Posts tagged ‘2 Thessalonians’

April 11, 2014

843 Acres Lent: Absolute Truth and Megalomania

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 29 (txt | aud, 2:52 min)
2 Th 3 (txt | aud, 2:04 min)
Highlighted: Prov 29:25

Megalomania: A few years ago, David Brooks wrote about the megalomania of Muammar el-Qaddafi. “How does a guy who seems to be only marginally attached to reality manage to stay in power for 42 years?” he asked. One thing, Brooks noted, was that Qaddafi was not bothered by the fear of man: “[Megalomaniacs like him] are untroubled by doubt or concern for the good opinion of others since they already possess absolute truth.” But does possession of absolute truth necessarily lead to megalomania? How can it lead to love and service instead?

Truth: The problem with Qaddafi was not that he was untroubled by concern for “the good opinion of others.” His problem was that his absolute truth was rooted in making himself god. Instead of fearing the Lord, he repeatedly likened himself to Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad and referred to the Green Book, his book of teachings, as “the new gospel.” His self-worship led him to seek “control every neuron” in the heads of his people and to “destroy all outside authority and civil society.”

Trust: Proverbs says, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” [1] The Scripture, thus, connects our not being afraid of man with our trusting God. How does this lead to a life of love and service? When we trust the Lord, we follow him who revealed himself as a servant-king in Jesus. Although some people expected him to come as a political or military ruler, he came as a sacrificial lamb, who laid down his life for his people. Following this type of God does not lead to totalitarianism or dictatorship. It leads to taking up our crosses daily and serving others.

Prayer: Lord, Possession of absolute truth does not necessarily lead to megalomania; it depends on what that truth is. In Christ, our truth is that weakness is strength and foolishness is wisdom. For the cross is weak and foolish in the eyes of the world; but we know that it is the power of salvation to those who believe. Therefore, may we root ourselves in your truth, not fearing man by trusting you. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Reading

Saturday, April 12: Prov 30 (txt | aud, 3:50 min) & 1 Ti 1 (txt | aud, 2:43 min)
Sunday, April 13: Prov 31 (txt | aud, 2:56 min) & 1 Ti 2 (txt | aud, 1:34 min)

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Footnotes

[1] Proverbs 29:25 ESV

April 10, 2014

843 Acres Lent #TBT: Confession in Life Together

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 28 (txt | aud, 2:48 min)
2 Th 2 (txt | aud, 2:11 min)

Solomon: Proverbs 28:13

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Life Together

A confession of sin in the presence of all the members of the congregation is not required to restore one to community with the entire congregation. In the one other Christian to whom I confess my sins and by whom my sins are declared forgiven, I meet the whole congregation. Community within the whole congregation is given to me in the community which I experience with this one other believer. For here it is not a matter of acting according to one’s own orders and authority, but according to the command of Jesus Christ, which is intended for the whole congregation, on whose behalf the individual is called merely to carry it out. So long as Christians are in such a community of confession of sins to one another, they are no longer alone anywhere.

In confession there occurs a breakthrough to the cross … In confession we affirm our cross. In the profound spiritual and physical pain of humiliation before another believer, which means before God, we experience the cross of Jesus as our deliverance and salvation. The old humanity dies, but God has triumphed over it. Now we share in the resurrection of Christ and eternal life.

In confession there occurs a breakthrough to new life. The break with the past is made when sin is hated, confessed, and forgiven. “Everything old has passed away.” But where there is a break from sin, there is conversion. Confession is conversion. “Everything has become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Christ has made a new beginning with us. As the first disciples left everything behind and followed Jesus’s call, so in confession the Christian gives up everything and follows. Confession is following after. Life with Jesus Christ and the community of faith has begun. “No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov. 28:13). In confession, Christians begin to renounce their sins. The power of sin is broken. From now on, the Christian gains one victory after another. What happened to us in baptism is given to us anew in confession. We are delivered from darkness into the rule of Jesus Christ. That is joyful news. Confession is the renewal of the joy of baptism. “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:6).

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 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 
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April 9, 2014

843 Acres Lent: Planning Our Lives

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 27 (txt | aud, 2:29 min)
2 Th 1 (txt | aud, 1:19 min)
Highlighted: Prov 27:1

Precious: Life is precious but precarious. We may not always have eyes that can see a child’s surprise at Christmas or legs that are able to run on the beach. We may not always be able to see snow falling, eat molten chocolate cake, or read great novels by the fire. Recognizing this, what do we do? How do we live today?

Tomorrow: In Proverbs, Solomon offers guidance, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” [1] And James wrote, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” [2]

Boasting: It is our boasting—not our planning—that displeases the Lord. After all, Jesus planned “tomorrow” when he set his face to Jerusalem: “He was determined to go to Jerusalem.” [3] Yet he also humbly submitted to his Father’s plan: “Not my will but yours be done.” [4] Similarly, Paul planned “tomorrow” when he embarked on his three missionary journeys. [5] Yet he told the Ephesians, “I will return to you again, if God wills.” [6] Thus, as we recognize that it is God—not us—who holds every minute of our precious yet precarious lives in his good and wise hands, let us treasure humble hearts that cling to “if God wills.”

Prayer: Lord, You decide how long we will live and what we will or will not accomplish. As we plan our precious yet precarious lives, give us strategic minds that plan and humble hearts that do not presume. Let us rest in the security of your providence that is stronger than chance or schedules. May your will—not ours—be done. Amen.

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 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.

____________________________________ 

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Footnotes

[1] Proverbs 27:1 ESV | [2] James 4:13-17 ESV | [3] Luke 9:53 NASB | [4] Luke 22:42 NASB | [5] See Acts 27-28. | [6] Acts 18:21 NASB. See also 1 Corinthians 4:19

October 22, 2013

Tuesday Tweetables: Work, Leisure, and Authentic Fruit

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 2 Kings 3 (text | audio, 4:48 min);
2 Thess 3 (text | audio, 2:04 min)
Highlighted: 2 Thes 3:6-15 

Discerning Brokenness

Paul: “ … keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”

“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.”

Imagining Redemption

An over-desire for work leads to idolatry + an under-desire for it leads to idleness. We need both a theology of work + one of leisure.

Work was meant to be an expression of our humanity, not the source of our identity. #work http://ow.ly/pNSGi cc @redeemerCFW

Not everything that is not “useful” is useless. There is not only use; there is also blessing, rest, contemplation. #leisure

“Do not grow weary in doing good.” (2 Thess 3:13) + “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10) #work #leisure #balance

Praying ACTS

Lord, You are a God who works and rests. Yet you do not worship work as an idol nor rest from it in idleness. #adoration

Lord, We confess that we often approach work and rest with distorted loves. We seek identity in this world, not in you. #confession

Lord, By working 6 days and resting 1, you showed us that the active life is transformed by the reflective life. #thanks

Lord, Let us love work + rest as you do. May we live intentional, contemplative lives that we may experience authentic fruit. #supplication

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October 21, 2013

843 Acres: The Mystery of Lawlessness

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 2 Kings 2 (text | audio, 5:00 min)
2 Thes 2 (text | audio, 2:11 min)
Highlighted: 2 Thes 2:7-8

Taunts: On the playground, one kid questions the authority of another with a familiar taunt: sez who? As adults, our settings may be different, but our sentiments are largely the same, i.e, adultery is wrong sez who? Ever since God “died” in the Enlightenment, any appeal to the grand sez who seems backwards and childish. To whom do we appeal now? Yale Law Professor Arthur Leff says that authority “can be only one place: in us.” This may seem freeing at first, but it is actually quite “despairing,” Leff argues. [1]

Lawlessness: Paul says that “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.” [2] Lawlessness, however, is not a disregard for the law or a willful disobedience of its regulations.  It’s an orientation of the heart and mind that asks, who sez what the law is? Even Leff, an agnostic, realizes the problems of such an orientation. He continues, “All I can say is this: it looks as if we are all we have. Given what we know about ourselves and each other, this is an extraordinarily unappetizing prospect … Neither reason, nor love, nor even terror, seems to have worked to make us ‘good,’ and worse than that, there is no reason why anything should. Only if ethics were something unspeakable by us, could law be unnatural, and therefore unchallengeable. As things now stand, everything is up for grabs.” Napalming babies, starving the poor, buying and selling each other—if there is no grand sez who, then who is to say what is “bad” or “immoral”?

Appearance: Lawlessness happens when we place ourselves at the center of reality. As the refrain in Judges repeats: “In those days, there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” [3] How does lawlessness end? “At the appearance of [Jesus’s] coming,” Paul writes, lawlessness will be brought to nothing. [4] Today, as we look upon the gospel, the Spirit empowers us to say No to lawlessness and Yes to Christ’s gracious authority over our lives.

Prayer: Lord, We have lawless hearts. Although we are Christians, we forget the gospel and, as a result, begin to hate the law. Because we live in a lawless age, we need accountability. Give us deep fellowship with others that is based on true and humble acknowledgement that we need other to help us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus so that we obey the law with happy and joyful hearts. Amen. 

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Footnotes

[1] Arthur A. Leff. “Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law.” Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository. 1979. | [2] 2 Thessalonians 2:7 ESV | [3] Judges 21:25 ESV | [4] 2 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV

April 11, 2012

Accounting for Every Careless Word

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Prov. 29:11
Full Text: Prov. 29; 2 Thess. 3
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective

Words | When I come across passages in the Bible about the importance of taming the tongue, I’m tempted to avoid writing about them because I feel woefully inadequate. Yes, words have always been an important part of my life – I learned their power when I was a disobedient kid who had to give accounts to my father the lawyer, their interpretation when I studied Spanish in college, and their persuasion when I worked in communications at the State Department and the NYSE. I love words because they set us apart as human beings. They help us communicate with each other, which – in turn – helps us to know and love one another.

Tame | Yet I feel inadequate to discuss the taming of the tongue because I know I have so far to go. Proverbs warns about using our tongue to vent: “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” [1], and Jesus warns about being accountable for our words: “I tell you, on the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” [2]. To be mature Christians, we must learn to bridle our tongues. James writes, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” [3].

Prayer | Lord, Thank you for giving us words to help us talk with you and others. Also, thank you for using words – letters, testimonies, psalms, histories – to help us understand your love for us as displayed on the cross. Yet we confess that we oftentimes use words carelessly, venting about our circumstances rather than being wise and holding back. Knowing that we do not have the ability to tame our own tongues, we beg you to help us set watch over our mouths. Help us be quick to listen and slow to speak. Give us wisdom to use our tongues to glorify you and encourage one another – even when sometimes that may mean that we speak words of restoration when we see others wander. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Prov. 29:11 ESV  |  [2] Matthew 12:34-37 ESV  |  [3] James 3:8-10 ESV

April 10, 2012

Choosing Friends for Important Reasons

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Prov. 28: 7
Full Text: Prov. 28; 2 Thess. 2
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective 

Friends | In A Wrinkle in Time, when popular Calvin meets nerdy Meg and her family, he finally has true friends: “I feel as though I were just being born! I’m not alone anymore! Do you realize what that means to me?” Meg, however, is confused: “But you’re good at basketball and things. You’re good in school. Everybody likes you.” He surprisingly responds, “For all the most unimportant reasons” [1].

Influence | According to Proverbs, the wise and godly pay attention to who their friends are. They recognize that there can be friends for important and unimportant reasons. They know that sometimes people only love you for your money, power, beauty or popularity. The wise and godly also know that their friends have a great influence on them – even subconsciously – so they intentionally surround themselves with true friends, knowing that friends can be both good and bad, blessings and snares.

Warning | Proverbs warns us not to desire the company of evil people [2]. Specifically, for example, it warns us not to hang out with gluttons: “The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father” [3]. Parents recognize the importance of friends. That’s why they tell their kids not to fall into “the wrong crowd.” Yet it’s not just children that must pay attention when making friends. Adults, too, must be careful because none of us is beyond the age of influence.

Tension | Does this mean that we shouldn’t hang out with unbelievers or less “mature” Christians? Not at all! It does mean, however, that we recognize the tension that, on the one hand, we are called to be true friends to all and share the gospel and, on the other hand, we are called to heed the warning that the people we befriend will influence us [4].

Prayer | Lord, You alone are our true and ultimate friend. Jesus gave his life for us while we were yet sinners [5] and said, “No longer do I call you servants … but I have called you friends” [6]. Wanting to be like him, we long to spend time with you in prayer and community. In these times, give us wisdom to be good friends and to choose good friends. Make us intentional in our friendships and let us love one another for important reasons that are founded on our identity in you and our desire to grow in faith and love [7]. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] L’Engle, Madeleine (2010-04-01). A Wrinkle in Time (Kindle Locations 833-839). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.  |  [2] Prov. 24:1 ESV  |  [3] Prov. 28:7 ESV. See also Prov. 29:3 (avoid being a companion of prostitutes as well).  |  [4] See also 1 Cor. 15:33 (“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” ESV).  |  [5] See Rom. 5:8  |  [6] John 15:15 ESV  |  [7] See 843 Acres, Growing Faith and Love Are Essential, Not Optional. April 9, 2012.

April 9, 2012

Growing Faith and Love Are Essential, Not Optional

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 2 Thess. 1:3
Full Text: Prov. 27, 2 Thess. 1
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective

Growth | Paul didn’t just thank God for the faith and love of the Thessalonians; he thanked God for their growing faith and increasing love: “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” [1]. Paul loved progress and growth – especially in faith toward God and love toward others.

Testimony | Why does it matter whether we’re growing in faith and love? Faith and love are essential, not optional, in the Christian life [2]. They are gifts from God [3] and He wills that we grow in them. What does it mean, therefore, if we’re not growing and increasing in these things that God gives and wills in the lives of His people? One option is that we may not be Christians. Another option, however, is that we may be Christians, but we may be grieving the Holy Spirit with a temporary rebellion against Him [4].

Diagnosis | How do we know whether we’re growing in these areas? In other words, what does growth mean? First, it does not mean that every day is better than the day before. The question is whether the overall trajectory is upward. Second, it does not mean that our lives are without trouble. The Thessalonians had growing faith and increasing love even in affliction. As Paul wrote, “Therefore we ourselves boast about you … for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring” [5]. It does look like, however, an increasing thirst for God, a desire for His Word, a love for His church, a concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others, a grieving over sin, a yearning for heaven, and a forgiving of others [6].

Prayer | Lord, we give you thanks for our growth in faith and our increase in love because we know that they are gifts from you. Yet we confess that our faith must grow and our love must increase even more because we have not arrived where we ought to be. Although we are unholy, your kingdom is holy. Therefore, fit us for our ultimate calling homeward in Christ. Let us not be stagnant. Purify us as your children. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] 2 Thess. 1:3 ESV  |  [2] See Matthew 22:36-40  |  [3] Faith is a gift from God. See Eph. 2:8-10.  |  [4] See Eph. 4:30 (and entire chapter – Eph. 4).  |  [5] 2 Thess. 1:4 ESV  |  [6] See 843 Acres, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health. March 14, 2012.

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