May 24, 2014

Today you should read: 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

“May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow…” verse 12

This is a prayer Paul had for the people in the church at Thessalonica and it is true for us today as well. There are three parts to this short prayer we need to see. First is this…

We need to love each other

Jesus told the disciples that the world would know they were Jesus followers by their love for one another. There are too many stories and too many examples of churches and church members fighting, bickering, and tearing each other down. We have to understand that we are a body being built together for Jesus. We also have to recognize that we are a group of sinful people striving toward holiness. We need to give grace to one another, even in the midst of disagreements and struggles. When this happens those outside the church will see how we love one another and know something is different in our lives.

The second thing we need to see is this…

We need to love all people

This is a statement most of us would say we both agree with and practice. I don’t know if anyone would say outright they really didn’t love everyone, at least a little bit. However, if we dig a little deeper and really understand what love is then we see that many of us really only love certain people:

– Family
– Friends
– People at our church
– Those who generally love us

Many of us find it hard to love our enemies as Tim talked about in the first week of our Fruits of the Spirit series. Some people find it hard to love the poor and the needy. We may pity them but we don’t really want to love them. Loving someone means getting into their lives, meeting needs, and putting their well-being ahead of yours. I have to admit I don’t always do that with everyone, but I should and you should as well.

The last thing we need to remember is the most important and it is this…

It is the Lord that makes these things possible

Just as Tim taught in that first talk of the Fruits of the Spirit series, even though we can work on our love it is ultimately a natural product of a life that is yielded to the Holy Spirit. Only God can cause this kind of love to grow and overflow in us. So ask God to do this in your life today. Begin today yielding more of yourself to the Holy Spirit and watch Him grow this love up in you.

Posted: Robbie Byrd

May 23, 2014

Today you should read: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-10

The church was created to be a “Koinonia” which is the greek word for communal body that shares everything they have with each other. We are to live as unified brothers and sisters in Christ who’s willing to bear each other’s burdens and will spend an eternity with each other worshipping Jesus together. You can see why it also hurts so much when people leave this “Koinonia.” Sometimes it’s because of sin, rebellion and church discipline. Sometimes it’s because we feel like that church is not “meeting our needs.” Other times it’s because God is sending people elsewhere or it’s just a season of life. As a student pastor I see this even more then most people as families switch churches, students come and go and graduates move away. And one thing that always intrigues me each time a person comes and goes is how they are doing now that we aren’t sharing life together within the church? Are they still following Jesus? Are they still pursuing holiness? Are they still striving to become biblical men and women? Are they still living on mission and sharing the Gospel?

In today’s devotion we see the apostle Paul having these similar thoughts about the church of Thessalonica. The apostle Paul is left alone at Athens and he misses the Thessalonica “Koinonia” so much that he sent Timothy to the church to check on them (v. 1). I’m sure they were hurting without Paul as well. Paul sends Timothy to encourage them amidst afflictions (v. 2-4) and to make sure they were staying strong in their faith in fear that they may fall into temptation and that all of their Gospel ministry with them would be in vain (v. 5). Timothy comes back with a report in the next four verses that causes Paul to give thanks to God, experience joy and be comforted in his faith. I’m sure those reports weren’t always that great but these verse does bring up something very important. As people come and go in our life through the church do we check up on them every so often? I’ll be the first to confess that I’m convicted by my answer. In student ministry it’s very easy to focus on the new grade moving up, the new spiritual needs that pop up and the new visiting students that walk in that door. My mind constantly goes back to those season wondering how that graduate is doing at college, why that 9th grader who went to camp will now not answer my calls and how those parents are doing as they left the church amidst marital problems? Reading God’s Word and writing this forced me to carve out some time over the next month to actually do more and check in on some of those people and pray for them and I pray that the Holy Spirit spurs you to do the same.

Posted: Erik Koliser

May 22, 2014

Today you should read: 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

Welcome to our study through Thessalonians.  As you may recall from yesterdays JumpStart, Paul is remembering his visit to Thessalonica.  Thessaloniki is still a vibrant city (it’s the second largest city in Greece). Receiving God’s Word

Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.  1 Thessalonians 2:13

It’s so easy for us to read God’s Word, hear it taught – even take notes but not really receive it.  We say we believe it, but often live as what Craig Croeschel calls “practical atheists” (from his bookThe Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist).  James addresses this in James 1:22-25

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.  But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Are you the man who hears but doesn’t obey – looks at his dirty face in a mirror and does nothing?  It’s easy to be that man.  Remember when the word of God is taught there are four kinds of hearers (from Jesus words in Matthew 13)

  1. Hard Ground Hearer – their heart is so hard that the word of God doesn’t penetrate it.  It runs off – week after week – like water on pavement.
  2. Shallow Ground Hearer – they act as though they want the Word – they seem to receive it – but because they are so shallow – the ideas they heard quickly die.
  3. Thorny Ground Hearer – they also seem to receive the Word – and you think they’re going to run with it – but the cares and worries and stress of the world steal it away.
  4. Good Ground Hearer – Jesus said hears the Word and receives it.  It produces 100 times results in their lives and lives around them.

What kind of hearer are you?  Do you receive the Word of God?  Do you do what it says? Please post today how the Word of God has changed you in the last 3 months.  Thanks for reading!!

Posted: Tim Parsons

May 21, 2014

Today you should read: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Welcome to today’s Evangelism 201 class.  In Evangelism 101 we learned how to share the gospel via tools like “Prepare To Share.”  Our lesson today is based off of 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 and Paul’s example of ministry in Thessalonica.  We’re going to learn about the appropriate perspective and attitude we should have when sharing the gospel with individuals, groups, and new audiences.  Here we go…

  1. Do not share the gospel in vain (vs. 1).  In other words, we must not share the gospel as if we are salesmen or marketers, or with an empty or hollow attitude.  Instead, we share the gospel with appropriate character, recognizing that sharing the gospel is about bringing glory to God, not us.
  1. Share the gospel with boldness amidst opposition (vs. 2).  Paul experienced much persecution and opposition when spreading the good news about Christ.  One thing that will keep many of us from sharing the gospel is fear amidst opposition.  We must have a strong reliance upon God and proclaim the gospel with boldness.
  1. Share the pure truth of the gospel (vs. 3-4). It’s imperative that we share the truth of the gospel and let it do its work.  We need not add to the gospel or attempt to emotionally coerce someone into surrendering to Christ.  It’s important that we not deceive people by sharing a gospel that makes Christianity sound like an escape from life’s pain and difficulties.  Instead, we’ve been entrusted to share the pure gospel and challenge people to count the cost of surrendering to Jesus.  The gospel is not pleasing to all people, so my goal is not to please them, but to simply share the pure truth of the gospel.
  1. The goal of sharing Christ is not to make our knowledge of Him known, but to make HIM known (vs. 5-6).If we aren’t careful, we will find ourselves using flattering speech and seeking our own glory when sharing the gospel.  It can be tempting to try to impress the listener with our knowledge of God and seek their approval rather than simply make HIM known.
  1. Share the gospel with tenderness (vs. 7-8).  Like a nursing mother cares for her children, we must strive to show love, care, and affection for those with whom we share the gospel.  Sharing the gospel is sometimes a one-time occurrence, but often the gospel is shared over a period of time and is expressed by our life and love for the people we are reaching.  We must present the gospel with grace and tenderness.
  1. Earn the right to be heard (vs. 9-12).  Paul labored with the Thessalonians and proved that his motives were pure.  Sometimes we simply must earn the right to be heard.  Build relationships with people.  Serve them.  Care for them.  Give them a reason to want to hear the gospel from you.

That concludes our lesson for today.  Your homework assignment is to joyfully share the gospel with someone. Posted: Rich Duffield