Week 25 June 17 - 23, 2018

Christians find true hope in the second coming of Jesus Christ because that is when all things will be made new in eternal glory.

However, as breath-taking as the promise of Christ’s second coming is in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the four verses that come before that promise help teach us what we must be doing now as we await our Lord’s return.

 In verses 9-12, the Apostle Paul reveals six tangible ways that believers can live a life that is pleasing to God. These six ways include the call to (1) love one another, (2) live quietly, (3) mind our own business, (4) work hard, (5) be faithful witnesses among non-believers, and (6) be self-sufficient.

 First, Paul is calling us as believers to please God by expressing continuous love towards one another. He says in verses 9-10, “for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia.” This command to love others has less to do with personal affection as it has to do with being sacrificially committed to someone’s greatest good to bring about God’s greatest glory. This is the love that God has shown us in Christ, therefore this is the love we must have for others to truly please Him.

 Secondly, believers can please God by living our lives in a quiet manner. Verse 11 says to “aspire to live quietly.” This is a reminder from Paul that we want to live in a manner that is above reproach so we don’t give the non-believing world any reason to challenge the transforming power of our Christian conversion.

 Thirdly, a life pleasing to God is possible when we as believers commit to minding our own business. Paul says plainly in the second part of verse 11 to “mind your own affairs.” This means that we need to stay focused on our own work and refuse to pry into other’s lives because when we seek to glorify God we have plenty on our own plates to keep us busy.

 Fourth, believers can please the Lord by working hard. At the end of verse 11, Paul reminds the church to “work with your hands, as we instructed you.” This does not mean that everyone must work in manual labor, but it does mean that we need to work diligently to make a living so that people will see our work ethic as a Godly trait worth emulating.

 Fifth, if believers want to please God we must be faithful witnesses among non-believers. Paul begins verse 12 by telling believers to “walk properly before outsiders.” This is a bold charge to remember that the unconverted world is always watching what we as Christians do. By how we live, we can either be a strong witness for Christ or be a stumbling block to someone coming to faith.

 Finally, as believers in Christ we can live a life that is pleasing to Him when we learn to be self-sufficient. Paul concludes the passage in verse 12 by telling the Thessalonians to “be dependent on no one.” This calling is not addressing the issue of trusting others, but instead has to do with avoiding financial dependence on the ones we are ministering to. Paul was very sensitive to this issue throughout his missionary journeys. He didn’t want to be a financial burden or give people a reason to think he was preaching the gospel for monetary gain. He instead decided to work long hours as a tent-maker so he could preach and teach without needing additional support.

 These are six tangible ways that we as believers can bring honor and glory to God as we anxiously await the return of Christ. And if we commit to live in a life that pleases God in these six ways, we will become more and more like Christ until the day we see Him face to face. As it states in 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

Living a Life that Pleases the Lord

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Letting the Lord Build the House

Psalm 127 is known as one of the “songs of ascents,” named for a series of psalms that were sang yearly when Jews would travel to Jerusalem for annual festivals. In verse 1 of this song, the psalmist proclaims, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” What this passage teaches is that both the laborer and the watchman find their true identity in God alone. We must remember that all of our toil is meaningless unless it is done in the strength of the Lord and for His glory.

A Window to a Virtuous Woman

Many Bible readers believe Proverbs 31 as the ideal portrait of a virtuous woman. That is because this God-fearing woman is described as someone who is “far more precious than jewels” to her family (v 10), is clothed in “strength and dignity” (v 25), and “is to be praised” for her honest and fruitful work (v 30-31). What many modern readers don’t realize, however, is that when the Old Testament was first arranged in the Hebrew Bible, Proverbs 31 was immediately followed by the book of Ruth. Many scholars believe this was God’s way of intentionally demonstrating how Ruth herself is the ideal woman because she fulfilled such a virtuous calling.

Committed to Catching the Foxes

The budding romance between a young shepherd and his shepherdess wife captured in Song of Solomon perfectly illustrates both the delights and dangers of a Godly marriage. While the delights of intimacy are expressed throughout the book, the dangers of sin are mentioned through a unique metaphor of foxes in a vineyard. As the shepherdess boldly states in verse 15 of chapter 2: “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” These foxes represent the barriers that every marriage must face when unrepentant sin is not addressed and issues threaten to spoil a loving relationship that is in full bloom.

Week 26 Readings:  June 24 – 30

-Day One:  1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3; 1 Timothy 1

-Day Two:  1 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 4; Psalm 44; 1 Timothy 2

-Day Three:  1 Kings 8; Psalm 30; 1 Timothy 3

-Day Four:  2 Chronicles 5-7; Psalm 121; 1 Timothy 4

-Day Five:  1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8; 1 Timothy 5   


Tips to Keep You on Track

          As we continue in our reading plan this week, we will be turning to the book of 1 Timothy. Known as one of the New Testament’s “pastoral letters,” 1 Timothy is written by the Apostle Paul to his young protégé Timothy who is pastoring the Ephesian church. The purpose of this letter is to advise him on how to address prominent church issues and faithfully serve as a spiritual shepherd. Although the letter provides detailed structure on church government and pastoral ministry requirements, the overall theme of the book is more about the potential of local church life when believers are transformed through the gospel of Jesus Christ. As you read through the first five chapters, consider God’s ultimate purpose behind His design for the local church. Although the Lord’s guidelines may seem restrictive to some, His intention has always been to promote unity and order so that His family on earth will one day reflect His kingdom in heaven.