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white water rafting November 23 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 1Thessalonians

Faithful Endurance

Rafting in the rapids takes constant alertness and faithful endurance so that your 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 enter our lives 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 shouldn’t 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 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. The Apostle Paul was very concerned about this. He did not want his efforts on his second missionary journey 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 wrote to them to commend them and to encourage them to continue in their faithful living; he wanted them to keep their lives pure and separated to God. We who are being persecuted also need encouragement. We need words of encouragement, not criticism.

Paul commended the believers for being loyal to God in their culture and while enduring persecutions, just as he himself was doing (1Thessalonians 1:2-7). Like Elijah in the Old Testament times (1Kings 19:13-18), we may think we are the only ones who are living committed lives, but in actuality there are many others. We should continue to be faithful like them.

Here are some things Paul told them to watch out for as they were striving to live the faithful life.

First, since they were surrounded by immorality, he wanted them to continue to exercise self-control over their bodies. Immorality wars against our spirits, not just our bodies (1Peter 2:11). Many a ministry, pastor, family or other organization has been greatly injured or destroyed by one person’s indiscretion. 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 admonished the Thessalonian believers to continue to live in brotherly love, as they were 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.

Third, he instructed them to live lives of integrity and to work earnestly and honestly so that they would be good testimonies to others. He wanted them to be busy, not busy bodies, and to lead a quiet life.

Paul further encouraged the Thessalonians by reminding them that Jesus is coming. He was their hope, and he is our hope. If we die before he comes then our bodies will be among the first to be resurrected and join our spirits to meet Jesus 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 (1Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9).

While waiting for the coming of the Lord, Paul gave them a “grocery list” of things to do. This would occupy them (and us) until he comes. One of the things he told them (and us) is to be alert and self controlled. 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.

Paul sums up his message to the Thessalonians with a blessing in 1Thessalonians 5:23: “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.” (NIV)

Lessons to live by:

  • You are to be commended for your faithfulness. Don’t give up! Remember others are struggling with you and are being faithful, too.
  • Focus on living lives separated unto God and becoming more and more like Jesus, whom you will meet someday.
  • Be self-controlled in your body and spirit, and live a life of love.
  • Keep yourself busy for God, and you will have less time to bemoan bad circumstances.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

1Thessalonians 5:23: “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.” (NIV)

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