Our world is full of noise. It seems that everywhere we look, there are people proposing truth—what they view as right in their eyes. And there are even those propagating fake information under the pretense of truth. Paul the apostle addressed similar concerns in his second letter to Thessalonians.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:17:

“The greeting is by my hand, Paul’s, which is a sign of genuineness in every letter: this is how I write” (LEB). 

It seems that someone had pretended to be Paul, sending a pseudonymous letter to the church at Thessalonica (see 2 Thessalonians 2:2). Throughout his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul addresses misconceptions and false information. He attempts to bring clarity to theology in the midst of the noise of falsehoods (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 2:13–16; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–4).

Paul ensures that the Thessalonians will recognize his words by offering some sort of sign of genuineness. First-century AD letters were often penned by an amanuensis (a type of scribe or secretary). At this point in the letter, Paul may have physically penned the words himself. The recognition of his personal and unprofessional penmanship near the end of the letter could have been the sign of authenticity he mentions (compare Colossians 4:18). He may have also written some other sign on the paper like a specific drawing or crest; or he could have included a stamp or seal.

Today we must be aware of signs of genuineness versus in-genuineness. We must be cautious and careful. Truth is recognizable. It resonates somewhere deep inside of us as authentic. But it’s also measureable and verifiable.

Truth resonates with God’s Word. It aligns with what’s said in the Bible. Truth also resonates in our hearts. It’s transformational.

Let’s silence the noise for a moment. Let’s look toward genuine truth and embrace it—taking it in, soaking it in, living it. Truth is genuinely lived. Let’s live it.

How can you silence the noise and separate truth from falsehoods? How can you spread transformational truth today? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

There are moments in life that seem to lack all peace. Instead, they are only full of pain. How can we find peace in times such as these? Paul the apostle, who was deeply familiar with pain, had some thoughts on that.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:16. 

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

The church at Thessalonica had endured incredible pain, as had Paul. From those who didn’t believe in Jesus, they had experienced persecution (2 Thessalonians 1:4; 3:1–2). Thus, Paul does not tritely offer these words about peace.

For Paul, peace was a real and enduring reality in his life, despite the pain. If only such was the case for all of us. Paul achieved this sense of peace from a deep understanding that Jesus would work through all things—no matter how dire they seemed (compare Philippians 4:13; Romans 8:28). Paul believed in a resurrected Lord who could bring resurrected life to even the most painful moments of death and despair.

I remember an intense moment of despair in my life, when I felt like I could no longer see the beauty of the moon or the stars. When I looked up and out, I felt nothing but pain. I questioned everything and was left paralyzed by indecision—despairing. I found my way out by praying through my pain. And when I couldn’t find words to pray, I prayed through the Psalms and the Book of Common Prayer.

And this was Paul’s solution. He went to prayer:

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 NRSV).

“Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18 NRSV).

It wasn’t that Paul didn’t feel pain or experience movements of anxiety or despair. It’s what Paul did with those moments. He prayed. He prayed. He prayed.

What is God asking you to bring to him in prayer today? How can peace in Jesus be your answer to even the most painful of moments? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

Community standards are regularly held at institutions, especially Christian universities. What about community standards for our churches? Paul the apostle had some thoughts on this for the church at Thessalonica.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:14–15:

“Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer” (NIV).

Honor and shame were a major part of Graeco-Roman society. Shame would have been a powerful motivator toward repentance. If a person felt isolated, they would realize what they had lost because of their behavior and likely repent. While this can seem harsh, keep in mind that the Christian community at Thessalonica had little recourse but this option. Also keep in mind the larger context.

The Christians at Thessalonica were experiencing intense persecution, which would have included being socially ostracized (2 Thessalonians 1:4). Thus, they depended on one another. In the midst of this, there were certain people in their community who refused to work while demanding charity from the church (2 Thessalonians 3:6–12). These people would have drained the church’s resources and made their already difficult situation dire. 

It’s also likely that the church regularly ate together and shared many of their resources (compare Acts 2:46; 4:32; 1 Corinthians 11:18–22). Thus, the church at Thessalonica had to consider the entire community. A person who took advantage of the community by abusing charity had to be kept in check.

I wonder if we have lost this level of accountability (compare 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1)? Do we allow for people in our church community to easily disregard standard obligations such as hard work and truly loving the hurting? Do we allow for misguided theology to be used as an excuse in the process (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1–4)? Are we allowing for people to represent our churches and Jesus who clearly do not represent our values? It seems to me that there is a lot we can learn from Paul’s guidance here.

But what’s critical is that we note Paul’s overall framework: that we love a person to repentance (2 Thessalonians 3:14). Furthermore, he is clear that we should not treat those we are calling to repentance like enemies (2 Thessalonians 3:15). Tough love can be good. But it should be administered with grace and mercy—for the purpose of helping the individual and the community.

How could we lovingly use Paul’s standards in the church today? How could Paul’s framework change the way we approach discipleship? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

The old adage, "Work as if you’re working for Jesus” can feel a little empty when the chips are down. It’s painful to consistently work hard—especially when things don’t seem to be going your way. It’s equally hard to be charitable when we no longer feel charitable toward ourselves. Paul the apostle has some encouragement for us.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:13:

“As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good” (ESV).

Paul has just finished explaining to the church at Thessalonica that they should stick clear of people who demand charity but refuse to work (2 Thessalonians 3:6–10). He has also explained the problems that emerge when people are idle (2 Thessalonians 3:11–12). Now, he tells the Christians at Thessalonica to not grow weary in their efforts to do good. The NIV renders this phrase, “Never tire of doing what is good.” The NRSV reads, “do not be weary in doing what is right.”

But it is tiring, isn’t it? From first-hand experience, as someone who has dedicated his life to the mission of Christ, I can tell you that “doing good” is exhausting. There are days that I’m absolutely spent. This is especially true when I consider all the unresolved tensions in my life. I say this as a word of caution: weariness is part of life, no matter what you’re doing. But there’s a solution. 

But Paul does not seem to grow weary in doing good. Reason: He regularly takes a step back and acknowledges the joy of Christ. We see glimpses of this when he speaks of his thankfulness (2 Thessalonians 1:3). We also see it in phrases like, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NRSV).

Paul knew that true strength did not reside in his own resolve or endurance. Strength is in Christ. It is Jesus who helps us to not grow weary in doing good. It is Jesus who makes us feel charitable when our personal strength runs out. It is Jesus who encourage us to love self-sacrificially when we feel that we have nothing left to give. It is Jesus who carries the cross and can carry us.

Do you currently feel weary about doing good—is it difficult for you? How can you allow God step into the gaps, helping to strengthen you to go forward? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

Any parent knows that a child with nothing to do will get into trouble. A toddler gets into the stuff under the sink. An adolescent breaks the lamp playing baseball in the house. A teenager ends up with the wrong group of friends, making bad choices. And this really doesn’t change much as an adult. Paul the apostle knew this to be the case and has some advice for us.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:11–12:

“For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (ESV). 

There were some among the church at Thessalonica who refused to work (see 2 Thessalonians 3:6–10). And as a result, they found themselves concerned with matters irrelevant to them. Paul seems to mean that they were meddling and gossiping. They were “getting into trouble” because of their “idle hands,” as grandma would say.

Paul realizes that there is a much better way—that these “busybodies” work for their own living and concern themselves with ministry matters. It seems to me that our modern ministry setup and charity has led to similar problems. 

Today, we see a similar and related problem to what Paul dealt with. We see the work of ministry being delegated only to our pastors. But ministry should be something we all share because (biblically speaking) all Christians are ministers (see 1 Peter 2:5). Furthermore, we see access to charitable resources being so easy that many people refuse to work. A handout culture has made many people refuse to work and led to many other problems. (I’ve seen this firsthand.)

We should each look at ourselves as modern-day missionaries, reaching our communities. We should look at work as a godly and important endeavor to our lives. 

Jesus shouldn’t be an excuse not to work; instead, Jesus should be the reason why we work, so that we may minister through the process. We should be missionaries at our workplace and in the rest of life.

In what ways can your church call people to be serious about work, while still meeting real needs? How can your church inspire people to live Jesus’ mission, while having full-time jobs (in the workplace or raising their children)? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

If you’re struggling in life, pastel colors and chocolate bunnies won’t make you feel better. Deep down, it all feels a little trivial. What we need is Resurrection Day—in its full meaning. Here are four ways Easter is authentic hope for every day of the year.

1. Resurrection Day is a State of Mind

For many of us, Easter is an emotional day—full of disappointment, grief, and depression. As we officially move into Spring, we think of all that isn’t and all that could be. And we’re sad. We reflect and don’t feel hope but despair. But for the earliest Christians—who likewise experienced intense pain and disappointment—Jesus’ resurrection changed their entire state of mind.

I think of Paul the apostle, who went through unbelievable difficulties including shipwrecks and beatings (2 Corinthians 11:16–33). And yet despite this, he declares:

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:8–10 NIV).

For Paul and other early Christians, resurrection was a state of mind. The resurrected Lord Jesus gave them hope, despite incredible obstacles. Such a hope can change the way we look at each and everyday. It can give us what we need to overcome our feelings of despair, depression, and grief. It can give us what we need to move forward.

2. Resurrection is Hope for the Living and Dead

The pain of losing a loved one is absolutely searing. The grief knows no bounds. But even when facing this grief, Paul the apostle could have hope. He declares:

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–16 NIV).

There is hope for the living and the dead in Christ. There is a final resurrection day coming. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, those who believe experience resurrected life (compare Colossians 1:18; John 3:16–17; 11:25). This is hope for every day—no matter what loss may come our way. We can look to the future of what God will do and declare it good.

3. Resurrection is Freedom from Sin

Jesus did not die merely for our salvation, although he certainly died for that (see Isaiah 53:10–12). He also died so that we can have freedom from sin and its ramifications. Jesus’ resurrection gave us the ability to be freed from sin’s power over our life. Resurrection gives us liberating hope. Paul put it this way:

“We were therefore buried with [Jesus] through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:4–7 NIV).

Perhaps today you are feeling bound by the sin in your life. Jesus has hope for you. Jesus’ resurrection can reign in your life and release you from the bondage of sin. Jesus can give you new life. Jesus wants you to be free. Jesus wants to offer everyone in our world the liberty of resurrected life.

4. Resurrection is What Our World Needs

Throughout our world, there is unbelievable pain. There are famines, extreme poverty, and those who have never known the freedom of Jesus. There are people in desperate situations who desperately need help. The call of the gospel—the call of Jesus—is that we would have new life in him and that we would offer new life to others (Matthew 18:5; 25:40–45; John 14:6; James 1:27).

Jesus’ resurrection and ascension offers us the very power of God in our lives (John 14–16). It gives us a chance to have the transformational power of God as Holy Spirit working in us. It gives us the chance to be God’s representatives here and now. With resurrected life on our side—in us and working through us—we can do anything God calls us to do (Philippians 4:16). Resurrection is real and tangible hope, right now.

Imagine the great and incredible power of offering new life to the broken and hurting of our planet. Imagine equality and the freedom of Jesus reaching every ear. Imagine the hope that we could have this day and everyday if we were truly about Jesus’ love.

Resurrection is what we need. Resurrection is what our world needs. Resurrection is hope for every day, in every situation.

 

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500 years before Jesus, a prophet shared good news. When we reconstruct the prophet's epic poem, we see the story of Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection. We see Jesus bearing our iniquities and lifting our sins, in his bruised and battered body. And we see him rising again, granting us relationship with God and new life. Here's Isaiah 52:13–53:12.

Yahweh says:

See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. Just as many were appalled at him—so disfigured from a man was his appearance, and his form from sons of men—so [the servant] shall sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been recounted to them, they shall see; and that which they had not heard, they shall contemplate.

The prophet says:

Who has trusted our report? And to whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed?

[The servant] went up before [Yahweh] like a tender plant, and like a root from dry ground; he had no form to him and no majesty that we should look at him and nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of pain and knowledgeable of sickness; and as one who others hide their faces from, he was despised and held of no account.

However, he has lifted our sickness, he has bore the load of our pain and we accounted him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted. And he was pierced for our transgressions; crushed for our iniquities; upon him were the bonds of our peace, and by his bruises we were healed. All we have gone astray; each has turned our own way; and Yahweh has interposed upon [the servant] the iniquity of us all.

[The servant] was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a sheep to slaughter, and like an ewe before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

By a restraint of justice, he was taken away and with his generation. Who could have mused that he would be cut off from the land of the living? Marked for the transgression of my people. 

And [Yahweh] set his grave with the wicked, and [the servant] was with the rich in his death, although [the servant] had done no wrong, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet Yahweh was pleased to crush him; he afflicted [him].

If [Zion] places his life a guilt offering, he will see offspring, he will prolong days and the will of Yahweh in his hand will succeed. From the trouble of his life he will see light. He will be satisfied.

Yahweh says:

In his knowledge, my righteous servant shall make the many righteous and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide to him [a portion] among the many, and with the strong ones he shall divide bounty, because he exposed his life to death and was counted with transgressors, and he carried the sin of many and will intercede for transgressors.

 

Translation and reconstruction adapted from my book The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah.

When a person gives of him- or herself, purely for the sake of bringing truth and love to your life, it is deeply moving. There are few acts that more convincingly demonstrate the love of Christ. Paul the apostle knew this to be the case.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:9–10:

“It was not because we do not have that right [to receive pay], but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (ESV).

Paul recognized that he and his colleagues had every right to receive pay for their work while in Thessalonica. But instead of doing so, they demonstrated the value of work (see 2 Thessalonians 3:7–8).

Here in 2 Thessalonians 3:7–10, Paul brings up just how hard he worked while in Thessalonica—as an example. He knows that certain people in the Thessalonian church need to move past laziness—especially laziness excused based on misguided theology—and start working again. And he knows that a strong command is needed to make that happen.

The problem Paul is addressing is one we see today. We witness charity being abused. And we see laziness being excused based on a so-called mission (at least I’ve seen this). Paul was so serious about keeping people from abusing charity that he told the Thessalonian believers to not let someone take charity who refused to work. (Of course, he is referencing the able-bodied and those who can find work.)

Paul is essentially saying that people who make theological excuses for not working are misled (see 2 Thessalonians 3:6). Hard work is essential to the gospel going forward, so much so that Paul was willing to work for his food while preaching and teaching regularly. 

Each of us should think of ourselves as missionaries who work, for Jesus. And we should expect the same willingness of every Christian in our community. 

What is the best tactic for dealing with someone demonstrating laziness and abuse of charity in your Christian community? How can you show people at your workplace Jesus through your work ethic? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

Jesus’ Economy church planter Veer faces the difficult task of bringing the gospel to a region dominated by oppressive religions. In Northeast India, he is offering the freedom of Jesus to those who have never even heard Jesus' name.

OFFERING THE LIVING WATER

Despite the many obstacles, in just three months Veer saw 20 people come to Christ and choose to be baptized. Veer joined the efforts of Jesus’ Economy in October 2016, taking over an area that Vinod (a former Jesus’ Economy church planter) was working. Veer has worked diligently ever since.

Veer is focusing his efforts on a village where Jesus’ Economy provided a water well. This has given him an opportunity to speak about the love of Jesus, the Living Water. He has launched Bible studies and home churches, with more than 70 people attending. This means more than just new believers are coming to hear Veer talk about the freedom of the gospel.

BROAD REACH IN A SHORT TIME

At the end of 2016, Veer focused his efforts on Christmas-focused messages and Christmas-themed programs. Through these efforts, Veer shared the message of Jesus with 2,500 people in 10 different villages. This was the first time any of these people had heard the gospel. From these Christmas programs, 10 people placed their faith in Jesus and a new Bible study group was started.

With the new bible studies and house churches plus the reach of the Christmas-themed programs, Veer has reached many villagers in a very short time. Veer has also expanded his efforts by launching a tailoring training center for impoverished women. Currently 26 women are attending the center regularly. Veer has also launched a literacy training center where 30 children are learning to read.  Through showing the love of Christ in word and deed, Veer has become an integral part of renewing an impoverished and previously oppressed group of people.

In just three months in 2016, Veer brought the freedom of Jesus to 20 people and baptized them. 

To help the work of Veer continue, please donate to his fund so that his diligence in the ministry can have an even broader impact in the region. 


Sponsor Veer's Efforts

 

Jesus has called all of us to make disciples of all nations—and that starts right where we’re at (Acts 1:7–8). In this regard, Paul the apostle advocates for bi-vocational ministry as a primary model. 

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:7–8:

“For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you” (ESV).

When Paul and his colleagues, Timothy and Silas, were in Thessalonica, they paid their own way (compare 1 Thessalonians 2:9). Paul likely worked making tents (compare Acts 18:1–4). Paul and his colleagues also received some support from the Philippian church (Philippians 4:15–16).

By not requesting any financial backing from the Thessalonians, Paul was able to say and do whatever was necessary. He never had to fear offending the Thessalonians with the truth of the gospel. And there’s a lesson here, for each of us. Successful ministry starts with self-sacrifice.

Paul recognized that his work demonstrated self-sacrifice—he shared the message of Jesus for free. Paul told people about the love of Jesus because he wanted the Thessalonians to experience it—he had no other motive. This led to a successful church planting effort in Thessalonica.

Imagine what we could do in ministry today, if we each thought of ourselves as both missionaries and people who are part of the workforce.

How can you self-sacrificially love someone who doesn’t know Jesus? How can you make your life revolve around a sense of bi-vocational ministry? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

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