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in Hope

2 Thessalonians chapter 1


Author:  Jeremy Witt
Notice that more than Paul communicating with this church, but those who have invested in the church previously while on Paul’s 2nd missionary journey.  Encouragement is the key for the first four verses and in verse four, Paul and company merge into the persecution discussion.  Paul speaks of their strength and endurance even though most of them did not feel strong or very enduring.  Notice verse 5 here how Paul points out that God will use our suffering and/or persecution for His glory and purposes.  Justice and making them worthy of the Kingdom of God are just two reasons Paul mentions here.
“Why?” is something that many of us ask while suffering or being persecuted.  At times we may never know “why” and other times we may know, but knowing why still doesn’t make it any easier in most cases.  Paul does something important in this beginning.  He helps answers the “why” question, and he encourages them and tells them that he has been bragging on them to others.  This is encouraging.  This helps build hope and reaffirms that Paul and company care for them.   He does this before he gets to the more difficult subjects that are coming.  Paul also tells them that God is just and that He will deal with those who are causing the suffering and persecution.  They are not being ignored.  The other factor at hand is that Paul had been persecuted in Thessalonika himself.  You can read that in Acts 17:5-9.  He was something speaking from experience rather than someone who did not know how they felt.

One more thing in relation to verse 5.  Many people think that suffering and persecution are a result of sin.  It may be but it can also be a part of something bigger as Paul points out.  To know that “this” is not your fault, but that God is going to use this to bring justice and make you better is reassuring, comforting, and strengthening.  “It isn’t your fault” is a relief mentally and psychologically.  It doesn’t make it any easier physically, but it will spiritually and mentally.  It will help shut Satan and his little imps mouths in our minds!
Verses 7-10 have confused me for years.  In verse 7, “coming” or “he will come” (paraousia-Greek) has a meaning designated for a ruler.  It is the same meaning as Acts 1:11 when Jesus ascended.  It will be in His presence as it once was, but also as in at the end of the age (Matt 24:3) in power and in glory (Matt 24:27) and when He destroys the Antichrist and evil (2 Thess 2:8).  I had previously thought that this was the rapture, but based on this word and where it is used in other places, it appears to be when King Jesus is General Jesus.  He is not the Lamb here, but He is the Lion and you do not want to be on the other side of Him.  But holy cow, do I want to watch that from above or in the Holy Army with Him.  It makes me think of the great movie moments like in Gladiator, The Patriot, or Braveheart. 
With this in mind, verse 11 speaks louder.  “Enable you to live a life worthy of His call” or “count you worthy of His calling” helps me to think more long term than my present circumstances.  Verse 12 continues this line of thought as our aim should be so that “the name of the LORD Jesus will be honored because of the way that you live.”  My prayer for myself is that this can be said of me.  The highest honor we can achieve in this life is to hear,  “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  I think Paul was trying to give hope but also to inspire the believers to “fight the good fight” as well as endure.  It reminds me of that line in Braveheart that sends chills to my spine, “They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!”  Let’s keep this in mind as we face suffering, persecution, and opposition.  For Jesus and His Kingdom!!!!

Posted by Jeremy Witt with
in Hope

Apology -- Various verses


Author:  Jeremy Witt
I feel convicted about something from Thursday’s devotional.  No one has said this, but my spirit is stirred.  When we type or write, people cannot hear our tone or spirit with which we speak.  This causes the reader to miss much of our communication.  As the one who wrote, I must write more effectively so that my words convey this tone and spirit.  This not only applies to this but also to what we put on social media.  May we communicate the love of Jesus, the grace of the Cross, the Hope of the Resurrection, and the expectancy of His return.
I am fully aware that many of us are hurting emotionally, worried about their livelihoods and futures.  I am also aware of many who are quarantined because of possible exposure.  As I reread and thought of my words, I felt as if I was “preachy” and unloving.  As Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:1-2, “if I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a nosy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.”  (NLT)
I am concerned that I came across as unloving.  I am not any better than you.  I am struggling too.  Those words were meant to encourage and strengthen your faith (and my faith) because I keep allowing myself to take my eyes off of Jesus.  Never would I try to push you away from the LORD.  My heart’s desire is to encourage, challenge, and support you in your walk towards becoming more like Jesus. 
I want to be iron that helps to sharpen you.  I need that from you as well.  So let me apologize for not clearly communicating yesterday.  I will strive to do better.  I will close with some verses that help me to hope, to trust, and not fear. 

  • Deuteronomy 31:8  “the LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.”
  • Joshua 1:9  “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
  • Psalm 56:8  “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”
  • 1 Peter 5:7  “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
  • Luke 12:22-23  Then Jesus said to His disciples, “therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.”
  • “But seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”  Matthew 6:33-34
  • Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
  • Psalm 33:22 “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in You.”
  • Psalm 43:5 “Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
  • Romans 12:12  “Be joyful in hope, faithful in prayer.”

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus . . . Hebrews 12:2”

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