing center of trade and philosophy. While the church was still new and the Christians were still young, there was so much opposition against Paul that he had to leave prematurely. So he sent Timothy to check on them and return with a report. In response to hearing how they were doing, Paul sent them this letter to remind them how and why they became Christians. In essence, he reminded them what a Christian was. What does he say?

Marks: He writes, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” [1] First, they became Christians by the gospel—that is, not by some general message of love or morality, but by the good news of Jesus. Elsewhere, Paul refers to the gospel as “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” [2] Second, the gospel did not come only in words, but also in power. A Christian is someone in whom and through whom the gospel has become a power. [3]

Choice: Finally, Paul says that they are Christians because he has heard “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” [4] In other words, they sensed the totalitarian claims of Christ and understood that the issue was not what they were going to make of him, but what he was going to make of them. They saw that the true choice was not between Christ and freedom, but between Christ and slavery. For they began to see how everything but Christ would enslave them.

Prayer: Lord, May we know that we are Christians by our having received the gospel, by our having been empowered by it, and by our turning from idols to serve you, the true and living God. For we know that it is only in Christ that we experience true freedom. Therefore, increase our desire for you daily and remind us in your Word that we are your children and heirs to your promises. Amen.

____________________________________ 

M’Cheyne Weekend Reading

Saturday, April 5: Prov 23 (txt | aud, 3:19 min) & 1 Th 2 (txt | aud, 2:30 min)
Sunday, April 6: Prov 24 (txt | aud, 3:11 min) & 1 Th 3 (txt | aud, 1:33 min)

____________________________________ 

 Lent - logo

We invite you to join us and the Women’s Bible Society to a Lenten Bible Listening Event on Thursday morning, April 10th.
Click 
here for more details.

____________________________________ 

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________   

Footnotes

[1] 1 Thessalonians 1:4 ESV | [2] 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV | [3] Romans 1:16 ESV | [4] 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 ESV

October 18, 2013

843 Acres: The Denial of Death and Our Heroic Self-Image

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 21 (text | audio, 4:48 min)
1 Thes 4 (text | audio, 2:18 min)
Highlighted: 1 Thes 4:14 

Our need to deny death motivates our behavior. Hoping to avoid its bitterness, we strive for immortality by pursuing lives of significance. This longing for “cosmic specialness,” as Ernest Becker puts it, leads us to create an “heroic self-image” that convinces us that our lives are meaningful and significant.

Although our heroic self-image inspires greatness, it also instigates evil. In his forward to Becker’s The Denial of Death, Sam Keen writes, “Becker’s radical conclusion [is] that it is our altruistic motives that turn the world into a [mausoleum] … At what cost do we purchase the assurance that we are heroic? … [H]ow easily we will shed blood to purchase the assurance of our own righteousness.”

The Thessalonians thought about death and immortality, too. Although they knew that Christ had risen, they seemed to believe that Christians who died before Christ’s return would be lost forever. Paul, therefore, wrote this letter to assure them that the dead would be resurrected to eternal life: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” [1]

In his final remarks, Paul encourages the Thessalonians to live in light of their immortality. Rather than polishing their heroic self-image, they can encourage others [2] and embrace grace [3]. Since the unchanging work of Christ secures their immortality, they can be unwavering—rejoicing “always”, praying “without ceasing”, and giving thanks in “all circumstances.” [4]

Knowing that we will receive eternal life frees us from our need to deny death, and knowing that we can rest in the righteousness of Christ frees us from our need to establish our own righteousness. We can release our heroic self-image when we see that Jesus is the hero for whom we long. As Becker writes, the most remarkable thing about Christianity is “that it could take slaves, cripples, imbeciles, the simple and the mighty, and make them all secure heroes, simply by taking a step back from the world into another dimension, the dimension called heaven. Or we might better say that Christianity took creature consciousness—the thing man most wanted to deny—and made it the very condition for his cosmic heroism.” In other words, embracing our weakness and mortality is the condition for our receiving the strength and immortality of Christ.

Note: There is no prayer included in this devotional because it is an adaption of a devotional recently written for the forthcoming ESV Women’s Devotional Bible. 

M’Cheyne Weekend Readings

Saturday, October 19: 1 Kings 22 (text | audio, 8:50 min) & 1 Thes 5 (text | audio, 2:28 min)
Sunday, October 20: 2 Kings 1 (text | audio, 3:32 min) & 2 Thes 1 (text | audio, 1:39 min)

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________ 

Footnotes

[1] 1 Thessalonians 4:14 ESV | [2] 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 | [3] 1 Thessalonians 5:15 | [4] 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

October 17, 2013

843 Acres: Throwback Thursday: Love as the Opposite of a Selfish Spirit

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 20 (text | audio, 7:48 min)
1 Thes 3 (text | audio, 1:33 min)
Highlighted: 1 Thes 3:8-10

Paul. 1 Thessalonians 3:8-10.

For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

Jonathan Edwards. The Spirit of Love the Opposite of a Selfish Spirit

The ruin that the fall [of man] brought upon the soul of man consists very much in his losing the nobler and more benevolent principles of his nature, and falling wholly under the power and government of self-love. Before, and as God created him, he was exalted, and noble, and generous; but now he is debased, and ignoble, and selfish …

Before, his soul was under the government of that noble principle of divine love, whereby it was enlarged to the comprehension of all his fellow creatures and their welfare. And not only so … but went forth in the exercise of holy love to the Creator, and abroad upon the infinite ocean of good, and was, as it were, swallowed up by it, and became one with it. But so soon as he had transgressed against God, these noble principles were immediately lost, and all this excellent enlargedness of man’s soul was gone; and thenceforward he himself shrank, as it were, into a little space … Sin, like some powerful astringent, contracted his soul to the very small dimensions of selfishness; and God was forsaken, and fellow creatures forsaken, and man retired within himself, and became totally governed by narrow and selfish principles and feelings. Self-love became absolute master of his soul, and the more noble and spiritual principles of his being took wings and flew away.

But God, in mercy to miserable man, entered on the work of redemption, and, by the glorious gospel of his Son, began the work of bringing the soul of man out of its confinement and contractedness, and back again to those noble and divine principles by which it was animated and governed at first. And it is through the cross of Christ that he is doing this; for our union with Christ gives us participation in his nature. And so Christianity restores an excellent enlargement, and extensiveness, and liberality to the soul, and again possesses it with that divine love or charity … whereby it again embraces its fellow creatures, and is devoted to and swallowed up in the Creator.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________ 

October 16, 2013

843 Acres: Love Labors and Toils

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 19 (text | audio, 4:05 min)
1 Thes 2 (text | audio, 2:30 min)
Highlighted: 1 Thes 2:9

Eros:  Natural love has no power for longsuffering. In Love Within Limits, Lewis Smedes writes, “Eros is desire … Eros moves us toward someone or something that can fill the void we feel and change what we anxiously want changed. Eros is always the passion to overcome suffering, but eros, in turn, suffers for other reasons. It can be frustrated, when we do not get exactly and enduringly what we long for. It can be betrayed, when people renege on a promise to fill our need. It can be burned out, when what filled us for a season suddenly leaves us empty. Born from suffering, eros is destined for suffering.” [1] Is there any another option?

Love: Paul told the Thessalonians that he shared the gospel with them “not to please men, but to please God.” He “never came with words of flattery … nor with pretext for greed.” Instead, he was “gentle” among them, “ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become so very dear to us.” Then he reminded them of his longsuffering love for them: “For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”[2]

Agape:  There is a love that has the power for longsuffering. It loves without thought of reward. Smedes continues, “Agape is born of divine strength; therefore, it has the power to be creatively weak. Because it is not driven by ardent need it has power to wait.” Paul found the power to love the Thessalonians from agape. He endured “labor and toil” because he saw that Jesus had endured that for him and, indeed, all of his people. In love, Jesus suffered long so that time could be created for “redemptive powers to do their work.” He suffered long not because he was masochistic or indulgent or cowardly, but because he secured final victory for the end of evil and suffering and its sting on the world.

Prayer: Lord, We confess that we often operate out of the power of eros love. May we know the power of your agape love so that we may suffer long and, thereby, participate in your redemptive plan for evil and suffering finally to cease. Amen.

Footnotes

[1] Lewis B. Smedes. Love Within Limits: Realizing Selfless Love in a Selfish World. | [2] 1 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV

October 15, 2013

843 Acres: Tuesday Tweetables: A God-to-gods Stand Off

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 18 (text | audio, 7:58 min)
1 Thes 1 (text | audio, 1:19 min)
Highlighted: 1 King 18:1-19

Discerning Brokenness

Elijah: “Gather all Israel to meet me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal + the 400 prophets of Asherah.” #standoff

Elijah: “How long will you limp bw 2 opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, then follow him.” The people did not say a word.

The idol worshippers cried out all day for their god to burn up their sacrifice, cutting themselves, spilling blood. But no one answered.

Imagining Redemption

Elijah poured 12 jars of water on God’s sacrifice, saying, “Answer me that they may know you are God & you have turned back their hearts.”

The Lord’s fire consumed the offering, wood, stones and licked up the water in the trench. “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”

For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? (Deut 4:7)

Praying ACTS

Lord, We praise you because you are hear our prayers for your glory and our joy. You alone are true. #adoration

Lord, We worship idols that have mouths but do not speak, eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear, hands but do not feel. #confession

Lord, Thank you for being a sovereign God and, at the same time, hearing us when we call to you. #thanksgiving

Lord, May we discern between you and false idols. Answer us that we may know you are God & have turned back our hearts. #supplication

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________ 

April 6, 2012

Avoiding the Solitude of Our Own Hearts

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 1 Th. 3:11-13
Full Text: Prov. 24; 1 Th. 3
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective 

Individualism | In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville came to America at the age of 25. Although he was impressed by the country’s enormous freedom of association, he was also troubled by its deep strain of individualism. He wrote, “Such folk owe no man anything and hardly expect anything from anybody. They form the habit of thinking of themselves in isolation and imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands. Thus, not only does democracy make men forget their ancestors, but also clouds their view of their descendants and isolates them from their contemporaries. Each man is forever thrown back on himself alone, and there is danger that he may be shut up in the solitude of his own heart” [1].

Community | Nearly 180 years have passed, but American individualism has remained. In this culture, however, the church is called to be counter-cultural, embracing covenantal community and mutual commitment. As Paul prayed for the Thessalonians, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father” [2]. Indeed, our love for one another is the essence of holiness and, without holiness, it’s impossible to see God [3].

Church | We can be counter-cultural by pursuing covenantal community with the church. Madeleine L’Engle wrote, “I go to church, not because of any legalistic or moralistic reasons, but … for the same reason that I wear a wedding ring: a public witness of a private commitment” [4]. And we do this in spite of the church’s imperfections. Paul acknowledged that the Thessalonians had work to do when he asked God to make them “increase and abound” in love. And elsewhere Paul promised that God would continue doing this good work in us until the day of Christ [5].

Prayer | Lord, Our culture celebrates individualism and perfection, but you cherish covenantal community that is comprised of a bunch of sinners in need of you. We confess, however, that we have been influenced by our culture and its false promises to make us free through individualism and perfection. Instead, root us in your promises. Establish us in your church, which is the bride of Christ. And let us commit to love others who are sinners just like us so that we are not “shut up in the solitude of our own hearts”. Amen.

____________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Alexis de Tocqueville. Democracy in America, HarperCollins, 2000. p. 508.  |  [2] 1 Thess. 3:11-13 ESV  |  [3] See Heb. 12:14.  |  [4] See also Redeemer Presbyterian: Why Church Membership?  |  [5] See Phil. 1:6

April 5, 2012

Sharing Our Souls for the Sake of the Gospel

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 1 Th. 2:8
Full Text: Prov. 23; 1 Th. 2
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective

Traveling | Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians around AD 51 from Corinth while he was on his second missionary journey. On his first journey, Paul had planted churches in southern Turkey and, on his second journey, he had planned to revisit those churches and then head north. But God redirected him. Through a vision [1], God called him to spread the gospel in Macedonia and Greece. Thus, history was changed. The gospel went from Asia to Europe. He went to Philippi and then Thessalonica [2] – a prominent Macedonian city that was founded by Alexander the Great [3].

Caring | Paul stayed in Thessalonica for a few weeks and his time there was fruitful: “Some [Jews] were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women” [4]. Eventually, however, he was run out of town in the middle of the night [5] and headed toward Athens and Corinth. But He never forgot about the new Christians in Thessalonica. When it was safe, he sent Timothy to check on them. Upon returning to Corinth, Timothy had good news for Paul – the Thessalonians had survived persecution and were doing well! They remained, however, young believers with some problems. Thus, Paul wrote to encourage and exhort them.

Sharing | Sometimes it’s easy to think of Paul as an intense vagabond preacher, traveling from city to city without many personal ties. But it’s hard to read this letter without seeing his obvious love and affection for the Thessalonians. He didn’t just share the gospel; he shares his life as well: “Being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” [6]. Indeed, they were his “hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming” [7].

Praying | Lord, Sharing our lives is more than sharing the gospel. It’s sharing our true feelings, passions, fears, guilt, longings, and joys. It’s placing our glory and our joy in the spiritual growth of others in Christ. For the sake of the gospel, teach us to share our lives with one another. Make us family and friends, as we encourage and exhort one another to love and good works until the day of Christ [8]. Amen.

____________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] See Acts 16:9 ESV  |  [2] See Acts 16:12; 17:1  |  [3] Historical references taken from Dever, Mark; John MacArthur (2005-11-30). The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept. Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition; and Diarmaid MacCullouch. Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. Viking/Penguin. 2009.  |  [4] Acts 17:4 ESV  |  [5] See Acts 17. Also, in 1 Thessalonians, Paul reminds them, “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time …” (2:17 ESV)  |  [6] 1 Thess. 2:8 ESV  |  [7] 1 Thess. 2:19 ESV  |  [8] See Heb. 10:24

April 4, 2012

Prayer: We Get Help; God Gets Glory

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 1 Th. 1:2-3
Full Text: Prov. 22; 1 Th. 1
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective 

Prayer | As we saw yesterday, “Prayer is not some small thing. It is not some marginal thing. It is not some incidental thing in the Christian life. Prayer is at the heart of why God created the universe” [1]. Why is this? Because prayer exalts God as the glorious and bountiful giver of the universe and us as the humble and happy recipients of His grace. He gets the glory and we get the help. As Jesus said, prayer aims to maximize both God’s glory and our joy:  “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son … Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full” [2].

Source | Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” [3]. Paul thanked God in his prayers – not merely that the Thessalonians had worked, labored and endured – but that God had given them the faith, love and hope to do so. Paul knew that God was the source of their work, labor and endurance. He had opened their eyes to see and their hearts to repent and believe.

God | God alone is the source of our faith, hope and love. When we go to Him in prayer, we glorify Him as the great giver of these great gifts. Thus, He wants us to pray and, indeed, takes delight in us when we pray. In prayer, we openly admit that we can do nothing apart from Christ. When we pray, we turn away from ourselves and our own attempts to provide for ourselves and we turn toward God in confident trust that He will provide the help that we need.

Prayer | Lord, Jesus told the woman at the well that, if she knew the gift of God and who he was, she would have asked him for water. We confess that we are often the same – we fail to come to you in prayer because we don’t see who you are and we forget that our faith, hope and love come from you alone. Forgive us and remind us that our prayers glorify you and satisfy our great longing for joy. Amen.

____________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] John Piper. “Devote Yourselves to Prayer.” 9 Jan. 2000.  |  [2] John 14:13; 16:24 ESV emphasis mine. See also John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards with the full text of “The End for Which God Created the World.” Crossway, 1998.  |  [3] 1 Thess. 1:2-3 ESV

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 160 other followers