"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Monday, June 28, 2021


~ by James Fire

For another great teaching in 1st Thessalonians (and 2nd later on), check out pastor Pat Lazovich from Calvary Chapel Sierra Vista!
1st THESSALONIANS Chapter Two  

INTRODUCTION:   As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, it’s good to look back in review and note the challenges met, the obstacles overcome, the advancements made in spiritual maturity – as well as observing the pitfalls and stumbling that occurred (Check out Walking w/o Stumbling series) – and learn from these experiences as well as offering the giving of thanks to the LORD in preserving us through all such times.

Paul the apostle is reminiscing on the all too brief time spent with these beloved saints; and yet even in this short period, he taught the Thessalonian church quite a lot, as we shall see! Here he wants to express his love, his commendations, and his desire towards these saints; probably the first official ministration to any church that Paul served.

PART TWO: The Reminiscence Section
Chapter 2.
(1) As courageous, sincere, God-fearing, truthful, and unselfish: vs. 1-5.
(2) As humble, gentle, affectionate, industrious, irreproachable, and paternal: vs. 6-12.
(3) He refers to the teachableness and sufferings of the church: vs. 13-16.
(4) References to the apostle’s desire to visit the church and his glorying in them as his 
             crown of rejoicing: vs. 17-20.

 1 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. 3 For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. 4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. 5 For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness--God is witness.

Paul calls the church to witness the truth: that his visitation was not without fruit (as he said similarly to the church at Corinth regarding their own work in Christ (1 COR 15:58)). It was most certainly not in vain! He recalls the persecution that he and his entourage suffered while at Philippi, but regardless, was bold in his declaration of the Gospel of GOD with much “conflict”. The apostle was intent on seeking the prayers of others for boldness in the ministry (PHIL 1:19-20). The Greek word is agon and it refers to “conflict [as a result of being’ drawn into assembly”; it can refer to “anxiety, fight, race, a contest or struggle”.

You can find nowhere in the pages of Scripture that we as disciples of Christ will enjoy ‘Our Best Life Now’ as some would have us believe. On the contrary, in the early and not-so-early church, Christians were seldom welcomed, much less accepted with the message of repentance from sin and the Gospel.
We shouldn’t be surprised by tribulations and persecution; Paul certainly wasn’t:
 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

Our LORD warned us that this would be so:

 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

JOHN 16:33
 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The apostle Paul confirmed this warning:
ACTS 14:22
 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Let’s not fear tribulation, knowing that it’s actually of spiritual benefit to us, because it gives us the opportunity to grow in patience, which itself leads to greater blessings:
ROMANS 5:3-5 
 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
And persecution and tribulation of the greatest intensity can never separate us from the love of CHRIST!
 ROMANS 8:35
 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Let us resign ourselves with peace and joy that though this world of evil will always hate the Light (JOHN 3:19-20) and persecute the bearers of it, we are well pleasing to the Father (if no one else!) for doing so, sowing the Gospel seed where ever we may go without deceit or wrong motives, and we will be rewarded in the eternal kingdom we are bound for! Courage is required for Christian conduct, borne of hearts both unselfish and loving according to the truth, without exceptions
(See also MATT 10:24-40; JOHN 15:20; 1 COR 4:12; 2 COR 4:9; 11:23-27)

4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

Regarding the Gospel of Christ, Who gave to us His church this Great Commission (MATT 28:19-20; MARK 16:15), and being so entrusted with it, must be faithful in preserving it as is, not allowing anything to pollute, malign or pervert it.

The church in general popularity has done deplorably concerning Christ’s message. When one considers what liberal theology, Emergent Church and New Apostolic Reformation movement, Word-Faith and other aberrant churches and theologies have done to the Gospel, mutilating it to the point of non-recognition – this is a serious breach of trust, an undeniable transgression!

View this excellent video concerning the Left, Liberal church invasion in the Church in America:

Yet the ‘reimagining of Christianity’ has been envisioned for the purpose of pleasing post-modernist proclivities; but never mind pleasing the GOD Who gave us this Gospel! The apostle Paul had no problem upsetting people if he was certain that by his words and deeds he was pleasing to GOD!
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ
He was intent always to seek his approval from Christ, and never from those who would oppose the Gospel. There will always be those who oppose the work of GOD (NEH 4:8; ACTS 13:8; 1 COR 16:9; 2 TIM 3:8; 4:14-15), those agencies of Satan, whether knowingly or not, who will stop at nothing, even the shedding of blood, to bring a halt to GOD’s work! 

Consider picking up a copy of FOXE’s BOOK Of MARTYRS and witness how “the shed blood of the martyrs is the seed bed for the church”! Or you can read this online, here

What we saints have to remember is that it will be Christ Jesus sitting on the throne judging our conduct as Christians and no other (2 COR 5:10)! Our aim is to honor Him with our obedience, born out of a heart of love for the LAMB of GOD, slain for us since the foundation of the world (REV 13:8)! I genuinely shudder to think of how these ungodly so-called pastors and teachers will be called into question on Judgment Day in their terrible transgression which they promoted in their teachings! 

 6 Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

There were hucksters back then just as there are now: those who see ministry as a ‘ticket to easy street’ reaping money from those who need ministering to, without any genuine edification, but rather abusing and ‘fleecing not feeding’ GOD’s sheep (See the following chapters: ISAIAH 58th; JEREMIAH 23rd and EZEKIEL 34th).

Paul maintained impeccable integrity, not accepting financial support (ACTS 20:33) – though it was his right as a minister, but rather worked with his own hands (1 COR 9); and why? Because of those others who took advantage and abused this power all the while claiming to be the ministers of Christ (See 2 COR 11:6-20).

In ministry and in general Christian conduct, we want to avoid flattery and covetousness (vs. 5) as well as seeking earthly honor from others (vs. 6). At the same time we are attracted to such conduct as motherly affection (vs. 7); to fatherly admonition (vs. 10) and also endearment of the saints out of a genuine heart of agapeo love (vs. 8).

Notice Paul’s demeanor here: “gentle, cherishing, affectionate…as a nursing mother” – in their giving not just of the Gospel, but of their very lives! And why? Because these saints were dear to Paul and Company!

This is something sorely lacking in the church today – pastors who see themselves not in a 9-5 job where they clock in, clock out and show up the next day to do ‘the job’; rather having the heart of GOD, Who Himself ‘mothers over us’, doting on us with His ever present and attentive affection and devotion.

It’s been my prayer to the LORD of late, that I would mirror His goodness, His grace, His faithfulness in my relationship with His people and to express such a heart of integrity, love, and faithfulness to Him as He has shown to me!

Paul, Silas, and Timothy – and later Aquila, Priscilla and Doctor Luke were so engaged in ministry, “…labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you” that they put to shame the hucksters whose integrity was glaringly conspicuous in its absence! Can we think of anyone more worthy of wholehearted service, robust labor, and joyous ministry than our LORD Jesus Christ? If no one else notices or appreciates our laboring in GOD’s Kingdom, GOD notices! And appreciates – and He will certainly be faithful to reward such loyal, loving, and devoted service; and likewise reward the sluggards and pretenders for their misconduct: 
 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
We see the demeanor of a father in Paul as well as a mother: with authoritative voice he exhorts, comforts, and admonishes them to live worthily of the holy kingdom that GOD has called us to.
We know that there is no command that GOD makes of us, that by the power of the Holy Spirit we cannot obey. This is a point of frustration for those who struggle against sin and find victory elusive. We must come to a place where we understand that our own will, our own efforts and determination, no matter how sincere, cannot obey GOD from the heart the way that we need to, the way that GOD will accept!

This is why we are as utterly dependent on GOD for salvation in its aspect of sanctification as we are in that aspect of justification. We did nothing – we could do nothing to save ourselves: it was the complete work of Christ on the cross.

All we could do is receive the Gospel by faith and obey its truth; those who don’t will meet with judgment which condemns (2 THESS 1:8; 1 PET 4:17). So with sanctification: holiness, Christ-likeness, godliness: we can do nothing of ourselves (and if we try, we will only weary ourselves) to produce such fruit in our lives. All we can do is hear and obey the Word by yielding to the Holy Spirit and then take those steps of faith, trusting that He will enable us (ISAIAH 40:30-31).
Paul declares this same message to the church at Rome:

ROMANS 12:1-2
 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

And to the church at Ephesus as well:

 1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The word “worthy” is axios in the Greek – it means “appropriately” and “after a godly sort”. In the reference in Romans, that word “reasonable” means “logical, rational”. It’s only appropriate and logical that we should love GOD Who took the initiative and proved His love to us! (See 1 JOHN 4:10).

The walk of the believer is established in new life (ROM 6:4) and is truly spiritual – not religious in the sense of formalism (GAL 5:16); is based on faith in GOD and His Word (2 COR 5:7). The walk of the believer is noted for its love (EPH 5:2) and marked with alert vigilance for anything that would trip him up (EPH 5:15); the believer’s walk is sincere, transparent, and evident in its humility that testifies of GOD’s light in genuine conversion (1 JOHN 1:7); the walk of the believer is to be kindred to that of the LORD’s (1 JOHN 2:6).

Since we are ‘the King’s kids’, let’s conduct ourselves in such royal-holy-humble fashion, following the example of our JESUS, KINGS of Kings and LORD of Lords. The Greatest Servant, thus the Greatest in the Kingdom!

 13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.

Anytime when people receive the Word of GOD is a joyous occasion! We live in a dark world that has such souls in it; they find the Light of GOD’s Truth repugnant, and repulsive and so they reject it in favor of greater sin and iniquity. How many hours and days of laboring in the Gospel do we find people who genuinely embrace the Gospel and come to salvation? In these days especially as we are neck deep in apostasy – where it’s difficult to find the true Gospel even among our own American churches! – the response of lost souls in receiving salvation is cause for celebration: the angels do (LUKE 15:10)! 

There are scores and scores of people who deny the Bible as the Word of GOD, claiming that such a book has to be taken by ‘blind (irrational) faith’ that amounts to wishful thinking. They claim that you can’t prove the Bible as GOD’s Word.

This is where apologetics comes into view:
1 PETER 3:15 
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
The word for defense is apologia, and this is in regard to the defense of the Christian faith, proving from Scripture that the truth of GOD is indeed contained in its pages by the inspiration of GOD. It’s been said – I believe it was Spurgeon – “The Word of GOD is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it, just let it out of its cage.”

The Word of Truth speaks for itself – all we need to do is expose it to people, providing Scripture, some Holy Spirit led insight, and the seed is planted! What happens afterward depends on the person on the receiving end. 

They could respond in any one of four ways; see FMF SCENARIO Of FOUR SEEDS: Sower of the Seed. We are not responsible for converting anybody (I can’t even convert rice!); we only deliver the message, and if it’s good soil, then the seed will take root and the LORD brings another soul into the kingdom: as “fishers of men” we catch ‘em, He cleans ‘em! Whether the message is received or not, if we are faithful to deliver the message, warn souls of the coming judgment and the way of escape, we are free and clear (ACTS 20:26).

This is why we must pray – enter into genuine spiritual warfare – for these lost souls before we present the Gospel. Satan is well aware of when and where we will conduct any Gospel outreaches. He knows by observation when you’re preparing to share the Good News with your co-worker or neighbor or family member and intends on sabotaging it before you can even get started!

We must petition the LORD for mercy in opening the eyes of the lost and deliver them from the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of His dear Son (COL 1:13; 2 COR 4:3-4)! Let us remember to appeal to the lost in a spirit of meekness and respect, not quarrelling but in gentleness teaching and/or correcting them who are (unknowingly) in opposition to their own spiritual welfare and reclamation! 
2 TIMOTHY 2:24-25
24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
For some excellent apologetic websites that can help make you an able defender of the faith, check out these links:

As well as these, there is also www.once-lost.com – then we at TTUF have an apologetics tab available for your use as well.

“…the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

The Word of GOD is living and powerful (HEB 4:12); a spiritual seed that when planted in a receptive heart germinates and with the greatest of potency begins to work the miraculous in the repentant sinner and so the process of regeneration starts wherein one is transformed into a saint!

I remember the Superman Returns film, when Lex Luthor got a hold of some Kryptonite or Kryptonian crystal (actually alien tech that could produce any number of useful items he would use for his nefarious purposes). He nicked off a sliver of this crystal and dropped it in a railroad model pond and the water began to roil and steam; it knocked out the electricity for blocks around, and by the time that sliver did its job, the entire cellar was full of mammoth beams of crystal!

I think of how the Word of GOD – just a seed-size – powerfully effects the human person and begins to produce a Christ-like nature – after the kind of the King!
Yet there are others who were given the Gospel and didn’t profit them at all, and why not?
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
Yet the souls of this world are in rebellion and stand against this King and His Kingdom; thus they will inevitably persecute us, these rebels “who killed both the Lord Jesus and [the] prophets and have persecuted us”, the church of Christ.

 17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. 18 Therefore we wanted to come to you--even I, Paul, time and again--but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy.

Note once again, the heart, the yearning, the eagerness with which Paul expresses his desire to be with these saints: these who no doubt, for the majority at the least were all spiritual babies in the faith. Imagine such a thing: these Christians in their infancy were left in the midst of ravenous wolves, and the apostle was earnest in the desire to return to them as soon as possible.

Yet he realized of course, that they really weren’t alone; our heavenly Father was keeping watch over them faithfully and safeguarding them from any harm according to His will (NUM 6:24-26; JUDE 1:24). Why didn’t Paul get back to them when he wanted to?

Satan hindered him.
But how can Satan overcome the saints to whom Christ has granted the victory? Satan didn’t defeat Paul, he merely “hindered” him. GOD can even use Satan for His own purposes and if the LORD wanted to redirect Paul, for a time, He was at liberty to do so. But we certainly have victory over all the power of the enemy (MATT 16:16-18; LUKE 10:18-19; ROM 16:20).

Even among Christians the false idea that Satan is a counterpart to GOD is sometimes held as true. Yet if we take in the full counsel of GOD we understand that nothing could be further from the truth. GOD is omnipotent in all of His abilities whereas Satan is embarrassingly limited in his own abilities by comparison! 

Even a cursory look at the book of JOB, the first two chapters reveals this! Satan couldn’t even touch Job’s possessions, much less his person without GOD’s permission, and then, for His own purposes, governed by His wisdom and foreknowledge!
We concede that there are some skirmishes and battles that Satan wins and we lose; but our steadfast and unyielding hope is that Christ has won the war!

As Warren Wiersbe once wisely stated,
We fight not for victory, but from victory!” That hard earned victory at the Cross of Calvary which the LORD Jesus Christ won for us!
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

ROMANS 8:37 
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Despite how things may look in this darkening age of the world, where evil invades with greater and deeper inroads into not just society, but into the professing church as well, our walk is still by faith and not by sight! The Kingdom of GOD is on the way, and once it arrives – we will see that which we’ve placed our hope and trust in with our own eyes!
14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus and shall present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Paul’s estimation of the saints there in Thessalonica is one of hope: an expectant hope that looks for spiritual growth and increasing maturity in the faith; it is one of joy: the joyous blessing of fellowship of the koinonia sort, where we express the unity that Christ prayed for His church to have (JOHN 17), held together in the bonds of love; it is the crown of rejoicing: that celebration in the glories of heaven when crowns and rewards will be dispensed to the faithful and obedient. Paul was confident in all of these regarding the Thessalonians.

And here again, as with every chapter in this epistle, is the mention of the coming of the LORD Jesus Christ, our blessed hope! It’s vital that we live in expectation of the LORD’s return. I love what Martin Luther said, “I live every day as though Christ died for my sins yesterday, rose from the dead today, and is coming back tomorrow”!

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