A constant connection with God

A life aligned with His will

Selfish ambitions cease

Harmonizing my life with God

No longer out of tune

Shedding the burdens

God lightens the load

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (NIV).”

— 1 Thessalonians 5:16

© 2019 CGThelen

As you go through your day, how do you make decisions? How do you discern what is a good choice and what is a bad choice? Do you take time to pause and listen to the counsel of the Spirit of God?

In Luke 22:7-13, Jesus tells his disciples exactly what he has planned for their Passover meal. Everything is in place according to God’s plan. Yet Jesus tells his disciples to go and secure the room. They go and find everything exactly as Jesus said.

Notice that Jesus did not simply say, “follow me and I will show you where we’ll have our meal.” Jesus told his disciples what to look for — he told them God’s plan. Following God’s plan for your life requires you to be attentive to where he is directing you. Like the apostles, it isn’t enough to just listen to what Jesus says, we must also act on the directions he gives us.

#ThrowbackThursday; this post originally published January 12, 2013.

© 2013 CGThelen

I sat on the floor with my back against the wall in the dark room. It seemed opposition surrounded me on all sides. I only wanted to share the joy I felt, the peace in Christ that I was so generously given. I did not anticipate such hatred of such good news. Who would turn away from eternal hope? It was discouraging to me.

I wasn’t sure how much longer I could hold on. “Stand firm.” His words echoed in my mind. “Hold fast to the teachings.” I knew I was called to this. I remembered the Spirit of God coming alive in my heart: my parched soul was quenched. It was humbling to think we could share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. I only wanted others to share in this glory.

“Hey,” my brother in Christ said as he entered the dark room illuminated by a lamp. “There you are.” He sat down next to me and placed the lamp on the floor between us. “What are you doing here? You look so worried.”

“I’m discouraged,” I replied. “It seems pointless to try to tell people about Jesus.”

I watched him smile as he pulled out the letter and opened it. “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself…,” he read. “… and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

Paul’s words stirred my heart. I smiled and nodded.

“Remember where our strength, our encouragement comes from,” my brother in Christ reminded me.

#WednesdayWalk through the Bible. What unknown people experienced in the Bible, based on 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17.

© 2019 CGThelen

The day dawns

Fear rises from the east

Daylight emerges

Overtaking the darkness

The day is ahead

Yet I hesitate to enter it

Anxious thoughts

About a future yet to be

Sunlight spreads

Moving across the floor

Cold feet

Immovable as I grip the chair

Sunbeam advances

Warmth touches my toe

Distressed thoughts

Released as light moves along

Nervous body

Calmed as sunlight blankets me

Joyous praise

As the Lord Jesus takes my fear

New resolve

I rise and step into the day

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

2 Thessalonians 3:16

© 2019 CGThelen

The alarm pulls me out of a deep sleep. I drag myself out of bed. I am disoriented as I slowly awaken. My brain starts to engage, as the day’s schedule slowly comes into view. I hesitate, seating myself down before I am overwhelmed by another packed day; before God is crowded out of my day; before I leave Jesus at home. Psalm 143:8 emerges from my thoughts. I whisper the passage to myself as I close my eyes:

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life (NIV).”

© 2019 CGThelen

Of all the armor of God that Paul described in Ephesians 6:10-17, only one is offensive. The rest are defensive to protect against attack; to “take your stand against the devil’s schemes.(verse 11, NIV);” to take a stand “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil (12).”

The defensive measures Paul listed are a life lived for Christ Jesus. In verse 14 Paul encouraged the Ephesians to strap on “the belt of truth” and the “breastplate of righteousness.” With the truth of God in your heart and righteous living, you are actively living out your faith in Christ and not cultivating evil desires. In verse 15-16, Paul told the Ephesians to have their “feet fitted with the readiness” and to “take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

Finally he told them to top it off with “the helmet of salvation (17);” which is knowing your salvation is secure in Christ. All of this armor of God is a defensive posture to protect you from Satan’s schemes where he comes at you with doubts, false truths and questions about your salvation. Paul encouraged them to stand firm in their faith.

But Paul also instructed them to take up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (17).” This is an offensive measure that tells us that with the Spirit of God within us, the word of God, we can pierce Satan’s evil schemes and expose their lies. But to do this effectively, we must rely on the Spirit and be well-versed in the word of God. Jesus warned in Luke 11:12, “But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.”

When we live out our faith and seek to follow Christ with righteous living based on God’s truth, we are prepared to defend ourselves against Satan’s attacks. But when we learn to rely on the Spirit of God, not the wisdom of the flesh, we are equipped for offensive measures against evil. When we study the word of God, we equip ourselves to challenge false teachings that seek to sway us away from Christ.

© 2019 CGThelen

Where can we find joy in life, true joy that lasts? Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 1:6 that even though the Thessalonians suffered, they had “joy given by the Holy Spirit (NIV).” This joy was born out of their embrace of the gospel not just as words, “but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction (verse 5).”

Because of their devotion to Jesus Christ, The Thessalonians were motivated not by human desires, but a desire to serve Christ. Paul wrote that it was evident their “work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Faith, love and hope in Christ motivated their actions.

The Thessalonians found true joy in serving Christ despite hardships and trials. They did not do things grudgingly or because of guilt. Paul wrote how word spread throughout the region about how they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (verse 9).” People knew their faith was real, that they held eternal truths, not words based on idle human wisdom. May we realize our joy in the Lord. May it motivate all we do so others will see the living God in us.

© 2019 CGThelen

I must confess that many times in my life my mouth has gotten me into trouble. Not necessarily because of some remark uttered out of anger, but by a response to a temptation or sinful desire in my heart. The mouth vocalizes our thoughts whether good or bad; it responds to temptations with a “yes” or “no.”

Psalm 141:3 tells us, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” It is a great prayer that treats our mouth as a fortress that determines if good or evil enters our life. The guard at the door to this fortress determines what comes in or goes out of our life and what better guard than the Lord.

Even though evil doers approach and ask to enter, our door remains closed. Our lips do not welcome them. With the Lord’s wisdom we can defend our life with how we respond — with what we say. With our mouth we can humbly pray Psalm 141:4, “Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies.”

© 2019 CGThelen

I recently thought about the people in my life who mentored me in the early years of my Christian faith. I am thankful for their patience and interest in me. I was immature in my understanding and perhaps a bit too zealous, yet they poured into my life and encouraged me to go deeper in my relationship with Jesus.

I recall how a dear friend of mine opened my eyes to the concept of a personal relationship with Jesus. It changed my life. I remember how years ago our pastor encouraged me to preach a sermon while he sat in the pew and listened. “I’m can’t do that,” I objected. He smiled and told me, “I love it when people get up from the pews and do things the pastor usually does while I’m sitting in the pew.”

When I read 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9 I think of these people in my life. Some are still dear friends and others have moved on to other places and ministries to mentor others in the faith. At times we have encouraged one another as we faced struggles in life. Like Paul, I am so thankful for the faithful Christians God has placed in my life. I can’t thank them enough for the joy in Christ Jesus they have given me. It is a joy I now share as I watch other people in my life grow in their faith.

Who are the mentors in your life who have given you the joy of the Lord? Who are the people you are currently mentoring who bring you joy? If you are so inclined, share those experiences in a comment. Thank you for reading and the joy you bring me through your interaction on this blog. May you continue to experience the joy of the Lord.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you.” – 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

There he was at work sitting at his desk like usual when Jesus walked up and said, “Follow me (Luke 5:27, NIV).” Without hesitation, Levi “got up, left everything and followed him (verse 28).” Jesus called Levi to follow him, but then Levi called Jesus to follow him. He had Jesus follow him to his house where he held “a great banquet” for Jesus with his fellow tax collectors and others (29).”

We often think of Jesus calling people to follow him, but do we think about people calling Jesus to follow them? Like Levi, we should invite Jesus to follow us into our lives and the people we know. Because Levi invited Jesus to follow him into his home for a banquet, his fellow tax collectors and others also met Jesus.

When we ask Jesus into our life, we should invite him to follow us throughout our day. That means bringing Jesus with us into our homes, our work place and our time with friends just as Levi did with Jesus. Later in Luke 15:1 we read, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.” I’d like to think they were there because Levi introduced them to Jesus.

How about you? As a follower of Christ do you keep Jesus to yourself and not ask him to follow you into other parts of your life — into your workplace, your school or to meet your friends? Jesus reminded us, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:31).”

© 2019 CGThelen

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