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Archive for the ‘1 Thessalonians’ Category

That you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (1 Thes. 2:12 NKJV)

We learned yesterday that a formal evaluation can help a couple set goals, affirm what works and avoid entrenched conflict. The question is, how do you review your marriage?  Rebecca Chory,[i]  professor at Frostburg State University’s business school, in Maryland, has identified six strategies for giving an effective performance review:

Address the behavior, not the person.  Begin your comments with affirmation and, by all means, do not put down your partner.  For example, she recommends you say something like: “I love you and want to be with you, but there are these behaviors…” or “When you did this, I felt this…”

Explain why you came to your conclusion. What contributed to your assessment? Provide a rationale.

Show that you are aware of the other person’s situation. Try to walk in their shoes.  See if you can imagine what they may be going through.  For instance, is your spouse stressed, overworked, or sick? Acknowledge the challenges he or she has been facing and how they may have contributed to the behavior you don’t like.

Be consistent over time. Don’t criticize your spouse for something one time and laugh it off another.  Your spouse needs to know what to expect, what the rules of the game are.

Allow the other person to respond and provide input. The review should be a conversation, not a lecture, and most certainly not a chastisement session. A lot of misunderstandings can be cleared up when people talk openly.

Be clear about what you would like to change. What can be done to improve the situation?  If you’re not clear, chances are neither are they.

In general terms, always begin by identifying your strengths as a couple, then move on to discussing one concern at a time, and don’t make it your goal to come up with a solution right away.  Instead, aim to understand your partner and to have your partner understand you.

Father God, Help us to maintain a positive attitude in marriage.

[i] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/performance-review-may-good-marriage-180300598.html

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For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5not in passion of lust (1 Thes. 4:3-5 NKJV)

Besides filtering ourselves, Joshua Kansiewicz, senior associate pastor of East Coast International Church in Lynn, Massachusetts,[i] gives us three more essentials that must be part of this conversation if we are going to make room for the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer this sin in our lives:

Assess the Damage.  While getting rid of or getting filters on all electronic devices must be an initial emergency response to admission of a porn problem, it does not begin to deal with the long-term issues or the root causes of someone’s use of pornography.  One must identify the issues and causes by taking the time to assess the damage. Kansiewicz suggests that this first step requires a journal and lots of time.  Begin your work on that journal by asking and addressing three key questions:  What have I done? Why did I do it? What harm has it caused?

Quite often people need a lot more guidance than just pondering these three questions.  That takes us to the next step.

Confess to a Leader or Mentor.  Confession cuts through self-denial and self-delusion and forces us to come to terms with the extent and implications of our sin.  Since looking at porn is a secretive sin, it festers in the darkness.

Confession begins the healing process by rejecting isolation and shame.  In addition, confession makes crucial resources available to you.  As Kansiewicz writes, “We all need help, especially the help of those who are wiser, more spiritually mature or more godly than we are. This may be a pastor, or a mentor, or a Christian counselor. It should be someone who is courageous enough to ask you hard questions but gracious enough to love you regardless of the answer. Someone like that may well be equipped to guide you to a place of greater wholeness and health.”

Father, help me to be honest with myself and others so I can begin the healing process until I am completely free of sin in my life.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Let-s-Talk-About-Porn/

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Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 (NKJV)

 

Married life has its ups and its downs, its happy, joyful times, and many painful, hard times.  We can all recount the wonderful memories of how we met, of special dates together, of our wedding day, and other happy events that make us smile and even laugh at times.  But we can also recollect those times when things were difficult like the loss of a parent, a child, or a job, or the financial difficulties that led to the loss of a house or the car accident that caused us severe injury.

What’s interesting is that the hard times have not and don’t have to cause us to want to give up on each other or on our relationship.  The last of the six surprising secrets of happy couples is that you’ll be surprised what you get through together.

Marriage and family therapist David Halper, co-owner of CenterLife Counseling, suggests that getting through a particularly tough situation together can put things in perspective.  He explains that “When a big issue like a serious illness arises, couples often realize that their disagreements that seemed so important are really trivial.”  He adds, “This renewed perspective can be the catalyst for a more positive, intentional relationship focused on what the couple truly values.”[i]

It’s amazing how resilient we really are, and thinking about how we’ve made it through the rough times can help us make it through other future difficulties.  That may have been what the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote the words of our text for today: “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

 

Father God, thank you for helping us through the difficulties and challenges we have faced in the past, as painful as they were.  Help us to depend on those memories, and on you, the next time and every time we face hard times in the future.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/truth-about-marriage (accessed 1-4-15)

 

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No guarentees

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 (NKJV)

 

  1. A good marriage isn’t a guarantee of happiness.

Often spouses in a relationship may be experiencing personal challenges but think that the problem is the relationship itself.  One or the other may be experiencing stress at work, undiagnosed medical conditions (depression, hormonal changes, etc.), or other interpersonal difficulties.  Often these external situations influence our feelings about our spouse, particularly if neither they nor us is able to recognize them as the cause of the disruption in our relationship.

Arthur Aron, of Stony Brook University, explains that people are sometimes dissatisfied with their marriage when the real problem is that they’re depressed or have other problems in their life.  If you’re unhappy in your relationship, it would be worth your while to look at how the rest of your life is going.  Aron adds, “You can always find excuses in what the other person is doing if you’re feeling bad.”

Perhaps this is what Jesus was talking about when He said, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” Mat.7:3 (NKJV) It seems to be a normal, human tendency to want to blame the other instead of looking at ourselves, or the situations surround our life, as the culprits.  In fact, this seems to be a very common occurrence among married couples going back to our first parents, Adam and Eve.

Stop looking at your spouse as the one to blame for the problems in your relationship, and look around you; maybe other things or people are causing you to feel dissatisfied with your marriage.

 

Heavenly Father, while you designed marriage to be a blessing, sometimes we allow other things or other people to cause us to feel unhappy and dissatisfied about our relationship.  Help me to recognize the real cause and to appreciate my spouse and our marriage more.

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Scripture: “Always keep on praying” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (TLB)

Observation:  Pray without ceasing. Literally, “incessantly pray,” with emphasis in the Greek on the idea of continuity (cf. on v. 16). There should be a constant spirit of prayer breathing through the Christian’s life. Never must the connection with Heaven be broken (see on Luke 18:1). Paul labored “night and day” (1 Thess. 2:9); he also prayed “night and day” (ch. 3:10). His many activities did not crowd out his prayers. Active connection with his heavenly Father was always maintained. So it should be with us. Compare the prayer life of Jesus (see on Mark 3:13). [e Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 7. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (255). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application: Perhaps you have heard the expression, “A family that prays together stays together”.  These words have been proven true over and over again. Praying is an outlet for our burdens and concerns and serves to strengthen our spirits. Praying with a partner has additional benefits because we can be united in our voices as they are lifted toward heaven. Just to know that someone else is joining you in prayer over an issue seems to lighten burdens.

If married, we invite you to pray for and with your spouse on a daily basis. Together lift your voices towards heaven. There is no sound so sweet as hearing your spouse praying for you. Bring to Jesus your joys as well as your sorrows, your blessings as well as your challenges, and allow His Spirit to soften any bitterness towards each other that you may be harboring.

It seems as if my personal prayer life received a big boost on the day that I became a parent. I found myself constantly praying and interceding for my child. If you are married, the best person to partner with you in prayer over a parenting concern is your spouse. However, even single parents can ask another to be their prayer partner. Do you have a prayer partner?  Do you pray on a regular daily basis that God will give you wisdom as you make parenting decisions?  If ever parents needed to pray for guidance it is in today’s world. If a grandparent, pray for your children as they raise your grandchildren. Mediate on their behalf.

As a family do you have a daily devotional time? If not, today is a great time to start.  Consider it a sacred commitment in your calendar. Do not allow other activities to rob you of family devotional time. Pray together as a family unit. If you have little ones, make sure that your devotional activities are appropriate for the ages of your children. And, remember to let the little ones pray aloud as soon as they are able to talk. Their sweet innocent prayers are from their hearts and minister to oldest members of the family.

Regardless of your family make-up: single parent, grandparent, married couple, young single adult etc., make prayer a priority today. You have a friend in Jesus with is waiting for you to talk to Him.  He’s listening!

A Prayer You May Say: Lord, thank You for the privilege of coming to You in prayer. Thank you for always being there to listen to our expressions of thanksgiving as well as our pleadings for help.

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Scripture: Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NASB)

Observation: willing—The Greek is stronger, “we were well content”; “we would gladly have imparted,” “even our own lives” (so the Greek for “souls” ought to be translated); as we showed in the sufferings we endured in giving you the Gospel (Ac 17:1–34). As a nursing mother is ready to impart not only her milk to them, but her life for them, so we not only imparted gladly the spiritual milk of the word to you, but risked our own lives for your spiritual nourishment, imitating Him who laid down His life for His friends, the greatest proof of love (Jn 15:13). [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

Application: The apostle Paul developed such a close, loving relationship with the people he brought to the knowledge of Jesus Christ that he considered them more like his children than his pupils. His affection for them, he writes, is comparable to the love that a mother has for his children. Mothers reading his words immediately identify with those feelings toward their own children, something fathers can’t ever experience.
About 35 years ago social scientists began to teach about the importance of early bonding with babies. Experiments with animals showed that bonding is essential for a baby. Studies of newborn monkeys who were given mannequin mothers at birth showed that, even when the mannequins were made of soft material and provided formula to the baby monkeys, the babies were better socialized when they had live mothers with whom they could interact. The baby monkeys with mannequin mothers also were more likely to suffer from despair. Scientists suspect that lack of bonding in human babies can cause similar problems.
Most babies are ready to bond immediately upon their birth. Parents, on the other hand, may have mixed feelings about it. Some parents feel an intense attachment within the first few minutes or days after their baby’s birth, while for others, especially if the baby is adopted or has been placed in intensive care, it may take a longer.
At any rate, bonding is a process, not something that takes place within minutes and not something that has to be limited to happening within a certain time period after birth. For many parents, bonding is a byproduct of caring for their baby on a daily basis. You may not even know it’s taking place, but then you see your baby’s first smile and suddenly you realize that you’re filled with love and joy for that little child of yours.
This is not a skill you learn, it is a natural feeling that God places inside your heart automatically, for most people. Those of us who are parents love that feeling and flourish in the glow of our bond with our children. Enjoy every minute of the experience and as your children grow into youth and adulthood.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, thank you for letting Your love shine through our hearts to our children. Help us to enjoy that experience as long as possible so that they too may experience Your love through us.

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Scripture: Just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 1 Thessalonians 2:11 (NASB)

Observation: Paul likens the conduct of the missionaries to the loving, unselfish care of a nursing mother (v. 7), and he now compares their behavior to that of a father. What he implies here is that they trained and instructed the Thessalonians in the same way that a responsible father disciplines his children. The Greek work for children emphasizes the believers’ immaturity as well as the apostles’ affection for them..

Application: It is interesting to note the three words Paul uses here to show his fatherly love for his Thessalonian spiritual children: Exhort, encourage (or console), and urge (or implore). Each of these words have a different aspect of parenting.
Exhorting: Webster’s online dictionary includes several definitions for this word which include to incite by argument or advice, to urge strongly, to give warnings or advice, or to make urgent appeals.
The other two words are more commonly used in today’s language – console or encourage, and implore.
Think of the times as parents when we have had to reprimand, discipline, or punish our children. The goal we have is not to be vindictive or vengeful with them but rather to “exhort” them to do better and act differently for their own benefit. No child enjoys being disciplined by his/her parents and they may even feel as if their parents do not love them at that moment – why else would they be treating them that way? That’s why consoling or encouraging them immediately following the application of discipline is so crucial for the well-being of the child. They need to be corrected but they also need to be assured of their father and mother’s love.
Exhortation/discipline/correction has its place,. And consoling/encouragement also has it’s place, but they are not complete without the third element – imploring, which can also mean to urge or to charge them to do what is right. So the process of disciplining our children must involve these three steps or ingredients:
– Correct them when they do wrong (exhort, punish, discipline)
– Console or encourage (or assure them of your love for them. . . a hug and loving, comforting words)
– Charge (implore or urge) them to do better next time.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, thank You because at times You have to discipline us, but You always do it with the greatest love and guidance. Help us as parents to follow the same principles so our children will love us and love You as a result.

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