Praying God’s Will; 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 2

Happy Monday, Friends!  I’m so glad you can join me again. 🙂  Have you been digging into 1 Thessalonians to see what God has to show us?

Gods will 1 Thessalonians

This chapter really includes a LOT of history.  The apostle Paul was one of those super smart people who sometimes talks in circles before getting to the crux of his message.  I had to read through this chapter several times, and you’ll notice that I have grouped some of the verses out of order to make more sense for my own study.

I am not a Bible Scholar or theologian.  I’m just a child of God who loves His Word, and I desire to understand His will.  In John 16:13, Jesus tells us the the Spirit of Truth (God’s Holy Spirit) guides us into all truth!  I do hope you’ll share with me what God revealed to you in your study–we can learn from each other!  Let’s pray for understanding.


My Notes:

vs. 2– Some background: Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy (apostles) came to the Thessalonians from Philippi.  They had suffered shameful treatment there, but were still bold to speak the gospel in Thessalonica (where they also experienced “oppression”–they were accused of civil treason {Acts 17:7})

vs.1–This was not in vain (because the Thessalonians ultimately embraced the gospel)

vs. 3– Paul seems to feel the need to support his qualifications and the integrity of their ministry to them.  He stated that their ministry 1) did not come from error, 2) did not come from impurity, 3) did not come from deceit.

vs. 5– While ministering to the Thessalonians, the apostles 1) didn’t smooth talk or flatter, 2) their ministry was not a front for personal profit (not greed driven), 3) did not seek personal glory from anyone


vs.4–The apostles were 1) approved by God, to share the gospel, 2) taught the gospel to please God (not men) as they answered to Him.  And,

vs.7–They were 1) gentle (kind) among the Thessalonians (cherishing them like a nursing mother cherishes her baby) and  2) very willing to give the gospel to them even if it cost them their lives to do so.  Why? Because the Thessalonians had become “very dear” (beloved) to them.

vs.9–The apostles worked to support themselves while they were among the Thessalonians.  (The Philippian church also sent support to them. {Philippians 4:16}  Paul later wrote to them and told them how much this meant to him.)  This supported Paul’s claim that he didn’t minister to them for personal gain.

vs.10–The apostles behaved blamelessly among them.

vs.11-12–They had exhorted (strongly encouraged/invited) them, imploring them “like a father would his children” to live worthy of God who “calls you into His own kingdom and glory”

vs.13–So then (as a result of this): the apostles constantly thank God that the Thessalonians responded to the gospel, accepting it as God’s own word, and they were saved! 🙂

vs.14,15–The Thessalonians became imitators of the churches in Judea who were persecuted by the Jews for following Christ.  The price?  The Thessalonians were also persecuted by their countrymen.

vs.16–The unbelieving Jews wanted to stop the gospel from being dispersed.  God’s judgement will come upon them.

vs. 17,18–Paul was grieved that he had been forced to leave the church in Thessalonica prematurely.  He wanted to visit them again, but had been prevented.  He said he was with them in spirit.  Interestingly, if Paul had not had to leave them, we would not have his letters to this church.  We have to believe this was all part of God’s plan to give His inspired Word to the WHOLE Church Body.  (Thanks to Miriam for pointing this out!)

vs.19, 20–Paul calls the Thessalonian Church his glory and joy~a crown of exultation.  They were his spiritual children.  He was proud of them and took great joy in their salvation.


Paul and his fellow apostles give us a tremendous example of the kind of attitude and motivation we should have in sharing the gospel with others, and also gives us clues to identify false prophets (vs. 3,5).  He shows us that even when we are not the ones “sent,” we can and should be part of supporting the sounding forth of the gospel in other places.  Lastly, in Paul’s example, I see that those we disciple need our continual prayers as well as our candid and sincere encouragement and admonishment to remain strong in the Lord, whatever the cost.

On a different note, in reading the ways in which the apostles regarded the Thessalonians as a mother and father would: tenderly cherishing and strongly encouraging and exhorting them, I am reminded of how I as a parent should be discipling my children on a daily basis.


“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.2–Pray for my church leaders, for those on the mission field, the Church Body and for myself, that we will always be bold to share the gospel, even when oppression, persecution, or personal loss are a possibility.

*vs.1–Pray for those God has entrusted to go out and preach the gospel, that their labor will not be in vain.  Scripture says God’s word will not return void, but will accomplish what He pleases.  Isaiah 55:11

*God has qualified every believer to share the gospel.  Thank Him, and pray that we, and our church leaders, will never minister from a place of greed or a desire for personal glory.  Instead, give us integrity, truthfulness, and the motivation to please only God, who examines our hearts.

*vs. 6,11,12–Pray for our church leaders and teachers, that they will love people as a parent loves a child, deeply and tenderly, and admonish them/us to live worthy of God!  Are you a parent or grandparent, teacher or mentor, spouse or friend?  We need this prayer too!  “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

*vs. 9–Pray for the support and provision of those who serve in full time ministry, and thank Him! 🙂  (and then act if you are in a position to do so).  Fundraising for missionary support and for Christian non-profits is hard work (and scary for many).  It takes a great deal of time away from actual ministry.  I live in an area with many small, struggling churches who cannot adequately pay their pastors, so these men work full-time while preaching and fulfilling as many of the responsibilities of a full time pastor as possible.  As Paul shared, it is a hardship!  Church growth is slow when this happens, and pastors burn out before their time.  They can’t do it all!  They need support.

*vs. 10–Pray that we will walk blamelessly (living by the Spirit) and so not tarnish our testimony.

*vs.13-15, 19-20–we are reminded to continue to pray as we learned in chapter one, that the lost will accept the gospel as God’s word, in the Holy Spirit, in Power and FULL conviction.   Rejoice over those God is adding to His kingdom!

*vs. 17,18–Pray for the church in other areas.  Many of our brothers and sisters are suffering and in need.  We can be with them in Spirit (as well as supporting church work in their area), and ask God to teach them, strengthen them, and empower them according to His will.

When I had the privilege of discussing Thessalonians with my church sisters, those working in secular fields shared how even though they strive to walk blamelessly, they know they mess up, and sometimes experience concern that they may damage their testimony.  Yet time and time again, God continues to use them and allow them to be a light of influence in dark places.

Do you ever feel this way?  Praise God for grace.  He isn’t finished working in us yet!  My friend Lynn over at Through Ink & Image created a beautiful short video to illustrate this truth. 🙂  I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to go watch it!  It is worth your time!

Did you miss our study on 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 1?  You can find it HERE! 🙂

Growing in the Fruit of Peace

Several years ago, I read Elizabeth George’s book, “Loving God with all Your Mind.”  It was the first time I had read her work, and I was intrigued with the title.  It wasn’t the easiest read.  I had to take it in small bites, and it took me several months, but it was so worth the effort.

Growing in the Fruit of Peace

I had no idea how God was going to use that little book in my life in a very short while.  Ms. George shared about a period of time during which she had struggled with depression, and how loving God with her mind pulled her out of darkness and into precious hope.  Unknown to me, our own young daughter was developing serious anxiety, and it was this knowledge of how to love God with abandon, giving up our rights to worry, that provided a life line to pull our daughter back.

It is still fresh to me.  I cannot hold back the tears as I share this with you, but they are tears of thankfulness as I can tell you with full confidence that even in times of struggle, because struggle we all must, God is so very very good.

As Elizabeth George shared in her book, “A Woman’s Walk with God, Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit,”   Peace is the sacrifice of trust.

Ms. George points out that Peace is:

  • not a result of our worldly circumstances, but in the assurance that we have a right relationship with God.
  • not affected by daily challenges, but remains in the knowledge that our times are in God’s hands.
  • is not dependent on the conditions of our life, but upon knowing that God is all-sufficient.  He will supply our every need, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19
  • It is “an inward repose and serenity of soul that indicates a heart at rest–regardless of our circumstances–as we place complete confidence in God minute by minute.”  He is continuously with us.  Psalm 139:7-12

Trusting God

Several years ago I met a Christian woman and song writer when she and her husband answered a Craig’s List ad and came to see the van we had for sale.  She and I ended up spending quite a bit of time visiting, and we stayed in touch through email for a long time after.  She asked me to be praying for their family, as her daughter was making what they felt were foolish choices, so I prayed.

Some months later she sent me an update.  “I had a dream,” she told me.  She and her husband were rowing frantically in a small boat with their daughter, as a storm blew and crashed upon them.  “But then,” she said, “it was like a camera in a movie panned back, and I could see that we were actually rowing inside a fish bowl.”  The bowl was being carried by the hands of God himself, and it was this very act–being carried–that caused the waves that they were struggling to row against.  Just knowing that God was in it brought her peace.

If God is carrying your boat, He is taking you to a better place.

You have to believe that.

You have to have confidence that He will not waste an iota of your struggle.  He will use it to draw you deeper with Him, to grow your faith, and open eyes to His glory.

If God is carrying your boat

Hes taking you to a better place

The word God uses for peace also means rest and tranquility~”of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.”`

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

Just like joy, and all 9 of the fruit of the Spirit, our peace is positional.  Because of Jesus’s work on the cross we have peace with God.  We are no longer enemies of God.  We are His beloved children.  Because of this, we can rely on all God’s promises, and we can be content in any and every circumstance.

The Secret to Experiencing Peace

In Philippians chapter 4, Paul tells us the secret to experiencing God’s peace.  We also continue to see how all 9 of the Fruit of the Spirit are to be present in a believer’s life, and are interdependent.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” verses 4-7

Did you catch that?  Loving God with all our hearts involves making the conscious choice not to wallow in unfavorable circumstances, but rather, to rejoice in the Lord.  Choose not to be anxious, but instead pray and tell God what you need, trusting in His ability and His desire to meet those needs.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” verse 8

Loving God with all our minds involves meditating on the right things.  How often does anxiety overtake us because we allow ourselves to dwell on the “what if’s”?  My daughter will tell you it is a slippery slope, once you allow yourself to visit there.  What about the “if only’s”?  How often do we lose our focus and take a ride on an emotional roller coaster because, like Lots wife, we look back longingly on the the past that is behind us, or allow the present opportunities to slip through our fingers because we’re dwelling on unrealistic hopes for the future?

All these things: the what if’s, the if only’s, the past, and the future are not “whatever is true.”  The past was true in it’s time, and the future is unknown to us.  Dwelling on them will not provide peace, but is likely to steal it away.

What we do know is that God has plans for us right now today.  He promises to work all things together for good for those who love Him.  And He wants us to trust Him with all our hearts, leaning on His understanding, acknowledging Him (rejoicing in Him and trusting Him!) and He promises to make our paths straight… Proverbs 3:5,6

He has your back, no matter what storm you encounter.  He is the one carrying your boat.

 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” verse 9

Paul is always saying that, isn’t he?  Follow my example because I’m following God, and God will be with you!

…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” verses 11-13

We quote that last part a lot, don’t we?  “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Many times, we take it out of context.

Paul said he knew how to be content in ANY circumstance.  He knew how to get along with little, and he knew how to live with much.  The secret of being filled and going hungry… having an abundance and suffering in need!

How did he do it?  How did he go on through poverty, being stoned, being the recipient of hate talk, being ship wrecked, living under house arrest for many years, and eventually losing his life for the sake of Christ?  All the while, he remained content.  He knew God’s peace.

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Paul didn’t have to experience anxiety or worry, doubt or discouragement.  Jesus would empower him to stand firm through anything while experiencing contentment, and we can have this same confidence, because as verse 19 tells us,

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Sometimes we experience wonderful peace in our own storms, but watching our loved ones struggle, that can be harder.  Giving them to God can be a greater exercise in trust, and we need to hold our loved ones with open hands.  God loves them more than we do, and His plans for them are every bit as wonderful and good as the plans we know He has for us.

When our daughter was struggling the most, we did some practical things to help her.  I was able to provide her with Bach Flowers that were helpful for her emotional state.

We used accupressure to help remove the strain that the anxiety placed on her body, and in return, her anxiety was lessened.

But more than anything else, she memorized scripture, taped it up all around her bed, and recited it whenever she felt the temptation to allow her thoughts to go where she knew they shouldn’t.  Instead she reminded herself to love God with her mind and meditate on His truth.    

She continued to rejoice in the Lord, recording the good gifts He has placed in her life in her special notebook… 3 things she’s thankful for each day, and the record is well into the thousands today.

We talked about what God says is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise!

And we prayed, often, asking God to give her His peace.

Our daughter still sometimes experiences worry, but it is temporary because she knows where to go, and instead of being paralyzed by anxiety, she is freed by trust.  It was hard to understand, when we were in that difficult place with her, why she was going through that storm, but when I hear her talk about it today I believe God will someday use her to lead others to peace.  She is uniquely equipped to show true understanding and compassion to others.  God won’t waste her pain, and He won’t waste yours… He will bring it to good.

Praise God for giving us so many reasons to trust in Him, and for making contentment in any circumstance possible!

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.  He will not leave (fail) you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

“For I know the plans that I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’”  Jeremiah 29:11   God had just caused His people to be carried into Babylon for 70 of exile.  They were looking for deliverance and He told them to build houses and have families and make a life there—they were being disciplined for their good.

God is good.  His love for us endures forever.  He is faithful.  And not a single thing that will ever happen to us isn’t filtered through His loving hands first.  And everything that he allows, even the tough love, is for our ultimate good and for God’s glory.

Psalm 136 is the all about Giving Thanks to God.  “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For his lovingkindness is everlasting.  {His love endures forever.}

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Just as it is written, “For your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39


More Power in Prayer; Prerequisite #1 for Effective Prayer

Information on the small give-away I am doing in conjuction with this post is available toward the end (in bold print).  

Did you know that while God always hears our prayers, there are things we may be doing or not doing that influence how attentive He is to our prayers?

Psalm 66:18 says,

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

In Evelyn Christenson’s book, “What Happens When Women Pray,” she shares about how her small prayer group began intercessory prayer one January, and it was April before they began seeing answers.

Then, they took Psalm 66:18 to heart.  Not wanting anything to hinder their prayers, they began their weekly meeting by asking God to reveal any sin for which they needed to repent.  One by one, God began bringing sins to their mind.  The first meeting they did this, they spent the whole meeting in individual prayer of repentance, and the meeting after that, and for several more meetings.  It took 6 weeks of repentance before they were released to pray for others.

Suddenly, they found that the answers didn’t take so long; not long at all.

More Power in Prayer, Prerequisite 1

One of the “big” things that damages our relationship with God, and hinders us from receiving answers we long for, is the matter of known un-confessed sin.

We all sin every day.  There are many times we are not aware, and those are not the sins to which I am referring.  If we all knew every sin we committed, we may be too overcome with sorrow.  The Holy Spirit knows this, and God is gracious to tackle our issues as He sees fit.

No, it’s the sneaky sin we know is wrong and allow ourselves to fall into anyway.  Or even the accidental sin that we recognize and find easier to ignore.  Perhaps it is a sin we enjoy and don’t want to give up.

Whether or not anyone else knows what we’ve done, whether or not anyone else is harmed, God knows, and our sins come between us and Him.

If you’ve never called on the name of the Lord to be saved, please be assured that nothing could ever prevent God from hearing you call.  It is His heart’s desire to remove your sin from you (as far as the east is from the west) if you will only repent and confess your sin, trusting Jesus to be your Savior.  He died in your place.  “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9,10  

Once you are saved into a right relationship with God, he hears your intercessory prayers.  However, those intentional, or tolerated sins come between us and Him.

Lets be honest.  I love my kids, and I always take care of their needs, but if they are intentionally disobeying, exhibiting a poor attitude, leaving responsibilities undone, and the like. . . and then they come to me, asking for favors or special privileges that are not needs, I hear them, but am I likely to desire to give them what they’re asking for?  Uh, no.  I might shut them down mid-sentence.  Fix your attitude.  Apologize.  Go do the thing you were supposed to do.  Show me you are trustworthy.  THEN, we’ll talk.

It’s the same with us and with God.  He cares more about teaching us to have holy hearts, which will give us joy forever, than He cares for making us happy in the moment.

It takes humility, to be sure.   Pride is one sin that will spiral into all others, but. . .

Isn’t intimacy with our God what we should desire to pursue?

Ask God to reveal to your heart any sin that is coming between you and Him.  Ask Him what He wants you to repent of.  He is SO faithful.  One at a time, he will bring all to mind.

No known un-confessed sins.  It’s the first prerequisite for an effective, powerful prayer life. Lay it all out there.  “God, I confess that I ________.  I repent of this sin, and renounce it.  Please forgive me, and enable me to __________ (whatever it is that you need to do to live holy for HIM).  If you are a child of God, the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives within you.  That’s power. . . certainly enough power to enable you to conquer whatever sin issue you have been dealing with.  Praise God, He is faithful and just, when we confess our sin, to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3

Seeing prayers answered doesn’t mean that God gives us everything we ask for.  He gives us those things that compliment His plans, those things that He knows are good (and not bad) for us.  Sometimes His answer is “wait”.  We have to trust His timing is perfect.  He is for us, and as we learn more how to pray (because there are more prerequisites for effective prayer), we will see more and more answers.  It is so awesome to have the privilege.

Revive our Hearts sells a book mark which complements Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s book, “Brokenness: The Heart God Revives.” (a wonderful book)  Front and back, the book mark lists characteristics of prideful people verses broken, or humble people.  Our ladies group found the list to be useful to pray over, as God can use it to point out areas of sin.  Confession is so healing.  I have 5 of these book marks to give away.  If you would like one, please tell me so in the comments.  The first 5 commenters to ask, will receive!  😉

If there are any Pointway Church ladies who have not received a copy, and would like to, please let me know via facebook or text and I will get one to you.




Recipe: Gluten-Free, Cranberry Almond Bread (Sourdough)

If there is one food that speaks of Christmas traditions to me, it would be Candy Cane Cookies.  And they’re not even peppermint, right?  It’s almond.  I love it.  I’ve been known to bake out those cookies all year long. . .  just roll them into a ball and flatten them.  No fancy shapes and no food coloring.  I just love the flavor.

So it’s no surprise that when my kids found a Cranberry Almond Loaf recipe in their Focus on the Family Club House Magazine several years ago, I fell in love with that too.  Same delicious, sweet almond flavor, only with cranberries for a bonus.

Cranberry Almond Loaf, original recipe

But then, that Gluten-Free thing happened; and I prefer to prepare foods as healthful as possible.  Therefore, with that criteria in mind, here is a new recipe for Cranberry, Almond Bread.  🙂  This is made with honey and stevia, rather than refined sugar.  The texture of the original bread was rather dry and crumbly, so this gluten-free loaf is more moist (on purpose), and just in time for the holidays!

Cranberry Almond Bread, Gluten-Free Sourdough

I’m not exactly a food photographer.  If you want jewelry photographed, that’s my thing! 

I set my table cloth and delicious loaf of “Christmas Bread” in front of the bay window to catch the early morning light, and the little ones gathered all around me!  The boys were bouncing up and down on both sides, hitting my elbows with their hard little heads while asking, “When can I have a piece?” over and over.  And the almost two year old was standing on a chair, hanging over the table, yelling, “I want some!  I want some!” rather persistently.  So short story?  The photo shoot didn’t last very long, and they made short work of the Cranberry Almond Bread!

Don’t forget to download the Gluten-Free Sourdough, Cranberry Almond Bread PDF   I hope you enjoy it as much as our family has.

Cranberry Almond Bread, Gluten-Free Sourdough at growinggraceful copy


Combine wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown rice sourdough starter, fed in the past 12 hours
  • 1/2 cup water or milk

In a separate bowl, blend dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sorghum (milo) flour
  • 1/2 cup teff flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1.5 teaspoons fine psyllium husk powder (I use Viva brand)

Add to the wet ingredients, mix well, and cover to allow to ferment for 7-12 hours.

After fermenting:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place your pan in the oven to heat.  To your batter, add:

  • 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 tsp. Sweet Leaf Stevia Powder
  • 2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 teaspooon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Mix well.  Remove pan from oven and melt butter along sides and bottom.  Pour batter and smooth top.  {If your kids distract you and your loaf sits awhile before going into the oven, the cranberries may sink to the bottom like mine. 😉 } However, bake it immediately and your cranberries will be well distributed throughout the loaf!

Loaf pan: Bake 45-50 minutes  (I use glass.)

In a hurry and want to bake this out more like a cake?  Use a 8×8″ or 11×7″ glass pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Glass baking dishes

Azure Standard has a dried cranberry that is sweetened with apple juice, and I’ve been itching to get my hands on it.  So far, it has been out of stock, but they’re expecting a shipment this month, so I’ll get to try them in January!

If you’re like me and you are doing a low carb thing while your family continues to eat a more traditional fare, All Day I Dream About Food has a yummy Cranberry Cobbler recipe.  Just omit the cinnamon and vanilla, add a teaspoon of almond extract instead, and you can enjoy some low carb Cranberry Almond “Bread” right alongside everyone else.  😉