Sunday, October 14, 2018

so easily

Today we read in the One Year Bible from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17. Paul says something very profound in this passage. He says that when Jesus returns, He will reduce the evil one (the lawless one) to nothing simply by "the radiance of His arrival."

Just by arriving, He will reduce the head of all of the evil on earth to nothing. It's that easy for Him. He doesn't even have to do anything. He just shows up, and His presence destroys the enemy.

Now think about the little problems in your life. They seem huge to you, right? Of course they do. All of our problems seem huge when we're facing them. But God will reduce your problems to nothing, just by showing up. Ask Him to move in your life, to change things... and He will. He will take away your shadows and fill your life with light.

Because not only is nothing impossible for God... it's not even hard. Just by coming, He fixes everything.

God, thank You for being so amazing that we can trust You, even with our biggest problems.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

what faith can do

Today we read from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Paul tells us that he prays that God will give them the strength to do the things that their faith prompts them to do.

That's a good way to think about it. Our faith prompts us to do things for Him. That's one of the ways that our faith moves mountains. It enables us to pray for things that are far beyond our own scope of ability. And once we've prayed for it, He gives us the strength we need to make it happen.

Do you find yourself needing more faith? A great way to grow your faith is to read stories of God working in other people's lives. When you see what He's done for others, it helps you to trust Him to take care of your problems, too. And your problems usually look much smaller when you see the huge things He's done in other people's lives. Or if reading isn't your thing (or you're super busy and can't find the time), watch a movie about the life of a saint. Here is a good one.

God, thank You for growing our faith, and giving us the strength to do what it prompts us to.


Today we read from 1 Thessalonians 5:4-28 in the One Year Bible. Paul tells us very clearly how often we should pray.

He says to pray without ceasing. Always pray about everything, in other words. Thank Him for every thing that happens. Ask for His help in all you do. Pray for your friends and family, and even for your enemies.

Every thought you have is a prayer, if you share it with God.

God, thank You for teaching us to share our every thought with You.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

like those who have no hope

Today we read from 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3 in the One Year Bible. Paul tells us not to act like those who "have no hope" when our loved ones die.

And this is an important teaching, both for us and for those who see us when we lose someone. It's important for US because we need to place our trust in Him during the times in our lives that are hard, for our own sake. We will stay emotionally and mentally healthier if we trust Him to get us through the loss of a loved one. So that's one of the reasons it's important for US.

It's important for others because they watch to see if we really do believe what we say we believe. If we say that we believe in heaven and that our loved one is going there, then our response to their passing away should reflect that. We might not go as far as St Therese of Lisieux, who told her mom that she hoped that her mom would die soon so that she would go to heaven. But our faith should be evident in the way we respond to all of the crises in our lives, including death.

Not that this is easy. When you love someone and lose them, it can hit you very hard. That's just part of what it means to be human. And it's even a good thing for us to SHARE those struggles with other people, so they see that we're human after all, and that we struggle like they do to deal with loss. But we also need to share our FAITH. Share the fact that while it really hurts, we do believe that God will ease our suffering, and will take care of our loved one. If we share our fears and doubts and pain ALONG with our faith and love and joy, then they see how one can grow from the other. And when it comes time for them to lose someone... they might remember where our strength came from.

God, thanks for teaching us not to mourn like those without hope... and thanks for being our hope.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

remain and stand firm

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from 1 Thessalonians 2:9-3:13. Paul says that he was worried that the believers in Thessalonica might have lost their faith when they were attacked by the enemy. But he was overjoyed to hear that they had stood fast... hung on to their faith, even in the face of spiritual attacks.

That's a theme that runs through the whole new testament. Jesus told us to remain in Him, and He in us. That when we are in Him, we can do anything. Nothing is impossible with God, He reminded us. But that "apart from Me, you can do nothing."

Jesus and Paul both commended their listeners to stand firm to the end. To run the race. To fight the good fight. To endure until the end. It seems that both of them knew that we would face huge challenges. And that standing firm in our faith while we face that onslaught was important.

So don't be weary in doing good. Keep on keeping on. We're in this marathon, and we need to make sure we realize that. Not treat it like a sprint, but pace ourselves and stay hydrated (on the living water) and run this race to win it.

God, thanks for reminding us that we will have to hang on to make it through... but with You, nothing is impossible.

when God brings suffering

Today we read in the One Year Bible from 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:8. Paul says that the good news brought severe suffering to the Thessalonians who accepted it. That seems odd, doesn't it?

But we read something similar in the story of Lazarus. When the news reached Jesus that Lazarus was sick and was about to die, the gospel tells us that Jesus waited to go to him BECAUSE He loved him. And that seems odd too! Why would He WAIT to go to him (knowing he was going to die) BECAUSE He loved him?

Well, the reason is a little counterintuitive. God sometimes BRINGS suffering into the lives of those who love Him. We see this especially in the lives of the saints. Most of the great saints, like Francis of Assisi, Therese of Lisieux, Teresa of Calcutta, and John Paul II suffered greatly in their bodies as they grew closer to Him.

But it's never for suffering's sake that He brings it. When Jesus saw that Lazarus had died, He wept. He isn't aloof to our pain. He is right here with us when we're going through it. And it has a point. It brings us closer to Him, it deepens us, it takes away our sins, and it helps us to participate in His redemptive work in the world. So much good comes from our suffering that it might tempt some people (not me) to go LOOKING for suffering.

That's not necessary. Suffering will find you, believe me. Just be prepared so that when it does, it doesn't catch you off guard. Be ready so that when suffering shows up, you're ready. You will know how to handle it. And that it's all for the glory of God.

God, thank You for teaching us what suffering it about. Help us to be ready for it.

Monday, October 8, 2018

it's all about control

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Jeremiah 10:1-11:23. Jeremiah tells us not to be like the pagan nations who use sorcerers and fortune tellers to try to see the future. Why was (and is) this practice so wrong?

The reason is that it betrays our lack of trust in God. We are trying to control the future. Trying to see what the future holds so that we can protect ourselves, rather than trusting God to take care of us.

We do some of the same things today, but in different ways. We try to see what financial systems are going to do so that we can invest our money for a great return, and not worry about the future. We store our money away in our back accounts, piling up more and more, and don't give to those who are less fortunate because we're fearful of what the future brings.

Is it wrong to be responsible with our money? Of course not. But we should also be generous. And we should trust God. God is recorded as laughing only a handful of times in the Bible. And most of them have to do with man making plans (usually to hurt others) and God laughing at those plans. There is an old Jewish proverb that says, "Man plans; God laughs." And there is truth to that.

So let's make wise decisions with our money. Let's be generous with our wealth, and help those in need. And above all, let's trust in God, Who knows what we need, and will always take care of us.

God, thanks for teaching us not to try to take control away from You, but to trust You in everything.