Thursday, March 31, 2011

Introduction to 1 Thessalonians

I have begun a study on First Thessalonians for personal growth. I'm not promising any new insights or even anything particularly deep; I just plan on thinking and studying through this book in a public forum.

So who wrote this letter? The first line of the letter tells us, "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy." Simple enough. Paul wrote much of the New Testament and Silvanus (or Silas) and Timothy were his close associates. All were servants or disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Timothy was like a son to Paul and is included as a co-author of sorts in other letters (Philippians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians) and there are two letters addressed to him that bear his name (1 & 2 Timothy). Silas was a close companion of Paul and traveled with him on his missionary journeys. He is also included as co-author of 2 Thessalonians.  But why would Paul include Silvanus and Timothy as co-authors of 1 & 2 Thessalonians?

Timothy had been a frequent travelling companion of Paul and may have been with Paul and Silas when they ministered in Thessalonica. Acts 16 tells us that Timothy joined Paul in Lystra. Shortly after this, Paul received a vision from the Holy Spirit to minister in Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10). Soon, Paul and Silas spent time in a Philippian Jail. After their release, they made their way through many cities and found themselves in Thessalonica. Although Timothy is not mentioned as part of their group, it is possible that he was with them. Acts 17 tells us that Paul and Silas reasoned with the Jews in the city for "three Sabbath days." Some Jews believed in Jesus as well as "a great many of the devout Greeks." God blessed their ministry there as many people began to follow the Lord. The Jews who did not believe opposed them there and stirred up trouble for them so that Paul and Silas were "sent away" by the believers, most likely to protect them. In answer to my question, Paul most likely included Timothy and Silas as co-authors because the Thessalonian believers would have known them and the two may have contributed in some way to the writing of the letter (and Paul often wrote using a scribe).

Why did Paul write to this group of believers? We will see as we journey through this letter that Paul wanted to encourage them in the faith. He had sent Timothy to visit and strengthen them in the faith (1 Thess 3:1-6) and to find out how they were doing. He thanks God for them and instructs them in many matters. A major theme in this letter is the coming of the Lord.

With this brief introduction, let's start digging into God's word! Feel free to post comments if something seems unclear or if you think I haven't addressed something. I may not be able to respond right away, but I'll always make an effort to answer any questions.

Oh, just so you know- I have a couple of sources for my study: cross references in my Bible (using Scripture to interpret Scripture); the ESV Study Bible; the New Geneva Study Bible; Matthew Henry's Commentary; the Bible Knowledge Commentary; various online resources...

I pray that God will draw me closer to Himself as I study His holy word. As you read and study along, may He do the same for you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

God Working in our Lives

 Have you ever made plans in life and things not turn out the way you think they should have? Silly question, I know. We've all had this experience. Sometimes the things we plan for our lives are huge desires that we think would make everything just perfect. So why do these plans so often fail? Doesn't God tell us, "Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart." (Ps. 37:4 NAS)?? If I had a dollar for every time MY DESIRES were NOT given to me!!

 So WHY doesn't God give us all of our desires? Based on the above verse, there is a prerequisite to God giving us the desires of our hearts: "DELIGHT yourself in the LORD." How many times can you say that you have truly DELIGHTED in God?? I can't count on one hand for myself. That is, most of the time I delight in things OTHER than GOD all the while wondering why I haven't been given my heart's desires. Don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that this verse contains a magical formula where all you have to do is "delight" in God and BAM! you've got a new car or a new job! The Apostle John said that if we ask according to His will, He hears us(1 Jn 5:14) But how do we know His will? Oh boy, I may have opened a can of worms here. Let me just say that YES, God has a plan. But it is not our job to KNOW every single detail of it. He has revealed much to us IN THE SCRIPTURES. But he has not made known to most of us what will happen tomorrow or next week in our particular situations. Moses told us in Deuteronomy 29:29 , "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever..." (NAS). Bottom line: What God has clearly revealed to us (i.e. THE BIBLE) is for us to know. Those things that have not been revealed to us (the secret things) are for the Lord to know and for HIM to work out.
 Friends, trust the Lord in all of your life. Especially when things aren't going the way you had hoped. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Ephesians 1:11 says, "...we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will..." So even though your life may not seem to be going well, rest assured: God is working out His plan. If you love God and are called according to His purpose ( that is, you've believed and embraced the Gospel), then God is working all of the things in your life for good.

Remember, God is all Sovereign and stuff...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Just an SMS text test...

I'm playing with the SMS feature so I can post from my phone. Not sure how often I'll use this since I'm limited to 160 characters. But it's worth a try...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Kid with a big heart gives a lesson in Prayer

I was driving home from work last night listening to the radio. I listen to all kinds of stuff on the radio, but last night Iwas listening to CCM. The DJ played a call he got from a young listener. The boy must have been between 11 and 15 from the sound of his voice. He was by no means eloquent. Yet, his call revealed that he has a big heart. He called to ask for prayer for a friend. His friend is going through hard times. The friend's father is in the military deployed in combat. The mom just lost her job and now they are about to lose their house. The friend is distraught, and this boy cared enough to call a Christian radio station to ask for prayer. The DJ asked him if he'd like to pray for his friend and he did. So this young, caring, believing, non-eloquent young man prayed for his friend on-air. It really touched my heart.

It made me think about how many times my friends ask me for prayer and I tell them that I will gladly pray for them- and then I forget! God has told us to come to Him in prayer. Hebrews tells us that we can "approach the throne of grace with confidence." Jesus told us that our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we even ask Him. I share all of this to encourage you to be people of prayer. The Lord who made the heavens and the earth cares. He INVITES us to approach Him. If you have placed your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, He will hear you. No request is too insignificant. Remember, God is all Sovereign and stuff...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

God is all Sovereign...

I've always wanted to start a blog. But the main thing stopping me has always been the thought: "who cares what I think!!!"  Well, I'm still of the same mindset, but I've decided to blog anyways in order to publically think through life, God, and all things.

Why the name, "God is all Sovereign?" This is essentially my motto in life. As I've studied the Bible throughout the years, one truth keeps screaming at me- namely the truth that God is Sovereign over ALL things. That means that life,death, good, evil, happiness, sorrow, wealth, poverty, good times,  bad times, natural disasters,...EVERYTHING...all things happen according to the will of God. My random ramblings are all part of His plan. This does not excuse ANYONE from responsiblilty for their actions- certainly not me. I am a sinful man redeemed by God's amazing grace. I make mistakes and they are MY mistakes. I sin and it is MY sin. I call myself a "supralapsarian baptist." Those of you with a theological background shouldn't automatically assume that I am a hyper-calvinist. I am not. I share the gospel, and I know that the Bible commands me to share the gospel with Everyone. I know that I will post more on this topic in the future, so I will move on for now.

I'm planning to post things from every aspect of life on this blog, but because the Bible and Jesus Christ are so much a part of who I am, I wouldn't be surprised to see most of my posts centered on the Bible and Jesus Christ.

When you question what in the world is going on in this world, remember: God is all Sovereign and stuff...