What Rings Out from You?

1 Thess 1 8

I Thessalonians 1-3

Apprentice: Learning from the Master was the theme for Family Camp 2015.  Our son suggested the theme while coming home from Family Camp the previous year.   And it stuck.  “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” I Corinthians 11:1.  We have a responsibility to be following our Master Jesus (who was following God’s will and direction every step of the way) – not only for our benefit – but to lead and guide and instruct others how to also follow Christ and become more and more like Jesus.

I see Apprentice all over these first three chapters of I Thessalonians.   When Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus he entered training to be an Apprentice of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But he didn’t hide away with his new-found life – taking it out every Sunday to display at church.  It was his life and breath and joy and struggle – to be lived and fought for every day – to take people to Jesus that they might become apprentices as well – learning and teaching the craft of loving, serving, following, obeying Christ and His Father.  Listen again to some of these phrases:
“You became imitators of us and of our Lord: in spite of severe suffering” (1:6)
“And so you became a model to all the believers” (1:7)
“The Lord’s message rang out from you” (1:8)
“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes?  Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” (2:19,20)
“For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.” (3:8)

Do you want to be a better Apprentice?

First – check your walk – are you living what you’ve learned from Jesus the Master? Do you do the work that Jesus did?  How can you follow Jesus better?  More consistently?  Does the Lord’s message ring out from you?  Do you imitate the world or do you imitate Christ and Christian role-models?
How can you reach out to others as Jesus did?  And as Paul did?  Who do you pray earnestly for night and day – that their faith will be strong?
Who will be your hope, your joy or your crown in which you will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes?

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.  May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”  (3:12-13).

Marcia Railton

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2 thess 1 3

I love Paul’s prayers!  They are some of my favorite parts of his letters.  You don’t find him praying about the weather (you know, those ‘no rain so we have a nice picnic’ prayers) and not too often about health needs – but always about spiritual growth and Godly matters.   One example of Paul praying for the church is found in 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12.  He starts out thanking God that the Thessalonian’s faith is growing MORE AND MORE.  How could your pastor or a church member be able to gauge the growth of your faith – is yours growing or shrinking?  How can you tell?  How can others tell?  Next he thanks God that their love for one another is growing.  Can you say the same for your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ?  How can you tell?  How can others tell?

How many of you have heard people complain that God is not just – if he was He wouldn’t allow evil and trouble.  I love Paul’s answer.  “God IS just:  He will pay back…and give relief…This WILL HAPPEN when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.”  (1:6,7) No need to question God’s justice.  His clock is better than ours anyways.  God IS Just.

In 1st Thessalonians Paul tells us to encourage one another with the message that Jesus is coming to earth again!  2nd Thessalonians reminds us to not be deceived, for the Man of Lawlessness – the Anti-God – will be coming too, and will deceive many who have refused to love the truth.  In order to stand firm for Jesus’s return – we must be loving the truth and prepared for evil and lawlessness and deception.  “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you.” (2:15)  Learn those teachings well – and cling to them – and pass them on to others.

Thank you God for your words through your servants.  Help me to hear, learn, live and pass along your words and your way.
Marcia Railton

Apprentice – Pass it On!

2 Tim 2 2 (1)

When Paul writes II Timothy he is in Rome.  In Prison.  Piecing together his life from Acts and his letters, it is believed that during his first trip to Rome he was under house arrest – and then released and able to take his final missionary journey.  But, back to Rome he goes, and this time he ends up in prison.  Real prison.  In chains.  And, he is now writing about having “fought the good fight and finished the race.”  (4:7).   The end is in sight.  And Paul has no regrets.  In fact, he still has hope for the future – “a crown of righteousness” (4:8).

I was blessed by the opportunity to go to Rome with Jason several years ago while he was on a business trip.  While he worked, I walked.  It was incredible to walk through the ruins and roads where Paul very well may have walked before his chains.  Courthouses, palaces, the temples of foreign gods, and in their midst, the Mamertine prison which according to tradition housed the apostle Paul, as well as Peter, before they each died for their faith.   Perhaps it was a different prison, hard to be certain.  But I do know that there was a real prison with real chains.  Real places.  Real people.  And a very real God who was at work then (and long before) and is still at work now – and for all eternity.

A God worthy of serving with our life and if necessary our death.  A God who does not give a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7) – and I sure need that!  A God who breathed out the Scriptures for us so we would have his wisdom and words – so useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.  (2 Timothy 3:16)  Without them we can not be thoroughly equipped for the work he has for us to do.  (2 Timothy 3:17).

A few years ago our theme at Family Camp was Apprentice.  How to pass along a craft – an art – from one master artisan to the next generation.   Paul said, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  (2 Timothy 2:2)  How are you contributing to the cycle?

Paul has many powerful words to Timothy about his duties as a young preacher, and what he is to pass on to others.  And they become even more powerful when you pause to remember that they are being written by Paul, the mighty apostle and missionary, now chained and in prison, near the end of his life.  According to tradition, soon to be beheaded for his faith.  He writes, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  (2 Timothy 2:15)  Are you doing your best?  What can you do to improve how you present yourself to God?  Is it evident you are a workman for God?  Any areas of shame that need to be addressed?  How are you handling the word of truth?

I think it would be fascinating to see documented how the Word of God was passed down from Jesus to Paul, and on to Timothy and then to Timothy’s church, etc …. Through the ages … across the oceans … from generation to generation . . . to you.  Your spiritual genealogy.  What will you do with it?  How will you pass it on?  “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved.”

In Christ,
Marcia

Meeting the Mission

john 10 27

Throughout this week,  we have laid the groundwork that leads us from the call to the kingdom.  We considered how Jesus sought those who were seeking something better, and how those men recognized the call, the voice of their master (John 10:27).  Next, we considered how the heavens declare our salvation, and the continuing metaphor we have in the heavens declaring the glory of God (Psalm 19) and His salvation plan for mankind.  Knowing this, we applied this knowledge to God’s presence even in the darkest points in our lives – in the highest heavens he is there, but also in the deepest chasm (Psalm 139:8). His Spirit is promised and available to those who ask to receive it.  When we accept Jesus into our lives, we not only receive the Spirit of God, but also the weight of the cross – not our sin, which Jesus has paid for once and for all – but the daily responsibility to carry the name of the Lord with us wherever we go. Finally, we looked at how faith should be our great motivator.  It assures us when we don’t see God working the way we desire that he is working all things together for those who love him (Rom 8:28). The culmination of this hope comes when we arrive home. We will not be returning, but experiencing for the first time the place we have been called, where the light has been leading, where the Presence of God is close and real, where the cross paved a way for us, and the plan, having all who have believed and waited, rewarded together (Heb 11:39-40).

It is a beautiful story unfolding before us, but right now, we’re in the middle.  The part in between being called and being home. So where does our mission begin?  It begins with prayer. Prayer is our conversation with God, admonishing him, asking for repentance, lifting up concerns, and seeking his will.  Paul tells us that we should pray repetitively or without ceasing (2 Thes 5:17) constantly thanking Him, seeking His word, and listening for His voice.  It is the best way to align ourselves with his will for our lives. These are everyday acts of spiritual warriors, the same as someone who runs or lifts every day in preparation for a marathon.  In Acts 9, Saul is blinded when He sees Jesus Christ standing before him on the Road to Damascus, but it is Ananias, a man most likely practicing his faith in his hometown, that is called to a great mission.  Risking his life to go before the Christian persecutor, he speaks to him, ““Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” With these words, the course of Paul’s life and Christianity are forever changed.

For some of us, our mission will lead us to a foreign country, a great stage, or into a dramatic change of circumstance; however, we are all called to be faithful, seeking opportunities for God to use us as a vessel to speak peace and hope into the lives of those around us in the present; Many lives are lived, fearing God and keeping his commandments, in hometowns before neighbors, coworkers, or fellow students, a task that is can be ironically harder. We continually pray for those who are within our reach and influence, attuning ourselves to the will of God.  When we are faithful, we most assuredly will be ready for the harder things God calls us to as we will reach out and unabashedly share His Kingdom, leaving behind our ego, leaving behind our reputation, and even leaving behind our lives – in a moment or daily, knowing our mission is met.

-Aaron Winner

Thank you, Aaron for writing this week!  We did miss you at FUEL, but we are thankful for your continued commitment to God’s mission in your life.  Aaron recently shared his newest recorded song: How Great You Are.  Thank you for pointing us to the One who is Great!

Teaching Others to Teach

2 Tim 2 2
In 2nd Timothy the Apostle Paul was writing to Timothy and told him to teach Faithful Men who would also teach others. This instruction applies to us also.  One of the things that I was pleased to hear and see during my last trip to the Philippines was one of the young ministers thanking us for our persistent visits.  Regardless of how difficult the hiking or the travel by bus for endless days or how poor the food is,  we keep at it – teaching and leading expeditions all over the Philippines.
He thanked us for not only teaching them God’s Word, but for teaching them how to teach others also and at the same time teaching them how to teach others to teach others.  At the seminar recently we saw the result of this kind of teaching.  About 130 teenagers attended; they are the product of our teaching through several generations. This is why teaching the Bible stories is so important.  If you have a good foundation in the entire book of Genesis, then continue to add the other stories.  If you have a fairly clear understanding of the progress of the Old Testament stories you will have the faith and the desire to teach it to others.
-Larry Rankin
Larry Rankin, of Cashmere, Washington, spends about 6 months every year in the Philippines, seeking out any and all who will listen to God’s Word.  He conducts home Bible studies everywhere he goes – sometimes with people who have never heard the gospel message – sometimes with those he knows well who look forward to his visits every year.  

Think of What God Will Think

2nd Thessalonians 1

2 Thessalonians 1 11 (1)

2nd Thessalonians is another letter from Paul. He speaks about thanking God that their faith and love is growing. They were being persecuted and had many trials, yet they persevered. They held on to their faith and did not turn away from God.

 

This passage also speaks about those who do not have a relationship with God. Verse 8 says: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”  We need to make sure we are sharing God’s love and Jesus’s death to others. But wait you say, I am not a pastor or youth leader, how do I share that? You share that by living a life that is pleasing to God. Lead by example; you never know who is watching you. Speak up about what God has done in your life. Don’t be afraid of what people will think; think of what God will think. Honor Him in all you do.

 

Tomorrow we will look at 2nd Thessalonians 2.

Many blessings,

~The Ransom’s

With Your Faith and Love

1 Thessalonians 3

1 Thess 3

Paul was very concerned for the Thessalonians. He was so concerned they were going to lose their faith he sent Timothy to them. He wanted Timothy to strengthen and encourage them. He had told the Thessalonians that they would be persecuted. He was afraid they would be tempted and walk away from God.

Timothy reported back that the Thessalonians had not walked away from God. In fact Paul was encouraged by their faith and love. We can encourage one another with our faith and not even realize it. You never know who is watching you. When we have something hard going on in our life and we tackle it with God we can uplift people and not even realize it. So as you go about your day, encourage one another with your faith and love.
Tomorrow we will look at 1 Thessalonians 4.

Many Blessings,
~The Ransom’s