white water rafting November 23 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 1Thessalonians

Faithful Endurance

Rafting in the rapids takes constant alertness and faithful endurance so the raft is not overturned and its occupants thrust into churning waters and against the rocks. Like rafting in the rapids, we must navigate churning waters and rocks in our lives. When rough circumstances come, we wonder why they are happening to us. Why are they happening to our family, church, business, or other organization? We try to be faithful. We play by all the rules. We are friendly to our neighbors. We try to live lives of integrity. We are loving, reasonable people. We try to be witnesses of God’s grace and mercy, and yet we are suffering for it. It should not be. Maybe we should just quit, give into the current, and drown in our culture. What encouragement is there to stay upright, keep paddling, and faithfully endure our circumstances?

The book of Acts records the Apostle Paul's visit to the believers in Thessalonica during his second Missionary journey. The Thessalonian believers were saved from lives of wicked idolatry and sexual immorality. They tried to be good Christians but lived in a sex-crazed culture connected with idol worship.

When Paul moved on to other cities, he was concerned about their welfare; he did not want his efforts with them to have been wasted. He tried to make a visit to them but was delayed, so he sent Timothy, his helper in the ministry. Timothy greatly comforted Paul with a positive report from the Thessalonian believers. Paul was delighted to hear from him that, despite severe persecutions, they were still standing strong.

Paul writes to the Thessalonians and commends the believers for being loyal to God, even while enduring persecutions, just as he himself is doing (1Thessalonians 1:2-7). Like Elijah in the times of King Ahab of Israel (1Kings 19:13-18), we may think we are the only ones who are living committed lives, but in there are many others. We should continue to be faithful like them.

Here are some things Paul tells them to watch out for as they are striving to live the faithful life:

First, since they are surrounded by immorality, he wants them to continue to exercise self-control. Immorality wars against our spirits, not just our bodies (1Peter 2:11). Many ministries, families, or other organizations have been greatly injured or destroyed by one person’s foolish and careless actions. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, … for God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life” (1Thessalonians 4:6b,7, NIV).

Second, Paul encourages the Thessalonian believers to continue to show brotherly love, as they are now doing, and even to increase in their love for each other. Christians should be known by their love for each other and their neighbors. The support of our brothers and sisters is especially important during times of persecution.

Third, he instructs the believers to live with integrity and to work earnestly and honestly so they will be good testimonies to others. He urges them to be busy, not busy bodies, and to lead a quiet life.

Paul further encourages the Thessalonians by reminding them that Jesus is coming. He is their hope, and he is our hope if we have trusted in the Lord for our salvation. If we die before he comes, then our bodies will be among the first to be resurrected and join our spirits to meet him in the air; we will not be forgotten (1Thessalonians 4:13-18). We will not suffer the wrath that is to come upon the whole world in the Day of the Lord (the seven year tribulation time before Jesus comes back to earth). Instead, we will be saved from it (1Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9).

While waiting for the coming of the Lord, Paul gives them a “grocery list” of things to do. This would occupy them (and us) until he comes. One of the things he tells them (and us) is to be alert and self controlled. We can read the rest of his instructions in 1Thessalonians 5:12-22. Keeping busy for the Lord is profitable and keeps our minds off our circumstances, which sometimes are not pleasant to endure.

Paul sums up his first message to the Thessalonians with a blessing: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thessalonians 5:23, NIV).

Lessons to Live By

  • God commends us for our faithfulness. We must not give up! Remember, others are struggling with us and are faithful, too.
  • Christians, let us focus on living separated unto God and becoming more and more like Jesus, whom we will meet someday.
  • God wants us to be self-controlled in our body and spirit, and live a life of love.
  • If we keep busy for God, investing our lives into others for Jesus sake, we will have less time to think about any unpleasant circumstances we may be enduring, and we will have more things to praise God for.

Focus Verse

1Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV) “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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A Look Ahead: Persecution can be difficult to deal with. How can we handle Physical and Mental Cruelty?

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