Tag Archives: II Thessalonians

Morning Thoughts (II Thessalonians 3:13)

II Thessalonians 3:13, "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing."

This morning, one of the hardest things to determine sometimes is if we are going in the right way.  With so many influences on a daily basis, we may get to the point of doubting and second-guessing our actions, decisions, and motives.  After all, as the old saying goes, "To err is human."  However, something else that requires just as much effort as knowing if what we are doing is right is to continue doing what we know to be right regardless of influences or the winds of change.  This attitude of determination to follow after righteousness and goodness is harder and harder to find in the world.  When the world becomes faster, changes more often, and keeps short attention spans, the idea of wholeheartedly pursuing something for prolonged periods of time becomes a very foreign concept.  It is this lack of determination to follow after goodness that leads to a rise in divorce rates, lack of church attendance, and very slack Bible reading and study.  However, determined effort to prolong godly behavior yields amazing results that cannot be had otherwise.

As Paul heads to the close of his second epistle to the Thessalonians, we see very fitting closing remarks that a man would make to a beloved group.  This church – much like the Philippian church – was quite dear to Paul.  Looking at the general scope of his language to them over two epistles, they were much closer to the Philippians' crown and joy than the Corinthians' headache.  During Paul's first epistle, he comforts them about a great many things, but one of the most prominent comforts that they received as the promise of the 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This detailed discussion of that blessed event and comforting promise had likely yielded some undesirable fruits in the Thessalonian church.  For, in the 2nd chapter of the 2nd epistle, Paul encourages them not to think of it imminently – thereby implying that perhaps some or many of them had begun to do so.

As we reach the dawn of a new year, what would your year look like if you firmly believed the Lord would return this year?  How many things would seem not worth our time, and how many others would seem worth infinitely more.  Doubtless, our jobs and natural inclinations would lose some of their shine, and the Lord's house and His word would seem exponentially more important.  If such were the case, the problems of life would also seem much more bearable.  How many worries would we have if we knew that the Lord's return was coming imminently in the near future?  Paul encourages the brethren to maintain their vigil and not let honourable things slide since the day of the Lord would not be as immediate as they had initially thought after his first letter.

For us today, some 2,000 years later, we see Paul's words ring just as true and clearly as they ever have.  We know not when the Lord's return will be, but we do know that it will come.  If God has promised it, rest assured it will come to pass.  Therefore, let us not be weary in well doing.  Finding the right path and staying in it seems to prove difficult for the disciple of Christ when the world pulls him in six different directions at once.  No doubt, many are now embarked in the early journey of new-found resolutions, and more than likely, the next few weeks will see many of those goals fizzle out.  However, serving the Lord in well doing never "goes out of style," regardless of what the world says.  No matter what winds of change and mindset may blow, His commandments are still worthy.

As Paul encouraged the Galatian brethren in the same mindset (Galatians 6:9), we see that this manner of life will have the susceptibility to faint.  Since labouring takes effort, there is always the opportunity to faint (get discouraged) by the way.  When the world tries to make the child of God feel foolish for believing in creation, going to church, faithfully reading the Bible, etc., there is pressure to faint and fail to pursue these godly goals.  However, there are many things that Paul enumerates that we can expect just as assuredly today as the brethren did then for faithfully following this pattern of life.

If someone picks something and stays in it for a prolonged period of time, there is a sense of familiarity that grows from it.  Consider marriage.  As a couple stays together for many years, they begin to understand one another like no one else.  Although I am relatively young on the marriage chart – currently 8.5 years – I believe that I know my wife better than anyone else alive.  Even her parents do not have the familiarity with her that I do, and this is due to pursuing a "togetherness" that cannot be found otherwise.  When we faithfully read God's word and faithfully attend His house, we gain familiarity with God that we would not have otherwise.  The more we read the Bible and listen to the gospel, the more real and familiar God's promises and blessings become to us.

Another point of faithfully continuing in a path is that the knowledge level is going to predictably increase.  I am always amazed today to hear the mindset that someone believes they can learn as much outside of church or outside the Bible about God and His ways as they can in it.  That would be like me going into engineering and saying that I could learn as much on my own about the trade without ever reading the source material and listening and learning from the experts in the field.  No one would hire me with such credentials, and one should expect the "credentials" of the disciple of Christ to be no less. 

Besides the knowledge growth and familiarity with godly service, a prolonged pattern or righteous living also yields sweet peace and comfort.  By considering the above examples of marriage and credentialed work, we see that comfort and peace comes from knowing and understanding your place.  My marriage is sweeter now than it was 8.5 years ago in the early stage.  The reason is simply because by knowing my wife as well as I do and learning more about her, there is sweetness that stems from it.  Used to, I might misread a reaction and get disturbed by it.  Now, I see certain things and know what they mean, and that knowledge and understanding is far better than those dubious moments of wondering what was going on.  Likewise, my professional life as an engineer is much better now than it was when I was in college worrying about passing tests and wondering "if I would ever get it."  Since I know the material and can read different situations, I am comforted that I know what to do based on my prolonged service in the field.  This particular peace and comfort of place is where we will spend the remainder of our thoughts on this verse.

When we spend many, many hours in God's Book it seems more real and vibrant with each passing moment.  When I first started reading the Bible, there were a lot of concepts that I did not understand and some that I understood a little bit about.  However, after more and more time in it, I found that subjects like "grace" were not just words on the page but very real and meaningful things that had "taste" to them. (I Peter 2:1-3) I learned and understood that "sacrifice" was not just a word but had a "feel" to it.  As the gospel has sounded in my ears over the years, it has steadily grown from heralded words to deep and impacting concepts that are quite relevant in my life.

As I have grown older, seen more, and experienced more, I have grown to realize that God's Book and His associated gospel bring real-world answers to real-world problems.  15 years ago, I was one of the biggest "worry warts" the world had ever seen.  As God becomes more familiar through His word and church, worry seems so unprofitable.  15 years ago,
I was quite hot-tempered, but now from tasting grace and mercy, there seems to be so little value in it.  When Satan comes calling, there is a great peace and comfort of knowing how to deal with him.  When the problems of life knock upon our door, there is something sublime in the knowledge of God's blessings in the midst and face of trials and tribulations.

When the songwriter penned the words to "Thus Far the Lord has Led Me On," he knew and understood the value of faithfulness in well doing and the curses in failure to do it.  When we fail in the pursuit of godliness, we find "much of my time has run to waste, and I perhaps am near my home."  However, experiencing His mercy yields "but He forgives my follies past, and gives me strength for days to come."  That peace of knowing and understanding stays with us through "in vain the sons of earth or hell, tell me a thousand frightful things."  That knowledge of the vanity of their actions is because "my God in safety makes me dwell, beneath the shadow of His wings."  As the song goes on, we see the ultimate benefit of this righteous conduct "faith in His name forbids my fear, oh may His presence ne'er depart," and this is based on the promise "and in the morning, let me hear, the love and kindness of His heart."

As we go through life, no matter what is thrown in our path, nothing is worthy of keeping us from well doing.  While the road is long and wearisome at times, we can draw strength and comfort from familiarity with God and His ways.  Has He ever let us down even when life seemed too hard to handle?  Has He ever changed?  Familiarity with Him yields an immediate answer of "no He does not, has not, nor will not."  Though the world may boldly promote the failures or total non-existence of God, we can take comfort in our "walk with Him" that we know and understand Him. (Jeremiah 9:23-24) And though we do not know when He will return, the knowledge that He has never failed on a promise gives strength and comfort to know that He will not fail on that one either.

Getting back to the thought of His return, I have absolutely no idea whether it will occur this year or not.  However, what if it did?  What should I do in the meantime?  Everything just like I would should His return not be this year.  Be faithful.  Be faithful in all things.  As the last verse of the hymn states "thus when the night of death shall come, my flesh shall rest beneath the ground."  What if I die this year and do not live to see that glorious time?  I can enter death in well doing (walking faithfully) with the sweet comfort and familiarity with God to finish the song "and wait Thy voice to rend my tomb, with sweet salvation in the sound."  Brethren, whatever the years holds – life, death, pain, suffering, blessings, curses, joyous seasons, etc. – be not weary in well doing.  Resolutions come and go.  Years pass and fade.  God never changes.  Instead of walking with the resolutions and thinking so much of the years of our travail, may we walk with God this year and faithfully stand with our hand in His.  In so doing, what joys and comforts will be ours.  May we learn and understand more about Him and His ways.

In Hope,

Bro Philip

Morning Thoughts (II Thessalonians 2:1-2)

II Thessalonians 2:1-2, "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand."

One of the most harrowing thoughts for some Christian people is the second coming of Jesus Christ. They live in fear of that day for many wrong reasons, such as staying saved themselves or getting their dearest friends saved before that great and notable day of the Lord. Sometimes, I wonder if the song "Wait a Little Longer Lord Jesus" was written by someone wrought up with the same thoughts in his mind. Knowing that the Bible states that all of God's children will be in heaven without the loss of one should bring comfort and peace when looking toward that day. (John 10:28-29) Yet, so many of us that know of free grace and the ultimate coming of our Lord in glory still find ourselves in the throes of sorrow, depression, sadness, anxiety, and trouble.

Paul's second epistle to the Thessalonian brethren is one of the most powerful epistles on church comfort and encouragement in all of Holy Writ. Even though his first epistle is longer, this second epistle seems to show an even more encouraging tone when Paul lays out these people's manner of life. (II Thessalonians 1:3-6) Paul's ultimate thought to drive at with these beloved people is that they should not be "weary in well doing." (II Thessalonians 3:13) Considering the ramifications of that statement, Paul – in essence – tells them, "You are doing right, doing well, and glorifying God. Keep it up." What lovely people these brethren were! Yet, Paul's encouragement also touches on the second coming of Christ and their thoughts of it.

From the language in our study verses, it seems that these brethren took Paul's discourse on the second coming in I Thessalonians 4 as a token that it would happen in a matter of days or weeks. Now Paul encourages them as if it will not happen as imminently as they suppose. What Paul specifically mentions as a precursor to the second coming is found in verse 3. Before His return, there will be a falling away – whether in the knowledge of the truth or spirituality in general, either apply – which marks the "season" that will be upon the world at that day. Now, since no man knows the day or the hour (I Thessalonians 5), Paul encourages them that there are things that mark the season. Those marks shine very vividly today.

Since Paul thought it meet to exhort these beloved people based on their misguided sight of the second coming, what was their probable fault? A favourite series of questions of mine to congregations is this, "What would you do if you thought Christ was coming back today? What about tomorrow? Next week? Next year? Fifteen years from now? After you die?" Do the answers change from question to question? What I should do today knowing He is coming today should not change even if I knew that I would die before His return. Can you imagine these people thinking that Christ was coming today, next week, or next month? Maybe they did not put as much emphasis on their secular jobs. Perhaps next year's crop meant less than it should. However, the right course of life, way of thinking, and attitude towards things should not vary based on circumstance.

Paul exhorts the brethren to two things in our verses: 1. be not soon shaken in mind or 2. troubled. Let us consider these two thoughts in light of what Paul says in verse 3. Knowing that Scripture clearly prophesies that a falling away will occur, what should our outlook be? As we mentioned above, the outlook should be the same regardless of circumstances, for nothing that occurs here changes certain absolutes: He rules, He reigns, and He will return. Knowing those absolutes will be certain and sure even when this world is on fire, why be downcast, troubled, or shaken?

Perhaps my thinking is somewhat warped, but considering the huge decline of spirituality in the world today and massive departures from the church and even organized religion as a whole across the board, perhaps His coming is closer at the doors than many think? While a delightful thought that His coming might be nigh and very near, my course in the face of decline, ruin, and chaos in the world around is still the same. Do not be soon shaken in mind or troubled.

If someone sees the massive departures from the church or spiritual things and becomes shaken in mind, what is the outcome? The outcome is a rash and impulsive decision to "right the ship" as it were. Circumstances have dictated the action, and the end product is the massive ruin of being tossed about by every wind of doctrine and cunning craftiness and sleight of men. (Ephesians 4) Seeing the rapid decline of spiritual mentality and a low priority of organized worship in the minds of many, I should neither be surprised (Scripture declares it) or shaken in mind about it.

If someone sees these things and becomes troubled, what is the outcome? A troubled mind can only think about one thing. Have you ever seen someone going through grief about a hard circumstance in their life? They cannot think about anything else, and their mind consistently and constantly returns to the grief. Sometimes it overwhelms them and "burns them up" in a fiery consumption. Looking at the crumbling spirituality around us should be sad to our minds and something that we work to improve in our communities and immediate circles of influence, but it should not trouble us. Should it trouble us in the sense that Paul encourages them against, we will think of nothing else and be consumed by it.

Pulling all these thoughts together, let us consider not being troubled or shaken in mind in the face of hard situations contrasted against the second coming of Christ. Yes, departures happen, and before His coming, there is a big one. Yes, people will turn their minds and ears away from the truth (II Timothy 4), but none of these things should consume our thinking or trouble us in mind to make a rash decision. Both rash decisions and consumed thoughts have no room for daily consistent thinking of the second coming. If I am failing at one or both of these things, then I cannot focus on the second coming of my Saviour. If my mind is clear from the clouds of trouble and storms of shaken thoughts, then I can contemplate a glorious day when I shall see Him as He is and know Him as He knows me.

Finally, if our daily thoughts should have the coming of Christ at the forefront, one might ask, "Isn't that what you said these Thessalonians were doing? Didn't Paul encourage them out of it?" Paul encouraged them out of changing their life's pattern thinking about the second coming. Friends, I know not whether it will be today, tomorrow, next year, or even in my lifetime. I hope earnestly that I will see it before my flesh is laid down in death, but that may not be. Yet, regardless of the time, the knowledge of His return should be in every day, for that is the strength for today to stay in the right course. He is coming! He is coming! How do we make it through a bad week? He is coming! How do we keep sorrow from overwhelming us like a flood when we see the country and world going down constantly every day? He is coming! How do we deal with sorrow when strife afflicts the church or people depart from it? He is coming! Knowing that blessed thought, we keep ourselves from the dangerous behaviour of shaken minds and troubled thoughts. Also, our lives are more attuned to be sources of strength for our brethren and lights for those to see that hunger and thirst after righteousness.