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Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold on to the traditions that we taught you, whether by speech or by letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good thing you do or say.
Here Paul encourages the church at Thessalonica to stand firm. Exodus 14:13 says, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” This was when the armies of Egypt pursued Israel to the Red Sea. 2 Chronicles 20:17 says, “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem.” This is when the Ammonites and Moabites came to attack Judah. Jehosophat “feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” Psalm 33:11 says, “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” We stand firm by seeking the Lord and being willing to trust Him and praise Him in the face of whatever may come against us. His love never fails.
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul went through the inland regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples there and said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul said, “Into what then were you baptized?” “Into John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus,
The Holy Spirit is our seal in Christ Jesus, and it is by the name of Jesus alone that the Holy Spirit makes His residence within us. The Holy Spirit comes and brings conviction, He intercedes for us when we do not know what to pray, He enables and strengthens us as we go forth and preach the gospel. John the Baptist’s baptism only served to point people to Jesus Christ. These disciples no longer need that baptism, because one greater has emerged. There is no one who is greater than Jesus, and no other who is able to save us.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For there is more to life than food, and more to the body than clothing. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add an hour to his life? So if you cannot do such a very little thing as this, why do you worry about the rest?
Anxiety is an enemy of following Jesus. It seeks to sabotage courage and deceive us about who God is. Severe anxiety can make us feel as though we have been abandoned, or feel as though God does not love us, or does not have our best interests in mind. Lord God, I pray that You help me release the need to control my circumstances, and that You would teach me how to trust in You for everything that I need. Help me lay down my worries, and look to You for direction and purpose. Doing Your will and seeking first Your Kingdom is the only thing I should be concerned with. You’ve promised to take care of the rest, and I so desperately need You. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
On that day after Jesus went out of the house, he sat by the lake. And such a large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat to sit while the whole crowd stood on the shore. He told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground where they did not have much soil. They sprang up quickly because the soil was not deep. But when the sun came up, they were scorched, and because they did not have sufficient root, they withered. Other seeds fell among the thorns, and they grew up and choked them. But other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty. The one who has ears had better listen!”
Matthew 13:18-23: “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
“All things are lawful for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “All things are lawful for me”—but I will not be controlled by anything. “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both.” The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. Now God indeed raised the Lord and he will raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that anyone who is united with a prostitute is one body with her? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him.
Our bodies will pass away, yet at the same time we have been entrusted to be good stewards of the bodies we have been given. 1 Cor. 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” We have the freedom to make choices, but not everything we choose will be to our benefit. Our world offers us both good and evil, life and death; and we are called to choose life! We are to honor God with everything, including our bodies: ‘living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God”. (Romans 12:1) Remember, self-control is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit! Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”