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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How Putting Up the Christmas Tree Turned into a Teachable Moment

I don’t know if it was the colder temperatures and the snow that we had in early October, or something else, but my kids have been waiting impatient to get past fall and on to Christmas.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my in-laws, enjoyed every moment, and got home late. I took Precious #4 into town with me to pick up a co-op order, and we hit a few of the Black Friday Sales.  I survived.  I hate the crowds, the lines, and the hype.  I may win the award for the shopper who spent the least $. Maybe.

When I got home, I found the other “kids” had been deep cleaning, and organizing the living room, WITHOUT BEING ASKED!!!  Wow.  They know me too well.  They knew that if they asked to put up Christmas decor, I would tell them we have to clean first.  🙂

So we have a head start, and my hubby was so surprised when he came home and realized he didn’t have to haul all those boxes up the stairs or assemble the tree.  It’s all done.  He could enjoy helping with the ornaments, read us the story of Christ’s birth, and relax!

The little one was so cute.  She’d pick up an ornament, take a sibling by the hand, and then point out the branch she wanted to place it upon.  She was having so much fun!

Decorating the tree

I had just listened to an interview on the Christian radio, where Phil Vischer explained how our Christmas tree was originally a tradition that was adopted by the Germans in the 16th century when they abandoned their pagan beliefs and came to Christ.  The tree symbolized eternal life because evergreen needles stay, and don’t die.  The branches of the tree point heavenward, and a monk later taught them about the Trinity using the three corners of the tree.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to share all this with my kids!

On to decorating…I put the star on the tree, and my oldest daughter and I were stringing lights.  We used an old string of lights and a new one, and while we were working, the old set had half the lights dimming and another problem had half the lights turning off completely!  I had to figure out how to fix the settings and get all those lights working together.  The littles were watching, and asking me, “What’s wrong with this picture?” And the thought came to me…

What if we thought of this tree as the Body of Christ, while it’s sitting in our dark living-room which represents the world?

And what if we see all these bulbs as the individuals who make up the Body?  They are shining, as Paul commanded in Philippians, illuminating the dark with the light of Christ.  They bring light to the whole room.  These small lights are pointing to the Head of our Body, who is Christ, and is represented by the star which shines brighter than all.  And isn’t that perfect since Christ is called the Bright and Morning Star?

Our Christmas star is plugged into the Power source (the outlet), just as Christ is one with His Father.  The lights strands are plugged into the star so that electricity flows to the light bulbs and powers their light, just as Christ said for us to abide in Him, so that the Holy Spirit can make our lives fruitful.

What happens when one of the light bulbs is disconnected from the strand?  The light given off by the tree is diminished considerably since other lights are hand-capped by that absence.  This is such a perfect way to illustrate 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul introduces Spiritual Gifts and explains how the whole Body suffers when one member suffers…  If we are not cooperating with God’s plan by choosing to exercise our Spiritual Gifts, we do cripple the functioning of this Church Body.  It can’t work at full capacity without our participation, which can also illustrate what happens when Believers stop meeting together as talked about in Hebrews 10, and do not join in worship and service with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

And if we are not getting along with one another?

Or we make choices that grieve the Holy Spirit, our “electricity”, who supernaturally powers us to shine?

Or if we make choices that result in ill health, whether emotional OR physical, which cause an inability to serve?

~Then we also cripple the effectiveness of the Church, since God designed us to work together in unity.  Without us, the Church cannot shine as brightly.~

Brothers and sisters, we need God, and we are also designed to need one another.

How putting up the Christmas tree turned into a teachable moment

While unplugging and re-plugging light strands, removing and replacing bulbs, and playing with the dimmer switch on these newfangled lights… my kids grasped, for a few moments, how important they are to the Church Body, and to bringing Jesus’ light to the world…. and this teachable moment is one we can refer back to throughout the year, and relive again next Christmas.

I think we have a new tree-trimming tradition. 😉