Hi everyone, it’s Mick here and welcome to Friday’s Podcast. I really hope your week has gone well and these reflections from the Thessalonian letters have blessed and challenged you. Our Bible reading today is 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 and our focus verse is v12 (MSG)
If your life honours the name of Jesus, he will honour you
Jesus has always fascinated me. His message of new life, his better life was so attractive to me as a young man exploring what life was about, why I was here and how I could make a difference. Tricia and I loved hearing this message as our friends took us to church, as we received Jesus into our lives, started to follow his ways and just loved being part of church. Then the challenges came! As we read the Bible we realised that this faith, this life we had signed up to was much more than making a difference in the here and now, but this life was eternal – it continued on after death. Even more than that, the Bible said that Jesus was coming back to planet earth one day to make all things right, that there would be a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ with no more pain or suffering. As you can imagine, this took a bit of thinking through for an ordinary Sheffield lad! As the American writer Mark Twain said
It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
The Jesus life now was exciting; the future stuff seemed to be in the realms of fable and fantasy! I began to realise that when I received Jesus, I received him entirely – eternal life, second coming, the whole package. Tricia and I began to see how this future that Jesus promised gave us great hope for our future and for those we loved. As we put our trust in Christ, even death, the great enemy could not separate us and we would be together into eternity. Now that’s a great deal!
These final verses of this letter are challenging to read for us today, but would have been an immense comfort to those believers under persecution in Thessaloniki; indeed, they have been a great comfort and inspiration to all believers throughout the centuries who are persecuted, under oppression, suffering injustice, feel abandoned, the list goes on … it’s so relevant for today, just look at what’s happening in the US and our own country in theses days.
As Paul made clear in yesterday’s reading, there will be a judgement one day.
God wants all people to repent and turn back to him (1Timothy 2:4) but today’s verses make clear the consequences for rejecting Christ and his life changing, world changing gospel of love; such people will miss out on the full Christian package of eternal life. That why it’s so imperative that the church is bold in sharing this gospel, this whole and full gospel and not a watered down, easier to digest, liberal alternative!
The opposite of eternal life is ‘Eternal exile from the presence of the Master’ (v9) but not so for these Thessalonian believers and for us who believe today; their long term future and ours, is totally secure no matter what this crazy world and these challenging days throw at us! This gospel message is so urgent because the good news is only good news if it gets there in time. The modern church has sat around in its comfortable buildings with its careful liturgy and boring, irrelevant services while the world, and particularly young people have drifted away in their millions to live a life with Christ without any real hope for the future. So what do we do? We certainly don’t sit around singing hymns, drinking tea, condemning the world and waiting for Jesus to return! Jesus has great plans for your life; his plan is to fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something (v11) Remember our focus verse for today and really for this week
If your life honours the name of Jesus, he will honour you.
STC is an amazing church, it really is. I do this church leadership thing for a living (at least for the next few months!) and there aren’t many church communities like STC anywhere. We trust the Lord Jesus for his exciting life now and his eternal promises which give us real hope. If ever this world needed people of hope, it now. People who will stand up to injustice, speak out against the racism which is a disease in society, stand up for those on the margins, feed those who are hungry, care for and raise up the next generation, the list goes on … that is the call for STC. We are not to be people who primarily focus on details, get bogged down in spreadsheets and are overly concerned about finances. NO …ours is a higher call. We are to seize the opportunities Jesus puts before us, step out in faith, call others into the Kingdom, believe the church can grow and above all trust the Lord who goes before us. Wonderful church family, we can do all this because our present and future are secure in Christ – thanks be to God!
Lord Jesus, thank you that my present and future life is secure in you. Help me to make the most of my ordinary life to live out your extraordinary life. That I would grow in faith and love, fulfil the purpose you have for me and bring honour to your name. Amen
BIBLE READING: 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 MSG
You’re suffering now, but justice is on the way. When the Master Jesus appears out of heaven in a blaze of fire with his strong angels, he’ll even up the score by settling accounts with those who gave you such a bad time. His coming will be the break we’ve been waiting for. Those who refuse to know God and refuse to obey the Message will pay for what they’ve done. Eternal exile from the presence of the Master and his splendid power is their sentence. But on that very same day when he comes, he will be exalted by his followers and celebrated by all who believe— and all because you believed what we told you. Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time— pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honours the name of Jesus, he will honour you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.