VIDEO More and More

Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God. 1 Thessalonians 4:1

Some Christian denominations celebrate a confirmation service for young teens at age thirteen in which the teens publicly confirm their faith in Christ. In the Anglican tradition, a bishop prays: “[May this child] continue thine forever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more.” That last phrase is not a prayer for more of the Holy Spirit; rather more and more evidence, or fruit, of the Spirit in the child’s life “until [he] come unto thy everlasting kingdom.”

Paul used the same phrase—“more and more”—when writing of his desires for the Thessalonian Christians’ spiritual growth: “abound more and more.” His point was that there is no end when it comes to Christian maturity. The day of our conversion to Christ is the beginning point in a lifetime process of being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). That means we should never stop growing spiritually; we should never stop bearing fruit; we should never stop manifesting good works.

Wherever you are in your Christian walk, your journey is just beginning.

Measure your growth in grace by your sensitiveness to sin. Oswald Chambers


Paul Washer | 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 | 2014-03-26

Generosity and Joy

The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. 1 Chronicles 29:9

Researchers tell us there’s a link between generosity and joy: those who give their money and time to others are happier than those who don’t. This has led one psychologist to conclude, “Let’s stop thinking about giving as a moral obligation, and start thinking of it as a source of pleasure.”

While giving can make us happy, I question whether happiness should be the goal. If we’re only generous to people or causes that make us feel good, what about the more difficult or mundane needs requiring our support?

Scripture links generosity with joy too, but on a different basis. After giving his own wealth toward building the temple, King David invited the Israelites to also donate (1 Chronicles 29:1–5). The people responded generously, giving gold, silver, and precious stones joyously (vv. 6–8). But notice what their joy was over: “The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord” (v. 9, italics added). Scripture never tells us to give because it will make us happy but to give willingly and wholeheartedly to meet a need. Joy often follows.

As missionaries know, it can be easier to raise funds for evangelism than for administration because believers in Jesus like the feeling of funding frontline work. Let’s be generous toward other needs as well. After all, Jesus freely gave Himself to meet our needs (2 Corinthians 8:9).

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Why do you think generosity and joy are connected? What “unexciting” need could benefit from your generous giving?

Father God, thank You for the joy found in giving. Give me a generous heart even toward ordinary needs.

Becoming a Generous People

We can be generous people because God promises to meet all our needs

Proverbs 11:24-28

God is the ultimate Giver, and in gratitude, we’re to imitate Him. As He provides us with material wealth and possessions, we become channels through whom He blesses others and carries out His work on earth. Becoming a generous person begins with biblical thinking: 

• Remember our heavenly Father’s goodness and love, which prompted Him to send His Son to die in our place. He did this to provide us with the riches of eternal life.

• Acknowledge that God owns all the world’s resources, and whatever you have is a gift from His hand.

• Release your grip on earthly wealth. Then trust the Lord to meet your needs, and share generously.

• Realize the church is a means not only for spreading the gospel but also for helping the needy and supporting those in ministry.

• Invest your time, talent, and treasure in God’s kingdom. 

As followers of Christ, we’re to give faithfully to the local church and those in need. By generously offering back to the Lord a portion of all He’s given us, we’ll experience genuine joy, peace, and security. These blessings are of far greater value than anything the material world has to offer.

The Days of Youth

“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9)

When one reaches maturity and, finally, old age, he will almost inevitably find himself recalling wistfully the days of his youth. Often there will be feelings of regret for wasted opportunities and sinful living, and he would urge young people not to make the same mistakes that he did.

Unfortunately, most young people tend to listen more to their peers than to their seniors. As the old cliché has it—“too soon old, and too late smart.” So the cycle continues, generation after generation.

There have been godly exceptions, of course, such as Mary and Daniel and Timothy, and some today as well, who have maintained a strong stand and witness for God and His Word all their lives. As our text (written by King Solomon in his old age) indicates, youth can and should be a time of real joy, but the best joy is “the joy of the LORD” (Nehemiah 8:10). Such joy is true pleasure and happiness, and is much better than mere “fun.”

Our text also confirms that a judgment day is coming, and the misdeeds of youth will be judged along with all the rest. Especially good advice was given by Solomon in his next two verses. “Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh” (Ecclesiastes 11:10–12:1). Paul advised young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). HMM

Only a Rehearsal for Heaven

For I reckon that the sufferings off his present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed. —Romans 8:18

God’s loving motive [in discipline] is to bring us into total harmony with Himself so that moral power and holy usefulness become ours in this world and in the world to come….

My mind returns frequently to some of the old Christian saints who often prayed in their faith, “O God, we know this world is only a dressing room for the heaven to come!” They were very close to the truth in their vision of what God has planned for His children.

In summary: Down here the orchestra merely rehearses; over there we will give the concert. Here, we ready our garments of righteousness; over there we will wear them at the wedding of the Lamb. JAF095-096

God’s richest blessings often require not only sacrifice, suffering and…conflict, but long delay and patient waiting. But the blessing grows with the delay. The interest gathers with the extended time, and God’s ratio is always compound interest. CTBC, Vol. 2/065

The Cross’s Magnetism

As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself.John 12:32

The love for God that burns in our hearts must never be seen as the fruit of our labor, as if it is something we manufacture. Seeing the love of God for us, our own hearts respond with love. We give love for love. We cannot help it. Let’s be done with the idea that love for God is something we work at. It issues forth in good works, of course, but it begins in contemplation of how much we are loved.

I often tell my students that they cannot love until they have been loved. By this I mean that love is a response. Our souls must receive love before we can give out love. Those who did not receive much love from their parents complain at this stage: “I can’t love God because my soul was never properly prepared to love; my parents didn’t love me.”

This is a problem, I agree, but it must never be seen as an insoluble problem. No one who stands at Calvary and sees God dying for them on that tree can ever argue that because they were not loved by their parents, they cannot now receive God’s love. If they really believe that, then they are saying that God’s love is balked by the adverse influence of human conditioning.

God’s love will only flow into us if we let it and if we really want it. To desire it is like the touch of the hand on a spring blind: the blind is released and the sunlight flows in. Just to want His love is enough; He will do the rest.

Prayer

O God, forgive me if I have used excuses to barricade my heart against Your love. I gaze once more on Calvary and open my heart to allow its mighty magnetism to draw my soul toward You in a way it has never been drawn before. Amen.

Further Study

2Th 3:1-5; Jd 21; Eph 3:17-19

What was Paul’s desire for the Thessalonians?

What was Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians?

God Speaks in Many Times and Ways

Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways.Hebrews 1:1

Our generation is preoccupied with methods. When we find a program that works in one business, we immediately want to package and distribute it so that it will work for others. This attitude carries over into the spiritual life as well. We spend much energy looking for spiritual disciplines, books, seminars, or conferences that “work” in order to feel satisfied with our Christian life. God does not want us to trust in methods. He wants us to trust in Him.

Trusting in methods rather than in a Person seriously limits the way we experience God. When we expect Him to speak to us only in predictable ways, we forget that God is much more complex than our perception of Him. In times past, God spoke in dreams and visions. He used nature; miraculous signs; prophets; a still, small voice; fire; trumpets; fleece; the casting of lots; and angels. He spoke in the middle of the night, during worship services, at mealtimes, during funerals, while people were walking along the road, through sermons, in the middle of a storm, and through His Son.

The important thing was not how God communicated, but that He spoke. If God always spoke to us through dreams, we would remain in our beds awaiting a divine revelation! The means God uses to communicate with us is irrelevant; the fact that He is communicating is what is critical.

Don’t limit yourself to a method, expecting only to hear from your Father in predictable ways. Rather, open yourself up to other means by which God wants to commune with you. Allow the Holy Spirit to sensitize you to God’s message at all times, in every location, under any circumstance. Then you will experience God in entirely new dimensions as you are receptive to His voice.