Thursday, October 25, 2018

Blessings Celebration - 18 Years

The year was 2000. The month, October. I can see the apartment as though I was standing in it right now. The green sofa facing the window. The TV in the far right corner. It was late at night, and I was working on getting a book ready for the printer. The deadline was in the morning. I hadn't been feeling well, as I had bronchitis. Over most of it not, just a deep cough remained.

Uncomfortable, I repositioned myself to sit up more on the sofa so I could continue working. Then I coughed. I felt an explosion in my back. Slowly I rolled off of the sofa, onto the floor. I laid there, trying to get up the strength and courage to move. Finally, I rolled over and crawled back to the sofa and slowly stood up. Gingerly, I walked to the bathroom, to get ready for bed. 

The morning came all too quickly. The pain in the back was intense and that made getting ready and to the Office very difficult. I finished the book and sent the file to the Pre-press department, and I prepared to go home. 
A friend saw me and noticed that I was hurting. She mentioned that she knew a great chiropractor and even had a free first visit coupon. That was the first of MANY blessings that God would provide along this journey. 

Had I known on October 25, 2000, what the next 18 years would hold......well, I don't think I would have made it passed that first night. BUT GOD—He knows when and how to send encouragement along the way! The blessings are abundant and my God is a gracious God who loves me! 

Please join me on this Blessings Celebration day, and take time to thank God for His goodness, and count your blessings! 

You, O Eternal, are the One who lays all good things in the laps
of the right-hearted. Your blessings surround them like a shield.
Psalm 5:12 (VOICE)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

1 Thessalonians: Echoes

1 Thessalonians 1:8
For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.
Sounded forth: to "echo" forth; broadcast
From you sounded out - As Thessalonica was very conveniently situated for traffic, many merchants from thence traded through Macedonia, Achaia, and different parts of Greece. By these, the fame of the Thessalonians having received the doctrine of the Gospel was doubtless carried far and wide. And it appears that they had walked so conscientiously before God and man, that their friends could speak of them without a blush, and their adversaries could say nothing to their disgrace. Adam Clarke Commentary
What sound does your life create? We all broadcast something. What is it that you believe in, that impacts your life in such a way that it literally echoes from your words, lifestyle, actions, attitude? 

Choose a few people, either people you know or see on TV. Then consider what they broadcast. It may be the truth, or it may be false, but since they believe it, they will echo it loud and clear. The dangers are when we look to people and take what they are broadcasting as truth, without checking the facts. 

What are you broadcasting? The people in Thessalonica broadcasted the truth of God. And their echo was heard far away. If you are not broadcasting God's truth, then changes need to be made. Echoes travel far - make sure your's is based on truth. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

1 Thessalonians: Role Model

1 Thessalonians 1:6-7
And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,  so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.
Examples: from two words, first: "strike repeatedly" – properly, a model forged by repetition; second: "pattern"; an example; α. in the technical sense, viz. the pattern in conformity to which a thing must be made; in an ethical sense, a dissuasive example, pattern of warning; a stamp or scar becoming a model for warning

As I read this passage, my thoughts went to the term, "role models". There are many people who hold the title of "role model", but what do they model? From what pattern were they molded? And what pattern am I following? 

Does it really matter who we pattern ourselves after? Does it really matter who we consider role models? 

Yes, it really does matter. Whether you are seven or seventy, the people who you want to imitate will mold your thoughts, actions, and attitudes. 

Whether you realize it or not, or want to or not, your actions, attitude, and words demonstrate who your role model is. 
Perhaps it's time to consider what type of role model you are becoming. What actions, attitudes, and thoughts are you stamping on others? 

The people to whom this letter was written, were role models of the Lord Jesus. They were living lives that demonstrated Christ's love and warned others of the truth of sin and the everlasting consequences. 

Who is your role model? What type of role model are you?

Monday, September 17, 2018

1 Thessalonians: Solid Foundation

1 Thessalonians 1:4, 5
Knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
When sharing the truth about the Gospel of God, it's vital that your lives match that truth. The old saying goes, "Actions speak louder than words." 
You know what kind of men we were: How we preached, and how we lived; our doctrines and our practices ever corresponding. And for your sakes we sustained difficulties, endured hardships, and were incessant in our labors. Adam Clarke Commentary
It's easy to say something, and it can be much more difficult to live it. But God has supplied the power to do so, the Holy Spirit. 

Paul begins this book by letting the people at the Church of Thessalonica that he prays for them, and reminds them of who they are — in Christ. That is the solid foundation on which they live their lives.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

1 Thessalonians: Active Decision

1 Thessalonians 1:3

remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 

Verse 3 is a continuation of the thoughts in verse 2. This verse describes the people for whom thanks were given in verse 2. 

Remembering: to be mindful of, to call to mind: to think of and feel for a person
Without ceasing: uninterruptedly
Work of faith: an act, deed, thing done; the course of conduct which springs from faith; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation
Labor of love: the labor to which love prompts, and which voluntarily assumes and endures trouble and pains for the salvation of others; intense labor united with trouble; love which centers in moral preference; "to prefer" 
Patience: remaining under, endurance; steadfastness, especially as God enables the believer to "remain (endure) under" the challenges He allots in life
Hope: joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation
In the sight of: in the presence of

The one aspect of this verse that I want to focus on, is "labor of love". In an instant gratification society, we have lost the real meaning of longlasting, work through the troubles and turmoils kind of love. 

Look at the definition of love — moral preference, "to prefer". It's a choice! It's an active decision. 

Labor of Love. It's a commitment no matter how hard it gets. You do the work, because of love. And you love through the work. 

But the labor of love is based on the "work of faith". The reliance upon Christ enables one to then perform the labor of love. Faith is what provides the stamina to endure when the troubles arise. 

Remember, it's a choice. A labor of love is an active decision.