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1 Thessalonians (2017)

 DAILY DEVOTION
FOR
MONDAY, DECEMBER 4

                                                     
SCRIPTURE: 1 THESSALONIANS 1
AUTHOR:  Joe Ligon
 
I had to go back and use one of Bro. Joe's devotionals from Dec 2017.  I have a migraine and I am not shaking it.  I tried to write this myself, but I am yielding to the easy option so I can lay down.  Hope you understand.

Today we start a new book.  This letter and its companion, 2 Thessalonians, were among the very first that Paul wrote.  It is written to a church that Paul planted as a direct result of the Macedonian call.
 
Historians tell us the city of Thessalonika had a population of about 200,000 when Paul visited there.  Interestingly enough, the city still exists today.  It is one of the few cities that have survived since the New Testament days but it still exists.  Actually, it has grown over the years with a current estimated population of around 300,000.
 
As Paul opens his letter, he uses a very familiar pattern. He begins by introducing himself and those with him when he was writing this letter.  Silvanus, by the way, is the Roman rendition of the name Silas. 
 
After introducing himself, Paul typically identifies his audience.  In this case, it is the church at Thessalonica.  The word church, ekklesia in the Greek, means the called-out ones.  It is a great word picture.  On one hand, those in the church have been called out of the world to be a part of God’s forever family.  On the other hand, those in the church have been called out of the church to go back into the world with the Gospel. 
 
Paul identifies this church with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Any church that is separated from the Father and the Son is not a church.  The church is certainly an organization but it is so much more.  It is a living organism.  It is a group of called out, redeemed folks who are united by the Spirit, informed by the Son, and committed to obeying the Father.
 
Finally, Paul’s greeting ends with “grace and peace”.  Paul uses that phrase a lot.  The order of those two words is the most important.  We can never know real peace apart from God’s grace. 
 
As Paul gets into the body of this letter, we see that he is most proud of this church.  They were in a difficult place but they were thriving in incredible ways.  That is not to say they were a perfect church.  Every church is made up of humans.  All of them should be redeemed but none of them are perfect.  So, we should never expect that a group of imperfect humans could make up a perfect anything.  However, the church at Thessalonica was an exceptional church and better than many.
 
When Paul and his missionary team visited Thessalonica, God did amazing work.  The Gospel was proclaimed in “power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (verse 4).  And a church was birthed in just a few short weeks.
 
In verse 6, Paul makes an interesting and important statement.  He said the Christ-followers in Thessalonica had become imitators of Paul and his team as well as of the Lord.  There are some important principles in play here.
 
One principle is that new believers need more mature believers to model the Christian life for them and disciple them into that life.  Another principle is the fact that as Christ-followers our lives should be exemplary enough that if someone lived as we did, that person would be more Christ-like.  A third principle is someone is always watching how you live and making decisions based on what they see in you.  The question is this.  What are they seeing?
 
SCRIPTURE: 1 THESSALONIANS 1
AUTHOR:  Joe Ligon
 
I had to go back and use one of Bro. Joe's devotionals from Dec 2017.  I have a migraine and I am not shaking it.  I tried to write this myself, but I am yielding to the easy option so I can lay down.  Hope you understand.

Today we start a new book.  This letter and its companion, 2 Thessalonians, were among the very first that Paul wrote.  It is written to a church that Paul planted as a direct result of the Macedonian call.
 
Historians tell us the city of Thessalonika had a population of about 200,000 when Paul visited there.  DAILY DEVOTION
FOR
MONDAY, DECEMBER 4Interestingly enough, the city still exists today.  It is one of the few cities that have survived since the New Testament days but it still exists.  Actually, it has grown over the years with a current estimated population of around 300,000.
 
As Paul opens his letter, he uses a very familiar pattern. He begins by introducing himself and those with him when he was writing this letter.  Silvanus, by the way, is the Roman rendition of the name Silas. 
 
After introducing himself, Paul typically identifies his audience.  In this case, it is the church at Thessalonica.  The word church, ekklesia in the Greek, means the called-out ones.  It is a great word picture.  On one hand, those in the church have been called out of the world to be a part of God’s forever family.  On the other hand, those in the church have been called out of the church to go back into the world with the Gospel. 
 
Paul identifies this church with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Any church that is separated from the Father and the Son is not a church.  The church is certainly an organization but it is so much more.  It is a living organism.  It is a group of called out, redeemed folks who are united by the Spirit, informed by the Son, and committed to obeying the Father.
 
Finally, Paul’s greeting ends with “grace and peace”.  Paul uses that phrase a lot.  The order of those two words is the most important.  We can never know real peace apart from God’s grace. 
 
As Paul gets into the body of this letter, we see that he is most proud of this church.  They were in a difficult place but they were thriving in incredible ways.  That is not to say they were a perfect church.  Every church is made up of humans.  All of them should be redeemed but none of them are perfect.  So, we should never expect that a group of imperfect humans could make up a perfect anything.  However, the church at Thessalonica was an exceptional church and better than many.
 
When Paul and his missionary team visited Thessalonica, God did amazing work.  The Gospel was proclaimed in “power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (verse 4).  And a church was birthed in just a few short weeks.
 
In verse 6, Paul makes an interesting and important statement.  He said the Christ-followers in Thessalonica had become imitators of Paul and his team as well as of the Lord.  There are some important principles in play here.
 
One principle is that new believers need more mature believers to model the Christian life for them and disciple them into that life.  Another principle is the fact that as Christ-followers our lives should be exemplary enough that if someone lived as we did, that person would be more Christ-like.  A third principle is someone is always watching how you live and making decisions based on what they see in you.  The question is this.  What are they seeing?
 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

James chapter 5:13-20

DAILY DEVOTION
FOR
TUESDAY, MAY 5

 
SCRIPTURE: JAMES 5:13-20
Author:  Jeremy Witt

Prayer update:  Brandon Kalicki’s kidney numbers improved somewhat.  They took a lot of fluid off the lung with pneumonia, so that should make things better for him.  The next 24 hours will indicate his prognosis.  So please keep praying.

I apologize for the lateness today.  Tuesday’s are staff meeting mornings, and we have quite a bit to discuss as we try to prepare for the coming days.  The “new normal” is going to brings changes and will require all of us to be flexible, adaptable, and changeable.  I am learning how much I struggle with some of this.  We could use prayer as pastors, but also simply as a church in 3 locations.  It will cause all of us at all three locations to improve at this. 

 

Ironically, James 5:13 tells us to pray especially when in suffering and hardships.  We should sing praises during these times and even when in prison as Paul and Silas did in Acts.  We should sing praises to our LORD.  James covers sickness and asking church leaders to pray over you.  He includes the use of oil in anointing a person’s head.  This served two purposes.  Oil was used medicinally, (see the parable of the Good Samaritan how oil was used for healing) and oil was used to show the spiritual as well.  (Anointing of kings in 1 Samuel 16 and in setting apart of people as holy as in Exodus 30:29 and even in fasting as in Matthew 6:17)

 

James covers the confession of sins and praying for others to be healed.  The bottom line for whatever we encounter is that we should pray for others.  When we pray, we should be praying in faith.  Does this mean for the person whom we are praying for?  Yes, they need to have faith in God, but specifically, here, it is referring to the ones praying.  When we pray for others, we should pray in faith and the only One who can do the healing.  Does faith heal on its own?  No, healing only comes from God, but faith is part of the “tool” that brings healing.  How can I say this?  God is the only One capable of healing.  He is the Great Physician.  Can God heal without our faith?  Yes, He can.  Can faith heal without God?  No, it cannot.  Does God use faith?  Now, do I really need to answer this?  Yes, God uses faith.  It is impossible to please God without faith.  So what is the point, Mr. Witt?  If we want our prayers to be answered, we must pray in faith that God can.  Whether He does heal is not our call, however.  We must pray in His Will and for His will, and have faith that God can if He so chooses.  Remember Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego?  How did they pray?  They prayed in faith but also confessed that if God does not choose as they were asking, they would not bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image.  James then refers to Elijah in verse 17-18 to support what can be down in prayer of faith.  For a Christ-follower, our prayers of faith draw us closer to God first and foremost, and praying to God directly is one of our greatest gifts.  Through our prayers, we can accomplish greater things than we could ever imagine all due to our trust and faith in the LORD Jesus via the Holy Spirit. 

 

Remember that James tells us to put our faith into action.  The last two verses are given to encourage us to reach out to help those who have fallen away.  It might be due to sin in their life or due to fear and persecution, they have given up.  Our role to walk beside them and lead them back to Jesus.  This requires us to put our faith into action.  We must live out our faith in how we live.  A shepherd would go over the lost sheep, injured sheep, and unfocused sheep.  It might be a salvation issue, a persecution issue, or a “life happened” issue, but we are to be helpful, encouraging, and actively living out our faith.

 

As we follow Jesus, let us help others to follow us to our Great Shepherd.  Take our faith to the streets.

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

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