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.

Ephesians 5:1-20

Jesus, be the Lord over ALL my life.

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“BE IMITATORS OF GOD …AND LIVE A LIFE OF LOVE” (Christ’s kind of love)

“but among you there must NOT BE EVEN A HINT OF…”

(a whole list of things that He says “are IMPROPER FOR GOD’S HOLY PEOPLE” (v 11)

“LIVE AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT… AND FIND OUT WHAT PLEASES THE LORD.” (v 8-10)

“HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (v 11)

“BE VERY CAREFUL, THEN, HOW YOU LIVE–not as unwise but as wise,

“MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY, because the days are evil.” (v 15-16)

In light of all this “DON’T BE FOOLISH, BUT UNDERSTAND WHAT THE LORD’S WILL IS… BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT.” (v 17-18)

Father, give me a holy unsatisfaction with the quality of my life.  Never let me remain comfy where I am in my walk with You.  Keep me from seeking merely to “feel good about myself” and turn my focus on pleasing You.  It all boils down to loving You above all else and choosing to be faithful in obeying You and trusting You.

From this passage, I form this prayer: I want to be like You, Daddy.  Help me to live a life of love–the kind of love You showed me in Jesus.  Clean me up and keep me clean, so that there’s not even a hint of gunk from the world in me.

Change my desires at their root, causing me to want what You want–not what I want, nor what people around me want, not what the media or others say I want or “need.”  Show me what pleases You and help me to make the most of every opportunity.  Keep making me just like Jesus.  Amen.