Day 298: Striving for simplicity

Psalms 4-62 Thessalonians 3
(Psalm 3 was read on Day 119)

Even though we live in a fallen world, we are still created to enjoy God – and often, we do this through simple pleasures…working our hands in the tilled ground, washing away our thirst with cold water, rising early to watch the sun rise or sleeping after a hard and satisfying work day.

There’s a simplicity to following God that is hard to find in the busy-ness of our western culture. If we can break through all the many demands on our time and attention – and just be in the presence of God, we will find rest.

There is no striving at the foot of the cross. Only trust. A very still sense that God is faithful and he will accomplish it – whatever the it is that we are anxious about…he will accomplish it.

The truths of Scripture can lead us into rest. Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 3 remind me of the elegant simplicity of following God… trusting in his faithfulness (3:3), working quietly to earn a living (3:12), and praying for God’s peace and presence (3:16).

Even the Psalms echo these sentiments. They speak of pondering in our hearts (Psalm 4:4), sleeping in peace (4:8), seeking God in the morning (5:3), and the comforting truths that God hears our weeping and accepts our prayers (6:8-9).

It’s a paradox, but I challenge you to strive to live a simple life. For in simplicity we find… rest, a quiet trust, and peace. Ultimately, we find Jesus.

“You can have all this world. Just give me Jesus.” -Fernando Ortega

Day 297: The balm of Truth

Psalms 1-22 Thessalonians 1-2

Soon after Paul sent his first letter to the Thessalonians, he must have received a disturbing report back from the church, because he penned 2nd Thessalonians just after 1st Thessalonians.

This letter addressed three specific issues:

  1. God’s purposes for allowing persecution and suffering (Chapter 1),
  2. Detailed teaching regarding Jesus’ second coming (Chapter 2), and
  3. Exhortations against laziness and presuming upon wealthy Christians (Chapter 3).

We learn in the beginning of Chapter 2 that the Thessalonians (wrongly) believed that the day of the Lord had already come…that somehow they had missed Jesus’ second coming!

Paul allotted most of his teaching to this one topic. The Thessalonians were alarmed because they believed false teaching. Paul calmed their hearts and minds with TRUTH!

Note: For a more detailed discussion of the implications of Paul’s teaching on Jesus’ second coming, this sermon by John Piper is an excellent resource!

Paul also addressed the young church’s afflictions in the wake of relentless persecution. Paul writes,

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels (2 Thessalonians 1:4-7).

Paul teaches that God doesn’t just allow suffering, he ordains it. It is his righteous judgment (1:5) in the context of this fallen world. In other words, because of our struggle with sin, God’s purposes for suffering are loving and good!

Paul lists three good purposes for suffering in these verses… First, suffering helps to refine (not punish) the unholy believer so that he is fit for the holy kingdom of God (1:5). Second, God will repay those who sin against believers. He will execute perfect justice (1:6). And third, we will be comforted when Jesus comes again to defeat Satan and evil and to usher us into His final rest (1:7-8).

Paul wrote these truths to calm and comfort the young Thessalonian church. Likewise, these truths should comfort our souls. They should burrow their way down into our hearts and serve as a spring to water our parched lives. These truths should be our delight!

Blessed is the man […]
[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither (Psalm 1:1-3).