The Ongoing Power of the Resurrection

The Ongoing Power of the Resurrection

1 Thess. 1:10 - "...and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come."

So much of a Christian's faith depends on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead! If Jesus had failed to emerge victorious from the tomb, his promises would have been lies, his proclaimed power would have been proven impotent, and we would still be lost (1 Cor. 15:17-19).

When Paul was chased from Thessalonica after having been in town for less than a month, he left behind some newly converted Christians who needed further encouragement and grounding ...

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That You May Not Grieve as Others

That You May Not Grieve as Others

1 Thess. 4:13 - "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope."

I'm sure others have figured this out long before me, but personal experience seems to bring old truths into new focus. Some (I) may have read the above passage in 1 Thess. and understood it to mean that the death of loved ones would not grieve us because of our faith in Christ and our anticipation of his second coming. However, that is NOT what the verse says...

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"And thank you for...the broken water heater?!"

1 Thess. 5:16-18 - "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ for you" (ESV).

We first noticed it one morning when I tried to take a shower. It was as if frigid, fresh water newly melted off some glacial ice-pack was flowing through my shower-head! So I checked the water heater and sure enough, the pilot light was out. After letting it heat 40 gallons of cold water for a while, it went out again! Since I'm cheap and thought I understood how a water heater worked, over the next several days I swapped out parts and flushed and flushed the tank. A week later and with an almost rebuilt water heater I still have to manually relight the pilot light every time we need hot water. It heats faster and the hot water lasts longer, but we can't keep the pilot light lit.

As Paul concluded the very first New Testament letter to a group of young Christians who were undergoing persecution he made the curious statements you read above in 1 Thess. 5:16-18. "Rejoice...pray...and give thanks." If you didn't know the Thessalonian's situation these commands might make sense. They're redeemed people now, they have a lot to rejoice and be grateful for! But then you see when they are to do these things, "always...without all circumstances." Really? Even when things look bad and aren't going the way you expect at all? To that question the inspired apostle would say, "yes, especially then!"

Think about what these commands teach us about life, including hard and disappointing moments. I ought to pray without ceasing because a sovereign God is in control. I ought to give thanks in all circumstances because a sovereign God is using even painful moments to mold my character to be more like Jesus (Rom. 8:28-29). I ought to rejoice always because of what my sovereign God is doing for me, because this is His will for me.

As I struggled with my water heater, I had to swallow my pride to ask for help. One of the brothers here at Avon helped me purchase the parts I needed. One of our deacons came at the drop of the hat on a Friday night to spend almost three hours cleaning out the tank. Even though we're not done fixing it yet, God is using this circumstance to make me more like Jesus, for which I ought to be grateful. So when I pray, I ought to be thanking God for my broken hot-water heater.

What circumstances are you in the middle of that you can rejoice in, pray about and be thankful for in your life?

Jeremy Dehut

(Originally posted 6/29/09)

When was the last time you shared yourself?

1 Thess. 2:8 - "So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us" (ESV).

Do you remember the Clear Eyes commercials where Ben Stein would drone on and on about some situation that would aggravate your poor, defenseless eyes? Regardless of the offense, whether it was ragweed or dry air, his voice never reflected the irritation that his eyes felt. As he got to the end of the commercials, his lulling monotonous voice would say, "For dry, red eyes...there's Clear Eyes." There are times when it can be tempting to present God's word in a similarly emotionally-detached way. When we are scared to open up and explain how God’s word has worked in our lives. We are tempted to state the truths of the Bible in a very matter-of-fact way as we read down a neatly organized outline, but we all know when we hear God's word presented in such a way we rarely remember what was said.

In Acts 17, Paul was chased out of Thessalonica by some very upset Jews and leaving behind some very young Christians! In order to encourage them and establish them in the faith he sent Timothy back to check on them, and later sent Timothy back again with the letter we know as 1 Thessalonians.

As Paul reminded them how he had preached the gospel to them he explained that the gospel wasn't presented as a cold set of spiritual facts. He had presented the gospel in a deeply personal way. He had shared of himself! He had cared about the men and women who were listening to him. His sermons and classes weren't treated as items to check off his busy to-do list, but as opportunities to share with people how believing in Jesus had changed his life.

The next time you have an opportunity to share some aspect of the gospel, first make sure it truly is the gospel of God and then share how that gospel has changed you. It will challenge you to expose your life to others who might very well reject the gospel, God and you; but on the other hand, for those who respond in faith it will show them that the Christian life isn't just an intellectual exercise. May we move beyond emotional detachment and be courageous enough to share our gospel-changed lives with others.

Jeremy Dehut

(Originally posted 6/2/09)