< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: May 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 6

Chapter 8 – Learn from your mistakes and make fewer.

Over a period of time you make a series of decisions, seemingly with little consequence. But the total of these decisions finally determine the outcome of your life. So, you want to make more right decisions than wrong!

Everyone makes mistakes, but we can’t let it defeat us. We need to figure out what we did wrong and learn from it. And then move on. Plan on doing better the next time.

Dr. Peale says one way we can make better decisions is to read the Bible and pray. Learn the art of spiritual meditation. Subject every question to spiritual testing and make no decisions that do not jibe with the best ethical insight. Always fill your mind with rightness, seeking to know God’s guidance.

He says we can ask ourselves these questions:

1. Is it ethically right?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Is the decision based not upon who is right, but what is right?
4. Will it do the most for the most?

Dr. Peale also says there is a right and wrong way to live. That living is a science based on definite laws. If you do not cooperate with its laws, life goes badly. When you learn those laws and live with them your life will be wonderful.

He suggests spending 15 minutes a day applying selected spiritual thought to everything in your life that’s not going well. By selected thoughts he means everything you know about prayer, about faith and about God. Start to see your mistakes and faults and modify your attitude. People who habitually think about their daily problems according to God’s laws will in time develop something of God’s skill in solving those problems. Think God’s way and let Him give you His greatest blessings.

He says there’s no such thing as coincidences. They are orderly laws in the spiritual life of man and we should become spiritually sensitized to them.

He also said when we’ve got a problem and a decision to make; talk to God like you’re having an actual conversation. Not “Please God give me guidance” but “I have this choice to make and on the one hand I want to do “this” because…” And indicate your willingness to faithfully follow whatever insight impresses itself favorably upon your mind.

And don’t force a decision prematurely.

So to sum up this chapter: A mistake isn’t the end. Examine it and learn from it so you don’t make the same mistake twice and don’t hang on to past mistakes. Pray and seek guidance. Keep studying, keep trying and always believe you can learn to do better. Always seek self-improvement.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 5

Chapter 6 You can have the life you want

“When your interest and appreciation include the whole great world, life becomes even more fascinating. The more vital your interest; in others and in the world, the more triumphantly you can live.”

Dr. Peale says if people stop and think about it, they all want a life that is full and gives them a sense of well-being. Satisfaction from creating something, giving something, doing something. Full of energy, freedom and growth. But of course a lot of people don’t have that. They’re filled with gloom and apprehension. They suffer discouragement and have no vitality. They’re lethargic and it’s not the way we’re supposed to live. We’re supposed to be fully alive.

Our spirit stays alive forever. No matter what our age we can eagerly look forward to each day. Christianity is outgoing: helping others, being interested in others. It’s not self-absorbed. Self-centeredness and over preoccupation cause you to retreat from dynamic living.

When you do something for someone else you almost immediately feel better. Think about doing something for another person every single day or a couple times a day!

Dr. Peale said we should take pleasure in everything we do. If it’s a job or whatever we should “practice liking it.” Enthusiasm and eagerness can make any job or task thrilling! Love what you do and where you are. If you don’t love it – learn to love it! See the possibilities. Wake up in the morning and tell yourself you have a great job, life and family. Cultivate a lot of interests.

You’ll begin to find there aren’t enough hours in your day! I remember as a kid going through stages of interests. Lots of time it depended on what we were studying in school, but I’d go and collect arm loads of books from the library, on: Indians, insects, Greek Mythology, Art History… Even now it’s: nutrition, fitness, Christianity, positive living. You’ll never run out of things to be interested in in this world!

Chapter 7 Stop Being Tired – Live Energetically

Dr. Peale says if your thoughts are hopeful, confident, positive and full of goodwill, you will have a constant flow of energy. Our universe is charged with renewable energy. It makes sense that we are too. If we let the cares, difficulties and trouble of the world invade our minds we will be tired and weary and old before our time. Dr. Peale says the cure is to re-fresh and re-stimulate your thoughts. One simple way is to repeat a familiar Bible passage to yourself a half dozen times a day. Maybe:

Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Exodus 33:14 The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

I’ve always had problems with a Dr. telling someone with a terminal illness they had x amount of time to live because the mind is so powerful, if the person focused on that they probably will live only that long. In the same way, we are told to expect at a certain age to slow down. That we’ll have aches and pains. That’s not going to happen to 100% of the people so there’s no reason we can’t be the ones who it doesn’t happen to!

It’s never too late to adjust ourselves to God’s pace and tempo. To synchronize our thinking and living with God’s unhurried timing. God lives in us and if we go one speed and God another – it just doesn’t work!

God gave us nature: a beautiful world to enjoy. To stop and get out in as a break from our work and responsibilities. He gave us Sundays “off”. He means for us to have a balance in our lives. To work, but to rest and enjoy beautiful things too. That renews us.

Most tiredness originates in the mind. When you’re tempted to say, “I’m so weary. I have so much to do. I’m so worn out.” Don’t! You’re just feeding the negativity. Fatigue is not caused by work, but what we think of as overwork. Or dull work.

We can drag ourselves in from a day of hard work and feel totally beat, but then someone suggests doing something that sounds really fun or interesting and suddenly we have energy to spare!

Dr. Peale says we should hold the belief that since God created us, He is constantly re-creating us as well. Acts 17:28 says, “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” We actually live in His vast energy.

So think alive thoughts. Keep a healthy lifestyle. Empty your mind of negative “tired” thoughts and fill it with positive and spiritual thoughts!

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 4

Chapter 4 Kill Worry and Live Longer

Substitute faith for worry and fear. Fear is a strong force in the world, but faith is stronger! The word worry comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning to strangle or choke. When we worry we choke off our flow of power over a situation. Constant worrying creates stress in your body, which can lead to all kinds of diseases. There is truth in the phrase, “I’m worried to death” or “I’m sick with worry”! When you are worried deliberately fill your mind with faith. You can’t leave the mind empty from the bad emotion; you’ve got to immediately fill it with a good one.

This isn’t normal fear like when you see a bear and need to run by the way. Or if you’re worried because someone is sick. The first: you take the appropriate action and the second you help them as much as you can and pray about their health to God and know they are in His hands and it’s all going to turn out for good whether we see it as good or not from this side of heaven.

If someone has a serious illness the worst “help” you can be is to sit and worry with them. You’ve got to be positive, supportive and encouraging: let them know you are praying for them – and then do!

Dr. Peale also suggests reading books about people who have overcome things in life. Books with strong characters. Spiritual books. Positive books. Especially read the Bible. He even suggests underlining every passage that has to do with faith. Repeat them daily. Memorize them! Visualize them, understand them, make them part of your personality. Write “Trust God and Live one day at a time” somewhere where you’ll see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. If you take the attitude that one day is all you have to worry about and then give that day all you have of faith and effort; believing God will be with you every step of the way – it will work and you’ll be blessed!

The ultimate technique for ending worry is to bring God into every fearful situation. No fear can live in the presence of God. The deeper your faith in God becomes the less power fear will have over you.

Psalm 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Isaiah 43:5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.

The kind of fears that require you to do something though must be faced with boldness. If you have a fear of public speaking, you just have to start speaking in public to get over it! Usually you don’t try and fail, you fail because you never tried. Someone once asked Elizabeth Elliott how she managed after two husbands died. The person who asked had just lost hers and felt like she couldn’t go on. Elizabeth told her, “You just do the next thing.” If that means getting out of bed in the morning, making coffee and reading the paper – you just do that.”

Chapter 5 You can have power over your difficulties

With God’s help we can overcome our difficulties and lead a vital and victorious life.

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

One thing about life: if things are going great right now, it won’t last. And if things are going really bad right now – that won’t last either! But, either way we’ll get through it. We always have!

We also need to think big! Look at problems in a creative and positive manner and we’ll see opportunities we wouldn’t have. Look for possibilities. Think big and exciting thoughts. By thinking big you might discover that some things really aren’t difficulties.

Pray big prayers because we have a big God. Small prayers are usually only backed by small faith. If you expect difficulty, often you actually get it: maybe because you have a defeatist attitude and never give yourself whole heartedly to the situation.

People who aren’t defeated by difficulties aren’t because they don’t think they are.

So don’t think you are!

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 3

Chapter 3 Conquer Your Frustrations and be Creative

The author says peaceful thinking brings you to a state that no amount of frustration can ascend. People react differently to different frustrations. Some things that bother me like crazy wouldn’t bother someone else at all. Some people get through big catastrophes with perfect calmness and fly off handle when their spouse doesn’t put the lid on the toothpaste.

Dr. Peale says we need to do the best we can at everything, affirm we are doing our best and then do nothing further! He says think of Paul’s comment in Ephesians 6:13, “and having done it all…stand.” When you’ve done everything you can – stop and let the matter rest. Leave it to God and let Him handle it from there.

Next he says to think peaceful thoughts anytime you start to feel frustrated. Even just ”God is giving me peace.” If someone drives you crazy, but you’re stuck with them in your life – practice thinking kind thoughts about them. Say nice things about them. Try to understand where they’re coming from. Pray for them.

Being in a constant state of frustration, angst and negative thoughts can affect you physically. Paul tells us to think good thoughts. Ephesians 4:26 tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger. The Bible also tells us to seek God first, to focus on Jesus. All of that’s because it’s good for us.

Dr. John A Schindler, wrote in his book ‘How to Live 365 Days a Year’ “Good emotions make us well – bad emotions make us ill.” Anger raises your blood pressure! Stress causes all kinds of illness.

You have to desire emotional control. A lot of people get satisfaction in flying off the handle, even though the consequences can be bad. So first you have to want to be able to control yourself. If you want it, you can have it. In order to get ahead at a job or volunteer position or have great relationships, you have to control your emotions. Not snap back with a sharp retort or mean comeback. These people can’t get along with others and they don’t do well in life.

You may think people give you a break because you’re “sensitive” – or get angry fast, but get over it quickly and that they love you anyway – but in reality they’ll never be as close to you as they could have been.

God can change anyone who admits defeat and comes to Him. He gives us patience – a gift of the Spirit. He always gives us what we need, but it’s up to us to learn to use the gifts.

The human mind is capable of blocking out frustration. But it’s not easy. It takes discipline. Prayer is a chief aid in the blocking out process.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life - Part 2

Chapter 2 Enthusiasm Can Do Wonders for You

Dr. Peales wrote, “When you cast out pessimism and gloominess and cultivate the attitude of optimism and enthusiasm; amazing things will start happening in your life.”

It will trump people’s extra ability, training and experience every time.

Ask yourself:
Are you an enthusiastic person?
Do you eagerly anticipate every day?
Are you excited about life?

The author talked about his mom here who got “enormous thrill out of the most ordinary events and happenings.” She had a zest for everything. And her advice to him was to ever be sensitized to the world’s beauty and excitement. That that would make him dull. And he said he has always tried to keep enthusiasm alive.

If you think about your favorite teacher in school, it wasn’t the funniest or best looking; it was almost always the one with the most enthusiasm! Because they made learning interesting and they inspired you. Their enthusiasm was infectious.

Enthusiastic people give what they’re doing everything they’ve got. They make great employees.

Even if you’ve never been this kind of person before you can be. Start looking for the good and beautiful and talk about them! Start thinking about things you would like to do and then do them.

In the beginning it might mean pretending anything is possible, but as you start you’ll see more and more is possible! He quotes a great psychological thinker, William James, who said, “Believe that you possess significant reserves of health, energy and endurance and your belief will help create the fact.”

God gave us a great way to start in the Bible. Get up in the morning and say first thing, “This is the day the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Then think about all the good in your life. And feel gratitude for it. Practice thinking happy thoughts throughout the day. This may sometimes run counter to your actual feelings, but it’s the start.

Have you ever heard the advice: if you want to be happy – act happy. If you want to be more loving – act more loving? I’ve heard dieters told to “act like a thin person” – which means: eat the way thin people do, exercise the way they do – and pretty soon it’s not an act anymore.

Next - begin to think of other people. The Bible tells us we have to die to self. That when we lose ourself, we find ourself.

Dr. Peale says this means in giving of yourself to others you find yourself. Do something unselfishly for someone else. When you do you “forget yourself.” You get the emphasis off of any problems you think you have and you feel better about things because you’re helping someone else.

Then start being that way with more people. Go out of your way to be interested in other people. Not for what you’ll get out of it (although you’ll get a lot out of it) but with a sincere desire to help the other person or encourage them or get to know them better.

And then give thanks. All the time. That’s straight out of the Bible too!

No gloom, no negativism: only faith and gladness. People will gravitate toward you and life will never get old or dull. You don’t need to change your circumstances to change your life – just your thoughts and attitudes.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stay Alive All Your Life

I taught from Stay Alive All Your Life over 2 Sundays:

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale wrote this book with the hope that his readers would live dynamically and happily all their lives. He says if you read the Bible you’ll see that vibrant lives are God’s intent, and he quotes John 10:10, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Chapter 1 The Magnificent Power of Belief

You can do no more than you believe you can. Mark 9:23 "'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

First, believe God is your guide. His Word, the Bible, tells us exactly how to live a good Christian life. Just Romans, Ephesians and Colossians will tell you exactly what you should be doing.

God has this in the Bible for a reason. While His main reason for sending Jesus was to save us from our sins, Jesus was also an example for us to go back to and imitate. God is guiding us. We need to realize this and have faith that He always will.

Secondly, believe in; yourself, in other people and life itself. Have a sincere desire to serve God and mankind and stop thinking negatively.

To have faith, you simply start living by faith; praying earnestly and humbly and getting into the habit of looking expectantly for the best. The author says this will attract good things and positive people. Which makes sense because we all like to be around positive people.

This doesn’t mean we’ll always get what we want. When we live on a faith basis, our desire will be for what God wants and we’ll start asking for His will to be done.

I was thinking while I read this about how often when people retire, they suddenly seem older. Especially men who had been in a career and had been somewhat powerful. Suddenly you see them in the grocery store following their wives around, kind of stooped and slow. I think it’s because they think there’s really nothing interesting for them in this next stage of life.

But the Bible is full of older people doing meaningful things. You need to form a new picture. It’s an excellent time to volunteer, and people who do that are blessed over and over again. It can be the time to travel or cultivate friendships too. I read in another book about growing older; a suggestion to aunts and grandmothers – to be there for their nieces and nephews or grandchildren: go to the piano recitals, school plays, have them over to bake cookies. Be a constant in their lives. Picture yourself as being someone who has a lot to share and then live that way! God is about blessing those who will then bless others: giving to those who will give back.

Dr. Peale says we have to lose the critical nature if we have one too. First, it’s not good for us. But again, people won’t want to be around us. Do not let doubts clog your mind. It will corrode the soul and it impedes the channel through which spiritual and creative power flows. Dr. Peale also says to “Get rid of fear. Put your problems confidently in God’s hands and trust His guidance. You can always attain a higher level for your life.”

Philippians 4:13 "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Never settle for less than you want to be.

He told a story about a robin with a hurt wing. A man saw him in his yard and wanted to help it by maybe splintering the wing or something. Another man told him to leave the bird alone. He said the bird was wiser than the human because not knowing so much about the difficulties of life; he doesn’t become discouraged and with no academic knowledge to hamper him, will have faith enough to let his wind droop until nature restores its strength.

We block a lot of things with doubt or negative thought. Little kids learning to walk, fall down a hundred times. What if they never got up after the first fall?

A good rule for life is: fill your mind with faith, do your best, work hard and put the results in God’s hands.

A couple other things from chapter one – don’t ever compare yourself to others, and a sign of mental health is to be glad when others achieve and rejoice with them.

Any human being can do more with his life than he is presently doing. To begin, you must desire to do so. The second step is to surrender yourself to God and live by His will. Then take God as your spiritual guide and partner in life. Next, pray without ceasing and have faith always. Be sure to hold positive pictures of achieving worthily and unselfishly. Finally, work hard, think creatively, forget self, keep a heart full of goodwill and hold no resentment. And always remember: with God’s help, you can if you think you can!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2 Thessalonians – Part 4

In 2 Thessalonians 3 I’m only going to comment on the first 5 verses because after that it’s really a repeat from 1st Thessalonians.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 1Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.

Again Paul asks people to pray for him. Sometimes prayer is all we can do. And we need to be doing it: for each other, for our church, for the nation and the world.

If Paul, great as he was, felt the need to ask others to pray for him, we can certainly do the same. When we put people on prayer concerns, let’s not just say a one time prayer. Let’s continue to pray for that person or those people or a situation until we see an answer. Write the prayer down. Keep a prayer journal. Pray daily. I think that’s what God is trying to teach us to do.

I read a commentary written in the 1950’s that said, “We live in a world where there are more nervous breakdowns than any time in history.” And that was 60 years ago! I think since then more and more people have the feeling that they cannot cope with life. While we may think we can’t possibly take on someone else’s burdens on top of our own, by praying for them, which focuses us on Christ, it gives us His power and endurance, which gives us strength to face our lives at the same time as we’re praying for others.

There’s power in prayer!

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Monday, May 17, 2010

2 Thessalonians - Part 3

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

5Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Paul is telling the Thessalonians that they must give up their nervous, hysterical waiting for the second coming. He denied that he ever said that the Day of the Lord had come. That was a misinterpretation of his words. He told them that before that happens many other things had to take place.

First there would come an age of rebellion against God. That there was already a secret evil power working in the world. He says the lawless one will come and he will be the incarnation of evil, just as Jesus is the incarnation of good. In 1st John we see this person called the antichrist.

In time the power which is restraining him will be removed. This power is the Holy Spirit and when Christ takes His church up before the tribulation “all hell will break loose.”

This antichrist will be able to perform miracles and the people who don’t believe in God, who had already rejected Christ, will follow the lawless one. But, take comfort in the fact that this man is doomed to destruction. His fate is already sealed. God is in control and nothing can stand against Him! The great question is – whose side are you on? If you are on God’s side, verse 13 tells us how lucky we are and to thank Him!

2 Thessalonians 2:13 13But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

And in verse 14 God used Paul to tell the Thessalonians His message, the Good News, so that they might share in His Glory.

2 Thessalonians 2:14 14He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God has given us the same mission. To tell the world how to find salvation.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:15 he tells them to stand firm in truth: 15So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

2nd Thessalonians – Part 2

2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This section talks about God’s righteous judgment. Paul says that the believers were being prepared through their suffering for membership in the coming kingdom. He also leads us to believe we may never see justice in our lifetime, but we will when Christ returns. The reward for Christians will be eternal fellowship with the Lord and the punishment for the unbelievers will be eternal destruction, which is the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

Most Jews believed that problems were the result of some sin or lack of faith and occasionally they can be. And sometimes they are just a consequence of living in a fallen world. But Paul teaches us that they also may be part of God’s plan for believers. Our problems may help us look to God. Or at least beyond ourselves.

Philippians 3:13-14 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

They can build strong character.

Romans 5:3-4 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope.

They can provide us with opportunities to comfort others who are also struggling.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Our troubles may also be an indication that we are taking a stand for Christ.

I’m afraid that some people may hear this, see all the trouble so many people have and say, “It’s not worth it.” Or “I think I’ll just wait till I’m old to get saved.” But Paul tells us in all his letters it will be worth it! And in fact it already is because we are storing up treasures in heaven with our attitudes and actions and our faithfulness and obedience. He also says that someday can be too late. Christ will return unexpectedly and even if it’s not in our life time, who knows when our last day on earth will be?

In verse 11 it says our calling is to become like Christ, whatever it takes. When I think of His outstanding traits I always think of His compassion and humility. It’s hard to become compassionate or humble without going through some kind of trial. I also think of His strength and courage; there’s a saying, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. Again – every time we come through a trial with the right attitude we are stronger people.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

2nd Thessalonians - Part 1

This letter was probably written only a few months after the first letter and it deals with some of the same questions and problems. Read study on 1st Thessalonians Here Paul clears up a couple things they didn’t understand; mainly about the timing of Christ’s return. Because of the persecution and Paul’s first letter some thought they were in the “day of the Lord”. (A common term for end times or even judgment day.)

Some of the people were sitting around idle waiting for the end of the world. Paul says, instead, the people (and us) should be busier than ever: living purely, using our time well and working for His kingdom.

One thing we’ll notice in this second letter: 1st Thessalonians was warm in tone and filled with personal data. 2nd Thessalonians is colder, more formal and authoritarian. The first letter stresses the unpredictability and the suddenness of the coming of Christ. The second offers signs by which we can predict that coming. The second letter also gives information about the lawless one. (the anti-Christ) And there may have been a false letter circulating with Paul’s name on it, confusing things, because we’ll see at the very end of this book Paul says, “This is my handwriting.”

The first 4 verses are the introduction:
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4 1Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

Remember from the first letter Paul is deliberately linking Jesus and God in his greeting to remind the young church that the church was of divine not human origin. The greetings in all of Paul’s letters show what a great encourager he was. When he wrote that he sees the love they have for each other increasing – don’t you think there were people in that church who hung their heads and thought about how they had just ignored someone, or talked about them behind their back? But, that because of the way Paul said it they squared their shoulders and determined to be that way? We should encourage each other at every opportunity.

In verse 4 he says that in their persecutions they are showing perseverance and faith. That’s the key to surviving persecution and trials. Whatever we are faced with if we have faith that God is using it somehow for good and we are patient and don’t complain then we glorify God.

God is just and His timing is perfect!

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