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1 Thessalonians 1

Thessalonia was a big city, a port city, and after being a capital of one of four districts of Macedonia - was made the capital of all Macedonia by the Romans.

By backing Antony and Octavious, the city was also rewarded and made a "free city" (about 100 years by the time of Paul's writing). They ruled and judged amongst themselves - as long as thier were no civil riots.

That is why Paul's spreading of the gospel was a big deal. This led to Paul's abrupt departure.

"These men who have turned the world upside down, have come to our city as well," {cf, Acts 17:6}.
Thessalonia after Paul

Paul's letter was warm and friendly. The opening does not carry the familiar stamp of apostolic authority we have seen in other letters. Yes, there were problems - some accusations regarding Paul to adress, and questions regarding the Second Coming of Christ, but...

...Thessalonia got it. they received the gospel and spread the gospel themselves. The amount of doctrine they accepted is noted in the letter. Their fruits of the Spirit are abundant. ALL THIS in less than one year.

If someone wrote a letter about you one year after you were saved - what would that letter say????
Paul compliments them and continually has Thessalonia in prayer for:

1)"your work produced by faith" - (in the past and ongoing). What work?

John6:29 "Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

The believed: acknowledged, believed and trusted in Christ. Upon hearing the gospel they received Christ.

"Until you have actually received Christ, you have not exercised faith." - Ray Stedman

2)"your labor prompted by love", (in the present and ongoing) - a changed attitude towards affliction, spreading of the Gospel, having a daily trust in God's care.

3)"your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ". (expectations of the future) - endurance or steadfastness in the certain expectation of the return of Christ.

"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,"

I stay away from "election" when it is ambiguous in the Greek. Here it is not ambiguous. Paul knows that they are loved by God and they are chosen. Chosen - Gk. ekloge:
1) the act of picking out, choosing
a) of the act of God's free will by which before the foundation of the world he decreed his blessings to certain persons
b) the decree made from choice by which he determined to bless certain persons through Christ by grace alone
2) a thing or person chosen
a) of persons: God's elect

From the roots of the word - it is a "calling by name" "out of" or "away from".

All this, because in the past some people have asked me to point out verses that point to "election". This is one of them. Nothing to argue about, just something that each person has to resolve in their own mind to their own satisfaction.
Other places Paul might scratch his head, and think "are they really saved?", but not in Thessalonia.

The gospel came with "power" - in the greek with the added denotation of being like the power and influence of riches or armies. Even like the power of miracles.

And the Thessalonians were certain of their faith and salvation. So certain - that in a very short time they were out spreading the gospel themselves, and livng as an example of "light" for others to see.

These passages are not only a ringing endorsement of Thessalonia's faith, but also in a way an endorsement of Paul's ministry. The things told to him back at Damascus and during his time of learning (in Arabia) are coming to fruition.
1Thess1:9b "They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,"

"This is the process of conversion. A person believes in the person and work of Jesus Christ and there is a turning of his life. He turns away from the empty things he had previously trusted in, and turns to trust in Jesus Christ. Then, there is a transformation that takes place. That transformed life is evidence of a true conversion, because our life is no longer what it used to be. It is, as we are told in Acts 26:18, turning from "darkness to light." - Gil Rugh

We have seen all throughout the Old Testament, but especially in Jeremiah, the call to turn or return to God. Some New Testament passages:

Acts3:19 says, "Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away... ." The word "return" is the same word for "turn" used in 1 Thessalonians 1:9.

Acts 14:15. Paul says, "...Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God... ."

2Corinthians 3:16 "Whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."

The thessalonians "turned" to God and received Christ. Now they are doing two things - serving and waiting. Their service has been outlined above, but what are they waiting for?
1Thess1:10 "and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

This is the only time anemeno (wait) is used in NT. The meaning is to wait with the added notion of patience and trust. They are waiting with certainty for Christ's return.

"Rescues us from the coming wrath" is one of those staements that makes me believe in the Rapture of the Church. Why?

Wrath - Gk. orge - means punishment resulting from anger. That is not hell. Going to hell would be punishment resulting from the justice and righteousness of God - for those that chose to reject Him.

If you do a word study on "orge" or "wrath" I think you will see the context. This "wrath" is reserved for the world and those that reject God and his plan. The Tribulation or Second Coming. (Whichever you believe it to be.) When God will say "enough" in the time he has appointed and will fulfill the extended prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and others.

I believe the point of it all, as I said before will be to bring the remnant of Israel back into the fold (to have them "turn to God and receive Christ). If that is the case, then there is no need for the "church" to be here, it is not about the believer.

If I am wrong, then for the verse to be true - then through all the "wrath" (Tribulation/Second Coming)the existing believer will be unharmed (delivered/rescued). So either way Christ will have rescued us from the "wrath".
So the Thessalonians do not just serve, or just wait. They do both, as we are also to do. Serving the Lord, sharing the Gospel, always with the expectant eye on His Return.

Jeremiah 14 (NKJV)
Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’”
And the LORD said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.

The amazing and wonderful Love of God is true:

Exodus 34 (NKJV)
Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,
keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

Jeremiah 31 (NKJV)
The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “ Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

Merciful. . . gracious. . . longsuffering. . . abounding in goodness and truth. . . keeping mercy for thousands. . . forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin

God has loved you with an everlasting love. . . with lovingkindness God has drawn you

Yet. . . if God’s Love is persistently and consistently refused, then this part of is also true: “by no means clearing the guilty”.

We cannot insist on hardening our hearts and thinking “there is no right or wrong” and that “it is OK”. It is not. Our sins always, without exception, have to be punished.

If we cast our sins on to God quickly, asking for His Mercy, the sins can be judged and we can have Mercy. If we do not cast our sins on to God and “do our own thing”, our sins will carry us with them to destruction.

Deuteronomy 17 (NKJV)
Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.

Hand over “the abomination” to God, or “be doomed to destruction like it”. May we see sin for the accursed thing it is and truly “detest it and utterly abhor it”.

2 Thessalonians 2 (NKJV)
And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Jeremiah 15 (NKJV)
Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth.

Jeremiah 15 (NKJV) – God Will Restore Israel
The LORD said: “ Surely it will be well with your remnant; surely I will cause the enemy to intercede with you in the time of adversity and in the time of affliction.

Jeremiah 16 (NKJV) – God Will Restore Israel
“Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that it shall no more be said, ‘The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’
but, ‘The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.’ For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.

Thank God that He is truly a covenant keeping God! He still will preserve a remnant of His people so they will know and reveal God’s Love to the world.

I Thessalonians 3 (NKJV)
Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,
so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.

AMEN! May this not just be a verse to agree with because it is “right doctrine”. Right doctrine is key, but doctrine that is not practiced and lived out by God's Grace is not Biblical truth.

Abstract truth, in the Greek sense where people "debate truth" is worth nothing.

May we seek God so He truly can “make us increase and abound in love to one another”.

Then, and only then, will God be able to fully “establish our hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father”.

This cannot happen without a deep love of Christians and without true accountability.



May we make this prayer/song by Keith Green our true prayer/song:

My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold

And I know how I ought to be
Alive to you and dead to me

But what can be done
For an old heart like mine

Soften it up with oil and wine
The oil is You, Your spirit of love
Please wash me anew with the wine of Your blood



Jeremiah 14-16

Jeremiah keeps preaching. Judah keeps ignoring. Even with the example of what happened to Israel (by the Assyrians) - Judah is oblivious to her sins. How much should America learn(and the world for that matter), from Israel and Judah???? At the least one would think, 'God does keep His Word.' We even have the advantage of the NT and Christ, and yet not much changes with mankind.
Jer 14
Jeremiah prophesies of a drought (famine and sword are other means of judgment on Judah). Then Jeremiah tries a different tact. He is commanded not to pray for the people, so he takes it to a higher level.

Jer14:7 "Although our sins testify against us,
O LORD, do something for the sake of your name.
For our backsliding is great;
we have sinned against you." NIV

Jeremiah acknowledges the sin of Judah - but appeals to God for His name's sake - for His glory. "Moses had, Samuel had, and others had stood before God and said, "Regardless of what we're like, God, remember what you're like. Surely, for your own name's sake you won't let this thing happen, lest your name be defiled among the nations." - Ray Stedman

But God does not budge. Jeremiah reminds Him - there are prophets out there saying everything is o.k. 'you will not see sword or famine. You will have lasting peace.'

I wonder if these prophets were tickling ears and getting food and money thrown at them for rebutting Jeremiah's dire forecasts? It seems there are always false prophets, but the number seems to increase around times of judgment?????

God says, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds."NIV

They will be dealt with in the exact manner they say is not going to happen. then God goes on to reveal the famine and sword coming to Judah.

Jeremiah tries again to appeal to God on a higher level:

Jer 14:20-21 "O LORD, we acknowledge our wickedness
and the guilt of our fathers;
we have indeed sinned against you.

For the sake of your name do not despise us;
do not dishonor your glorious throne.
Remember your covenant with us
and do not break it."
Jeremiah 15
God still will not budge despite Jeremiah's plea:

Jer15:1 "Then the LORD said to me: "Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!" NIV

Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, is pointed out as a prime offender. Oral tradition has it he had Isaiah killed. He also, in the Bible, introduced idolatry on a large scale in Judah. Make no mistake though - the people did not rise up - they are to blame as much as Manasseh.

More judgment is outlined.
1) "I will make their widows more numerous than the sand of the sea." There is a Jewish saying that when one man is lost; a nation is lost. In that sense one can see the number approaching the sands of the sea.
2)"The mother of seven will grow faint and breathe her last." Having children is a great joy, sons a great joy, that joy is "complete" when you have seven offspring. Yet that woman's joy also will be short-lived.

Jeremiah is distraught, he cannot pray for the people (by God's command), so he prays for himself.

Jer15:15-16,18 " You understand, O LORD;
remember me and care for me.
Avenge me on my persecutors.
You are long-suffering—do not take me away;
think of how I suffer reproach for your sake.

When your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart's delight,
for I bear your name,
O LORD God Almighty....

...Why is my pain unending
and my wound grievous and incurable?
Will you be to me like a deceptive brook,
like a spring that fails?"NIV
[Note: Deceptive brook in Hebrew denotes a brook caused by melting snow or a flash flood - that will soon dry up.]

Ezek 3:1 and Rev10:9 also speak of eating words from a scroll or book. Are we also to not feed on the Word of God???? should it not be sweet to the taste???? Yet perhaps in Jeremiah's case and ours, once digested it makes the stomach bitter as God's Word is not followed in Judah and our lives???????

It may be that Jeremiah is close to losing His faith here. God answers Him, that if he repents he will be restored so he can serve God. Jeremiah will be protected.

Jeremiah is buoyed. From this point on I do not believe you will see Jeremiah complain again.
Jeremiah 16

Jeremiah is told not to:
-attend funerals
-attend feasts

By not marrying, God is actually sparing Jeremiah the sorrow of seeing his loved ones slaughtered. As far as funerals and feasts - the time for social amenities is over, for the time of judgment is near.

Why the dire predictions? Because the previous generation had succombed to idolatry, and the present one ignores the calls of the prophet to "turn to God".

Yet there is a glimmer of hope:
Jer 16:15 "but they will say, 'As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.' For I will restore them to the land I gave their forefathers." NIV

That happened in May, 1948 :)

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1 Thessalonians 2

Apparently there were people (false teachers) that came in behind Paul - and endeavored to cast aspersions on his ministry. Paul spends the early verses here defending against those accusations.

1Thess2:4b "We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts." NIV

"test" - Gk. dokimazo - means:to approve after examination;deemed worthy

Paul then expresses the ministry's(Paul and his group)love for the Thessalonians:
-as a mother loves her child
- as a father deals with his children - encouraging, comforting, and urging them to live lives worthy of God.
1Thess2:13 "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." NIV

Is every professing Christian saved? Don't know

Is every professing Christian in the Word of God consistently? Sadly, no.

If in the Word of God, does one digest it and make it part of one's life? Sadly, probably not for some unknown percentage.

But if you are saved, and you are in God's Word, and it is digested (obediant to and acted on) - you will be changed; you will become different.
[note: Since this is addressed to believers it is the Word of God in conjunction with the indwelt Holy Spirit.]

That is what is going on in Thessalonia. It is not the words of men, but the accepted Word of God that is at work in these believers.

Heb4:12 "12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

2Tim3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." NIV
2Thess15b-16a "...They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved..." NIV

Paul unloads on the Jews, but remember this is the same Paul (a Jew) who in Romans9:3-4a said, "For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel."

However 20 years after Christ's crucifixion, Paul is stating facts and they are all true in the physical sense. However in the spiritual sense - "mankind killed Christ" - He died for our sins. You and I killed Christ.

Their was persecution of followers of "The Way" - Paul was the leader for a time. The Jewish nation believed salvation was for the Jew, and Gentiles to be saved had to convert to Judaism. So they actively opposed Jews who spoke another message - much less the one of "Christ".

Moving on - What about today? There are large areas of the world where persecution of Christians exist, where Bibles are not allowed, where preaching the gospel in public is forbidden? Certainly there are areas that exclude ALL other religions - but when it is Christianity - what causes the Hostility? In America, where there is no real physical persecution - there is a faction of society that is openly hostile to Christianity? Why?

John15:19 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."

Because Jesus said the world would hate His disciples. It is true that these words were spoken to the disciples of Jesus prior to His Crucifixion. However, it can be argued that as obediant followers of Christ we are also disciples. Or, that as sharers of the gospel which revolves around Christ, we are hated because of His name.

On a broader level Ray Stedman gives three other reasons for the hostility:

1)The gospel ignores all human achievement. God is not impressed. We must all come to Him by admitting we cannot help ourselves. Non-believers find this offensive.

"You may believe in God, but you will never know him as Father unless you come by Jesus." (This is offensive to many as being too restrictive and lacking in man's participation in the process.)

Why, I do not know, because much of life is like that:

The laws of electricity must be carefully observed before you dare tinker with electric current and it does not show respect of persons. You cannot make up your own laws.

The telephone company insists you get the correct numbers in sequence when you use the telephone. You do not have the liberty of arranging them to your own liking. You must get them just right." - Ray Stedman ()mine.

2)The gospel exposes human pride.

3) The gospel forgives blatant sinners; those who richly deserve death and hell in the eyes of the world. " But that is its glory: it can change anyone who will receive it in humility and contrition." - Ray Stedman

[NOTE: The reasons for hostility revolve around the message, not the messenger. That is a whole other topic.] ======================================================
1Thess 2:16b "In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last"

Back to the Jews. In 50 -51 A.D. They have hit the limit. By actively opposing the spread of the gospel - God has said "enough". "has come" is in the aorist active indicitive which is "completed action". So the wrath of God is on them. When?

- Could be the Romans in Israel??? In 41 A.D. the rebellion of the Jews was gaining momentum. Caligula's death halted it for a time, but there were sporadic outbreaks. Full rebellion started in 66 A.D. and in 70 A.D. The country was leveled by the Romans, and the population dispersed throughout the world. Just as Christ predicted in the gospels. The process of Roman military action would have already started by the time of this letter.

- Or it could be that God's anger is registered, but His wrath is yet to come in the Tribulation???
Paul's Longing to See the Thessalonians

1) Paul states that they could not get to Thessalonia because of Satan.

Again a personified chief adversary of God, not a nebulous evil force. Paul had suffered opposition by the state (v.2), society (v.14), and satan (v.18).

"While this might look like three enemies, it is really only one. Other Scriptures indicate that the state and society are often the channels of the devil's attempts to hinder the spread of the good Word of God. This is what Paul was encountering here." - Ray Stedman

2)Why the longing? Because Thessaloniaian "assembly" is Paul's honour and joy. Their attiutude and persistent faith reflect God's glory and light, and reflect on Paul and his efforts to help develop Christian maturity.

And they all will be rejoicing when Christ returns. The second chapter in a row that ends with the mentioning of Christ's Coming.

Jeremiah 14:11-16:15

The following verses have always intrigued me:

Then the LORD said to me, "Do not pray for the well-being of these people. If they fast, I will not hear their cry of despair. If they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. Rather, I will finish them off by sword, famine, and plague." And I replied, "Oh no, Lord GOD! The prophets are telling them, 'You won't see sword or suffer famine. I will certainly give you true peace in this place.'" But the LORD said to me, "These prophets are prophesying a lie in My name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a false vision, worthless divination, the deceit of their own minds. "Therefore, this is what the LORD says concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, though I did not send them, and who say: There will never be sword or famine in this land: By sword and famine these prophets will meet their end. The people they are prophesying to will be thrown into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword. There will be no one to bury them--they, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. I will pour out their own evil on them." (Jeremiah 14:11-16 HCSB)

God holds the people, the common people, those who are not priests or Levites, those who get their teaching from the priests and Levites, responsible for what they hear and believe. Even though Judah’s leaders are lying to the people, giving them hope that is based on their own imagination, they have made a conscience choice to believe the lies.

Doesn't the ear test words as the palate tastes food? (Job 12:11 HCSB)

Jesus also told us to be caeful how we hear and what we hear.

Then He said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure you use, it will be measured and added to you. (Mark 4:24 HCSB)

Therefore, take care how you listen. For whoever has, more will be given to him; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him." (Luke 8:18 HCSB)

Too often we are passive in our listening and in our studying, we don’t engage the words we are taking in through our eyes when we read or though our ears when we hear. Even when we are submitted to a ministry, God will hold us accountable if truth is not taught.. During the days of Jeremiah when scribes did scrolls by hand and the majority of people did not have a copy of the Torah in their homes, they were held accountable for what was written on its pages. How much more will this generation be held accountable for acting on God’s Word when one can go to a no-tell motel and find a Bible in the night stand as they get ready to commit adultery with their neighbor’s spouse?

Grace and peace,

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