1 Thessalonians 5

Carve the very nature, the very heart of Jesus into me, Lord.

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“…SINCE JESUS DIED AND BROKE LOOSE FROM THE GRAVE, GOD WILL MOST CERTAINLY BRING BACK TO LIFE THOSE WHO DIED IN JESUS … HE’LL COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN AND THE DEAD IN CHRIST WILL RISE — THEY’LL GO FIRST.  THEN THE REST OF US WHO ARE STILL ALIVE AT THE TIME WILL BE CAUGHT UP WITH THEM INTO THE CLOUDS TO MEET THE MASTER … THEN THERE WILL BE ONE HUGE FAMILY REUNION WITH THE MASTER.”  (4:14, 16-17 MSG)

Thanks for another reminder that You’re coming back, Lord.  My spirit is eager for that Day.  This human address You’ve supplied is fine.  But the part of me that’s truly who I am, my spirit, my soul, longs for the Day when I’ll be in Your presence forever….

“the question of when all this is going to happen. You know as well as I that the day of the Master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars. He won’t call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody’s walking around complacently, congratulating each other—“We’ve sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!”—suddenly everything will fall apart.” (5:1-3 MSG)

Make me daily ready for Your return.  When my focus wanders, bring me back into Your will.  Set my mind on things above, not on earthly things. (Col 3:1-2)  Set the lens of my eyes to see eternity in each moment, to look beyond the now, the next week, the next year … and to recognize how each moment I breathe affects eternity for someone — whether that’s me, the person(s) I happen to be with or people You bring to mind.

Amy Carmichael once said, “NOTHING is important but that which is eternal … We have all eternity to joy in the victories He gives, but only until sunset to win them.”

Somewhere along my journey with You, Lord, You gave me to following list which I wrote inside the cover of my Bible:
“1) Prepare daily to die;
2) Never store up treasures on earth; and
3) Always strive to live in the light of the eternal.”

And these lyrics are also written in the same Bible,

“May I live my life like there is no tomorrow;
for life is really just a gift we borrow.
Lord, may I not confuse the things I soon will lose with the everlasting.”
— from “The Everlasting” by Geoff Moore on Pure and Simple.

It doesn’t matter how You make Your comeback.  Just the fact that You’re coming is reason enough to be ready and eager.

“…let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.  (5:8-10 NLT)

Thank You for Your guidance, Your protection, Your assurance, and Your salvation that You supply me!  Marana tha!  Come, Lord Jesus!  Amen.

“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.  God, who calls  you, is faithful; He will do this.” (5:23-24 NLT)

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1 Thessalonians 4

Carve the very nature, the very heart of Jesus into me, Lord.

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Father, continue to help me to follow what You command in this passage.

Keep my mind pure and my actions holy. Help me to say “no” to the flesh and to run shouting “yes!” toward the Spirit.

You’ve called me to a pure and holy life. Help me to live like that — It’s only by Your Spirit and power in me that I can do so, as You transform me to be like Jesus.  Amen.

1 Thessalonians 3

Carve the very nature, the very heart of Jesus into me, Lord.

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Father, as I read through this chapter, I catch a view through Paul’s eyes of what it was like for him to get to hear results of his ministry.  You allowed him to see fruit that You had brought about from the seeds You used him to plant or to water or to weed … Oh, he didn’t get to hear about or see every harvest.  Rather, You chose the timing and the lives for which You conveyed “good news” to him, or “glad tidings,” as in some versions.

Even in his own struggles, he was greatly encouraged when he learned of the faith of those for whom he cared and in whom he had invested a portion of his life.  “For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.” (v 8 NIV)  You brought encouraging news at just the right time.

Thanks, Lord, for the times You’ve done this very thing for me, when You’ve brought news from or a visit with those You’ve fostered mutual encouragement between in the past.  (Several have even been recipients of these devo-prayers!)  Truly, there’s a renewed joy that comes when hearing the victories You’ve won in a person’s life, or hearing how their faith has prevailed or is leading them even closer to You and into wonderful works alongside You.  Even the news of how You’ve rescued them from the chains of the enemy or at work waking them up to their dire situation.  I don’t think I quite understand how or why, but hearing of how You’re at work in the life of another person just stirs my heart to joy, and renews again my hope in You.

Thank You for every little and big bit of “glad tidings” You send my way, Father, as You keep shaping me to be just like Jesus.

As I consider the lives You’ve used my life to touch (praise YOU for every life on THAT list!), I ask You to bless them in the way Paul wrote of at the end of this chapter:  Father, make their love increase and overflow for others who belong to You and for everyone else in this world, just as You do the same in me toward them.  Strengthen their hearts so that each one will be blameless and holy in Your presence, our God and Papa, when our Lord Jesus Christ comes back.  Amen.

1 Thessalonians 2

Carve the very nature, the very heart of Jesus into me, Lord.

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Father, this chapter contains a lot of insight into how You used Paul to minister to and among the Thessalonians, yet, when I look a bit deeper … there are snapshots of who YOU are … how You are personally involved in the lives of Your people:

“… WITH THE HELP OF OUR GOD WE DARED TO TELL …” (v 2 NIV)

You are my help at ALL times, for all things I face.
You bring courage and confidence.
You supply the words I need to tell Your story to others.

“… MEN APPROVED BY GOD TO BE ENTRUSTED WITH THE GOSPEL…” (v 4 NIV)

You have chosen me to be a courier of Your message.
You have put Your trust in me to do Your work here.
You’ve sized me up and given me Your eternal “thumbs up.”

“… GOD, WHO TESTS OUR HEARTS…” (v 4 NIV)

You see all the way through me, yet You love me.
You know all about me, yet You love me.
You’re aware of all the flaws within me, yet You love me.

“… LIVE LIVES WORTHY OF GOD…” (v 12 NIV)

You have valued me since before my conception.
You have made me righteous in Your sight by the sacrificial death of Your Son.
You have said that I’m worthy — not because of who I am, but who YOU are.

“… WHO CALLS YOU INTO HIS KINGDOM AND GLORY.” (v 12 NIV)

You saw me in the darkness.
You called out my name.
You said, “Come be with me always.”

“… THE WORD OF GOD, WHICH IS AT WORK IN YOU WHO BELIEVE.” (v 13 NIV)

You introduced me to Your Word several years ago.
Your Spirit developed a hunger within me for Your Word.
You continually respond to satisfy that hunger.

As You put together the scrapbook of my life, Father, how thankful I am that YOU have played a VITAL role in all of who I have been, am today, and am becoming!  Here I am … make me a portrait of Jesus.  Amen.

1 Thessalonians 1

Carve the very nature, the very heart of Jesus into me, Lord.

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A FAITH LIVED OUT IS A FAITH SPOKEN ABOUT.

Paul’s visit to Thessalonica was a rather “exciting” one (Acts 17:1-9); not as productive as other places he’d visited; but it sure held a lot of activity.  He spent three days reasoning “with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead.”  Some were persuaded to follow, both Jews and non-Jews; yet others stirred up such havoc that Paul and his companions had to secretly slip away.

As Your church in Thessalonica grew, Father, news of their faith was spread far and wide.  Here in this passage, You reveal the joys and results, or fruit, of faithfully making disciples as we go.

JOY FOR THE DISCIPLE-MAKER (v 2-5 NIV)

GRATITUDE: “We always thank God for all of you … “ (v 2 NIV)

Leading others into a closer relationship with You brings along times of sweet fellowship with one another.  Human hearts become acquainted through the bond only You can create, Father.  Our hearts are blessed by one another’s company and well up with gratitude for Your blessings poured out back and forth, from one vessel then another.

REFLECTION: “We continually remember before our God …” (v 3 NIV)

Paul could see (in those You had used him to teach) lives that had become characterized by faith that produced work, love that prompted labor, and hope that inspired endurance, as each one served Your kingdom, anticipating Your return.

AFFIRMATION“… We know… He has chosen you…” (v 4-5 NIV)

Because of the way the Thessalonians received Paul’s message to them, he recognized that God had been preparing them for his visit and had made their hearts open to hear the message.  “It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put His hand on you for something special.” (v 4 MSG)

FRUIT FROM THE DISCIPLE (V 6-10)

IMITATORS“You became imitators of us and of the Lord … “ (v 6 NIV)

I want to see the very footprints You’ve left behind and to step right into each one, Jesus.  Wherever You go, take me with You.  Let me see You in action, and help me to be like You.

GREETERS“You welcomed the message with joy …” (v 6 NIV)

No matter what trials may surround me, may I throw open the door of my heart to welcome You in, so that You can bring whatever message my mind needs to hear.  Your Word keeps my mind focused on Your Son, so that my heart stays in line as well.

MODELS“You became a model to all the believers …” (v 7 NIV)

May my life be one that, when imitated, allows the one following to also imitate YOU.  I want to be just like You, Jesus, when others want to be just like me.

BILLBOARDS“…Your faith in God has become known everywhere …” (v 8 NIV)

May my life echo Your Words, Lord. Clean out the stuff that’s “me” and replace it with what’s “You.”  Shape my faith into the kind that spurs others on when they hear of it.  (Some days, I know I’m far from THAT.  Just keep working on me, Daddy.)

EXAMPLES “You turned to God from idols …” (v 9-10 NIV)

May the things of this world which tempt me to give them allegiance receive none of my attention.  Instead, turn my energy and focus toward the same two aims of the Thessalonians: 1) “to SERVE the living and true God” and 2) “to WAIT for His Son [to return] from heaven.”  Help me to embrace You, Father, and to expectantly await Your Son to come back for me and all Your people.

Thanks for using Paul to relate the aspects of how the Thessalonians set an example of faith in You.  Assist me in imitating them, as they imitated Paul, who imitated You.  Make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

Next Set of Devo-Prayers: 1 Thessalonians

Through these Devo-Prayers, we stepped through the Gospels–the books of the Bible that tell the account of Jesus’ life on earth (Matthew, John, Mark, and Luke). We journeyed through Luke’s other work, the book of Acts, which gives a historical account of the birth of the Church, the Body of Christ.

Then, we began diving into the letters that Paul wrote to the saints, or believers/Christians, in various cities or regions.  We finished his letter to believers in Rome–the letter to the Romans and then his letters to the believers in Corinth or 1st and 2nd Corinthians as well as the letter he wrote to the believers in Ephesus, or the book of Ephesians, and the letter to the believers in Colosse, or the book of Colossians.

Next we’ll stroll through the first letter Paul wrote to believers in Thessalonica, or 1 Thessalonians.

Devo-Prayers ~ Praying through the Scriptures

Each posting contains a first-person prayer based on a particular chapter or passage from the Bible. The Bible passage reference is provided above the devotional prayer, so you can also refer to the scripture which inspired the prayer. Posts that are found via Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn usually provide an excerpt from the full post.

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