Not too long ago I was studying the first chapter out of 1 Thessalonians. If you haven’t read it recently, take the time to read the 10 verses that are there. They are super powerful and have a lot of content built into just those 10 verses. The Gospel is all over the place, the truth is clear, and it’s a great encouragement for the church.
There was a verse out of there that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind and I think it gives much more depth to the typical “Faith, Hope, and Love” we normally think of. Sometimes we see those words written on wood, placed on a wall. Sometimes we see those words in the form of a tattoo. Sometimes we even use those words with others, but do we really know what they mean and why they are so important?
“We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:3 (CSB)
Paul was encouraging the church, thanking God for them, hearing of how they are speaking the Word and not much else to others, and how they have become an example to everyone around them.
As Christians, we are called to live the same way. We are to know the Word of God and speak that and not much else to others. We are called to be an example to everyone around us because people are watching. We are called to do all of this because of what Jesus has done for us (1 John 4:19).
So as you remember who you are in Christ, do you walk in these 3 ways?
I think one of the things that isn’t talked about the most among Christians is spiritual warfare. Sometimes I think it comes across “too spiritual” or maybe we don’t know enough about it, or it’s quite possible…we don’t really believe it’s a big deal at all. While we are all sinners, living in a sinful world, we are going to have many problems due to sin, but at the same time, we are often attacked by the enemy.
The Bible talks about our enemy quite a bit (1 Peter 5:8, 1 John 3:8, 2 Corinthians 11:14, John 8:44, James 4:7, 2 Corinthians 11:3) so if we believe in scripture being the very word of God, we would do well to take all matters seriously, including the evil one.
Have you ever noticed when you go to spend time with The Lord, distractions happen? What about random thoughts that just pop in your head out of nowhere? Have you experienced conflict with others? The examples could go on and on and I can’t tell you 100% they are all from our enemy, but from what scripture says about him, it would seem obvious that we are at war and we are to take it seriously.
The good news is that the Bible is clear on just how much God loves us and just how much God has and will protect us for all eternity from the evil one. Jesus defeated sin and death by dying on the cross and rising again from the grave. Yes, we will have daily battles, but take heart…Jesus has overcome the world and the war is already won.
No matter where you find yourself today or whatever it is you are going through, here is what the Bible has to say with scripture on protection:
I admit I’m a beach snob. I’ll drive thousands of miles to enjoy white sand and turquoise water. That’s why I’m surprised it took the Texas coast to give me the better picture of God’s daily provision.
My family vacationed at a Texas beach this summer. I hadn’t seen the Texas coast in the light of day since childhood. Other than a shorter drive and water more brown than what I’m used to, I didn’t know what to expect. Having access to a private beach afforded us no crowds, well-groomed sand, and plenty of seashells for my five-year-old daughter to find. Breathing the salt air, stepping into the pushing waves, and searching the sandbar for crabs, I had to stop and wonder if we were really still in Texas. Gratitude toward God for this valuable family time came easy.
A raised, wooden boardwalk connected the condo property to the beach over several hundred yards of tangled, green marsh grass. The grass looked like a perfect place for something slithery to hide and I was glad to see the boardwalk ran the full length. The sign adjacent to the fenced off area before the boardwalk read, “Do Not Enter-Rattlesnake Habitat”.
As our footsteps creaked over the boardwalk, I looked below into that expanse of green, expecting to see or hear a rattlesnake, but to no avail. One morning as the wind picked up, I did see a couple of floating tubes caught up in a gust and sent into the marsh. I asked a security guard if anybody ever went in to retrieve lost items. He chuckled and said, “Nobody smart.”
This past week has been pretty challenging to say the least. It started off with me going to the ER for dizziness in my head and my heart racing. What felt like a heart attack didn’t end up being a heart attack and the progress to investigate what’s going on in my head continues to play out. There are still no answers while dizziness remains every day since this all happened. Through seeing multiple doctors, having multiple tests done, and still not getting answers…it’s caused me to wrestle in my walk with The Lord. To wrestle with the unknown.
It seems like things are going every 5 minutes and I’m choosing off and on to trust in God’s plan and provision for my life. In one moment I know I’m content in whatever it is He has planned for me and in another moment I’m worried, scared, anxious, and questioning.
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. – Psalm 94:19
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6
I’ve been reminded over and over again this week when I am weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). In a strange way, when we are at our most desperate stages in life, it’s in those moments and those responses that determine what is most important to us. I’ve battled this week. Thoughts of family, friends, heaven, regrets, reminders, remembering what’s most important vs what doesn’t really matter, etc.
At the same time I feel I’ve never been closer in my walk with The Lord. Not because I’m “doing all these great things” but because I’ve become desperate enough to just want Him and Him alone. He’s all I need and in my darkest hours this week I know He’s been right there with me…every second…through His Word, through His Church, through His Peace.
I want to be careful on how I write this post because I never want to come across with a lack of empathy or compassion towards others. We live in a fallen and broken world and are often victims of sin that is committed towards us. It happens to us and sometimes it involves us committing sins towards others too.
So I never want to brush past the reality of our broken world and just how much sin can hurt us. No matter of the situation you find yourself in today, I am truly sorry for what has happened to you. I’m sorry for the tears you’ve shed, the pain you’ve felt, the struggles you’ve had in your life. However, I also want to encourage you in something.
The enemy never lets down, he is always on the loose and prowling around telling you lies while seeking to destroy you. He will tell you that you are a victim…..he will tell you just how bad you are or just how bad the situation is that you are in…he will tell you there’s no hope….he will say everything he can to bring you down and to distract you from the truth.
The truth is, you are a Victor, not a victim.
A Victor is defined as “a person who defeats an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition.”
Have you defeated the enemy? Have you won the war? No you haven’t…but Jesus has and that fact alone makes you a victor. He gives us the victory.