II Thessalonians 2:16 and 17

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

I often think of God giving us eternal life, but here, Paul reminds us that God has given us eternal encouragement and good hope. So, if we are feeling discouraged or discontented, we should not stay in that state of mind, but instead, look to God for His promised encouragement. The pages of Scripture are full of messages to us that include encouragement and good hope.

II Thessalonians 1:8 and 9

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power…

Jesus Christ has rehabilitated the human race by His sacrifice on the cross. Those who reject that sacrifice, move into an eternity with nothing. Being without the salvation of Christ, they are shut out from the presence of the Lord and they suffer everlasting destruction. For the believer, eternity is filled with God’s love, His family, His praise and the glory of His might.

I Thessalonians 5:8

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

I thought here of a friend who is in law enforcement. When going into a potentially dangerous situation, a bullet-proof vest would be added to their wardrobe – a breastplate – a piece of armor to protect the vital organs of the body. We are to put on a breastplate of a different kind – faith and love. Faith in God’s protection will protect our hearts from fear. Love will receive no evil, nor will it harm others. Love will be both defensive and offensive, protecting and reaching out at the same time. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

I Thessalonians 4:1 and 2, 9

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. vs. 9 …Now about brotherly love, we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other…

It is interesting that Paul instructs on how to live in order to please God, but God Himself teaches us how to love each other. Think about that: Bible Studies, church attendance, discipleship, even the example of others can teach us how to live lives that please God. But, when it comes to loving the unlovely, loving the ones who have injured you, loving the Christian brother who openly despises you – that kind of love can only be learned in the presence of the Lord. When He was dying on the cross – the Innocent One, The Injured Party, The Only sinless One – He forgave, He loved beyond measure . Only He can teach is how to truly love one another.

I Thessalonians 3:13

May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

The word “strengthen” here means to fix, to make fast, to establish. The same word is used in vs. 2. Timothy was sent to strengthen and encourage their faith. In vs. 13, Paul pronounces a a blessing: May the Lord strengthen your hearts…. For us, the heart is the seat of salvation. God has taken away our heart of stone and given us a heart of flesh (Ezekial 36:26) It is the Lord Who fixes, makes fast, and establishes, (strengthens) the heart to walk in His ways and to do His will. I am pretty sure this means we can’t pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Rest in Him. Trust Him to keep you steadfast.

I Thessalonians 2:19

Or what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

As I read this verse, it occurred to me that Paul is talking about investment here – investing in people. Won’t it be wonderful when we are in heaven, before the Lord Jesus, to see the fruit of those you have invested in for life and godliness and for eternity? It will be great joy!

I Thessalonians 1:3

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

What first caught my attention in this verse, were the words at the end of it…endurance inspired by hope. What causes us to continue on in life, in ministry, in relationships when things seem unbearable? We endure because we have hope in Jesus Christ. What fuels that hope? I believe the answer is found in vs. 4…for we know, brothers loved by God… Brothers loved by God – we believe that God loves us, helps us, and guides us in those unbearable times. Being loved by God is what inspires hope in us to endure.

Colossians 4:18

I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Grace be with you… I have studied grace for a number of years, and have put together a definition of God’s grace: the unearned, undeserved, spontaneous friendship and love of God, which He delights to share with the believer. So when Paul says, “Grace be with you”, if we insert the definition here, the verse would read, “As you go through your days, remember that the unearned spontaneous friendship and love of God goes with you”. Be delighted. Find pleasure in it and share His grace generously with others, as He has shared generously with you.

Colossians 3:12-15

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

None of us would consider going out into the world naked. We clothe ourselves for the tasks of the day – old clothes for gardening, nicer clothes for church and parties, and serviceable clothes for grocery shopping and running errands. How many of us, though, leave the house (often) without our spiritual clothes. God chose us to be holy. He chose us to love. He chose us to represent Christ in the world. Let us not forget to dress ourselves with tender hearted mercy, with kindness, with humility, with gentleness, with patience, and above all – with love.