March 31 - 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18

Sunday, March 31, 2013


March 31 - 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Not only did the church in Thessalonica have to put up with false teachers showing up, but they received letters from teachers claiming to be Paul. But, this letter would have had his signature or maybe just a mark that would have been recognizable as his. It seems that identity theft has always been an issue for people.

As we close this letter to the Thessalonians, we find Paul extending peace and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to this young church.  He cared deeply for them and though it was not possible for him to be there in person, he reminded them that he was with them in thoughts and prayers and that the Lord was also with them, no matter what.

When they faced persecution or ridicule for their faith, they were never alone.  The Lord was with them. When they felt lost and alone, the Lord was with them.

The church in Thessalonica continued to grow and the city became a stronghold for Christianity.  When ‘barbarous invaders’ came through, not only was Thessalonica in a prime location to hold them back, but the church also converted many to Christianity.  The history of Thessalonica is colored with bloodshed and wars, massacres and battles. In 1430, it fell to the Turks until 1912 when Greece recaptured in the Balkan war.  Today’s city, Thessaloniki is filled with mosques, churches and synagogues and is Greece’s second major city, as well as a major transportation hub in southeastern Europe.

March 30 - 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 30 - 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

We've seen in earlier readings that the church in Thessalonica intended to be caught up in the end of the world.  There may well have been members of the church who simply figured they would cease working and depend on the rest of the church for their food and a place to live.

Paul was going to have nothing to do with that behavior. If you don’t contribute, you don’t get to participate and receive the benefits of the community.

For those of us who have a tendency toward being workaholics, this behavior makes absolutely no sense.  There were plenty of those people in the Thessalonian church as well, but rather than correcting the issue, they complained to Paul about it.

He spoke to them firstly, then to those who preferred to sit around and be busybodies. I love that image, I have known plenty of busybodies who have nothing better to do than correct other people’s behavior and gossip about the goings on at church … they would have been much better off working at something, even if it was making bread.

And then Paul finishes this by saying “do not grow weary in doing good.”  Just as he calls for us to avoid idleness, he asks us to ‘do good.’  There are a lot of ways to interpret that in each of our lives.  Find one and do it.

March 29 - 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Friday, March 29, 2013


March 29 - 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

One of the most difficult things our family ever did was move away from a community. It was heart wrenching for all of us, but Mom and Dad never chose to make a move without a lot of prayer and consideration.

After the move had been made, though, one thing that always came up was whether or not our former congregation would be able to continue with ministry that had been built.  Because of the manner in which the United Methodist Church moves its pastors around, neither the church nor the pastor has much input and Dad was always concerned (and generally with good reason) that the person who followed him would destroy all of his good work.  It was then up to the people to hold fast to the relationship they had built with God and with each other.

One summer, a small group of people from the church we had just left ended up in our living room in tears because of the trouble that was already occurring due to the ineptitude of the new pastor.  They asked if there was anything that could be done to bring Dad back.

He had to be firm with them and remind them that they would discredit his ministry completely if they were so reliant on him that they wouldn't rely on God.  He was no longer able to spoon feed them God’s word; it was time for them to pick up the fork and feed themselves.

Though the words seemed harsh, they made a difference.  Many of these people have since taken God’s word to hundreds, if not thousands, of others.  We do have to come to a point where we move past the human minister in front of us to a direct relationship with God.

Paul had confidence in the Lord about the Thessalonians. I have confidence about you.  Where will you go from here?

March 28 - 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Thursday, March 28, 2013


March 28 - 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. 

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Have you ever thought about the incredible legacy of faith that has preceded this moment in time?  Sometimes I get lost in the story of history and lose sight of its flow.  When we read Paul’s letters in the New Testament, it is easy to forget that these were real people who had never heard about Jesus Christ, except maybe as a footnote when people spoke of the Romans and their killing techniques.  They might have heard about a prophet or a teacher who spent time in Galilee and Jerusalem, but more than likely, they had very little information.

The power of transformation found in the Gospel that Paul presented to them had to have been extraordinary.  Paul wasn't just delivering a story to them, he was there to change their lives.  There were no preachers on television or Christian bookstores, there were no churches or pastors, evangelists, Christian radio stations.  No one talked about faith in Jesus because until Paul got to them, they’d not heard of him.

These stories are the beginning moments of our faith.  These people and the faith that Paul continually extols in them were foundational for everything we know.  Paul writes of traditions that he taught them, but those traditions have then become statutes and doctrine by which we live.

These were real people. People who struggled with sin.  People who were face to face with false teachers. People who worked during the day and played with their families at night.  People who met a Savior and accepted that He could radically change their lives.

These are the first fruits of our faith.

March 27 - 2 Thessalonians 2:5-12

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


March 27 - 2 Thessalonians 2:5-12

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

How many times are you inspired on a Sunday morning to change your attitude, knowing that it will transform the entire rest of the week, but by Monday afternoon you have not only forgotten everything thing you heard, but have already messed up so badly you wonder if you’ll ever pull out of the hole?

This is one of the reasons I hate New Year’s Resolutions. I used to get all excited as I prepared for the beautiful new me and within less than twenty-four hours, I had actually forgotten what it was I intended to change.

Our memories are sometimes fickle little things when we need them.

Paul’s message to the Thessalonians regarding the coming of the lawless one had apparently been forgotten and they were beginning to be concerned again with false teachings.  The church had been given sufficient teaching to withstand the false teachings that were coming at them, but instead of standing firm, they were wavering and questioning the truth that Paul had given to them.

We have the truth.  We have the means by which we can remind ourselves moment by moment of that truth. We don’t have to wait until Sunday mornings to hear it and then lose it by the time we wake up on Monday.  Open the Book, read the Words, know the Truth.

March 26 - 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


March 26 - 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

If I have learned anything from the explosion of social media in the last twenty years, it is that we are easily alarmed and will jump on a bandwagon with great passion and loud vocalizations.  End of the world predictions happen all the time and not just within the religious communities.  There are scientists (?) who threaten us with the possibility of cataclysmic events, meteorologists talk about end of the world storms, biologists predict civilization-ending viruses.  Everyone wants to get in on talk of the end of the world.

In the seventies, a series of films were released which frightened every person who saw them. If you didn't become a Christian, apparently you were headed for the guillotine.  In the nineties, Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series scared another generation with its horrendous descriptions of what would occur to those who hadn't been caught up in the rapture.

Paul reminds us to not be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed.  Don’t let your fears rule you and do not let fear of the unknown cause you to react.  It seems like a basic rule for life, but we are more willing to allow outsiders control our emotions than we do God.

God does not encourage fear, instead he brings peace.

March 25 - 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Monday, March 25, 2013


March 25 - 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 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.

I heard the story so many times, I don’t even need to search for it.  As to its veracity, I can’t commit, but the story remains strong in my heart.

It was World War II and a young man was on the battlefield.  The battle was going badly for them and he managed to make it back to the trench, but his buddy didn't  He fell, but didn't die and everyone heard his cries for help. It was too dangerous, however for them to go back to get him.  The young man kept checking his watch. Over and over, he pulled back his sleeve and watched the time. Then, in a flash, he bolted out of the trench, grabbed his buddy and pulled him back to safety.  When asked, he told them that every morning at nine o’clock he knew his mother was home praying for his protection. He had confidence in her prayers and the moment his watch told him that she was in prayer, he knew that would be the safest he could be.

Who do you pray for?  Do they know that your commitment to pray for them is as strong as your love for them?

Paul prayed for each of his churches. He told them over and over that he was committed to lifting them before God so that God could be glorified in their lives and in their communities.

Pray for each other.

March 24 - 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

Sunday, March 24, 2013


March 24 - 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Have you ever considered that when we face suffering with grace, we show the world evidence of God?  There are any number of ‘differently abled’ people who show great testimony to God’s great work in their lives because they manage through the day without the ease with which many of the rest do so, but what about those little things that we deal with every day?

Annoying drivers, losses by teams we root for, price increases at the grocery store or at the gas station, stupid parents of other children, pushy coworkers, rotten bosses, lousy teachers or professors, cheating classmates.   There are so many things that we face each day in the world.  Moment by moment we are confronted by things which threaten to disrupt our equilibrium.

It is sometimes difficult to accept the fact that the world watches our behavior and judges the evidence of God by how we react.

I grew up in a fishbowl. Mom let me know that it was alright. If I had nothing to hide, I didn't need to worry about people watching me.  Not only was I responsible for living as a Christian would live, I was also responsible for living as Frank and Margie Greenwood’s daughter.  When I had to make a choice, I needed to remember that I wasn't the only person who would face the consequences of that choice. You don’t hide choices and consequences easily when you grow up in a small town. It doesn't take long for everyone to know when someone messes up.  But, I didn't want people to come to church on Sunday morning and look at my Dad any differently because of my actions, so I was careful.

The same principle applies.  I don’t want people to have a negative image of God because of my actions.  I am evidence of His work in my life.

So are you.

March 23 - 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4

Saturday, March 23, 2013


March 23 - 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

The opening words are similar to those of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, except in verse two, he names the source of grace and peace.

There were days in my life that all I wanted was some peace. I would tear through the day from the moment I woke up until I finally put my head down.  Every moment was filled, many of those moments were highly stressful and nearly all of those moments were spent with people asking me questions or needing me to make decisions or just wanting a piece or part of me.

Those days wove into weeks, months and years and now, as I look back on my journaling from those years, I find that all I ever thought or wrote about was a desire for peace. I prayed harder for peace than I did for anything else.

One day, mom and I were driving somewhere and went past a beautifully groomed cemetery.  The sun was shining, the weather was warm and beautiful, the trees and flowers were waving quietly in the breeze.  I turned to her and said, “It looks so peaceful, doesn't it?”

She didn't say anything right away, but much later she told me that I worried her with that comment.  I assured her that I was only looking at the beauty of the place, there were no metaphysical implications to be taken from my comment.  But, as I look back, her concern for my never-say-stop life was there long before I took on a lot of the responsibilities that sent me into prayer and yearning for peace.

That Jesus Christ was the source of my peace was honestly the only way I got through some of those periods of time.  When I rested, whether at night or on a random Saturday, He offered moments of solitude and quiet and I found restoration.

I am grateful that I knew His peace then; I would never have functioned without that knowledge.

I am also grateful that He has helped me learn about the joy of solitude and peace once again; that I’ve had the opportunity to set aside the perpetual motion of life and enjoy time with Him.  It is His grace and peace; His offering of salvation and new life that can be ours.

He is the author of grace and peace.

March 22 - 1 Thessalonians 5:25-28

Friday, March 22, 2013


March 22 - 1 Thessalonians 5:25-28

Brothers, pray for us. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Paul has come to the close of his first letter to the Thessalonians.  He has reminded them of his love, and of their initial love for God.  He has charged them to remain strong and to continue to do so even under great persecution.

The importance of his words to this congregation are emphasized in his closing words.  There were those who might try to have this letter suppressed, but Paul charged the recipients of this letter to ensure that these words were shared with everyone.  This charge was presented as an oath with the Lord as the guarantor.  This is the only one of Paul’s letters with this feature. His words to this new congregation were that important.  It kind of makes you want to go back and read them again.

What words will you take away from reading his first letter to the Thessalonians.  For me, there are several and they are found in the final verses.

Rejoice always
Pray without ceasing
Give thanks in all circumstances.
Do not quench the spirit.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

March 21 - 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24


March 21 - 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

“He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).

There are a few things in my life I never thought would end.  Up until my senior year in high school, I felt as if I would be there for the rest of my days. I thought I would never get past the grief of my mother’s death or that of breaking up with a boy after five years. I thought I would always own a printing business. I thought I would never get my Master’s Degree.  I thought I would never publish a book.

I look back over my life and there were many things I wondered if I would ever see through to completion. These were things I spent hours praying about, worrying over, working through. These were things that were a great big deal in my life, and yet today I look back and with the exception of the degree which I will finish in June, they are all complete and part of my history.

None of those moments of completion are mine alone, though. In every one of them, I was supported and strengthened by the One who is always faithful.  When I asked for Him to help and give me confidence, I received more than I could have expected.

Paul is writing to the Thessalonians about the salvation of their souls.  God is the one who called them and He will carry out his work in their lives.  He is faithful. He will surely do it.

March 20 - 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


March 20 - 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Have you ever watched a child who is so excited to tell their parent about something amazing that just happened to them wilt because the parent is more interested in nearly everything else?

My first piano teacher was a young girl who didn’t have any music teaching background, but was a terrific pianist and a wonderful person.  When Dad asked if she would consider teaching me how to play the piano, his only request was that rather than teaching me theory and all of the details, she would teach me to love it.  Diane Barnes was her name and I was a little girl who was excited about my teacher having the same name as I did.  She was absolutely beautiful and her family lived on a farm.  I think that first year, I played more with their chickens than I did the piano, but Dad had it right.  He wanted my love for music to explode rather than be harnessed.  That could come later.

It is easy to fall into patterns and organized behavior and quench the passion in those around us.  It is even easier to quench … to stop the Spirit from moving in our midst. Some of the toughest discussions regarding Sunday morning worship services are how do you handle the movement of the Spirit?  Even more difficult to figure out is what to do once people no longer feel His movement in their midst.  Like a child’s excitement, the Spirit can be stopped by inattention and attempts to control.

What if, every week, entire congregations (not just a few worship leaders, pastors and other supporters, but everyone) everywhere were to pray for His release in their midst? What if there were no fear about what God could do among us?

Can you imagine the explosion of love and joy that would occur around the globe?

I say it’s worth the effort.

March 19 - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


March 19 - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

This is an incredibly encouraging verse, one that people script out in calligraphy and hang on their walls.

But, exactly how practical is it in your own life?  Do you do these things? Do you often think about this verse when the world seems to be crashing in around you?

It’s usually at the point where I’m starting to see daylight again after throwing off the broken down parts of my world that I remember I’m supposed to be rejoicing, praying and giving thanks.  At that point, I’m just glad God has stayed close while I’ve been a complete monster and I hope that too many people haven’t watched me be very un-Christian-like. Given enough time, I remember to get to the point where I’m to rejoice, pray and give thanks, but it is difficult to remember to do that at first breath.

These, though, are marks of a Christian: joy, prayer, gratitude. Maybe they don’t show up when we’re under immense stress, but do they mark your life for the most part?

There have been plenty of Christians whose lives seem to be marked by the exact opposite behavior. They grumble and complain, demand and push, scowl and sneer.

What do people see in you … during the regular times of your life … when it is normal stress and strain?

This reminds me over and over that I must always be aware of those who are watching me. If I am representing Jesus Christ to them, I need to make joy, prayer and gratitude the first thing that happens no matter what the situation.  That’s why the calligraphy print of this hangs on my wall.

March 18 - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

Monday, March 18, 2013


March 18 - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

There are a lot of awful things that happen in the world, but I have to tell you, the devastation that occurs when a church divides among itself affects people in terrible ways.

I was pretty insulated from that kind of division while growing up.  Dad was a master at bringing unity to congregations.  He never spoke without thinking through everything and when he finally did speak, his words carried authority and came from a man people respected.  He was called to churches that were falling apart in order to begin the process of healing.  Where there had been discord and hatred, Dad sowed peace and love.

There were always a couple of tough years at the beginning of his ministry in any given community, but before long, Dad had earned the respect of his congregation and the local community. He dug in, worked long hours, spent time with the people and he was handy enough to do quite a bit of the physical labor around the church building and the parsonage. It wasn't difficult for people to honor him as their leader.

However, I was in for a terrible shock when it was time for me to move out of Dad’s churches.  I encountered congregations who had spent decades without strong leadership and the last person they were going to honor was the pastor.  At any given moment, he was questioned, criticized and denigrated for the decisions made.  On the other hand, many pastors I encountered and worked with were weak-willed, poorly educated and self-centered.  It was difficult to continue supporting and lifting them up when their spines turned to jelly at the first sign of conflict.

Paul tells us that we are to respect and esteem those who are in leadership over us. This is where we have to move past our own needs and desires and begin to look for God’s overall plan for our lives and the life of his congregation.  God calls us to be bigger than the problems in our local churches, to show the world what being a Christian is really all about.  It’s never easy and sometimes the best thing to do is to leave the situation, but in all things we are supposed to respect and esteem our leaders and be at peace with each other.

Being a Christian is not a simple task some days.

March 17 - 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11

Sunday, March 17, 2013


March 17 - 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11

But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

We belong to the day.

My sister accuses me of living in a cave.  I like plenty of light at my work space  but the rest of the house can be in darkness for all I care.  I prefer light from my windows to overhead illumination and when the sun sets, I’m fine with a few lamps around my desk.

Now, honestly, a great deal of this comes from growing up during the energy crisis in the seventies.  Dad was forever telling us to turn lights off if we weren't in a room and it became much more ingrained in me than I ever could have realized.  I flip light switches off all the time. It makes me nuts to have a room lit up with no one doing anything in there.

My preferred time of the year is winter, with its short days and long nights; I prefer to sleep during the day and will stay up until the very early morning when I’m working on a project.  My friends and family tell me they are worried I might have vampiric tendencies.  I just like working when everyone else is sleeping so they don’t distract me.

As much as I love being awake at night, I think the reason I am so comfortable there is because I belong to the day.  I am not frightened by things in the night … well, sometimes coyotes and hoot owls force me to make sure the house is closed up tightly … but, in metaphysical terms, I’m not afraid of darkness.

My hope and salvation is found in the God of love and light. He doesn't sleep and has given me protection from those things that haunt the darkest parts of my mind.  Paul tells the Thessalonians to put on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation.  We are saved from eternal darkness because of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Whether we are awake or asleep we live with him.

Jesus said he is the light of the world.  We belong to him.  We belong to the light. We belong to the day.

March 16 - 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

Saturday, March 16, 2013


March 16 - 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

Now concerning the times and the dates, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

The little church apparently had several questions they had posed to Paul, probably through a letter sent via Timothy.

Paul wasn't about to give them times and dates with regards to the Lord’s return.  In fact, Jesus used this same phrase in Acts 1:7 when telling the apostles that the Lord would do what He would in His own time.

If there is one thing I love, it is a calendar.  I am much more comfortable if I know exactly when something is happening and how long it will be occurring.  That way I can be prepared for the beginning, the middle and the end.  It is one of those little things in life that comforts me.

Now I fully recognize that this is one of my ‘control issue’ aspects and there are plenty of people who don’t care nearly as much as I do, so I try to allow the world to turn all on its own without my intervention.  That might last for a day, but not much longer.

If people around me don’t want to build structured times and dates, I make them up all on my own and then I do my best to abide by those deadlines and schedules I’ve set.  I’m not as bad as some and much worse than others when it comes to living like this.

Most of us need to know what is coming.  We have to be able to plan and to prepare.  We have so many different things going on in our lives that scheduling easily becomes a nightmare.  Paul tells the people of Thessalonica that they are to be prepared because the Lord will come as a thief in the night.

We just can’t be prepared for everything we do and then let it happen as it may, but we can be prepared for Jesus’ return. And then we can wait.

Jesus tells us that it is not for us to know the time or the date; Paul tells us to be prepared.

That’s one thing about being a Christian. You never know what’s coming next. You only know that God will be with you.  Be prepared.

March 15 - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Friday, March 15, 2013


March 15 - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

I don’t know whether or not it is comforting for you to know that people have worried over the death of loved ones for centuries, but even this little church in Thessalonica was upset when some of their membership died.

After Paul was gone from them, apparently some of their fellow Christians had died and their grief was overwhelming.  But what had they missed? One of the first assurances Paul and his friends would have given to them was knowledge of the resurrection.  Christ died so that we might have eternal life.  It is one of the foundational doctrines of Christianity.

There isn't any good answer.  Some surmise that false teachers, especially Gnostics, were in the church and teaching that unless they were enlightened by their special teaching, they wouldn't be able to achieve resurrection. Other teachers wonder if Paul had actually not spent much time teaching about the resurrection of the dead because everyone believed Jesus’ return was an imminent expectation.  Maybe they didn't fully understand the teaching Paul had given.  Whatever the reason for their grief, Paul took time to assure them that those who have died will be taken into heaven and that those who are still living will follow them.

The good news is that God has a plan for each of us from the beginning of our lives to the end of our lives on earth and then into eternity.  It is through the work of Jesus this plan has meaning. It is through a relationship with Jesus we find our lives have meaning.

March 14 - 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Thursday, March 14, 2013


March 14 - 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

“…and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

Paul first encouraged the new Christians in Thessalonica to love each other more and more, but then he continued with these instructions: live quietly, mind your own business, work so that you are dependent on no one.

What a great idea!

The main reason for this behavior was so that the members of this church would gain the respect of outsiders.

When my mother, sister and I first opened Insty-Prints, we were excited to work with other Christian businesses in town … for a short period of time.  What we soon discovered was that many so-called Christian businesses were the most difficult companies of all to work with.  They were demanding and quite nasty about their unreasonable demands and they told us right up front that they expected discounted prices because they were Christians.  Not only that, they were the worst when it came to actually paying for the work we had done for them.  Several times it was just out-right theft.  We would do work for them, they would complain after receiving it, demand a discount and then refuse to pay, all the while, keeping the printed pieces.  We soon found out they had done this all over town.

We stopped advertising in Christian business journals because it took too much effort to maintain those relationships.

I have lamented the public behavior of Christians for quite some time. It is sad to see a person with the symbol of a fish or a cross on the back of their vehicle act rudely to others in traffic. It isn’t sad simply because they are a Christian and acting poorly, but because of the impression they give others about Jesus Christ. His followers don’t respect their relationship with him enough to treat others with respect.

Love each other. Live quietly.  Mind your own business. Work with own hands.

These seem to be good instructions for living in this world.

March 13 - 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


March 13 - 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, 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. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,

If there was no need for Paul to write to the Thessalonians about brotherly love, why do you think he mentioned it at all?  Love was obviously a characteristic of this church; it even spread beyond their boundaries to Christians throughout the region.

Because just like training for anything else, continuing to increase in love is important.

I grew up in a home where love was expressed.  I never had to question whether or not my parents loved me; they told me every day, both in words and in their actions.  But, the words were terribly important.  Dad rarely missed an opportunity to say the words, “I love you,” to me.  He understood that it was as important for him to say those words as it was for us to hear them.

Mom was not so well practiced at expressing love when she married Dad.  Her parents never said the words, nor did they overtly express love.  It was difficult for her to learn, but she practiced because it was the right thing to do.

There is never a reason to be stingy with love or to withhold love.  It isn’t something to be awarded to a well-behaved child; it is something that child should feel every moment of their lives.

Love must be encouraged and expressed, it must be practiced over and over and allowed to grow in our own lives and in the lives of the people with whom we are in relationship.  Paul told the Thessalonians to love more and more.  We should love more and more every day.

March 12 - 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


March 12 - 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Our lives are in constant motion, always trying to be better at what we do.  A musician practices in order to achieve greater skill; an athlete trains. Each skill we have requires us to continually find ways to make ourselves better so we grow.

Paul encourages the Thessalonians to do the same thing in their Christian lives.  They have to grow, to keep taking the next steps.  What they are doing is good, but he exhorts them to do so more and more.

Because our lives as Christians are spent in community with others, increasing our commitment to Christian living is even more important.  We have a responsibility not only to ourselves, but to others, because so often if we mess things up in our personal lives, it affects someone else.  But there is one more that we need to be aware of within that community. When we refuse to become better people and live in sin, Paul reminds us that we are also disregarding God.

He tells the Thessalonians that their actions hurt themselves, each other and their relationship with God.  This relationship was precious to them. Would they listen?

March 11 - 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

Monday, March 11, 2013


March 11 - 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

A line I remember from the movie National Treasure, is “People just don’t talk that way anymore,” in reference to Nicolas Cage’s speech patterns.

Unless you are speaking formally from a pulpit on Sunday mornings, you probably would never speak or even write these words, but consider their beauty.

Paul could have said, “I hope we can come see you and I hope that you learn to love each other like we love you and that you will live good lives so that when you die you go to heaven.”  There, that’s the gist of the sentence.

But the gist of the sentence loses much of the meaning and extraordinary care which fills Paul’s words.

It was God who would direct their way back to the Thessalonians.  Not only did Paul call Him God, but Father, a personal, loving term.  It was God in tandem with the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ whom Paul prayed to for that possibility.  Paul couldn't do it on his own, but with their direction, it might happen.

Paul also knew that the people of Thessalonica were facing so much persecution they couldn't grow in love without the guidance of the Lord.  God is love.  He is the source of love. He gives love in abundance, He loves without reservation. Any attempt that we make at loving without His involvement is lacking. We can certainly love without Him, but it will never be as full and complete as it would be with his guidance.  Through the Lord, their love would increase and abound for each other.  Paul knows this because his love for them has been made possible through his relationship with God.

It is the work of the Lord which takes our sins away and allows us to stand before God at the end. We can’t do it on our own.

These words of Paul’s exude his love for the people of Thessalonica and show his great love and respect for the Lord. What power they had for those people and still have for us today.

March 10 - 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10

Sunday, March 10, 2013


March 10 - 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

One of my commentaries says that the trip from Athens to Thessalonica was about 220 miles.  A trip like that would have taken ten to eleven days.  My goodness, we can do an entire vacation in that amount of time today. Paul left Athens to go on to Corinth, so if we think that Timothy stayed in Thessalonica for maybe a week, then back to Athens and on to Corinth, it would have been longer than a month Paul waited to hear about how things were going in this church he loved so much.

One of my favorite book series was and still is “Little House on the Prairie.” I was always astonished at the amount of time it took messages to get back and forth between families and how long it took for people to travel.  The automobile certainly changed the way we look at life.  All of the technological advances that have continued to occur have sped up our access to information and knowledge so that within moments of something happening, we not only are made aware of it, but millions of people have made their opinions known as well.

Paul rejoiced when he heard the news of the Thessalonian church from Timothy.  They were standing fast in the Lord in the face of terrible persecution. He was able to finally relax, knowing that God’s people had held on and were growing stronger. Though his prayers had been answered, he continued to pray that he might be able to return and help them take their next steps in coming closer to God.

March 9 - 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Saturday, March 9, 2013


March 9 - 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.

After Paul, Timothy and Silas left Thessalonica, they went to Berea, where the same people who had threatened them, followed to continue their threats.  So, Paul left from there and went to Athens.  Silas and Timothy went back into Macedonia (Thessalonica) while Paul went on to Corinth.

Paul knew things were bad for the Thessalonians. They were being persecuted for their faith and there was nothing he could do about it.  He wanted to be with them, encouraging them and strengthening them, but even though he tried, he couldn't find a way to get there.  He and Silas sent young Timothy when he could bear it no longer.  He needed to know that someone he trusted was with that young church to help them stand strong in the face of opposition and when he could, Timothy would bring news back to Paul that all things were good there.

I can’t imagine not having ready access to immediate communication. How would we take it if we were required to wait days, even weeks to get any news.  One of my first jobs was a six hour drive from home.  I spent a lot of time on the telephone with my mother and when things were difficult or scary or awful, we spent even more time on the phone.

One night, a tornado was coming through town.  Though I knew I shouldn't  I called her, pulled the phone cord into the bathroom and sat down in the tub.  I made her stay on the telephone with me while the storm passed.  I wanted someone to know if I was dead or blown away.

Mom was always insistent that we check in with her when we traveled.  There was nothing that could get me in trouble any faster than if I didn't let her know where I was in a reasonable amount of time.  I didn't have a curfew in high school because she trusted I would always let her know what I was doing, who I was with and where we were doing things.  Well, when I was living on my own, one weekend my parents drove to Minneapolis to look into purchasing the printing franchise.  It was February of that year and we had talked all weekend long about the things they were learning and the possibilities for the future.  I knew when the left the Twin Cities and headed home, then, knowing that Mom and I always talked, waited up for a phone call.  When I didn’t hear anything at ten o’clock, then eleven o’clock and then midnight, I began to worry.  One o’clock came and went, and still they weren’t answering their phone at home (1984, no cell phones).  I was prepared to do anything to find them, including getting in my car and driving for six and a half hours to get home, then start searching backwards.  Finally, she answered at two twenty.  I yelled at her.  She laughed at me – told me that turnabout was fair play.

Paul needed to hear from the Thessalonians and what that was going to require was sending Timothy back into the fray.  He didn’t love them only when he was living among them. He loved and worried about them because they had become his family.

March 8 - 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

Friday, March 8, 2013


March 8 - 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

When I was growing up, I was known as Frank Greenwood’s daughter … okay, honestly, I was one of a collective. I was one of the Greenwood kids.  My poor brother got labeled as Diane and Carol’s brother when he was in school, but when we moved after his sophomore year in high school to a community where he was active, but I was not, I was then identified as Jim Greenwood’s sister.

I remember visiting my grandmother in Boston. She couldn't wait to take me to the Belmont Public Library and show me off to the people with whom she worked. I was her granddaughter, the first child of her only daughter.

When Mom and I went to a printing trade show in Chicago, Dad accompanied us and was identified as Margie Greenwood’s husband.  At my sister’s workplace, she identifies me simply as her sister. Her students and co-workers may never know my name, but when I meet them, they immediately smile and say, “Oh, you’re Carol’s sister.”

We all identify ourselves with someone who is just a little more well-known in any given situation.  It might give us credence or a common connection, things we rely on to build relationships and a sense of community.

Paul told the Thessalonians that when Jesus comes, he can hardly wait to identify himself with the Thessalonians.  They are his glory and joy.  Paul wants Jesus to identify him as one who knows the Thessalonians.

How do you want to be known?

March 7 - 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16

Thursday, March 7, 2013


March 7 - 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!

I don’t know that I ever really thought about what Paul was saying until today.  In his day, one thing that regularly happened was that philosophers and thinkers would sit around and discuss topics and issues … their words were then carried and further developed by others.  When the Thessalonians heard the word of God, they understood and treated it differently than they would those discussions.  The recognized that they were hearing the word of God, not words of men.

For the most part, we limit our hearing of the word of God to Sunday mornings at church.  Some of us might be involved in a weekly Bible study or we might read scripture verses that come into us as devotionals every day.  But, honestly, we recognize the word of God oftentimes because it is very location specific.  

What if God were trying to speak to us somewhere else through a vehicle we hadn’t ever expected?  How would we react?  Would we distrust the message because it didn’t come to us in a traditional manner?

The Thessalonians were so open to hear God speaking to them.  They also ended up facing persecution as a result of their acceptance and subsequent life changes, but that didn’t matter to them.  God’s word was more important than life itself.

Where might you be hearing His voice today?  What is He asking you to do?

March 6 - 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


March 6 - 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12

You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

Paul and his friends left Thessalonica in a hurry because they were accused of defying Caesar’s decrees … they were accused of acting unjustly.  People had stopped believing in idols and Paul was accused of leading them astray, by encouraging them to act against their gods and against the name of Caesar.

These accusations created riotous actions on the part of the community of Thessalonica.  If news of this got to Rome, it could bring down trouble on them. It also sent waves throughout the business community, when some of the greatest trade centered on idol worship.

Paul called on two witnesses to attest to his righteous behavior.  He called on the Thessalonians themselves as a witness to what could be seen and then he called on God as a witness to that which was unseen.

He and his fellow missionaries were blameless.  They had kept the laws of both man and God. They had done nothing illegal, nor had the behaved in any improper manner against God.  Now that they were gone, though, he needed to stop some of the gossip that was occurring around this church regarding his behavior, so the church itself could continue to grow.

March 5 - 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9


March 5 - 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

When Jesus sent the twelve out to proclaim the good news in Mark 6:7-13, he told them to take nothing except their clothing and sandals and a staff.  They were to be cared for by the people who heard the message and if someone refused to do this, they were to leave, shaking the dust from their feet as a message against them.

The priesthood of Israel came from the tribe of Levi, a tribe that was never to own land or property, but was to be cared for by the other tribes because the service they rendered was so important to the people of Israel.

Paul reminded the people of Thessalonica that while a community was expected to care for those who came from God, he wasn’t going to act in that manner.  He didn’t want to be a burden because his message was so important.  The time he invested in these people was something that was worth more than money could buy … it was as important as a mother’s nursing of her child.

Telling others about Jesus is worth every effort we put forth.  Some are paid for their work, others are not, but the message should never waver.  Whether we work day and night as Paul did to supplement his income in order that he and his fellow missionaries could live without being a burden to the church or not, it remains that we must proclaim the gospel of God … the good news that Jesus Christ has come to earth to bring salvation.

March 4 - 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


March 4 - 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 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. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.

How many times of being ‘shamefully treated’ would it take for you to stop doing something?  How many times were you punished as a child for a specific behavior before you figured out that the activity was not worth the punishment?  What is your number for behavior modification?

We are quite fortunate in that we don’t face persecution for telling people about Jesus Christ. Oh, there are plenty of people who think they do, but honestly, we have a lot of freedom when it comes to expressing our faith.  We don’t know what it is like to be tossed into prison for no other reason than that we spoke Jesus’ name aloud, or because several of our friends gathered in our home to talk about how God has changed lives.  We don’t understand true persecution and I often worry that if I were faced with the horrendous things Paul faced I might not have the strength or courage to stand up for my faith.

Peter didn't   We might consider those final moments of Jesus’ life to be some of the most important of all time, but Peter chose to run rather than stand up for his faith.  That’s what I’m afraid of.

Paul had been there when Christians were persecuted. If you remember, he held the coats of those who stoned Stephen to death (Acts 22:20). He knew what was coming at him when he chose to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

He went forward anyway.  When things got bad at Philippi, he moved on to Thessalonica. When things got bad, he moved forward to Berea.  Sharing the message of Jesus Christ was more important to him than anything else.  His fear was set aside, his pride and thoughts of self were pushed to the back. The only thing of any importance was that people come to know who they were in Jesus.  He was an apostle of Jesus Christ.

March 3 - 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10

Monday, March 4, 2013


March 3 - 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10

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. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

One of the commentaries I read regarding this passage says that the Thessalonian church was an apostolic fellowship.  It was this because not only did it accept the teaching of the apostles, but chose to follow the apostle’s example. They endured persecution and they shared the gospel with others.

This type of definition makes being an apostolic fellowship much more accessible.  We need to share the gospel … the Good News of Jesus Christ … with others and we need to be willing to face whatever comes at us because we call ourselves Christians.

The people in Thessalonica dealt with a lot of persecution, but they did so with great joy, knowing that they were following Jesus Christ and for Him, everything was worthwhile.  Because of their excitement about Jesus and because they lived what they preached and taught, word of their faith spread everyone, so much so that Paul found himself in communities ready to preach and teach, but instead hearing how the Thessalonians’ stories of lives being transformed had already reached those people.

This is witness at its very best!  The stories of our lives in transformation are what stir the hearts of others.

Oh, I want to be like those in Thessalonica!

March 2 - 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

Saturday, March 2, 2013


March 2 - 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

For 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.

The hearts of the people of Thessalonica were so ready for the word of God. It was apparent to Paul at the outset that their initial eager acceptance and then the very encouraging news that Timothy brought to him of their continued growth offered evidence that God had chosen them.

It was also very important to Paul that, as missionaries, their behavior was exemplary.  They knew the responsibility they had to the message of the Gospel.

Can you imagine the excitement happening in the hearts of this community and in the hearts of these missionaries?  God was on the move and they were part of something incredible.  There was such great honor among them all.  They believed in their message and it was part of their daily lives.  The Thessalonians were committed to sharing the message with their friends and neighbors and the church continued to grow on its own after Paul left them.

But, before that had occurred, they had experienced three men, whose commitment to sharing their faith in God through Jesus Christ drove them to live the best way possible in order that no one would ever call the power of Jesus Christ into question.  They lived as if Jesus were walking among them every day, they could not imagine betraying his name or his message.

What an amazing witness those men were and the confidence with which they delivered the Gospel took hold and exploded in a community where there was continued persecution.

Honor, integrity, passion, excitement, confidence, obedience.  These things aren't that difficult and the results that come from them are extraordinary.

March 1 - 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3

Friday, March 1, 2013


March 1 - 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. 

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Can you imagine living in a city that can trace its founding back to 315 b.c.?  Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece and the capital of central Macedonia.  One of the difficult things for historians is that because the city is so vibrant, there is little opportunity for archaeological excavation.

There was a large Jewish community with a synagogue when Paul wrote these letters and he attended there frequently with his friends.   In Acts 17:2-3 we read that it was his custom to spend time there discussing the Scriptures.

Paul’s preaching, however, didn't go over too well and some of the Jews who were furious at Paul declaring Jesus to be the Messiah, gathered up some ‘bad characters’ to start a riot. They used Caesar’s decree that there was only to be one king to incite the people against Paul and hi preaching regarding Jesus.  They rushed the home of Jason and arrested any who were associated with Paul.  The believers spirited Paul out in the middle of the night and the young church was now separated from its leader. (Acts 17:1-10).

Timothy brought a report to Paul regarding this church and it was quite encouraging.  Paul was concerned that since he left in such a hurry, they might feel discouraged or even disillusioned, but what he found from Timothy was that they were spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.  In this letter, he answers some questions that have arisen regarding the time he spent there and his hurried departure. He also deals with some ethical questions the church seemed to have missed in growing as Christians. We will also see that some believed the imminent return of Jesus was a good reason for them to continue working, so they became a burden to their friends and family.

While we find many moral teachings in Paul’s letters, we must always remember that he is writing very personal things to people he loves and knows well.  When he writes that he is constantly mentioning them in his prayers, they are assured that he means it and cares about them deeply.