Have you ever had one of those weeks where you get a song stuck in your head? You are really not sure why, but you can't seem to forget it and you find yourself singing it over and over again. Well, I just experienced one of those weeks and I would like to share the song with you that got stuck in my head. It is a beautiful hymn that I'm sure most of you know and have sung before.
Verse 1: When peace like a river, attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.
Verse 2: Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control. That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed his own blood for my soul.
Verse 3: My sin oh the bliss of this glorious thought: My sin not in part, but the whole. Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul.
Verse 4: And Lord Haste the day when the faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll, The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, Even so it is well with my soul.
Chorus: It is well; it is well, with my soul, with my soul. It is well; it is well with my soul.
This is such a great hymn and is so comforting and encouraging to all Christ followers who know that it doesn't matter who you are, or what color your skin is, whether you're rich or poor, or where you live or what kind of trials you are facing in your life right now. Through it all we know that Jesus Christ Himself has regarded our helpless estate and that He shed His own blood for our souls. That should be enough to make us all sing praises!
Be encouraged today my friends, whatever your lot in life. One day soon, the trump of the Lord shall sound and He shall descend. We will at that time live by sight instead of by faith. So let it be well with your soul today. Let it be well with your soul.
We thank God for all those who send in monthly support that allows us to minister the love of Christ to people all around the world. Please keep me, my family and the worldwide ministry of LovingGodFellowship.org in your prayers as we keep you in ours. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.
Partners in the Faith,
Rev. Becky Johnson
2 Thessalonians 1:4-8 Therefore we ourselves boast about you among God's churches--about your endurance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you endure. It is a clear evidence of God's righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God's kingdom, for which you also are suffering, since it is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels,taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don't know God and on those who don't obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
What would be an appropriate epitaph on your tombstone? What statement (one-liner) would you say described your life rather than the specific circumstances you are facing right now? When Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica, they were in the midst of intense suffering. But Paul encouraged them to look beyond their immediate troubles to the return of Christ and affirmation in God. (23B;pg 2174)
…you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you are also suffering.
Paul says that the lawless one is already at work and working to deceive them and those around them. Thessalonica, in A.D. 51, was a thriving commercial and military center on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in what is now western Greece. The fledgling community would have been influenced by temptation which would have proven very difficult to resist. Paul was writing from Corinth, so the church probably felt alone and exceedingly small in contrast to the population that surrounded it.
What does Paul tell his brothers in Christ? There will be rewards and there will be consequences for our action and our inaction. Even then the power of Satan was felt in everyday terms. You can be assured that skeptics and pagan worshippers would have been waiting with keen interest to see if these new followers of “Jesus the Christ” were for real. It is likely that Paul came in with a flourish and caused a stir as he set up the Thessalonian church. Even though he constructed tents which were sought after, he undoubtedly overshadowed his commercial success by threatening local priests and government leadership with his urgent message.
Paul says to “hang in there” because the last chapter has not yet been written. He gives believers hope in Jesus’ return … that any persecution they experienced would work for them as martyrs for the cause of Christ. Notice that Paul did not say to pay back “in kind” but that God would hand down appropriate judgment. Paul says there will be a revealing and it will be accompanied by powerful angels taking vengeance with flaming fire.
I suspect that this flaming fire (possibly a tar or petroleum product flung at the enemy) would have been the weapon of choice in that day causing a painful and slow death. They would have understood the reference clearly.
So when you and I finish the race, what will be written about us? Will it glorify God or self?
This is what we all pray for in our fellowship experience … that our actions speak for themselves as the body of Christ. But it is evident that these words of praise from Paul, for the church in Thessalonica, were not the result of being magically transported into that place of stature in Christ, but as a result of hard work and right & faithful practices.
I have singled out some key passages so they can be more directly addressed. They are:
1.) your work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ
These are intentional practices, and also are “workplace” terms. Paul was a working preacher and supported the notion of being self-sustaining. Work, labor and endurance are all very familiar terms to us. They are intentional and require effort.
2.) you became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution
They followed their leadership and became faithful imitators even under persecution. It could not have been easy serving God in a strong pagan culture.
3.) you became an example to all the believers
By doing the right things, most importantly living out their faith and honoring God in Jesus, the Thessalonians became examples of strength to those who observed them.
4.) you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God
They turned from false gods to serve Yahweh, the Great I AM, our living God.
This is the message we must send to those in our communities as we serve God and prepare for Jesus’ return. It is hard work, but fulfilling, in ways that provide true peace and strength. These qualities speak volumes to the seekers and the unbelievers who are watching us.
I'm sure by now that you have heard, read, or seen the news about the earthquake in Haiti. My husband Greg told me about it when it happened after seeing it on the news channel. My heart is heavy and I feel totally devastated for the Haitian people. This is such a tragedy in an already improvised nation. But I must be honest with you, I have been even more devastated by the comments of so called "Christian's" blaming this disaster on God and saying the Haitian people got what they desired. Yes you heard me right. That is what I have heard from so-called Christian people.
According to Pat Robertson, the Haitian people way back in the day, and I truly mean way back in the day, made a pack with the devil that they would serve him if he freed them from the French.
"And you know...something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We will serve you if you will get us free from the French." True story. And so, the devil said, "OK, it's a deal." And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor." ~ Pat Robertson on the Christian Broadcasting Network
You can watch his comments for yourself as he refers to the destruction of buildings (which fell on people and killed them) being a "blessing".
Of course the devil being against oppression (yea right) helped them to revolt and free themselves. (I'm always humored by what people blame on the devil. The devil in my opinion gets way to much credit and attention for things he doesn't even do.) Now all these years later God decides to send an earthquake to kill hundreds of thousands of people as punishment. I DON'T THINK SO! If we all got what we deserved we would all be dead, but God is love and full of mercy.
What amazes me the most is when I ask these individuals to show me in the new covenant where Jesus ever used natural disasters or violence of any kind to harm or kill anyone they can't, but they quickly take me to the old covenant, which by the way, Jesus came to fulfill. I quickly remind them if they are going to live by the old covenant, they need to take an animal to church to sacrifice on the altar the next time they go. Come on people, let's not pick and choose, cut and paste so that we can say and live by the rules we want. The bottom line is Jesus came to give life and life more abundantly. He does not kill, steal, and destroy. That's what the word of God tells us the devil is doing.
As I ended my conversation with these so-called Christian's I ask them what makes you think the devil didn't send that earthquake to kill all those people; why did it have to be God? After all the devil is the one who kills, steals and destroys.
One day God in all his glory will give us a new heaven and a new earth, the Word of God will be fulfilled and we will live for eternity in His presence. But until then we need to keep the two greatest commandments given to us by God himself; to love the Lord God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. Who is your neighbor you ask? Anybody, anywhere regardless of gender, race, social statics, or sexual orientation; that's who your neighbor is. And by all means live by the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Please let's keep the Haitian people in our prayers. I'm sure it will be a long recovery period for them. May God's love, mercy and provision be poured out upon them at their point of need.
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