“For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.”
1 Thessalonians 2:4
When Paul, Silas and Timothy, boldly preached the Gospel to the church in Thessalonica, their intentions were simple; to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, His salvation and His soon return. There was no ulterior motive. Yet many in Macedonia, Achaia, and Thessalonica were stirring up rumours that the faithful servants of Christ, were only preaching to gain the financial support and favour of the churches, so as to discredit the core of their message. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Through the message of Paul, Silas and Timothy, many came to know Jesus Christ and put their trust in Him. As verse 8 of chapter 1 boldly states, ‘the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere’! The Thessalonian church was thriving because of the faithfulness shown by Paul, Silas and Timothy to boldly share about Christ, in spite of persecution and without trying to gain anything in return.
We too should take note and be challenged in our own lives, to share the Gospel of Christ with all those we meet, not for our own personal gain, but for God’s Kingdom to come in their lives. We too, have exactly the same commission as Paul and as the other followers of Christ in the New Testament. It hasn’t changed. We too speak ‘as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News’. Our role in His Kingdom is to share the Good News, not to gain popularity among Christians, or to flatter those hearing for personal gain, but rather to please God and be faithful in what He has called us to do. It is God alone that both examines our hearts in sharing, and the recipients hearts in hearing. Be faithful in what God has called you to do!
“The Lord will work out His plans for my life – for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made me.”
Psalm 139 is probably one of the most beautiful Psalms of David. It talks about the intimacy and the detail in which our Heavenly Father knows us, because He created us. It talks about our lives been in His hand, about how God’s thoughts for us and about us, outnumber the grains of sand on the seashores. It tells us that there is nowhere we can go where God will not be walking by our side. YET, above all these wonderful words and promises, as if David was almost planning a great introduction for Psalm 139, we read this verse found in Psalm 138:8.
It is almost like the foundation, preparing you to be taken away, in the intimacy of God’s word, and His plan and purpose for you and your life. See when you know that God is with you, when you know how close He is through the hardest and darkest of times in your life, your ability to see yourself how God created you increases, because you know who you are in Him. You can appreciate His love more. You can understand how much thought God put in to making you because you are secure that God will work out His plans for your life.
Friends, know that God is already working out His plans for your life. He won’t abandon you, when you feel alone. When you know this, then you will appreciate how God has made you, how much you are loved and how precious you are to Him. Know the foundation, and the details will follow.
“Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
What an amazing truth this is. Jesus willingly laid down His life, for not just someone who was upright, not just for good people, but for sinners, for people who may not even accept His sacrifice. What amazing love is that! It’s like we have been let off the hook for something we have clearly and blatantly done wrong, but don’t receive punishment for! We are forgiven, because Jesus chose to die for us at our worst to give us His best!
As you reflect upon this devotion today, think about what you have been saved from, and rejoice that it was while in that situation, moment, or wrong decision, that God gave His only Son for YOU. Rejoice that that is how much you are loved. Rejoice that God no longer identifies you with that wrong choice or action, but instead sees His resurrected Son standing in the place of your punishment and judgement. What grace! What Love!
“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.”
Are you feeling at the end of your strength? Is your faith running low and body feeling weak? Well, if that’s you, then it’s ok. We all have days when our faith is stretched. Sometimes we even feel like giving up. Look throughout the Bible, and you will see plenty of examples when men and women of God, had a ‘wobbly day’ and felt faithless and weak. Yet God is faithful. He doesn’t judge us for this but rather scoops down and catches our falling souls in the palm of His hand, dusts us off, showers us in His love, empowers us in His Spirit and strengthens our hearts to keep on keeping on.
When tough times come, when you feel like giving up, know this simple yet life changing truth, ‘GOD remains the strength of your heart’. He is with us and promised to never leave us, even when we feel like He has. He is there. Take courage and strength from this. The writer of this psalm had the confidence to believe so, and so can we know for sure. He is ours forever. Be at peace.
11th – 13th August
“Teacher. Which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses? Jesus replied, “‘You must the Lord your God with all you heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’”
Jesus, in discussion with the Sadducees and Pharisees, was asked a faith defining question by an expert in religious law. He was trying to trick Jesus into saying something controversial or ‘heretical’ yet Jesus’ answer not only silenced His critics, but set a moral foundation for what our faith and ‘religion’ should look like forever. Jesus’ answer highlighted two basic human guidelines: Our need to love God and our need to love each other.
Loving God, encompasses and includes every part of our lives. ‘Our hearts, our souls and our minds’ is a holistic imagery or loving God with every part of you. Whatever you think about, whatever is going on in your hearts, with every ounce of our lives, we are commanded to love God. Jesus didn’t say these words because He was being egotistic. He said these words, because out of our loving bond with Jesus and our relationship with God, is birthed love for others. The root of love is God. It started with Him and continues in Him. Without our relationship with God we cannot love others. Our relationship with God is the perfect example of acceptance, grace and mercy.
Loving God is not only us putting Him first in our lives or even including Him in all we do, think and say. It is also receiving and accepting His love too. In fact, we cannot love God, if we first don’t accept His love. After all, the root of love, starts from God. When we learn to accept God’s love, we can love Him with everything in us, and in turn love others too. Our image of ourselves increases as we discover how much God truly loves us too.
Receive and accept God’s love
Love others Love God with your heart, mind & soul
“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.”
If you are stressed, out of hope and ideas, low, depressed or sad, then today’s verse is for you. Friend, don’t give up. Keep on keeping on. Trust in the Lord. Trust in His promises. Trust that whatever you are going through, a promise of great reward is waiting for you. These are God’s words and God’s promises. In John 14:27, Jesus again promises us His peace through the power of the Holy Spirit, ‘I am leaving you with a gift’ Jesus says, ‘peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.’
Throughout God’s word we are encouraged to keep going, to endure all things. The reason; because we have a glorious hope that awaits us. A promise of an end to our suffering, pain and circumstance: in this life or the next. As you battle on, may you find strength to persevere and endurance to keep going. Don’t give up. God is with you and on your side.
“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”
As we reach the climax and end of this wonderful chapter, we are reminded that evil can be overcome; we can conquer evil. Notice the writer does not say, ‘don’t let evil conquer you, by building a great castle or guard around your life’. He instead adds a big BUT and says that we can ‘conquer evil by doing good’. Of course it is good to put safeguards in your life, and daily wear the armour of God and protection from the enemy’s scheming ways. But it is in the everyday battles that we can be victorious in by doing good and what is right, in the power of the Holy Spirit, thereby conquering evil.
In the film the Hobbit, Gandalf a wise wizard said the following words, “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” Although not completely the same, it slightly parallels what the writer of Romans is getting at. We can defeat evil by doing good, everyday deeds of kindness, love and good.
As we start a new year, may we ask the Holy Spirit to show us how we can win victories in our life by overcoming evil with good rather than letting evil overcome us. We are equipped with the victory power of Christ. Great battles are won by lots of small victories.
“Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because His disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.”
The situation so far, in today’s verse, was not ideal. Firstly, Jesus was in Samaria, a no-go place for Jews because of the hostility between the two nations. Secondly, Jesus was alone and talking to a Samaritan woman. Another no no according to Jewish laws and customs; a fact John particularly makes sure he includes in his account of this story. Both actions where extremely un-common for a righteous Jewish person, particularly a Jewish man.
But Jesus broke down all traditional and religious barriers to accept this Samaritan woman and accept her as she was. This highlights an important part of Jesus’ character. It shows us that Jesus was willing to bring shame upon Himself, to be ridiculed and even secluded from society (because He was with ‘un-clean’ people), for the sake of reaching one soul.
This is what we mean when we say for ‘God so loved the world’. God through Jesus, reached into the depths of societies outcasts, the culturally ‘unwanted’, and showered His love upon those who were only treated with hate and malice. Jesus shows us that no-one and no-where is too far out of reach for His love. Today, as you go about your day, challenge yourself to see people as God sees them and ask God to show His love to them where they are at and how they need to receive it: you never know, He might even use you!
“Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.””
2 Peter 3:3-4
“THE END TIMES ARE NEAR”, is the cry often preached many Street Evangelists, trying to persuade passers-by to put their trust in Jesus’ salvation and avoid eternal damnation. Now although they are true in some sense, that people need saving from their sins, perhaps their approach could be deemed too aggressive by some. Yet whatever your opinion may be on their methods, or the words they choose, their message is actually a topic that was much discussed in Peter’s day and age too.
When is Jesus coming back as He promised? Is it this year? Is it when Jerusalem becomes a nation again? Is it when a no-body becomes President of America? Is it when Europe becomes a stronger power in the world? No-one could argue that it feels like the last days, right? Yet what is interesting is that people in Peter’s time, also thought they were living through the last days as well. Even some of the Apostles and writers of the New Testament alluded to them living in the ‘last hours’ or ‘last days’. So what is our response as Believers in Jesus? Do we try to shut-up the doubters of Jesus’ imminent return or try to scare the non-believers into the Kingdom?
Our approach should be as Peter encouraged in his letters, ‘while you (we) are waiting for these things to happen (the end times), make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight’ (verse 14). We must be patient for the Lords’s return, because God works in His time not ours. Moreover, as Peter says, the Lord ‘is being patient for your (people’s) sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent’ (verse 9b) . . . . . ‘And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved’ (verse 15a).
Our role is to get our lives right before Christ and pray for others, that they may too know Jesus, the Saviour of the world, if He comes back tomorrow or in a thousand years!!