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INSTANT REPLY

2 THESSALONIANS 1:1

“Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:” 

Most scholars agree that 2 Thessalonians was written very shortly after 1 Thessalonians and was a reply to the reply Paul had received from the church about his first letter. Have you have done that? You text or email someone, and after they reply back to you, you reply back to them. That’s what this is except it was done by letter and a messenger (not Instant Message, lol).

Whatever stirred his heart to write again, Paul still held these believers as dear to his heart. He cared deeply about them and wanted to make sure they had the correct understanding of their position in Christ. Silvanus and Timothy are still with him in Corinth, so he includes them in the opening. They all cared for this young, fledgling church.

APPLICATION

We should show our children the importance of communicating clearly for the sake of Christ. When we hear of someone we know who is not walking with Christ, we should talk with them. If we really love them, we don’t want them to continue down a path that will take them further away from Christ. We should have an instant reply.

“But Carl, they may get mad at me.” So what! Isn’t it better for them to get mad at you than to not say something and watch them go off the cliff? If you are replying in love to them, they will know it. Just like Paul, respond for their good.

Is there someone in your life right now whom you need to approach in love and steer back on the right course? Do it in love. Do it quickly. Just do it. Don’t sit back and watch them follow the wrong person or do the wrong thing without at least confronting them. Let the Holy Spirit tell you when and what to say.

O Lord, I am thankful I have people in my life to confront me when I am off course. Help me do the same without the fear of rejection. I truly want those whom I love to follow You.

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LAST WORDS

1 THESSALONIANS 5:28

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Paul ends all his letters mentioning grace. It was his typical closing in which he wished upon the reader grace from our Lord Jesus Christ. It was his way of saying “goodbye.” What better way than to wish God’s grace on someone. It blesses that person as they are finishing the letter.

Saying goodbye can be hard sometimes. It is especially hard if you think you will never see that person again on this side of eternity. I travel to Uganda and Kenya every year to train Pastors. I have gotten to be close friends with several of those Pastors in both countries. Sometimes our goodbyes can last quite a while. But I know I will see them on the “other side.”

APPLICATION

Teach your children to think about these words of Paul when they say goodbye next time to someone. Teach them to bless others with more than just a few simple goodbyes. Teach them to lift up a prayer for them as they are saying goodbye. Teach them to ask the Lord’s blessing on them as they hug them.

Most importantly, teach your children to think eternally with each goodbye. Have them ask themselves, “Is this person going to be in heaven with me?” If they aren’t sure, they should ask them. Children can reach people sometimes that we adults could never get through to. When a little seven or eight-year-old asks you if you are going to heaven, most adults will answer them. They might get offended if we ask that, but not from a child. Your child could be your secret weapon, lol.

Let me encourage you to say goodbye differently next time. Use Paul’s words. Say to them, “May God bless you as we part with His grace and love.” You may get a raised eyebrow, but I bet they won’t soon forget those words.

Give me the words, O Lord, to say goodbye in a way that honors You and points others to You. May my goodbyes really be just “see you later.” See You later, Lord.

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BEGGING

1 THESSALONIANS 5:27

“I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.” 

Paul is begging here. That kind of surprised me. Paul doesn’t strike me as a person who would beg for anything. But he is begging them, adjuring them, trying to persuade them to share this letter. After all, there wasn’t Face Book or Instagram back then, lol. Paul couldn’t tweet out his message. He had to rely on others to pass on his words.

Have you ever been asked to help spread the word about something? Maybe someone is having a yard sale and asks you to let your friends know. Perhaps the church is hosting an event and asks all its members to invite others to come. We invite people to stuff all the time. But do we share the good news about Jesus enough?

APPLICATION

Ask your little Johnny or Susie if they have good news to share with someone? They may say, “What do you mean, Mom?” Explain to them that if they are a believer, they have the best story in the world to share. They should be telling everyone they know about how much Jesus loves them. Keeping that to themselves is…well…selfish. Don’t you think?

Help them make a list of people they want to tell about Jesus. And it’s okay for them to list people who are already saved. They may just need a little encouragement that day. We never know what people are dealing with. The words of a child to an adult can be very soothing. If needed, go with them to talk to those people. But make sure you follow up to see if they talked to those individuals.

To whom do you need to talk to today? Who, in your sphere of influence, needs to hear about the saving power of the blood of Christ? We have such wonderful news. Don’t keep it to yourself. I adjure you to share it today.

Lord, put people in my life today to whom I can share Jesus. Let me be bold and courageous as I step forward to represent You in my community.

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SMOOCHIE, SMOOCHIE

1 THESSALONIANS 5:26

“Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.” 

Now, before you think I am trying to be funny, let me just say that we are told four times by Paul and once by Peter to greet each other with a holy kiss. It was common back then, but not so much today, at least not in my culture. Jesus uses this word twice. Once was when Mary anointed His fee with the ointment. He told Simon that he had not greeted Him with a kiss. The other time was when He asked Judas if he was betraying Him with a kiss. Those two weren’t exactly “holy” kisses.”

But that is the point. This kiss is supposed to be HOLY. It’s supposed to be a different kind of kiss. It isn’t a smoochie kiss. It was a greeting among close friends. It was meant to be tender but not intimate. It was sincere but not erotic. It was done properly and respectfully. It truly was a holy kiss.

APPLICATION

Don’t you love to kiss your children or grandchildren? I have always kissed my kids. Now that I have four grandchildren, I kiss them too. Those kisses were always given with love. Sometimes those kisses were playful, but they were always proper. Tell your children why you kiss them. Tell them it is a sign of love and tenderness. But also tell them that they must be done with the right motive.

In this day of wrong motivated people, we have to guard our children against receiving or giving improper affection. Explain to them that a holy kiss ALWAYS respects the other person and is NEVER forced. In fact, a holy kiss could be seen as how you would greet the Lord Himself. You are kissing another believer in the name of the Lord, so that would always be right and proper.

But this holy kiss isn’t for everyone. There are people in your church body you would not even dream of giving a holy kiss. Why? Because they would not know how to receive it. There are others, however, who would know how it is meant and would receive it warmly. It is an expression of love for our Savior and a bond between believers. Show your close brothers and sisters some love today.

Father, Your kisses from heaven to me are welcomed and appreciated. Help me give a holy kiss to that fellow believer today who needs it.

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OUR DUTY

1 THESSALONIANS 5:25

“Brethren, pray for us.” 

Paul was a man of prayer. That is obvious as you read through all his epistles. He tells us over and over to pray for each other. He writes down prayers that he is praying for the recipients of the letters. And here in verse 25, he does it again. He commands the Thessalonians to pray for him and his companions.

Why would Paul ask for prayer? I thought he had it all together. He was chosen by the Lord to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. Surely, he had God’s blessing. Why would he need prayers? Because he knew the power of prayer. He knew what could be accomplished when brothers and sisters in Christ came together in agreement to the Father. He desired that from them.

APPLICATION

Okay, here’s another easy application. Pray with your children. Do it daily. Help them formulate a prayer list to pray through. I have a daily, weekly and monthly prayer list. It is a privilege to pray for others. Lifting others up to the Lord in prayer gives me joy. Having a part in their journey as I pray encourages me to live my life pleasing Him.

It is so important to teach our children to begin with confession of their own sins so the Lord can forgive them and allow us to petition Him for others. Confession clears the “prayer line” to the Lord. Then we can come before Him with our requests for others and ourselves. But teach your children to pray for others first. God, I believe, will honor that.

For whom are you praying today? Do you have lost family members? How about sick friends? Come before the throne of God today and lift them up to Him. Come with a grateful heart. Come with a broken heart. Let the Lord use you in the lives of others through your prayer life. You may just be surprised who is praying for you.

Today, Father, I lift up all my lost family members and friends. I pray for their salvation. Draw them to You in a powerful way.

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SOMEONE TO COUNT ON

1 THESSALONIANS 5:24

“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” 

As we come towards the end of this first letter to the Thessalonians, I feel like every word and every phrase is so important. I want to just linger and absorb each letter of each word of each phrase of each verse. God doesn’t waste words, so these last few verses are just as important as the first one.

Today’s verse just sums up our relationship with our Lord. Look at it again. “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”God is faithful! God calls you! God will keep His word! Simple, yet profound truth. But God can only be faithful to those whom have answered His call. Then and only then do all of His promises come true.

APPLICATION

Why do you remain faithful to that wayward child? Because they were birthed into your family. They may stray away for years, but you still yearn for them. God yearns for us. He created us in His image with that “God-sized” hole in our hearts that only He can fill. Did your children ever play with those shape toys? You know the ones where they have to fit the round piece in the round hole and the square piece in the square hole. Pull that back out and explain this verse using those.

That is such a simple way to explain the hole that God fills in our life, when we surrender to Him. And just like that piece will always fit that hole, God will always fill that gap in them. But we have to let Him. He won’t force Himself into that gap, even though it is a perfect fit. We have to let Him in. Your children need to know that. Only THEY can let Him in. You can’t do it for them.

Have you allowed the Lord of the universe to complete you? If you have, rest assured that He is faithful to you. He will bring all His promises to fulfillment in your life. He wants to bless you more than you can possibly imagine. Just surrender your will to His and watch what He does in and through you.

I am constantly amazed at what You do in and through me, Lord. I am not capable of loving some people, but You are through me. I am not able to obey Your Word, but as I meditate on it through Your Spirit, I have the urgency to obey.

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THE WHOLE ENCHILADA

1 THESSALONIANS 5:23

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

I thought it interesting that Paul used the word “entirely.” And when I looked deeper it was even more interesting. Did you know that word is only used one time in the New Testament? So, what does it mean? It means to be wholly completed, to reach the end result. Paul is praying that the God of peace would perfect the Thessalonians’ sanctification. Can you imagine being completely, wholly sanctified on earth?

And Paul prays that their body, soul and spirit would be kept (guarded, protected) completely. “Completely” is only used twice itself. It means a divinely allotted wholeness. Wow! Only God is capable of anything divine, and He wants to guard you completely. What a promise and prayer from Paul!

APPLICATION

How do you explain completeness and entirety to children? Do your children like puzzles? I do. I enjoy a good puzzle. But one of the most frustrating things in the world is when you are missing pieces. The puzzle isn’t complete. The entire picture isn’t shown.

Get one of their puzzles and remove a piece before you start putting it together with them. They may recognize fairly quickly that a piece is missing, if they have put this puzzle together a lot. That could be even more frustrating. They know what the missing piece is. Explain to them that the Lord knows exactly what “pieces” we need in our lives. He has them all, if we will just let Him supply them and keep them.

What piece are you missing? Are you whole and complete in Him? He wants to sanctify you entirely. He wants to keep you completely. Will you let Him? 

Father, You are the ONLY one who can do that for me. I know that. Help me to surrender ALL my pieces to You today. I want You to “put me together” according to Your master plan.

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