Thankfully Boasting

According to God, boasting isn’t sinful (2 Thessalonians 2:4).  This is a contradiction of what I typically think is right.

I usually assume that pride is bad and subsequently bragging about it is even worse.

In this passage, there a two distinct differences with the type of basting that I am used to looking so low upon.

  1. The purpose of the boasting was not in order to bring about a demonstration of Paul, or even the Thessalonian churches glory.  In contrast, it was used as evidence of the righteous judgment of God (v5)
  2. The boasting was really about God, who rightfully can be boasted about.

It is okay to find joy in God, and even excited tell others about it.  Do remember, however, that it is not about you and to remember that effective evangelism is bold and humble, and begets respect without sacrificing the truth of the Gospel (1 Thess 4:10-12; see previous note).

What can be taken away from this about the nature of pride?  It is good to be proud when it is truly earned and deserved.  We should be proud of other and ourselves when we overcome adversity or accomplish our goals.  The key is not to take too much pride.  Take only as much as the goal was worth.  Did you finally do your laundry after weeks of feeling lazy?  Yeah, tiny pride.  Did you get a great job that you have been striving for?  Yes, medium pride.  Did you defeat death and sin for all of man kind?  SUPER PRIDE! BOAST ABOUT IT!

And when we feel proud, it should still be accompanied by gratitude to the ones that made it possible.  I don’t care who you are or what you have done you didn’t do it alone.  Has someone encouraged you?  Let them know they are appreciated. Has someone mentored you along the way to reach your goals?  Thank them.  Did someone send their only son to give you freedom?  To Him, we should be eternally grateful.

The pride and the thankfulness should come proportionately.

Thank you for reading my disjointed thoughts.

Community

Have you ever wished that God gave you a specific to-do list on how to live according to his will?  In a way 1 Thessalonians 5:11-23 does just that.  It outlines specific ways that we should act if we are saved.  These can all be under the general be said to be traits of our sanctification (4:3).

There are a variety of applications that can be drawn from this list.  If we look at them all together we notice that many of these applications directly require other people

I think that this highlights our need for community and relationships.  Yes, we do need to be in deep, real relationship with God (V16-22) but we also need one another.  God has designed us to be living for Him together.  Without each other, it would be incredibly difficult to live the life God has laid out for you.

This means a) being part of a bible-believing church. If you are not part of one, I highly encourage you to become part of one.  b) be in regular, open, relationships with non-christian friends.

Both types of community are required for us to fulfill Gods will.  Which are you missing?

God’s Will

God’s will for your life is not complicated.  In fact, he tells us exactly what his will is in the bible.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit

– 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

So what does this mean His will for our life is? Easy, to glorify Him and this is done by sanctification.

Note that this is a letter to the Thessalonian church who already believed in Christ and had been saved.   They were not, however, living lives that were fully glorifying to God, but instead they had turned to sexual sin.  When sexual sin sneaks into our lives, we are not glorifying God.  This is true if all sin, and not just sexual sin.

Sanctification, by contrast, is the processes of turning our back on sin and walking toward Christ.

It is interesting to note that God and sin are in opposite directions.  As long as you are walking toward one, you back is actively turned against the other.

The not-so-easy part is discerning how following Jesus will look in your life.  His will is to be glorified by having us walk away from sin, and toward Him and we will ONLY know how to do this if we listen to Him.

This might not be the will you were hoping for, but when you remember that God, the all-powerful creator of the universe, has a will for you to be more sanctified, what can stand in our way?

When I think about it this way, I recognise that there are no excuses for my sin.  If I am doing anything that is pushing me away from God, He is stronger than that sin.  He has already defeated that sin.  He is better than my over desires.

I am done making excuses for myself.  God doesn’t buy into my excuses and isn’t deceived by my lies.So will you join me in my post-rambling (I know this was pretty rambly) challenge to walk toward Christ, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and putting aside the excuses?

1 Thessalonians 2

I often do not share the Gospel for fear that it will start bickering among those that I am sharing it with.

As I read in 1 Thessalonians, I came along this passage in chapter 2:2.

1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.

The thessalonians were able to speak boldly because they were filled with Christ.  I don’t know about you, but for me, that is the easy part.  It’s like “one day, God will just move me and he know how to avoid conflict so he will make it easy and miraculous.”

While it may be miraculous, it won’t necessarily be easy; even the thessalonians faced many conflicts, yet still they professed their faith boldly.

What is it that is holding you back from sharing the Gospel?  Fear of conflict? Doubting your aptitude or your skills?   Worshipping something other than God?

I implore you to pray into these areas; with Christ, nothing can stand in your way.

Entrusted with the Gospel

I love the idea that is presented in verse 4 of 1 Thessalonians 2  that we are entrusted with the Gospel.  This seems to be a very different perspective than we normally take.  Typically, I think we treat the Gospel more like a chore.  We feel pressured to read our bibles and pray so that if an opportunity comes up where it is useful, we will be ready.  This is not a picture of being entrusted with the Gospel but instead being allowed to use its tool bag.

Being entrusted with the Gospel looks more like the movie “the book of Eli.” WE may not need to carry a machete but we should be daily in the word as if it is very precious truth provided to the world by God, and we were the people that were able to and get to share it with those we meet, even if it costs us our lives.

We are specifically called to share the Gospel and our live (v8).  Are we doing that?  I have a feeling the answer is “ah…no.”

What is holding us back?

What should hold us back if we are filled with the Holy Spirit and charged with sharing the Gospel we have been entrusted with? Correct answer: nothing.

Who is Playing for You?

The gospel comes with power and the holy spirit, and not just the word alone.  It is that power that can change lives.  It is not a collection of facts, but the changing power of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

4For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-8

While I am not a big gamer, I did spend some time playing League of Legends.  When I first started, I was pretty awful.  Actually, I was horrendous, and even the computers on their easiest setting would kill me over and over again.  Phil, who is a friend and an avid League of Legends player, taught me a lot of things about the game.  He told me about the champions (characters), about the strategy, and about the game mechanics.  With all of this information in my tool belt, I went from being a horrendous player to a down right awful player.  With a lot of practice, I went from being really bad to, well, still really bad.  Knowing the information helped, but it didn’t change the end-result of the game very much.  Even playing more often and practicing only helped miniscule amounts, leaving my gameplay pretty pitiable.

One day, Phil stepped in and played a game on my account for me.  According to my league of legends account, that was the best game that I have ever played.  By far.  No comparison.

Similarly, having information about God along won’t, on its own, change my life.  But, the power of the holy spirit acting through  and in me that accompanies the information can make a world of difference.

Because of this power, the young Thessalonian church was able to have joy among (and even in spite of) their afflictions (v6).  They were, in turn, able to spread the love of Christ as examples of followers of Him (V7-8).