Scripture reading for September 18th: 1st Thessalonians 5
“Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” (1st Thessalonians 5:1-2) Paul concluded his letter to the young believers with a final reminder about the coming of Jesus Christ. He repeated the teaching of Jesus about no one knowing the day or the hour. (Matthew 24:36, 43-44) In fact, people would be thinking that everything was normal when the Lord would suddenly return like a thief in the night. The return of Christ requires watchfulness and readiness on the part of His Church!
“So then, let us not be like others, who sleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1st Thessalonians 5:6-9) God appointed His people for salvation from His coming wrath upon sinners who refuse repentance. Those who continue to sin, live in darkness. The Church lives in the light of Christ and His word.
“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. The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” (1st Thessalonians 5:23-24) Paul’s final prayer is for the believers complete sanctification. Jesus will complete in us what He began!
Scripture reading for September 17th: 1st Thessalonians 4
Believers can’t please God except to live by faith in His holy word. The word of God must be read, memorized, and acted upon day by day in order to grow spiritually and to be ready for Christ’s soon return. Paul, a loving pastor, continued to remind the believers about God’s will for their daily conduct.
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who give you His Holy Spirit.” (1st Thessalonians 4:3-8)
Sexual sin and temptation has been a stumbling block for many believers of every age and culture. The Roman culture was strikingly similar to what believers live in today in America. Sexual contact was frequent and lust was cultivated by the media and entertainment of their times. Paul warned and instructed the church, as pastors must today, about the dangers and the call of God to live a holy life. Believers must separate themselves from sexual sins because God will judge and punish men for these sins if not repented of. Grace will not cover those living in known sin!
Remember, if we reject these simple instructions, we are rejecting God’s word! This will not help us when Jesus returns for His holy Bride!
Scripture reading for September 3rd: 2nd Corinthians 6:14-7:7
When one is reconciled to God and is filled with God’s love, the things of this world lose their attraction. The Holy Spirit begins the work of sanctification. This word ‘sanctification’ means being ‘made holy’ or ‘set apart’ for God. The Holy Spirit helps us to separate ourselves from the worldly influences and ways that we had before salvation. When we become a ‘new creation’, the old things pass away and new things come that are from God. (2nd Corinthians 5:17-18)
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” (2nd Corinthians 6:14-16a) Paul urged the Corinthians to not be yoked with unbelievers. He asked them questions with an obvious answer of ‘none’ or ‘nothing’ to emphasize their need to maintain separation and cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
They were now the temple of the living God. God lived in them and called them to be a holy and separated people! God wanted to be their Father and they would be called ‘sons’ and ‘daughter’s’ of God the Father. They would be known as the people of God. These promises of God were “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ Jesus! (2nd Corinthians 1:18) These promises should motivate believers at Corinth and everywhere to perfect holiness in reverence for God.
This process of holy separation is initiated by the Holy Spirit living in us. He is the Spirit of Truth who reveals Christ to us. He convicts of sin, righteousness, and the coming judgment. He reveals to us all that we are and have through our relationship with God in Christ. (1st Corinthians 2:10-12) As we study the word of God, we are also required to do our part in a response of faith. We put off the old ways of the world and put on the new ways of the Spirit.
“Do not be yoked with unbelievers!” Paul’s instruction and questions were for self-examination. Take a moment today and ask yourself the questions Paul asked. Are there unbelievers who are influencing you because of close associations? Take Paul’s advice today!