Peace. In 2nd Thessalonians chapter 3, verses 14 through 17, Paul is wrapping up his letter to the people and he wishes them peace. Not just any kind of Peace, but peace from the Lord because the Lord is peace over all things. If we are not seeking after and dwelling in the peace of Jesus Christ, we are not experiencing true peace. Only Jesus Christ is able to offer us the peace that passes all understanding. This is the peace that even in the midst of the storm, we can know and feel,  the assurance that Christ is with us and he is carrying us through every situation that we experience. Are we allowing the Lord to be our source of peace today?

Entitlement. In 2nd Thessalonians chapter three, verses 6 through 13, we see an interesting statement by Paul. Paul continues to tell the people of Thessalonica the importance of maintaining discipline and acting in a way that represents Christ. He points to himself and his followers as an example of that while he was there with them. Then he goes on to say that the work that people do is of importance and they should be rewarded for their work. However, if they don’t work, then they shouldn’t receive anything. This speaks directly to the sense of entitlement that so many people have in today’s society. If someone has the ability to work, then they should do what they do and do it to the best of their ability. People who choose not to do what they can do should not expect to receive anything. There should be no reward for laziness. Are we working? Are we doing all that we can do so that we are not a burden to anyone for any reason?

Love and steadfastness. In 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 we see Paul emphasize these two characteristics as ones the people should pray for and strive for. God is continuing to move among the people, but Paul knows that the people need to continue to display God’s love and to do it consistently, or with steadfastness. So as Paul prays for them, as they pray for themselves,  he directs them to pray for these two things so that God will grant them.

What do we pray for? Often my prayers are filled with requests for healing and other “things” that I want to do. Am I praying to love as God loves and to do it as consistently as Gid does it? What would my life and relationships look like if I did?

Gratitude. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 Paul reminds the people of the importance of being grateful to God for all the things that they are around. Paul even tells them that he is grateful to God for them. Often, it’s easier to be thankful for things, but in this verse Paul is thankful for people. When we look at our lives and the people in our lives, are we thankful to God for the people that are in our lives? God has allowed people to be a part of our life to continue to help us to grow, to encourage us, to strengthen us, to push us, and ultimately to give us an opportunity to demonstrate his love for all of them. We can be thankful for every single person God has allowed in our life, even when we don’t necessarily feel happy for it. Are we truly thankful for all that God has provided for us?

Do we recognize truth? In 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, we see that at some point in the future, God is going to allow a deceiver to have free reign to try and deceive as many as he can. Interestingly, the people will have their eyes closed to truth unless they have the truth living in them. Jesus Christ is described in John 14:6 as the way, the truth, and the life. Only those who have Jesus as an active ljving part of their lives will be able to see this deceiver for what he truly is. Do you have the truth? Does Christ live in your heart and life so that you will recognize a lie?

Do we ever feel we’ve been left out? The people of Thessalonica felt that way. As you read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-6 we see that they fear that Christ has already returned and they have been left behind. Paul shares with then that their hope and faith have not been in vain. Christ has not yet returned and they can continue to live in hope of his triumphant return. Also, they need to continue to share so that others are ready when Christ actually does return. Are we ready for that day and are we sharing with others so they will be ready, too?

Are we worthy of the calling? In 2 Thessaloniabs 1:11-12, we see Paul finish off this chapter encouraging the people who were going through difficult times and experiencing persecution to endure it in a manner worthy of their calling. How can someone endure something and do it in a way that they are worthy? When we experience difficult situations that are unfair or are wrong, we can choose how we respond in the moment. Do we respond in a way that people are pointed toward Jesus? Or, are we angry and upset and blame Him? How can we show others that we are worthy? We do that by displaying Christ, even though the hard times.

Life seems so unfair. The evil in this world goes unpunished and the good gets stepped on. In 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, we see Paul addressing this very concern. Paul reminds the people that there will come a day when God will set  everything right. Evil will be judged and obedience to God will be rewarded. Some day, we will see God as the righteous judge who will judge everyone based on their relationship with Jesus Christ. Where will we fall in that judgment? Do we know about Jesus or have we surrendered our life to Him? Do we talk about Jesus or do we live out Jesus day by day? One day, God will set everything right and all pretending and pretense will be gone. What do you believe? How will God judge you when he evaluates your life?

Time has passed and now Paul is writing a second letter to the church at Thessalonica. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4. As we read, we see a few things have changed. The church has grown in faith and love. Additionally, they also have increased afflictions and persecution.  It is amazing how these things often go together.

Over the years, as the church has experienced trials and persecution, they have also seen a growth in their faith and love. It can be amazing how that happens! When God is all we have left, we see just exactly how completely we can depend on him. How completely do we depend on God today? If we don’t depend on Him much, don’t be surprised if he allows something to happen that reminds us that He is all we have.

God is faithful. As we finish read 1 Thessalonians, starting in chapter 5, verse 19, we see several things that we are commanded to do. Paul ends with a kind of rapid-fire reminder list for us. One of the key points through this list is the reminder that God is faithful. No matter what we are going through, no matter the difficulties, no matter how faithful we are to Him, God is always faithful. Will we trust in Him and hold fast to Him, knowing that He is holding fast to us?