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BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL


2 THESSALONIANS 3:2

“and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.” 

Most of us with any familiarity with the Bible will recognize the phrase I used today for the title of this blog. Where is that from? That’s right, from the Lord’s Prayer. It’s from verse 13 of Matthew 6 which reads, “‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’”

Have you ever thought about what that means? This word “rescued” means to draw to oneself for safety. So, it means the Lord will not just make us safe. It means He will draw us into His arms for safety. Where had you rather be – in a safe place or safe in the arms of Jesus? I know where I want to be.

APPLICATION

Think of it this way. If your child was in danger, where would you want them to be? I would want my children in my arms so I could protect them. What would you do to protect your children? I would do anything to keep them safe from danger, especially evil danger. 

Ask your children if they feel safe in your arms. Unless you have just had to discipline them for something, they will most certainly say they do. Ask them why. They may say because they know you love them or that you are big and strong and able to protect them. Tell them that as safe as they feel in your arms, you are no comparison to the safe, loving arms of Jesus. He will ALWAYS be there, even when they don’t think He is.

Do you believe that? “I don’t know, Carl. Why do bad things happen to us then?” Because God is allowing them. And if He is allowing them, He will use them to make us more like Him. He will NEVER allow anything to touch us that won’t make us better. That’s a promise you can take to the bank. He will “deliver us from evil.”

I am truly grateful, Lord, that evil cannot touch me unless it touches You first. I am safe in Your arms in which You rescue me. I fear no one because You are my Deliverer.

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QUICKLY NOW


2 THESSALONIANS 3:1

“Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;” 

Have you ever been told to “hurry up”?  I have been a few times. I remember in one of my first jobs in my hometown of Pelham, GA I had a boss who did not like you to “dawdle about.” He insisted that you stay busy and do the job quickly and efficiently.  He didn’t want us wasting time.

I thought of that when I read this verse because the phrase “spread rapidly” comes from a word that means to run with speed. It was used to describe runners in a race. Paul is asking the Thessalonians to pray that the Gospel would spread that quickly, that it would win the race, that it would reach its end result without delay.

APPLICATION

I bet you have never had to tell your children to hurry up, have you? Only about a million times, right? Be careful hurrying your children too much. Let them be kids. Let them enjoy their childhood. But when it comes to the things of the Lord, don’t let them “dawdle”, as my boss used to say. The things of the Lord need to be taken seriously. Time is hastening. The Lord is going to return. We need to be ready and make sure our children are also.

What does that mean? I am not talking about being in an apocalyptic mood all the time. But I am saying that we should not waste time on things that are simply temporal and of this world. We need to teach our children that every day is important to the Lord. Every day gives us a new opportunity to share the Gospel with someone. Run the race.

Are you too busy chasing the wrong things that you forget to run the important race? You should stop right now, wherever you are, and evaluate your race. Are you running to win or just finish? God wants us to run well, not just run. He wants us to be quick about it. Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to spread the Gospel. Get out there. Run quickly.

Father, forgive me for being seemingly unconcerned about the shortness of the time. Help me redeem each minute and count it worthy of service to You. I will commit to being more bold today in sharing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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EAT YOUR SPINACH

2 THESSALONIANS 2:17

“comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”

Were you ever a Popeye fan? I was growing up. I used to love to see Popeye eat his spinach and come back to win the fight. Olive Oil, his girlfriend, would fall in his arms, swooning over him. What guy doesn’t want that, right?  Unfortunately, I do not like spinach, so I guess I am out of luck, lol.

Seriously though, we are more than Popeye strong, if we take our “God spinach.” It is He who strengthens us. This word “strengthen” is only used 13 times in the New Testament. Four of those are in the letters to the Thessalonians. Paul is reminding them who strengthens them. He is reminding them that their faith is solely dependent upon Jesus, not some external source.

APPLICATION

How many times have you told your children to eat their vegetables so they will grow up to be big and strong? I bet that happens a lot. Some children love vegetables, while others look at a green bean like it is leprosy. It takes a lot of coaxing and bribing (I am not condoning that) to get them to eat those green things.  But you know they need them for good health.

Are you as concerned about them “ingesting” the Word daily? “Well, Carl, they have to decide that on their own.” Really? I know physical health is important, but so is their spiritual health. Remember, you are not just raising your children. You are raising your grandchildren’s parents. If you desire to see a legacy of faith continue into the next generation, you must be diligent to “feed” them what is truly important. God will take care of the strengthening part.

How is your spiritual health today? Are you eating your spiritual spinach? God will strengthen you as much as you allow Him. But you must ingest the proper ingredients. You must have a steady diet of His Word and spend time with Him. Then God can truly comfort and strengthen you in every good work and word.

God, feed me today. Give me the spiritual strength to defeat any enemy that comes my way. I know those victories all belong to You.

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ETERNITY NOW?


2 THESSALONIANS 2:16

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,” 

Isn’t this a sweet, promising verse? We are promised His love, His comfort and His hope through grace. That’s a lot. And this is one of the few times that Paul mentions Jesus before the Father. That may not be important, but I thought it was just interesting. 

This comfort is not just normal comfort. It’s eternal comfort. Does that mean we only get this when we get to heaven? I don’t think so. Look at this definition of that Greek word for “eternal.” “Thus believers live in ‘eternallife’ right now, experiencing this quality of God’s life now as a present possession.”We can experience eternal comfort right now. Don’t you want that?

APPLICATION

Ask your little Susie how she would feel if when she got hurt you withheld comforting her until she grew up. I bet she wouldn’t like that. You wouldn’t kiss that boo-boo until after it was healed. That’s crazy, isn’t it? Now read your children this verse and explain that the same thing applies to God.

He is not going to withhold His comfort from them just because they are still here on earth. That comfort is eternal because it is ageless.  It covers all time. God is even in the process of comfort long before they (or we) even know they are going to need it. That’s pretty awesome, if you ask me. Eternal comfort lasts a long time. It begins the moment we receive his free gift of salvation and will follow us right into eternity.

Are you in need of comfort today? As I write this, I have several friends who are in need of great comfort. They are going through some very hard things right now. They need to know that the Lord is already at work in their life to comfort their hearts and give them love and hope through grace. Is there someone you need to remind of that today?

O Lord, help me share this great truth with someone who needs it today. Let me be the bearer of that eternal comfort through the Lord Jesus. Thank You for giving me that comfort and hope.

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KEEPING TRADITIONS


2 THESSALONIANS 2:15

“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

Some families have long held traditions around the holidays. They may involve a meal or a prank gift or some other strange tradition unique to their family. Those are good things to have. They bind us together. They build memories to pass to the next generation.

But Paul wasn’t talking about Grandma Carter’s chocolate pie recipe when he said, “hold to the traditions.” He was referring to something much more important. He was talking about passing down the teachings and instructions they had received concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s a tradition worth keeping and sharing.

APPLICATION

At your next family gathering talk about your family traditions with your children. Make a list of them, if you have more than one. Maybe it’s time for you start some new ones. Maybe your children are grown and have families of their own. It is probably time for them to start their own traditions. Whatever they are, talk about how long you’ve had them and why you keep them. 

But most importantly, talk about the traditions you have in Christ and why they are important. Teach your children to hold these close and to pass them down themselves. I vividly remember going to my Grandma Carter’s house every Christmas and having a huge meal with all my cousins. Family is important, and our Christian family is even more important.

What are the traditions you are passing down? Do they include Jesus? Passing down your Christian heritage and history can encourage the next generation to carry on the fight. Helping them understand the importance of this faith legacy could be one of the most important things you do. Talk about it. Share it. Keep it.

Thank You for traditions in Christ. Thank You, Lord, for making me part of that heritage of faith. Help me teach the next generation more about You.

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ALL MINE


2 THESSALONIANS 2:14

“It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Can you believe that? If you respond to God’s call given through the Gospel, you will gain (fully possess) His glory. What? Are you kidding me? That’s what it says. God wants to glorify us. But He can only do that if we are His.

You hear a lot people claiming to be believers but who live like the world. Being called through the Gospel has to change us. Our motivations for life shift. Our desire and wishes become more heaven focused. Am I right? The things of this world hold no value, or at least lesser value. All we want is His glory.

APPLICATION

This may be one of the toughest things to teach our children. They really have to just live it and experience it. So, our jobs are to lead them to Christ and disciple them once they have surrendered. You can’t disciple a lost child. If your little Johnny doesn’t know Jesus, he will never respond to your efforts to “build him up” spiritually.

BUT if your child comes to the King of Kings, they too will be glorified. You should see a change in their attitude. Will they still mess up? Don’t you? Will your child make some mistakes? Probably so. Pour into them. Let other mentors do the same. Sometimes our kids respond to others better.  That’s okay.

So, have you responded to the call? Have you yielded your heart to the Lord of Lords? He will make you His own. He will exalt you as you humble yourself. Don’t you want His glory all over you? I sure do. Give Him praise.

Father God, You are worthy of all my praise. I do desire Your glory. I long for you gentle hands which direct me toward others who are also in need of it today.

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I PICK YOU


2 THESSALONIANS 2:13

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” 

Those are God’s words to us – “I chose you.” Now, I am not going to get in a discussion about predestination. I am just looking at this verse.  God chose you from the beginning for salvation. Don’t you love being picked by someone. I used to love being picked for a team. No one wants to be left out. The good news is (drumroll please) God chooses EVERYONE! His will is that all men be saved.

“Okay then, Carl, why do some people die and spend eternity in hell?” Because they chose THAT. That’s right! Even though God has chosen them for salvation, they turned their back on Him and decided to go their own way. This choice sealed their fate. It wasn’t God who sent them to hell. Nope! He has chosen them for salvation, which they rejected.

APPLICATION

Do you give your kids choices? I hope you do. They need to learn early how to make choices. Nothing is worse than to see an adult who can make a decision. Agreed? So, let your children make choices. But here is the hard part. You need to let them also accept the consequences. Every choice has a consequence. Some are good, and some are bad.

If you rescue your children from every consequence, they will never learn the power of choice. And you must teach them that. Remember that you are preparing them for eternity. While most of their choices aren’t eternal ones, they are learning from each one they make. They will never make a more important one than accepting God’s free gift of salvation.

I pray you know Him personally. I pray you have accepted His choice of you. If you haven’t, do that today. Don’t make the other choice of not accepting His choice of you. He wants you to come to Him. He wants you to spread this news to everyone you know. Do that today.

I accept Your choice of me, Lord. I want to be Yours. I am thankful You chose me from the beginning.

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IT MAY FEEL GOOD, BUT…


2 THESSALONIANS 2:12

“in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.”

We all like pleasure. For some it’s a day at the beach. For others it is a long run (no, that’s not me). But others take their pleasure in wickedness. I know it may be hard to believe, but there are really people out there who do. I don’t know any personally, but they are all around us.

Sadly, we think they are getting away with their pleasure seeking. We see them hurt others and thrive on it. Today’s verse, however, assures us that one day, they will be judged for these evil motives. They will receive exactly what they deserve for ignoring the truth and going their own way.

APPLICATION

This is exactly why we parents spend so much time teaching our children to choose the truth. We do not want them to go down that road of wickedness. Now, I am not against pleasure. Pleasure is not a bad thing. I take pleasure in serving others. I get pleasure is seeing God’s principles followed by a husband and a father.

Truth is the key. Teach our children to follow the truth of the Gospel. They have to understand that there is no other truth. Any other “truth” is really deceit which will lead them further away from the real truth. Confused yet? I hope not. Take the Word of God each day and share it with your children, always referring to it as the truth. 

Let me ask you a question. What are you pursuing today? Truth or wickedness? If you are pursuing anything other than truth, you will never experience true pleasure. It is only available in its purest form through the truth of God’s Word.  Let it make your life pleasurable as only the Lord can do.

Lord, I want to walk in truth so I can experience pleasure. The pleasure I desire is to please You, not myself. That’s my goal today.

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IF YOU WANT TO BELIEVE THAT

2 THESSALONIANS 2:11

“For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,” 

This verse really bothered me at first reading. If you take it out of context, it sounds like God WANTED them to be fooled into believing a lie. Nothing could be further from the truth. We know it is God’s Will that all would be saved. So, how could He also want them to be deceived. Remember, Scripture does not contradict Scripture.

What is happening here is free choice. “For this reason” means since they refused the love of the truth (salvation), God will allow this “deluding influence” to come, which they welcome. God will not force us to believe. We have to decide on our own that He is God and that His Son Jesus died for us. If we want to believe falsehood, He will let us. He has to let us choose.

APPLICATION

This is a hard application to make in our families, especially with our children. We cannot make them believe in God. We cannot make them love Jesus. We have to provide the environment for that to happen, but we can’t force feed faith. Every person who is born, including our own children, has to come to a personal point of faith.

So, how do you influence your child toward faith? By modeling it daily to them. There is no better way to lead your children to Jesus than by being Jesus to them. When they see you trusting and loving, they are drawn to that. When they see you studying and hungry for His Word, they will want that. You can’t force it, but you sure can impact it.

Is there someone in your life to whom you need to spend more time influencing for Christ? Be Jesus to them. Let your attitude and words exemplify the Holy One. Let them see you and see Him. Point them to Jesus every time you are with them.

I want to be the kind of person, Lord, who influences others for Jesus. I want to see my family and friends ALL come to Christ. Place me in the right place at the right time to see Your Will done.

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THE PURPOSE OF EASTER

2 THESSALONIANS 2:10

“and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” 

Resurrection Sunday! Easter! Shouldn’t we celebrate the resurrection of Christ every day? I think so. His death atoned for all our sins, but His resurrection gave us victory over the grave and death. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

Today’s verse fits nicely with the Easter message. Satan is constantly trying to deceive mankind. His wicked ways will lead us straight down the road to destruction. We will perish without receiving the love of God, the love of truth. We must receive it to be saved. That word “receive” is written in the middle voice, which means it is our decision to receive. No one can make us.

APPLICATION

Okay – here are some clear commands to follow to lead your children to Christ. 1) Satan will try to deceive them. 2) His ways are wicked. 3) His ways lead to destruction. 4) They must receive Jesus on their own. 5) God will save them if they do.

It’s really that simple. Any child can understand the simple truth of the Gospel. Don’t complicate it. Teach them to share this with their friend. You don’t have to have 100 verses memorized to be saved (not that memorization isn’t important). Your little Susie must come to the realization that her sins are wickedness and are only pleasing Satan. Then she must confess them, receive the love of the truth (Jesus) and God will save her.

Who can you share that with today? You see, you have people all around you who are dying spiritually right now. They will certainly perish without receiving the Lord. You are essentially watching them rot and decay before your eyes in their wickedness. Stop the decay! Share today’s truth with them and lead them to receive a resurrected life in Christ. Amen?

Lord, today give me someone I can share truth with. Let me be the one to introduce them to a way of escape. I will give You all the glory!

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