UnQuenchable

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You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

This is my 7th post in a series on 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25. This week we are looking at what I’ve numbered the 15th (out of 22) commandment/guideline Paul lists on how to live our lives worthy of the gospel. I pray you have been following along in this series and God is speaking to your heart about how to live your life. I feel it’s important to emphasize once again that we can’t earn our way into Heaven with acts and great deeds, but when we truly believe in Christ and all He has sacrificed and given to us it’s impossible for our hearts, actions and lives to every look the same. This is where Paul’s Holy Spirit inspired words come into play.

(15) Do not quench the Spirit.

I have pondered these five words for hours and many thoughts have rolled through my head. If we define quench and Spirit and then reread these five words it does so much to deepen our understanding. Let me throw out a few variations for you:

Do not extinguish the Fountain of Life (Psalm 36:9, 87:7), Do not suppress the Consuming Fire (Deut. 4:24), Do not extinguish the Thirst Quencher (John 4:13-14), and Do not suppress the Spring of Living Water (Jer 2:13).

These concepts work against human nature because when we have climbed to the tip-top of a mountain (with a REALLY heavy backpack) to enjoy the view, we are thirsty and drink all we can to quench that thirst along the way. (Oh, and the view below was worth every step! This is a picture my husband and I soaking in God’s artistic talents on a recent camping trip with friends.)

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Human nature also beckons us to race into action when there is a fire consuming lives, homes and beautiful forests. Our desire to extinguish the damaging deadly fire is so natural we often act without even thinking first. However, when it comes to the Living God, the Holy Spirit who dwells in us we need to work with the opposite frame of mind. Working against human nature and the world. Paul reminds us that we are never to satisfy, extinguish, suppress or quench the Holy Spirit. In other words, we need to look beyond ourselves, our plans, our perceived strengths and rely on that of the Spirit. If I had written this commandment/guideline I would have said, “Quench Yourself, Not the Spirit!” We never want to be rid of the desire to seek our Heavenly Father and follow His plans for us. We never want to extinguish the passion we have to seek Him daily and in all things. I pray God continues to give us an unquenchable thirst for His word, His ways and His plans. He will fill us up each minute, day or hour without tiring, without hesitation and without delay if we only seek Him.

 

Therefore (1) encourage one another and (2) build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to (3) respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and (4) to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. (5) Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, (6) admonish the idle, (7) encourage the fainthearted, (8) help the weak, (9) be patient with them all. (10) See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but (11) always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. (12) Rejoice always, (13) pray without ceasing, (14) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (15) Do not quench the Spirit. (16) Do not despise prophecies, (17) but test everything; (18) hold fast what is good. (19) Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. Brothers, (20) pray for us. (21) Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I put you under oath before the Lord to (22) have this letter read to all the brothers. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25

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Blueberry or Cherry Pie?

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This is my 6th post in a series on 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25. This week we are looking at what I’ve numbered as 12,13 and 14 (out of 22) commandments/guidelines Paul lists on how to live our lives worthy of the gospel.

Therefore (1) encourage one another and (2) build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to (3) respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and (4) to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. (5) Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, (6) admonish the idle, (7) encourage the fainthearted, (8) help the weak, (9) be patient with them all. (10) See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but (11) always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. (12) Rejoice always, (13) pray without ceasing, (14) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (15) Do not quench the Spirit. (16) Do not despise prophecies, (17) but test everything; (18) hold fast what is good. (19) Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. Brothers, (20) pray for us. (21) Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I put you under oath before the Lord to (22) have this letter read to all the brothers. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25

A few things you should know before you read this story.

1. We homeschooled for the first time last year (my daughter 5th grade & son 2nd grade). No we didn’t hate our school, we loved it. God had just been tugging at my heart for over a year to do this for my children.

2. Our plan was to at least homeschool Emma through middle school and Culli through Elementary.

3. Our daughter has struggled with anxiety since she was in the first grade and we have prayed since then God would release her from it.

4. I had a TERRIBLE middle school experience, being exposed to everything from cussing to drugs and alcohol – on top of all the puberty – Yikes!!!

Now that those things are out of the way, walk with me (in your mind) through the Dollar Store as I was about a month ago when my daughter professes out of the blue, “Mom, what would you say if I said I wanted to go to middle school with all of my friends?” We had already had this conversation about 20 times up until this point and she was in NO WAY interested in going to middle school.

So, when the child you have prayed God would release from her anxiety (5 years, I’ve prayed) stands before you and says, “Mom, I am now 100% sure I want to go to middle school. I want to know I can do it and if someone teases me, I want to know I can stand up for myself.” What’s a mom to do? After the shock and upset stomach wore off – I PrAiSeD God. He had answered a huge prayer about my sweet daughter. Not the way I thought he would, but answered!!!

As God would have it, a group of dear friends was coming over for fellowship that evening. They had no idea what was going on with Emma, but a little fun, distraction and good conversation was just what I needed. However, when the time for dessert arrived we ran into a pie problem. When my friend, who had been craving blueberry pie, bought what looked like and was labeled a blueberry pie saw as we cut into it that it was in fact cherry pie – she was devastated. As women we can get like this over dessert! It’s true. Not wanting any disappointment that evening, I conspired with another friend who ran out to get her a blueberry pie.  After that, we all got a good laugh about it as we enjoyed a little taste of both cherry and blueberry pie that evening. All the while, she was saying, “I know God will teach me something from the pie situation. I’ll keep you posted.” Oh, she a women after my own heart! As promised, the next day she sent an e-mail with this as her lesson.

sometimes we are looking forward to and planning on the blueberry pie (what we want for our children) but God is busy at work making them cherry pie (what He plans for His children). Rest in knowing either outcome is very sweet, but how pleasing it must be to Him to relish that cherry pie!”

Oh, how sweet is our God?! I don’t know if there was another person in the group that needed to hear those words more than I did, but I was so grateful and reminded we should:

(12) Rejoice always, (13) pray without ceasing, (14) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

So what about my daughter? Long story short, we discussed it, had her journal it, prayed about it, talked about it with other adults we trust and took tours of the school she would attend to help her with the decision and she is going.

Answered prayers and life circumstances don’t always look like what we thought they would, should or want them to be, but God is in the details. Keep praying, keep trusting, keep rejoicing and keep thanking Him in every circumstance. I’m clinging to that as the school year (the middle school year!) approaches and trusting that God is in every detail of this cherry pie that I really wanted to be blueberry. In what situation could you do a little more praying, rejoicing and thanking?

do GOOD

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“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.”

This is my 5th post in a series on 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25. This week we are looking at what I’ve numbered as the 10th and 11th (out of 22) commandments/guidelines Paul lists for us on how to live our lives as Christians. These two guidelines really relate back to the Ten Commandments and seem like no brainer. Seriously, if I had a quarter for every time I have said, “Please treat people how you want to be treated – NOT how they treat you.” to my children, I would have enough  money to dig 20 wells in Africa. You may say this as often as I do, however, my question for us today is do we live this out? And if so, how? It’s so easy to say these words until someone drives by you, blares his horn and gives you the lift of the third finger from your pinky or thumb. It’s effortless to remind our children or friend when they are in a situation where someone has wronged them to turn the other cheek, but it’s all together different when we have to harness the anger and do good back to the one who has harmed us.

Therefore (1) encourage one another and (2) build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to (3) respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and (4) to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. (5) Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, (6) admonish the idle, (7) encourage the fainthearted, (8) help the weak, (9) be patient with them all. (10) See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but (11) always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. (12) Rejoice always, (13) pray without ceasing, (14) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (15) Do not quench the Spirit. (16) Do not despise prophecies, (17) but test everything; (18) hold fast what is good. (19) Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. Brothers, (20) pray for us. (21) Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I put you under oath before the Lord to (22) have this letter read to all the brothers. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25

 This is a muscle that needs constant exercising in my own life. Words are the evil that I deal with most often. As a Christian (privately and publicly as an author) when I’m in a group of people and they find out what I do. Depending on the group, I am instantly judged as whatever they have conceived or experienced Christians to be in the past. It can be a real conversation stopper. However, sometimes it the words that are spoken about me (and not to my face), but other friends that feel evil and can hurt the most. Thankfully, I don’t find out about most of the evil words, but when I do, it can be difficult to release it back to God, forgive and forget so that the next time I encounter this person I am not repaying them with the cold shoulder or rude comment. After all, that would be “evil for evil.” I’ve even started practicing going out of my way for some of these people and thoughtfully loving on them with a meal or card. I tell you this not to make you feel sorry for me (because we all deal with this type of evil) or to boast because I can promise you that 10 years ago I was incapable of this and didn’t even have the desire to try because God wasn’t present in my life as He is today. Sad, but true! Only God can harness evil and that includes the evil in our own hearts – not just the evil in others.

It is God’s power, God’s strength, God’s mercy, God’s love, God’s patience, God’s courage and God’s grace that give me the ability to always seek to do good to everyone (despite their actions) – no my own. I’m living proof God can get in a heart, stir things up and revise it to more like His. This isn’t easy. In fact, it can be downright painful sometimes. I know loving EVERYONE will continue to become a challenge with each day I wake. Especially as my children grow up and face more trials and evil that I want to protect them from and respond to, but I’m praying I don’t lose sight of the fact that by standing firm and keeping a strong grip on Christ, there is hope (“a wonderful hope”), that I will continue to respond in love. Trusting God to handle all the rest.

I want to leave  you with these beautiful words that Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,

who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope,

comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.

Wear Sunscreen

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Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. … Ephesians 6:10-18

If you are just popping in on this blog series (it is summer, I understand), for the past several weeks, I’ve been in the middle of dissecting 1 Thessalonians 5 11-25. The Lord opened my eyes to this passage about a month ago. It was a huge answer to prayer because I’ve been asking for more clarity and direction on how to live the life He has called me to. This week we are looking at what I’ve numbered as 6, 7, 8 and 9 (out of 22) commandments/guidelines Paul lists for us on how to do just that.

And we urge you, brothers, (6) admonish the idle, (7) encourage the fainthearted, (8) help the weak, (9) be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25

Paul says we are to admonish (reprimand & rebuke), encourage, help, but be patient with those who are weak and fainthearted. He isn’t speaking of those who are ill or sick instead, he is referring to those of us who are weak in faith and the desire or knowledge to increase that faith. Those are challenging instructions and what occurred to me is that most days I need only look in the mirror to find the person who needs to be admonished, encouraged and helped – Me, myself and I. How do we do all of that rebuking and encouraging with all the patience and love of Christ? This is how God answered my question.

I recently had to have a large area removed from my face where basal cell carcinoma was found growing, I did a little research about it online (of course). Now that we have Google, how can one resist? I learned that there is just a tiny bit of cancer that shows on the surface of the skin and the rest is hidden under the skin, growing roots deeper into our bodily tissue. The longer it is there the deeper it goes unless it’s removed.

This cancer, is like the tiny seed of sin, resentment, anger, fear that begins to alter our DNA or, in this case, trust in God. If the sin or trouble is ignored and not addressed, it continues to grow roots deeper and deeper until it has such a tight hold on us it begins to show on the surface through harsh words, more sin, ungodly actions or crippling thoughts. It makes us weak and fainthearted.

We have two options when it comes to dealing with the disease of distrust and sin. First, we can wear sunscreen (armor) to protect us from even contracting the cancer in the first place. That is what the word of God does for us. It protects our hearts and minds,  keeping our attention and focus on Christ and the things of honor and praise and not of this world. His Word challenges, rebukes, trains, corrects all while a dose of patience and encouragement. The challenge is remembering and making it a priority to put on the sunscreen (staying in the Word of God).

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

However, if and when we falter (and we will), we must recognize the cancer growing before it has time to take root in us and cause destruction. How do we remove it? The cure is simple if we take it. First, ask forgiveness, second, seek the Word of God and third, pray for God to give you the courage and strength to remain in Him and live as He has called us to. AND HOPEFULLY, when we falter He will send that loving, patient and encouraging Christian friend to admonish and help us get back on the right path.

Oh, how I ADORE the word of God!