Dr. David Rose, Pastor
Saturday, November 21, 2020—2 Thessalonians 1-3, Acts 18:12-19:10
Addressing a problem is far better than ignoring the problem. Talking about the issue does not always solve it or make it go away. Often, there have to be several discussions to help process through the dilemma.
Paul spent 18 months with the Corinthians, and while he was there, he wrote to the Thessalonians to encourage them in their faith and to assure them about their belief in the end times and return of Christ. While in Corinth, Paul wrote a second letter to discuss these thoughts further. He had full confidence they were continuing to grow in the Lord and that God would bring justice for the difficulties they endured (1:1-12), but he had heard of their continued anxiety about the second coming of Jesus (2:1).
False teachers were saying Jesus had already returned, and the Thessalonians had missed it. Paul reminded them what he had taught them in their brief time together—the man of lawlessness would first come into power and there would be a great falling away of so-called Christians who would begin to align with this self-exalting man (2:1-11). That obviously had not happened, so they could be at peace and stand firm in faith.
Paul urged them to pray for him as he continued to follow the Lord, and he told them to hold one another accountable to serving one another and avoiding the pitfalls of idleness (3:1-15). Paul finished his second missionary journey and soon began a third (18:12-19:10).
Thank God for the truth of the Word that answers questions and gives direction to life. Pray for your community to be Word-directed.
Friday, November 20, 2020—1 Thessalonians 1-5
Paul met the believers in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey. He praised God for the faith and love that prompted their work for Christ and the hope that inspired them to endure any hardship (1:3). He wrote to them not long after their meeting because he heard they were struggling with important questions about what Paul taught them.
Paul reminded them of the love he had for them and the spirit in which he taught them. He recalled how the Thessalonians had turned from old beliefs and followed Jesus with sincerity and how they suffered ridicule from their neighbors as the believers in Judea did from the Jews. What Paul had taught and God had done through Christ was genuine (2:1-3:5). Paul was richly encouraged by Timothy’s report of their firm faith (3:6).
Paul told the Thessalonians to remain steady in their walk. They were to avoid immorality and live in self-control. “For God did not call us to be impure but to live a holy life” (4:7). They were to look after the needs of others while living a quiet life and could be certain Jesus would care for the faithful who died and those who would be alive at His return (4:13-18).
Paul urged them to remain diligent—looking for Jesus’ return and staying faithful to His call to service until then. This required self-control, faith, love, and hope (5:8). This also meant urging the idle to get to work in faith and obedience. God is faithful. His people are to be, too.
Thursday, November 19, 2020—Acts 15:1-18:11
Followers of Jesus have His Holy Spirit living in them. He is the Counselor who provides wisdom and the Guide who gives power and direction. While He provides unity among the disciples, they will at times have disagreements about doctrine and practice. How they interact and move forward is critical to their continued peace and to God’s glory.
The early church had serious concerns dealing with how Jews and Gentiles—who had vastly different cultural expectations—followed a common Master. Were Jewish regulations necessary for salvation? Was Old Testament Law necessary for daily holiness? The believers convened in Jerusalem for a lengthy discussion and agreed the Gentiles had been purified by faith (15:9), so the burden of the Law was not necessary. They shared their thoughts with the church in Antioch and encouraged them.
Paul and Barnabas could not come to an agreement, however. They had different ideas about their second missionary journey, so they parted ways, each man finding a new mission partner. Paul began retracing his steps from his first journey to check on the churches. He met Timothy on this trip and had a vision which compelled him to go into Macedonia to share the gospel. Paul and Silas faced great difficulty but saw God do miraculous works through them faith (16:1-40). Paul continued to challenge people to think critically and to consider Jesus wherever he went (17:1-34). Some believed and repented. Many balked and scoffed.
Walking with the Lord is a guarantee of challenging conversations and difficult circumstances. Pray for faith and endurance in everything.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020—Galatians 4-6
Paul knew the Law as well as any of the greatest Jewish scholars of his day. He could recite passages from memory and tell of the commentaries of the most revered minds. Paul knew the Law described holiness but gave no solution for sin. The Law imprisoned people.
That’s why Jesus was such a gift. He was born under the Law to set free all those who were under the Law (4:4). Those who believed the good news were no longer slaves to sin and the Law but were now sons of God. Men and women alike could now have full rights of inheritance. Why would anyone want to go back to the old way when Jesus had provided something so much better (4:9)? Paul wanted them to live in the joy of freedom.
If they wanted to live by the Law, they needed to realize they had to obey every single detail of the Law (5:3). This was impossible. Jesus freed them from that obligation. That freedom did not mean they could live however they desired, indulging the flesh (5:13, 6:7). In being free in Christ, they had the opportunity and power to love others as Christ loved them.
This Spirit-empowered freedom gave them a new relationship with Christ and fellow believers. They could support and rebuke one another in the power and gentleness of the Spirit instead of the Law (6:1-10). Pray for the same Spirit to rule your life and your church family for Jesus’ glory.