Praying God’s Will; 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5

Gods will 1 Thessalonians

Good morning!  Are you ready for a new week full of new blessings and fresh perspectives?

Every week God takes something we learned from the previous chapter and brings it to life for me, in some way or another.  In 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, we prayed that “God will guide us, that we will live as peacemakers, and grant to each of us the desire and the way of working to provide for ourselves and our families so that we will not be a burden, but can even afford to be generous with others.”

Before I had even published that devotional, we received a letter from a pastor we’ve known for many years, explaining how his congregation is struggling.  Though their building is payed for, their numbers have not grown enough to keep up with the expenses of ministry.  He asked for prayers, and that we might seek God’s guidance as to whether we can help them in any way.   What a privilege to be able to seek God’s will for their congregation, and we truly rejoice that we are able to help, even in some small way, to support them as they are waiting for what God will have them do next.

Also, (and this is a fun one) last week our Pastor taught some ways to share the gospel with others.  He stood right up front and asked, “When was the last time you prayed for boldness in sharing the gospel?”  

We started praying this in 1 Thessalonians 2:2!!!  It is crazy, amazing, wonderful to know God’s will for us, and such a privilege to be praying for His will to come to pass on earth as it is in heaven.  😀

Are these things happening to you???


Chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians is rather full.  Paul continues his dialog concerning the return of Christ, and then he switches gears, giving the church directions on how to live Godly, blameless lives while they (and we) wait for that glorious day.

I used the New American Standard Bible, the Amplified Bible, and in my study this week.

Lets pray, and ask for wisdom before we begin.


My Notes:

vs. 1 & 2– Now (a continuation of Paul’s discussion about end times).  It seems the Thessalonian church has already been educated about Christ’s return.

vs. 2 &3– Those who have not been saved will feel safe, but will be taken by surprise by His return (like a thief in the night) and they will not escape destruction (judgement for their sin).

vs. 4-9– The church should be ‘sober and alert (cautiously watch lest we fall away), ready for Christ’s return since we are not destined for judgement but for salvation through Jesus’s death and resurrection.  Paul sort of introduced the analogy of the armor of God here in being ready.

vs. 10– So-whether we are alive, or have physically died before Christ’s return, we (the saved church) will all live together with Him.

vs. 11– (continue to) build up and encourage one another within the church.

vs. 12 & 13– Paul instructs the church to appreciate, and in love, respect its leaders and teachers for their work.

vs. 13– live in peace with one another and

  • vs. 14–admonish (seriously advise, warn) the unruly (disorderly–out of ranks, often of soldiers).
  • encourage the timid, fainthearted
  • help the weak (Proverbs 18:14~wounded spirit)
  • be patient with everyone (individually and collectively, always keeping your temper)
  • vs. 15–don’t repay evil for evil;
  • instead, earnestly endeavor to show kindness and seek to do good to each other and everyone
  • vs. 16–Rejoice always (be happy in your faith and glad-hearted)
  • vs. 17– Pray without ceasing (persevere in prayer)
  • vs. 18– in everything (all circumstances) give thanks; for this is God’s will for you
  • vs. 19– Do not quench (subdue) the Spirit of God;
  • vs. 20– Do not despise prophetic utterances (prophetic revelations, inspired instruction or warning, and perhaps even the Bible?)
  • vs. 21– Instead, examine everything carefully (test everything— no God inspired instruction will ever contradict His Word, the Bible)
  • Hold fast to what is good;
  • vs. 22– Abstain from every form of evil (shrink away from it)
  • vs. 23– May God completely sanctify/set apart/purify/consecrate you so that you may be preserved and found blameless (spirit, soul and body) at the return of Jesus.
  • vs. 24– God is trustworthy and will fulfill His call on your life doing this (vs. 23).

vs. 25 & 26– Paul asked the church to pray for the apostles and greet the brethren for them.

vs. 27– They were to make sure Paul’s letter was read out loud before all the brethren.  They didn’t have Bibles.   (Their letter is part of our Bible!!)  It was important that they all hear this letter in order to receive encouragement and instruction.

vs. 28– was Paul’s closing and blessing.


I am so thankful to have gone through the study, Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit, before getting to this chapter.  Better understanding of these Christ-like characteristics made Paul’s instructions for Godly living much more meaningful.  I put links to each “fruit” devotional as I see them applied in this context, so you can go back and read through them if you like.

When reading verse 23, where Paul talks about being preserved in spirit, soul, and body, I really wanted to understand more fully what this meant. (Yes, I am a Bible geek.  I know.) 😛

Body– is just our body.  We want to keep it holy by abstaining from sinful practices.

Spirit– is the power by which we know, desire, decide or act…

Soul– is the seat of our feelings, desires, affections, aversions.  Different than the body; not dissolved by death.  This is the same word Jesus used in Matthew when he said to love God with all your soul.

All these parts of our being, God wants to preserve as blameless until his return.


“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  1 John 5:14-15

How can I use these observations to pray according to God’s will?


vs. 1-3– continue to pray for the lost, that they will be saved and ready for the Day of our Lord!

vs. 4-10– Thank God for our salvation, and ask Him for perseverance and faithfulness to watch for and be ready for Christ’s return.

 In the future there is reserved for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and longed for and welcomed His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8

vs. 11–Continue to pray for grace to build up and encourage one another within the body of Christ.

vs. 12,13– Ask God to work in our hearts, and give us the loving appreciation and respect that He desires for us to have for our church leaders and teachers.

vs. 13– Pray that we (the Church) will live in peace with one another (as we began praying in chapter 4, verse 11), AND:

That God will give us wisdom and boldness to…

vs. 14– admonish brothers who are out of order, and not living Godly lives,

Give us discernment how to best…

–encourage the faint-hearted, and support the weak and wounded in spirit.

Pray that God will supernaturally enable us to…

–be patient with everyone, individually and collectively (the whole church)

vs. 15– Pray that we will earnestly endeavor to show kindness and do good to everyone, never seeking revenge.

“So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper];” Colossians 3:12

Pray that God will…

vs. 16– enable us to be happy in our faith and rejoice always

vs. 17, 18– strengthen us to persevere in prayer and give thanks in every circumstance.

vs. 19– Give us hearts that are tender toward God’s will, and never subdue the Holy Spirit who works within us,

vs. 20–and love God’s word and His correction,

vs. 21– give us discernment, as we examine everything, to know what is good and true, and what is not from God.  Help us hold fast to what is good!

vs. 22–Pray for wisdom and self control to shrink away from evil.

vs. 23– Thank God for His faithfulness in setting us apart and keeping us holy in spirit, soul, and body–blameless for Christ’s return.

vs. 27– Pray that God’s word will continue to be proclaimed (in our homes, churches and the world) and accomplish His will.


Growing in the Fruit of Self-Control

Self-control.  It is the last of the nine characteristics of spiritual fruit listed in Galations 5:22 and 23, but it certainly is not the least.  Just like love is listed first and is paramount for a fruitful life, self-control is a necessary component in order to yield to the Holy Spirit’s will as He molds and sanctifies our hearts to look like Jesus.

And while it is the Holy Spirit who develops this character in us, it is in studying self-control that we see a glimpse of how discipleship is also part of God’s plan for spiritual growth.


Self-Control: What it is.

By the Bible definition, self-control is a Greek adjective, the word sophron: the idea of restraint, putting on the brakes, soundness of mind

Other English words used to translate the word sophron throughout scripture are temperate, discreet, and sober.

Proverbs 25:28 says that a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

An Old Testament city needed walls to keep the enemy from marching in and taking over.  Self-control is like that wall in our lives.  Without it, we are vulnerable to our enemy, Satan’s attacks, and we are not equipped to make good decisions throughout life.

How We Acquire Self-Control:

It’s pretty obvious as we look at small children that we’re not born with it.  We develop will power as we grow up, and we can recognize areas of strength and weakness.  Will power is not the same as self control.  We’re talking about the difference between doing life by our power versus doing life by God’s power.  Self-control is a Gift of God. 

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law.”  Galations 5:22-23

For the grace of has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled upright, and godly lives in the present age.”  Titus 2:11-12

We are being trained by the Holy Spirit through the process of sanctification (setting us apart), as the grace of God allows us to make intentional choices to govern our emotions, desires and habits.

Reflect on your life:

Do you have any recurring sinful habits or areas of bondage in your life?

Are you enslaved or addicted to anything that’s not holy, healthy or wholesome?

Do you exercise self-control:

  • with your tongue and words
  • in your attitude, moods and emotions
  • with your body: food and drink, exercise and sleep?
  • with your time: entertainment, hobbies, habits, and time management
  • in your spending
  • sexually (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
  • with computer, internet and social media


Self-control requires exercising faith.  It is believing God’s promises.  

In Ephesians 1:16-19, Paul prayed that we would understand the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us who believe.


2 Peter 1:1-2 tells us that God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

These verses tell us that:

*God’s power cannot be measured, and it is alive in us who believe and have received the Holy Spirit.

*We have been equipped with everything we need to avert sin and live Godly lives.

  • We don’t have to sin.
  • We don’t have to beg God for more will power.
  • We need to believe God–He has already made us victors.

Satan doesn’t want you and me to believe this.  He wants us to live as defeated, rather than the over-comers Christ has made us.  Our enemy will do everything he can to cause us to believe our worst fears about ourselves are true.

When my oldest girls were young, we took a lot of swimming lessons at the Y.  The “middles” practiced and practiced, but they never felt confident that they could swim on their own.  For years they spent summers at camp in the shallow end of the lake, missing out on the fun and games that the older kids had swimming together.

Finally, I enrolled one of them in lessons again.  When the instructors learned how old she was, they put her in the highest level class.  She was scared, but 2 weeks of lessons and she passed all their requirements with flying colors.  How?  Because they forced her to exercise the muscles she already had.   She had been equipped to swim.  She just lacked faith.

We can live defeated in the shallow end and miss out on the plans God has for us, or we can move out in faith, believing that He has already made us over-comers.

Self Control requires the renewal of our minds through scripture and prayer.

“Be sober-minded (sober, calm and collected in spirit); be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:8

Jesus said that the devil is the father of lies.  He is an expert at taking a little bit of truth, then twisting it into a counterfeit idea and then planting it for us to think on.

In “Battlefield of the Mind,”  Joyce Meyers said that “Christians need to start thinking about what they are thinking about.”

“For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7

Sin starts as a thought that becomes a belief, and then a belief is made manifest in our words and actions.  From head to heart to hands, so to speak.

In order to make sound choices and have sound behavior, we need to have sound thinking.

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is a sin.”  James 4:17

Right thinking needs to lead to right living: being able to say yes to the things we should do and no to the things we should not do are equally important.

Some sin is blatant and easy to recognize.  Some sin is less obvious.  We grow up with ideas and habits that are culturally acceptable, even in the church, and if the church thinks it’s okay, then we think it’s okay, often never giving it a second thought.  I’ve been humbled when God has revealed certain things as being less than what He wants for the church—things I had never given a second thought to because it was “normal”.

Lets look at our thoughts and our beliefs under the light of scripture to discern what is truth and what is not.  Paul tells us how…

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

What our Prayers have to do with Self-Control…

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Interior Design:

“It’s obvious that sound, clear thinking can help us combat false beliefs and make wise decisions.  But it does more than that.  Peter’s primary expectation is that sound thinking will result in more praying, and more sound praying.  Thinking right helps me pray right.  Right thinking helps me see things from God’s perspective.  Praying helps me call upon and submit to God in light of that perspective, and to obtain the guidance and power I need to exercise self control in the situation.  Right thinking and prayer are key to winning the battle over destructive habits.”

Storm heaven with prayers that conform to God’s will, and witness His victorious power at work in your life.  More prayer begets more fruit, and so on.

Replace Wrong Patterns with Righteous or Virtuous Patterns.

The way of Christ: Ephesians 4:22-24

“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

When you clean up an area of your life, don’t leave it void.  That leaves room for another bad habit to take root.  Be deliberate in replacing that behavior with a virtuous one.

Don’t be conformed.  Be transformed.

“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.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

The first time I spoke on the topic of self-control, God really used the experience to show me that the areas in my life that gave me the least satisfaction, things that I dreaded doing and tended to procrastinate, were (obviously) the areas in which I lacked the most self-control.  I went through a process of repentance, as God revealed these areas to me, and began applying myself to “just do it”.  Not only that, but I gave thanks in the process.

Can’t stand doing the mounds of laundry that are inevitable with a large family?  Give thanks for the laundry–it is a reflection of the gift of children that God has bestowed, and someday they will grow up.

Put off other household chores?  Give thanks for the gift of a home, and ask God for more grace to be a good steward.

Struggle to get the family to church on on Sunday morning?  Thank God for the privilege of living in a country where you have the freedom to worship openly, and have the support of the church community in training your family in Godliness!

Get the idea?  We all struggle with different things, but God is pleased to give us the self-control to overcome our weaknesses, and giving thanks–dwelling on the good, lovely, and excellent– is an amazing gift that renews our thinking.

Learning Through Instruction

Titus 2:1,3-5 tells us:

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine… Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.  They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

Why does Titus teach us that the older women are to teach the younger women self-control?

  • Self-control requires participation and cooperation with God, and living it out can involve the practical side of learning from experience.  I believe we can learn from one another’s victories and mistakes.
  • Instruction can make us more aware of our own need and areas of weakness.  There are areas of weakness we’ve never thought about, but once it’s on our radar…
  • The church should provide a place of safe accountability and encouragement.

We cannot produce self-control or any other fruit in our lives.  The fruit we’ve been studying only comes about as a result of living in a relationship with Christ.  Charles Stanley talks about how the fruit in our lives will take us by surprise when we do life with God.  He never intended us to do it alone.

A heart of self-control will bring joy and peace in your life.  It will also help you to make the gospel believable to a watching world. ♥


Read other posts about the Fruit of the Spirit.







Praying God’s Will; 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 4

Good morning, Friend.  I hope you had a good sabbath and are ready for what this week holds.

Last week was a long week for me because my hubby took the camp interns out of town for 3 days, and they went on a tour of several other camps.  This is so much fun because they get to explore God’s creativity in other places, network with other camps, look at the differences and similarities in how other camps are organized and facilitate ministry in their location, and so much more.  This has become an annual event, and they always come back with inspiration.  Plus, the fellowship among our own staff while they travel is great.  I miss him when he’s gone.

Meanwhile, the kids and I kept with our school schedule, and the kids also did a lot of playing outside in all the new snow.  We had so much Sunday night and Monday, preceded by rain and sleet, that all the schools shut down and many events were cancelled.  It was a winter-wonderland.

Have you been witnessing God move in your heart and your local Church Body?

Last Sunday one of our teens was preparing to leave for the Philippines and our elders and leaders prayed over her during the service.  Get a load of this little guy?  He so sweetly wanted to be a part.  Eventually he scooted over and held onto someone’s sweater.



This morning I received word about a brand new believer!  And the request that I be praying for her.  Praise God, He uses our prayers! 🙂

Well, have you taken time to read 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 3 and listen for God’s will?  This chapter ran me through the full spectrum of emotions, I think.  It even moved me to tears…. happy tears.

Like I always say, I’m not an expert.  This is just my “home-schooled” Bible study, but God is a great tour guide when we get into His Word.  My study companions were the NASV and the Amplified Version,, and the IVP Bible Background Commentary for the New Testament.

Shall we pray for wisdom before we dig in?

Gods will 1 Thessalonians

My Notes:

vs. 1 & 2–The Thessalonian church has been following the instructions the apostles gave them concerning Godly living, and Paul says they should do so even more.

vs. 3–It was God’s will that they (and we) be set apart/consecrated/sanctified for holy living, and abstain from sexual sin.

vs. 4 & 5–Their bodies were not to be used for lustful passion, but they should know how to be self controlled (in purity and honor).

vs. 6–No man was to “transgress and defraud his brother” in this matter (sexual sin).  Well, I had to ask what, exactly, did Paul mean by this?  The IVP Bible Background Commentary teaches that Paul was referring to committing adultery with another man’s wife.  Makes sense.  It’s a good reminder that sexual sin not only harms us, but the one we sin with, and others as well).

vs. 7– Again, God called them (and us) to be sanctified/pure/set apart to be holy, just as God is holy.

vs. 8–When we reject God’s will, we reject His Holy Spirit ( whose business it is to be doing the sanctifying in us!)

Now Paul changes gears.

vs. 9 & 10– Grow and excel more and more in loving other believers.

vs. 11– Their goal (and ours) should be to live a peaceful life, mind their own business, and work with their own hands.  My study bible says that Greeks looked down on manual labor, and those who weren’t rich often adopted a habit of begging.

vs. 12–Why do these things?  So they would behave properly toward outsiders  and not be in need… (Paul promotes manual labor again in Eph. 4:28 for the purpose that they will not be in need, but also so they would have extra to give to others in need.  There’s that concept of giving again.)

vs. 13– Paul wants the Thessalonian church to understand what happens when believers die so they will not grieve like those who have no hope (they come from a culture devoid of hope).

vs. 14 & 15– Those who are alive when Christ returns will have no advantage over those who died before.  God will bring those who have already died to Himself through the work Jesus did in his death and resurrection (He conquered sin and death!!).

vs. 16– What do we have to look forward to?  Jesus will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, the shout of the archangel and the blast of the trumpet of God.  Those who have already died will rise.  *Chills*

vs. 17–Then those who are living will be caught up with the resurrected dead to meet Jesus in the air, and we will ALL be with Him for eternity!  *Cheers!*

vs. 18– Comfort and encourage each other with these words (this hope!). *Happy Tears*


“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  1 John 5:14-15

How can I use these observations to pray according to God’s will?

*vs. 1,2 3, & 7– Thank God for setting us apart and ask Him to continue to empower us to live holy lives for him, and specifically that the church will abstain from sexual sin.  Sexual sin was rampant in Paul’s day.  Prostitution was common.  All this time later, sex trafficking has exploded in our day.  Sometimes, even church attenders are confused about what is right and wrong as far as sexuality.   Unfortunately, there are other times that wrong choices are made, and instead of repentance, excuses are made.   It should not be this way.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  God doesn’t want us to cover up our sin.  He wants us to confess it so He can cover it.   “For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”            2 Peter 1:3

*vs. 4 & 5–Pray that God will teach us and empower us how to be self controlled in purity and honor.  And then consciously submit to God’s Spirit since self control is a fruit of the Spirit.

*vs. 9 & 10– Pray that we will consistently grow and excel, always, in loving other believers.  These people are our family and will be our neighbors (forever) when we get to heaven.  😉


*vs. 11 & 12– Pray that God will guide us, that we will live as peacemakers, and grant to each of us the desire and the way of working to provide for ourselves and our families so that we will not be a burden, but can even afford to be generous with others.

*vs. 13-18– Praise God for giving us a future hope through Jesus, and for telling how we can look forward to His return with great expectation.  He’s coming back for us, and we get to spend ETERNITY with Him!  Pray for the lost, by name if you can, that they may share with us in this hope.

How did God speak to you in this chapter?  I can’t wait to hear your insights.


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More Power in Prayer; God Never Makes a Mistake

God never makes a mista

Several years ago, one of our camp counselors become ill toward the end of youth camps.  Once Sarah started feeling unwell, things went downhill rather quickly.  When she explained to the camp nurse that she was experiencing blurred vision, she was taken to the local hospital where they ran a full gamut of tests.  Even so, they could not decide what was wrong.

Eventually her parents got her to a specialist in the cities (that’s Minnesota speak for the Twin Cities: Minneapolis/St.Paul and surrounding areas).  He found damage to the optic nerves that may or may not be permanent. What was certain was that if healing was possible, it would take time.  He sent her home with the diagnosis of “legally blind”.

All this didn’t stop her from serving.  I remember her sister bringing her up for a ladies’ retreat, and even though she was using a walking stick to get around, Sarah was running the big dishwasher while greeting women through the serving window.

God used her to touch a lot of hearts during this time, including a young camper who continued to correspond with Sarah after the summer.  The teen she was mentoring gave herself to Christ just shortly before losing her life in a traffic accident, and afterward God used Sarah to comfort the girl’s mother.

For many months we prayed for Sarah, asking the Lord that if would be His will, would He heal her?  During a weekend staff reunion in which the young adults studied the power of prayer, the camp staff and her peers laid hands on her and prayed for her healing during every session.  At the last session of the last day, she said she had come to terms with the idea that her healing was not going to happen at the retreat, and she was okay with that.  But when the closing prayer was said, she opened her eyes and the whole room heard her announce in surprise, “I can see.”

Sarah returned to camp as an intern.  We watched her enjoy a  blooming relationship with one of our local boys, another Camp JIM counselor, and last January my husband had the honor of marrying them.


When I asked Sarah about her story, she shared, “When I went back to my doctor, he found that the damage to my right eye was reversed (medically impossible that a nerve could regrow that quickly) and my left optic nerve was still so damaged that I shouldn’t be able to see anything!”  
 Sarah is a walking miracle, and anyone who knows her would tell you about how God used her story to spur us on to greater faith, and the ways we all delight to spread God’s fame because of his merciful kindness.  As Sarah says, “God gets all the glory!”

It’s easy, when our prayers are answered in the affirmative, to say we believe that God never makes a mistake.  But what about the times that healing does not occur?  When a loved one dies?  When the depression doesn’t lift?  When a child walks away from God?  When the loss is too great.

I cannot even begin to touch the hem of the hurts that you have lived.  Our paths are not the same.

And yet, the Bible tells us that there is one who understands each hurt, every need, every tear.  He knows the beginning from the end, and every moment of our lives in between.  He knows the what if’s, the endless possibilities and the non-negotiables.

His goal is that we reach spiritual maturity by drawing near to Him, and that our lives would become light houses that beckon others home.  In the process, we become vessels who minister to the Lord,

who encourage other believers,

vessels who declare the glory of God–not simply by what we say, but by what we live, because other people are watching, and we exemplify what we believe.

light house

Sometimes it’s the healing that brings about our perfection.

Sometimes it’s the suffering.

The question that begs our attention, when we realize that effectual prayers must be in line with God’s will, is: Are we committed to God’s will?

Do we believe God’s promise, that He works ALL THINGS together for good, for those who love Him?

There is a friend and neighbor of camp who is dying of ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  This insidious disease causes the death of neurons that control the voluntary muscles of the body, causing their eventual failure, but it doesn’t affect the victim’s ability to think and reason.  As their body stops working, they are all too aware of what is happening to them as helpless victims, trapped in their own bodies.  This friend, who I will call D, has lost his ability to walk, and he has to be on a breathing machine already.  Soon he will lose his ability to talk and swallow.  It is heartbreaking for all to watch, especially his family.

Friends from all over the country have been coming every few weeks to visit with D and pray over him, asking God if He will heal our friend.  They stay at camp when they come, and they have included our staff in their prayer vigils.   So far, while D’s disease has progressed more slowly than the doctors predicted, his condition has continued to worsen. 

Why doesn’t God heal D like He healed Sarah?

I don’t know.

Can He?

Absolutely.  D says he will walk over himself to tell us in the event that healing is God’s will.  🙂

But even if God doesn’t heal D, do you know what I see?

I see the Church Body gathering around D regularly to pray for and encourage him.  While they are there he asks them about what they are facing, listens to them, discusses with them, and yes–prays for them.  They are bearing one another’s burdens.

He is interceding a lot these days.  Are you a follower of Christ?  He is praying for you.

People come together to minister to D, but they leave with full, light hearts, realizing that they also have been ministered to.

As we pray for his healing, we are encouraged by the grace and strength God is providing for him to handle what is happening to him.

I see D’s trust; I see the peace he is experiencing, despite his circumstances.

I see God’s faithfulness.

And I am amazed.

What do I see?  I see God working.  In all His mercy, and unfailing, loving kindness, He is working in D and in all of us, and it is a beautiful thing.

Does God make mistakes?


Is it worth it, trusting God’s will?

Emphatic, Yes.

Effective prayer doesn’t always change our circumstances, but it always changes our hearts.

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”  1 Peter 4:19  ESV


HUGE thanks to Sarah, for giving me permission to share her story and for the use of her wedding picture.  All glory to God!

Other photo credit belongs to Pixabay.


Praying God’s Will; 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 1

Links to chapters 2 though 5 of 1 Thessalonians are available at the end of this post.

Happy Monday, Friends!  I’m so glad you can join me!  As we’ve been learning in our series on experiencing More Power in Prayer, one of the keys to effective prayer is praying according to God’s will.  So starting today, I’m going to be spending Mondays reading to see, “What is God’s Will?” and then pray it!  I’m beginning in the book of 1 Thessalonians, chapter one.

Gods will 1 Thessalonians

I’m sitting here with my cup of hot herbal tea and my own notebook, with “1 Thessalonians” written across the top of the page.  My husband is finishing a remodel on the sunroom off my kitchen and diningroom.  He just finished installing the flooring, and I can’t wait for the trim to be completed so we can clean up the construction mess.  I’m looking forward to being able to sit in front of the windows and take in God’s creation while I study.

When I study a new book, I like to look at the what historians know about the background so I have a better understanding of where the author is coming from.  Then I group verses with similar ideas together and summarize them for myself, and finally I go back and look at how they may apply today.  I may learn something new each time I go over a passage, so this devotional will in no way be comprehensive!  I am not a Bible scholar or professor.  I am just a daughter of God who loves His Word and am seeking His wisdom in living for Him.  Lets ask God to show us what He wants to teach us in this chapter and get to work!  Shall we compare notes?!?  Please share your insights and musings in the comments so we can all learn from one another!

The book of 1 Thessalonians is a letter written by the apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica.  Thessalonica was a busy seaport, an important communication and trade center, the largest city in Macedonia, and the capitol of its province.  Paul was able to spend only a short time discipling the new believers there before he was forced to leave, suddenly, leaving them without outside support during a time of persecution.  Paul wrote to encourage them, teach them Godly living, and give them assurance about their future.  This book is 5 short chapters.

vs. 1–an introduction

vs. 2–Paul prayed thanks for the Thessalonian Church

vs. 3–specific thanks: work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope

vs. 4–Paul knew God chose them

vs. 5–the church didn’t receive the gospel by word only, but in power, in the Holy Spirit with FULL conviction!

vs. 6&7–they became imitators of Christ & Paul, AND they became an example for other believers.  (1 Cor. 11:1)

vs. 8–they shared the gospel–everywhere they went, their faith sounded forth

vs. 9&10–other believers were talking about their faith (they had turned from idols, were serving a living & true God, and waiting for Jesus’s return).


As I read this chapter, I wondered if perhaps it was written like we write an English essay, with verse 3 being like an introductory sentence that the following verses unpack?

*Whether or not this was Paul’s intention, I can imagine that the work of faith Paul gives thanks for in verse 3 points forward to the Thessalonian Church receiving the gospel in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction” (vs.5).  We know (vs. 4) that all Christians are chosen by God first, and that we need the Holy Spirit to give us faith to believe the gospel.  Once we are saved, this faith grows and results in lives full of spiritual fruit.

*I can imagine that when Paul gave thanks in verse 3 for their “labor of love,” that he could be referring to the way they became an example for other believers, and shared the gospel everywhere, sounding forth their faith (vs. 6-8)

*I can imagine that when Paul gave thanks for their steadfastness of hope, that he could be referring to the way they turned from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for Jesus’s return (vs.9&10)


How can I use these observations to pray according to God’s will?

  • Give thanks for my church, being mindful that God has chosen them, and look for ways that God is specifically producing a work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope…  For example: My home church enjoys meeting together, truth is taught, we pray together, discipleship happens, hospitality is practiced, etc…  When my church ladies met to discuss this, they pointed out that Paul is not only praying thanks for the fruit He sees in the church in Thessalonica, He’s writing to tell them about it!  He is encouraging them in the process.  Hebrews 10:24 tells us to consider how we can spur each other on to good works—Imitating Paul’s action here is one of those ways!
  • Pray for myself, my family, and the Church, that God’s word will always penetrate our hearts and minds in Power, in the Holy Spirit, and in full conviction (renew our minds and sanctify our hearts.)
  • Pray that we will be imitators of Christ and live lives worthy of being imitated by others–an example for other believers.  Godly examples help us learn what God’s word looks like in real time, and lets face it, some of us learn best by watching and doing.
  • Pray that we will be thankful and enthusiastic–sharing with others what God has done and is doing in our lives.  Our testimony is more than just sharing how we were saved.  God is constantly working.  Sound forth our faith!!
  • Pray that we will have steadfastness of hope, remembering daily that we serve a living Savior who we are waiting to return!
  • For the Lost: pray verse 5 (that they will become saved by receiving the gospel in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction… that they may also become verses 6 and following.  Who in your life is in need of Jesus?  Make a list, and mention them by name.

What did you learn from this chapter?  I can’t wait to hear how God is moving in your life.  And I can’t wait to see how God uses our prayers this week!

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  1 John 5:14-15

1 Thessalonians, chapter 2

1 Thessalonians, chapter 3

1 Thessalonians, chapter 4

1 Thessalonians, chapter 5