Jesus Changes Lives (1 Thessalonians 1-2)

An interesting letter, this one. It’s kind of neat to see how the Thessalonians are continuing to grow after the last letter. It is a common story in the early church, but one that still amazes me when I read it, that they would be thriving so much under persecution (and apparently someone saying that Christ had already returned!). I said it a few posts ago, but I’ll say it again. Clearly lives were being changed here, and it was evident.

Also, I like how everything they tell the Thessalonians to do is for the glory of Christ Jesus. It makes sense to continue to push them to greater things but always to bring it back to Jesus. It’s a reminder for me too – that everything I do be for his glory and not my own.

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Eternity In Mind (1 Thessalonians 5)

And here we have my verse that I have on my blog!

I find it interesting that this letter includes comments on how we will be taken to heaven. It doesn’t seem like a huge issue to me for newer believers, but it appropriately gives us reason to continue to build each other up and strive to live for Christ in all moments. When we have eternity in mind, we look at the present things in a different light. It makes more sense to persevere through persecution, to serve Christ in all aspects possible, and to encourage others to continue on in faith. It’s also something I’ve been trying to do more of lately.

Brotherly Love (1 Thessalonians 3-4)

It is super encouraging to read these chapters. The excitement Paul has that the believers have remained in the faith and that he gets to continue to encourage them is easy to see. I love that the encouragement tells them what to do, but also commends them for what they are already doing. Also the fact that they are known for their brotherly love which they learned from God. It is great that they have this base because it makes all the other things they’re told to do easier. When we have a community of brotherly love, we are able to continue to strive together to live the lives we are called to, to be transparent with each other, and to challenge each other. Bravo Thessalonica, Bravo.

Discipleship (1 Thessalonians 1-2)

Paul sure does remember a lot of people constantly in prayer. It makes me wonder at how long his prayer sessions really are.

On another note, I think that it’s fascinating that Paul gets so happy when he thinks about the people he has seen come to Christ. He wants to continue to see them and pour into them – his passion to see them continue to grow is staggering. He prizes discipleship equally with evangelism, as evident at least by this letter. It is also kind of neat that the new church in Thessalonica has apparently been persecuted heavily, yet still stands firm. Clearly there was life change in those who found Christ, and that is interesting to think about.

In Closing … (Romans 15-16)

And finishing up the essay…Paul again focuses on – you guessed it! – the gospel. I like reading Paul’s letters in that it always always always reminds me of how we must constantly be focussing on Christ in everything we do. He is the reason for all things. Also Paul’s anguish and desire to share the gospel with everyone he meets.

I also kind of like reading Paul’s personal greetings and plans. He talks a great talk when he writes his letters, but when he references his actions, you can see that there is some definite walking the walk going on as well. It makes the lines he throws in about working together and obeying that much more desirable to put into action.

And, appropriately, the doxology finishes on the glory of God, who is the centre of all things. There is a sense of satisfaction when the letter is completed. It’s a good feeling.

Love (Romans 13-14)

Paul continues his exposition as he moves into how we should live. I have to say that while I like reading the way he describes all these things and the ideals behind them, it’s also a little convicting when you realize you aren’t living all of these out.

Today my stand out is where Paul tells us that we need to love each other. Love was my word of my Springhill Summer, and seeing it here is kind of cool. I’m trying to take the lessons in serving others and being selfless into real life, and this reminder is key. It’s hard to love your neighbour as yourself, but at the same time, it fulfils the law and sets us apart from the rest of the world that is not walking in Christ.

Glorious Salvation (Romans 11-12)

Hmm…the concept I’m picking up in Romans 11 is a little new to me, but this is how I’m understanding it. Salvation was first offered to the Jews, but due to their rejection, any Gentile can also now receive salvation. In doing so, God brings glory to himself and fulfils Israel (remembering that now we are saved by grace through faith, not following the law). I have to say … that’s pretty neat. And therefore, it makes the first bit of chapter 12 make a whole lot more sense. Knowing that we are saved by the grace of God to fulfil his kingdom, why wouldn’t you choose to offer your life as a living sacrifice? As for the rest of chapter 12, I feel like it speaks for itself pretty well. You should go read it.

Evangelism (Romans 9-10)

God is just. All the time he is just. And he has made us to fulfil the purposes he has called us to fill. This passage isn’t exactly the easiest of them all to swallow. Chapter 9 reminds us that it is purely God’s will that saves, and follows up in chapter 10 with the need for evangelism. I was talking with someone about this recently, and how these two concepts match up. Yes, we are to evangelise, because if we don’t tell them, who will? But also, because it is God working through us, it is not upon us to save people. Tell, yes. But save, no. That rests on God and releases us from any anxiety that we did it wrong at the time.

Wretched to Lovely (Romans 7-8)

I always return to Paul’s description of fighting with the fleshly desires in chapter 7. Even though it’s super wordy and confusing, I think that makes it even more appropriate for describing the confusion and frustration at trying to live contrary to what our sinful nature desires. I have to side with Paul when he ends his dilemma with “What a wretched man I am” (7:24).

Then chapter 8 starts being more positive with our life in the Spirit and the wonderful future we have as heirs of Christ once the present sufferings are done. It is a beautiful aspect of what we get when we “trade in” our current lives for the new ones found in Christ. And, who can separate us from the love of God now? Absolutely nothing.

Dead to Sin (Romans 5-6)

And now we can move into the joy and peace we have through faith and the reconciliation Christ won for us. My standout in chapter 5 is verses 6-8. First off, it was at the right time that Christ died. There was no better or more perfect time than the moment that he died. Secondly, he did it for sinners. Not righteous people, nor good people, but sinners. People who deserved it least, and would move you to pity the least.

The beautiful part is that through this, we are dead to sin. Sin isn’t dead, but we are dead to it. Instead, we are alive in Christ! We do not continue to walk in a sinful lifestyle, but instead strive to imitate Christ. There is grace there for us, but that itself is not reason to continue to live the same way we used to. The new life we are given is reason enough to push forwards.