Today’s readings.. (Joshua 2), (Isaiah 8), (1 Thessalonians 3,4)
Many parts of the world indulge in what is called ‘the blame game.’ Very few admit anything is their fault – and lawyers become very wealthy! There is less and less genuine honesty in our world: men and women may deceive one another – but God is never deceived!
In Paul’s 1st letter to the Thessalonians he is exceedingly anxious for news of them. He worries as to whether they are standing firm in the faith. His letter to them, we read today, shows he is relieved “that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love …” [3 v.6], adding, “we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.” [v.7,8]
What causes us to “live”? Is it the same as what causes Paul? He is keen to visit them and see them “face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?” [v.10] Is anything lacking in our faith? Those striving to be true believers today have greater and greater challenges that threaten to undermine their faith.
We particularly noted Paul’s next words, ”may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness” [v.12,13] That word “establish” indicates a strengthening so your heart, your outlook on life becomes ‘fixed’ How fixed is your mind?
It is very interesting that it is the same Greek word as Jesus used in warning Peter of the ordeal he would face in and after the Garden of Gethsemane. He told Peter, “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” [Luke 22 v,32] We all need to strengthen our hearts so that they are established and become “blameless.” The Greek word here is first used in Luke 1 v.6 about the parents of John the Baptist that they were “walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord”
Our reading, meditation and prayers on God’s word are the source of the ‘glue’ to fix our minds – that will “establish” our “hearts blameless” – so that when “the Lord himself (will) descend from heaven with a cry of command with the voice of an archangel… then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up … to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” [4 v.16,17] And where will the Lord be? He will establish a world-wide kingdom as we read on Monday in Isaiah ch, 2 v.2-5.
Paul ends his letter with another pressing appeal and prayer, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord … He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” [5 v.23,24] He will surely do it, – so let us “establish” our “hearts.”