Instructions in Christian Living

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 ESV

“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.”

Now this is not speaking of all men (or women) who call themselves preachers, pastors, or ministers of the gospel. Although many of them may work hard in what they do, and they may be zealous, and they may be in positions of authority over “church” congregations, they may also be charlatans, mere wolves in sheep’s clothing.

So, this calls for much discernment. This calls for testing the spirits and not believing everyone who says they are of God. Just because a person has a Bible college or a seminary degree, or just because he has the title of “Reverend” in front of his name, it doesn’t mean he isn’t a charlatan who is one of those “strangers” of John 10 who we are NOT to follow.

The ones Paul was referring to here are those who are preaching and living the same gospel that Paul and Jesus and the other apostles taught. And that is that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means that we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in Him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

They will be teaching that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. They will teach that he died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And they will teach that we must walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh if we want to have eternal life with God.

[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 2 Co 5:10]

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 ESV

“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.”

Now, this is not practiced much these days because so many of these pastors are encouraging their congregants to not say anything to anyone that may offend them, or that might make them feel bad about themselves. Instead, they are teaching that we must “stay in your own lane.”

So, if you actually take these Scriptures to heart, and you put them into practice, and you do admonish the idle and encourage the fainthearted and help the weak, exercising love and patience and godly wisdom and counsel, you may be tagged “self-righteous” or “judgmental” or “unloving.”

For, the word “admonish” means to warn, counsel, and exhort. This involves reasoning with them by warning (admonishing) them. So, this will involve confronting them in their sins, pointing them to the way of righteousness, and strongly encouraging them to change the way they are living, urging them to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands.

Also, this word “encourage” is not all the light and fluffy and happy stuff. For, it also includes urging, inciting, persuading, pushing, advising, and admonishing, rebuking, and warning. And helping the weak is to keep hold of them, to help them on toward love and good deeds, and to urge them to walk in the ways of holiness and righteousness.

And oddly enough, if we do put these behaviors into practice, we may be accused of returning evil for evil, for many people today consider it evil to confront people in their sins, and to call them to repentance, and to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness for what they are. But that is love, not evil, if we are doing it out of love, and if we are being led by God’s Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

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

This word “rejoice” literally means to delight in God’s grace, to experience his grace, and to be glad in it. And what is his grace to us? It is our deliverance from our slavery to sin so that we can now be slaves of God and of his righteousness. So, if we delight in that, we will repent of our sins, and we will follow our Lord Jesus in obedience to his commands (New Covenant).

And prayer is not a formula that we follow. It is not a routine or a ritual we experience. And it is not something we do just at a set time of day. It is communication with our Lord because we are in relationship with him. Our minds and our hearts should be in tune to his voice 24/7. Because he lives within us, we can talk to him and listen to him any time of day.

Giving thanks in all circumstances can be difficult when the circumstances are extremely painful. It is hard to give thanks when someone we love dies, especially if it is a child, or when there is a senseless mass murder, or when we lose our jobs and income, or when our spouse decides to leave us for someone else. But giving thanks focuses our minds on God and not on self.

The main thing here is to keep God’s perspective in all things and to not let ourselves sink into depression because we let our circumstances get the best of us. God is still sovereign over our lives. He is still in control. He can be fully trusted. So, we need to trust him with our lives, and let him have control, and thank him, praise him, and keep open communication with him.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 ESV

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

I have always liked this definition of the gift of prophecy which I pulled off of the internet years ago:

Gift of Prophecy: “A person with this gift, like its Old Testament counterpart, has a keen awareness of current events and the cultural implications of not following God’s word. This is important because each church is made up of people, customs, and circumstances that are different from others. Prophecy helps us apply the scriptures to where we live. A person with this gift has a burden to warn of God’s judgment and the need for us to repent… This gift helps the church live holy in the culture and time that they are appointed. It rebukes, strengthens and encourages believers.” http://spiritualgifts.wordpress.com/2007/06/27/65/

We have many instructions in Scripture regarding this gift, such as is found in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and in Romans 12. Paul urged the Corinthian church to desire the gift of prophecy. And we learn in Acts 2 that it was prophesied in the book of Joel that in the last days that God’s sons and daughters would prophesy. So, both men and women will prophesy.

And the gift of prophecy is to be used to build up the body of Christ in the faith, for their encouragement, and to help us to get ready for spiritual warfare. And building up involves urging spiritual growth and maturity in Christ in walks of obedience to our Lord. And encouragement involves urging us to walk in holiness and righteousness. And helping us to get ready for battle involves speaking the truth in love to our present-day situations.

So, we are not to despise such prophecies as this, but we are to test them to make certain that what we are hearing is from God and that it agrees with the Scriptures (in context) which are related to our walks of faith as followers of Jesus. In this way we will not quench the Spirit. And, after we have tested the prophecies, we hold on to what is good (in God’s eyes) and we reject all that is evil, which is one of the objects of the gift of prophecy.

A Believer’s Prayer

An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

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