2 Thess. 1:3-5 NASB
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.”
I know that I am very thankful for the fellowship of true believers in Jesus Christ who love God, who are walking with him in obedience, and who are called according to his purpose. I am very thankful to God for my brothers and sisters in the Lord with whom I can enjoy such sweet fellowship in Christ, our Lord.
It is wonderful how we can encourage one another in Christ, how we can share scriptures and songs with one another, and how we can build one another up in the faith to maturity in Christ through sharing the teachings of scripture with one another, and through the sharing of how the scriptures are to be or can be applied to our lives today.
And, it is so encouraging, too, that we have our brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we can share our burdens, and they with us, and that we can lift one another up in prayer to our Lord, too. For, we all need prayer.
I am encouraged, as well, by reading or hearing the testimonies of other Christians as they share how God is working in their individual lives and what he is teaching them personally, and how they are applying the word of God to their daily lives. I am encouraged by their walks of faith with Christ and by how he is growing them in their faith and commitments to Christ.
And, I am strengthened in my own faith through hearing their stories of faith and determination in times of great trials, and how God is seeing them through their difficult situations they are facing or have faced. I also enjoy the interactions among these followers of Jesus as they share with each other words of encouragement, hope, and healing, in the name of Jesus.
So, to all of you out there who share your lives and your faith and your testimonies for the encouragement, strengthening and building up of the body of Christ in faith, I want to say a special “thank you,” and to let you know that you are making a difference. God be with you!!
2 Thess. 1:6-10 NASB
“For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.”
But, not everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ is a true follower of Jesus. Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord,” truly revers Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives. Not everyone who thinks he is saved from his sins is saved from his sins. And, not everyone who is convinced he is going to heaven when he dies is truly on his way to heaven, and not to hell.
For, many people are following after man-made religion which is spiritually dead, for it is void of the Spirit. Many people, too, have latched on to a cheap grace gospel which does not produce holy lives committed to Christ, but which permits them to keep on in their sinful lifestyles, living for the flesh and for self-pleasure and for self-gratification.
And so their “faith” is in what is empty and useless to them, and which will not deliver on its promises. And, that is because they have abandoned true faith in Jesus Christ for a cheap substitute.
It is kind of like a man or a woman choosing porn over genuine intimacy and faithfulness to his or to her spouse. Or, it is like someone going after another lover in place of one’s spouse, because that “other lover” makes no demands for faithfulness, fidelity, honesty, morality or purity at all. So, that “other lover” appeases the sinful cravings of the flesh, which is what makes him or her so attractive and desirable to the flesh.
But, man-made religion that is void of the Holy Spirit of God, and that is based in the teachings and philosophies of mere humans, and which is contrary to God’s Word and to His gospel, is “strange fire.”
And, this includes teaching that may seem biblical, on the surface, but that denies the fullness of the Holy Spirit of God, and which centers more in the dogmas of men rather than in the fullness of the living and active Word of God being lived out in our daily lives in all practicality.
The More Critical
But, the more critical is this cheap grace gospel which is permeating the church of today, which is promising people heaven while it permits them to continue to live like hell. It gives off the impression that it is the true gospel of God’s grace. But, God’s grace instructs us to say “NO!” to worldly and fleshly passions and desires, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 4:17-24).
But, in trouble with God are those who follow after man-made religion, whether it be the dogmas of men absent of the life of the Spirit of God, or whether it be this cheap grace gospel which permits the flesh to keep on living and ruling, and which refuses to put the flesh and sin to death.
They will have to “pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” because they refused to bow to Jesus Christ as truly Lord (owner-master) of their lives, and because they refused to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And, what is that gospel which they refuse to obey? It is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It is that true faith in Jesus Christ submits to Christ as Lord and it walks with him in obedience. It is that genuine faith in Jesus Christ produces in us death to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness – all in the power of God’s Holy Spirit living in us (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 2:24).
2 Thess. 1:11-12 NASB
“To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We need to be in prayer for one another, that we would be strengthened in our walks of faith. We need to pray for one another to walk in faithfulness to our Lord and to not get sidetracked by the things of this sinful world. We need to lift one another up in prayer to the Lord so that we would live lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, praiseworthy of the calling we have received from God, which is to holiness and righteousness, and to the obedience of faith.
We need to pray for those who are following the Lord in sharing the message of the gospel, and the truth of God’s Word for his people, and who are confronting the lies of Satan, that they would be fruitful and that God would be glorified through the ministries to which he has called them.
And, we need to be praying for all people to come to faith in Jesus Christ, especially those who give lip service only to God, but who continue to live to gratify the sinful cravings of the flesh. We need to pray for their eyes to be opened to the truth and that the veil of darkness (the lies of Satan) be lifted, so that they can see the true Light, and so that they can follow the true Light.
And, if we are going through hardships and persecutions for our faith and our testimonies for Jesus Christ, and if we are being opposed by those who are following after men, rather than God, we need to be encouraged that God is still God, and that he is working all things for our good. So, we need to not be afraid or to get discouraged, but we just need to trust Him.
Trust His Heart
Songwriters: Babbie Y. Mason / Eddie Carswell
All things work for our good
Though sometimes we don’t see
How they could
Struggles that break our hearts in two
Sometimes blind us to the truth
Our Father knows what’s best for us
His ways are not our own
So when your pathway grows dim
And you just don’t see Him,
Remember you’re never alone
God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand
When you don’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His Heart