A Holy Kiss

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This is my 12th and final post in a series on 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25. This has been an eye opening passage for me and I pray it has been for you as well. This week we conclude by looking at what I’ve numbered as the 21st and 22nd commandments/guidelines Paul lists on how to live our lives worthy of the gospel.

(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.

My first thought was maybe these shouldn’t count in my list of 22 commandments from Paul, but honestly, the list doesn’t seem complete without them. So, my second thought was, “What is a Holy kiss?” As I looked, I found it several others times in scripture (Romans 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20 and 2 Cor. 13:12). In other translations, it’s called a “sacred kiss or holy embrace .” It is a greeting of pure, sincere love. Similar to the handshake most of us use today (or in my case, a hug).

I had a realization as these scriptures sunk in.  I feel as if Paul is saying, “Go everywhere you can, spread the Good News, greet all you meet with love and share the amazing love of Christ without judgement or condemnation.” Centuries have passed, but we are called to continue that same work. It started with the first church, but lives on in us with Paul’s instructions still just as meaningful to us as it they were then to his people.

For me, this is most convicting of all. It’s one thing to try and live all of Paul’s directives out, but another to share the Gospel with others in a way that shows love, respect and sincerity. He reminds us to put aside the fear of sharing, the fear of being judged when we share and rid ourselves of the tendency to judge after we have shared and don’t get the reaction we think the Gospel deserves. We are to present the Gospel with “A Holy Kiss”.

Who can you approach this week with a Holy Kiss and share the amazing message of the Gospel?

I’m going to miss this study and series on Thessalonians. God has shown me so much. I would love to hear from you and what part of this series stands out to you. Next week, I’m going to start another series on the greatest man who ever lived – Jesus! I want to take a deeper look into His life, who He was, who scripture says He is and what He said about certain things when He walked this Earth. I hope you will join me on my next adventure through scripture.

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 (numbers aren’t verses, but the numbers I gave them for each directive/commandment)

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Even Jesus Did It!

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This is my 11th post in a series on 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25. This week we are looking at what I’ve numbered as the 20th (out of 22) commandments/guidelines Paul lists on how to live our lives worthy of the gospel.

 (20) pray for us

In the past few weeks three HUGE prayer requests have been answered for friends. HUGE, meaning life and death. One friend, had three strokes and found out she has a hole in her heart. We fervently prayed for her complete healing – she is now home and has no signs or residual problems from her three strokes and awaiting surgery to close the hole in her heart. Another answer came for the brother of a dear friend who had been ill for years using pain medication and alcohol. After the death of his longtime sweetheart, we all feared he would fall deeper into depression, sickness and addiction so we prayed and prayed. It brought tears to my eyes when I heard last week he had been sober, well, going to church and meeting with a support group in the past few months. And, drum roll please . . . just last night my friend Carey received the lung transplant we have been praying for her to receive. She is in surgery as I type this morning. “Pray for us!” Paul says.

Prayer is powerful!!! When Jesus walked this earth He used prayer to heal the sick, bring the dead to life, heal the demon possessed and make the blind see. Read Mark 9:14-29 for the story of when He healed the demon possessed and take note of His last words. He [Jesus] replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” Mark 9:29 Also, when Jesus raised Lazarus (who had been dead four days) he prayed this, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” John 11:41-42

Even the most perfect person who has ever walked this Earth, Jesus, the Son of God, prayed when in need and to give thanks. Living the Christian life means reaching out to God to give thanks for who He is, was and always will be. It means giving thanks for all the blessings we have and it  praying for others and ourselves. Living the Christian life includes interceding for others who are sick, hurt or afflicted with our prayers and petitions.

Who in your life needs prayer? Will you make a commitment to carve out a little time each day this week to spend in prayer with God? I pray you will and that He will show you that He is present and listening.

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 (numbers aren’t verses, but the numbers I gave them for each directive/commandment)

Kick it!

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This is my 10th post in a series on 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25. This week we are looking at what I’ve numbered as the 19th (out of 22) commandments/guidelines Paul lists on how to live our lives worthy of the gospel.

(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.)

In other words, if anything is suspect – leave it. If you only slightly question it – don’t do it. Kick it out of your life.  Anything that appears evil – don’t do it. Paul makes it very clear, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Paul knew that too because look what he does next. For the first time in this entire list of commandments he adds in a little prayer .  Paul was a servant to God, but he was also human. He knew how we would REALLY need the Lord’s help to overcome the power of sin. Like Pastor Mike says, “If sin wasn’t fun, we wouldn’t do it.” Amen!

Unfortunately, Pastor Mike is right. Let’s be honest. Sin is fun – for a little while, anyway. Whether it’s participating in a little gossip, making decisions without including your husband, taking that item from the office they will never  miss anyway, surfing a website that is “inappropriate” or indulging in one more glass of wine that puts you over the top – it can feel good and be fun for the moment, but quickly that feeling is gone and you are left only with the shame and guilt of your actions.

It was freeing to me to finally realize ten years ago that I was incapable of abstaining evil on my own. It really takes a lot of pressure off when you know only God has the power to help you overcome sin. Stay in touch with Him through His word and prayer. Only He can make you whole, keep your paths straight and your heart clean. Count on Him. He will never leave you or forsake. God is on your side. He will come through for you. You can depend on Him. As Paul prayed, “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.”

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 (numbers aren’t verses, but the numbers I gave them for each directive/commandment)

Try it on!

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This is my 9th post in a series on 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25. This week we are looking at what I’ve numbered as the 17th and 18th (out of 22) commandments/guidelines Paul lists on how to live our lives worthy of the gospel. We are nearing the end of our adventure with Paul and I’m looking forward to seeing what God places on my heart next, but for this week we are focusing on the commandments to:

(17) test everything; and (18) hold fast to what it good

Recently, my daughter and I were doing a little back to school shopping. We went through the entire girls section and grabbed everything that looked cute or that we thought would look cute on. (We like to have fashion shows in the dressing room.) We ended up with over 16 items and headed into the dressing room. After trying each piece on and deciding “it’s to small, to low cut,  just right or not cute enough to pay full price for.” we ended up buying only six of the items. Like most things we purchase, we want to try them out, get a recommendation, do a background check or read the reviews before we buy it. If we don’t, we make sure the store has a good return policy.

We need to be smart shoppers in our Christian lives too. Simple put, in these verses, Paul is staying, “Don’t be gullible, foolish or unsuspecting. Don’t be easily taken in or taken advantage of. Ask questions, seek the truth, respond with wisdom and discernment.” What’s interesting to me is that in saying those things, he is also telling us to be suspicious, unbelieving and untrusting. He is taking a concept straight from Jesus’s playbook.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16

This reminds me of the way we teach our children to respond to strangers. The delicate balance of being polite and saying hello if spoken to (when I’m with you) or run like the wind never believing any tall tales about delicious candy or lost dogs. I just had this talk with my children again, going overboard to make the point as I usually do, but hoping it will make a lasting impression on them.  Remember what you have been taught, don’t be tricked or fooled. Stop and think! Use good judgement and wisdom. It’s sad when I have to teach them to be suspicious and untrusting. There really are still good people in the world, we just don’t read much about them in newsfeeds.

However, it’s one thing when a child acts suspicious or untrusting. We almost expect it or understand it because of safety concerns, but as adults we often think it’s rude to ask questions, be untrusting and suspicious. Paul is reminding us that as Christians there will be those who come along and offer new ideas, interpretations, question the Word of God, want to water it down and counter all we know to be true. Stop! Think! Don’t be gullible! Don’t just jump in – test it! Stick a toe in before you jump and compare it to what we know it Truth and the word of God. The trick is – we have to be in the Word to know the Word and to know the Word we have to read the Word! So jump into what is good because God doesn’t change.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Hold tight to the Truth and what is good. Do not let the wolves and shifting shadows of this world distract you, cause you to stumble or forget to be wise and discerning. Stop, listen, question and hold tight to what is good. It’s OK to be untrusting and suspicious while we take time to think and reflect before taking action.

Hold tight to what is good!

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 (numbers aren’t verses, but the numbers I gave them for each directive/commandment)

Study it – don’t despise it!

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This is my 8th post in a series on 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25. This week we are looking at what I’ve numbered as the 16th (out of 22) commandment/guideline Paul lists on how to live our lives worthy of the gospel.

Do not despise prophecies (ESV) Do not treat prophecies with contempt  (NIV) don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master (MSG) 1 Thessalonians 5:20

Prophecy is defined as “the foretelling or prediction of what is to come, something that is declared by a prophet, especially a divinely inspired prediction, instruction, or exhortation; a divinely inspired utterance or revelation” Based on this definition I have personally concluded that the prophecies Paul is referring to is God’s written word (the Bible). God didn’t write each book of the Bible Himself, with pen in hand, but He divinely inspired the writers of this great collection of books. The author of 1 Thessalonians (Paul) is one of those who God divinely inspired.
If we are to live lives worthy of the gospel, one of the commandments Paul includes in his instructions is “do not despise the Bible and what it says.” This struck a chord with me as I started to roll those words around in my mind. Let me drive it home. Paul is saying: Do not abhor the Bible and it’s Biblical teachings from the prophets He divinely inspired. Do not detest it. Loathe it, contemn it, scorn it or disdain it. Do not consider the Bible and it’s teachings unworthy of regard or meaning.
Whoa! Did that raise a feeling within you as you read those words? My first instinct is to say, “No problem, I can cross this one off my list. I don’t disregard, despise or detest the Word of God. Next!” However, the Holy Spirit quickly reigned me in as I considered the possibility that when I don’t study God’s word and know it as I should I can’t treat it with the love it deserves. We should never consider ourselves above studying God’s word, living by it and using it as our guiding force. If we brush God’s divinely inspired Words that He wrote to us aside, ignore them, save them for a rainy day, just listen to what others tell us about it or dismiss them as irrelevant in our daily lives we are failing to live in a way that honors Christ. Paul is very clear when he states, “Do not despise prophecies.” This ancient text is still alive, relevant and active. It’s God STILL speaking to us!
What can you do this week to start loving more prophesy, prophets and scripture? How can you work God’s divinely inspired word into your daily life so you are loving it and not despising it? I would love to hear from you and how you are planning to make a difference in studying God’s word. I always need all the tips I can get. Let’s work together!

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