September 13 — Colossians 4 — Networking. It is always interesting to read the last portion of Paul’s letters. They reveal the vast network of people who were Christian friends and fellow workers with Paul. He named eleven of them in this chapter (vv. 7-17). Tychicus and Onesimus were delivering this letter. Aristarchus, Epaphras, and perhaps Jesus (Justus) were imprisoned with Paul. Demas (who would later become unfaithful—2 Tim. 4:10), Mark, and faithful Luke were working with Paul. Nympha and Archippus were people in Colossae Paul had probably not met but had heard about from Epaphras and Onesimus. Paul networked with these people partly through letters. He had also written a letter to the church at Laodicea (v. 16) that has been lost. We, as well, need to keep in contact with people who are separated from us. Pray for them when you think of them or see them on social media. Write them a note to let them know that you love them and are praying for them.
September 14 — 1 Thessalonians 1 — Fragile Faith. This was an early letter written by Paul soon after he had brought the gospel to this capital of the Roman province of Macedonia on his second missionary journey. He had been there for as little as three weeks (Acts 17:2) before being forced to leave, going to Berea, and then to Athens in the province of Achaia. While in Athens, he sent Timothy and Silas (Silvanus) back to Thessalonica to check on them. By the time they returned, Paul had gone to Corinth. Their news included some questions from the Thessalonian Christians, who although their faith had already become famous (1 Thess. 1:7-8), were concerned about some believers who had died before the expected return of Christ. Would they miss heaven? Much of this letter is in answer to that question. Almost 2,000 years later we are still awaiting Christ’s return but we don’t question its certainty, partly because of this letter.
September 15 — 1 Thessalonians 2 — Parenting Believers. Paul’s whirlwind stay at Thessalonica was not superficial but intense and personal. He was to them, “like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (v. 7). They needed to be fed, which he did by sharing the gospel and spending concentrated time with them (v. 8). But Paul also acted, “like a father with his children” (v. 11) as he “exhorted … encouraged … and charged” (v. 12) them to be obedient and faithful. In addition to being fed, they needed to be challenged and directed. That parenting role was also given to the pastors at your church to help you grow. The same role is given to us parents as we feed, guide, and correct our own children toward following the Lord. We also must assume that role toward anyone the Lord enables us to bring to Him. Spiritual parenting is a huge part of helping the Kingdom of God grow.
September 16 — 1 Thessalonians 3 — Now We Live. Paul’s tender heart is exposed in this chapter. He was unwillingly torn away from Thessalonica after just a short time of leading people to Christ and seeing them begin the Christian life. His fervent concern for their spiritual well-being is expressed twice and because of their separation, he “could bear it no longer” (vv. 1, 5). He had to find out how they were doing, so he sent Timothy back to them. The news was good—they were being steadfast in their faith and love (v. 6). What a huge relief that was to Paul! He exclaimed, “now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord” (v. 8). Do you have that kind of concern for someone you love who lives far away? Today, it is so much easier to find out. We can send an email or text or ask how they are doing through a social media message or a phone call. Keep in touch!
September 17 — 1 Thessalonians 4 — More and More. Even Christians who are living in obedience to God need to grow. Twice in this chapter, Paul told the Thessalonians that although they were doing great, they ought to do so “more and more.” They were walking so as to please God, yet they were to “do so more and more” (v. 1). There are always things we omit in our obedience to God and things that we have not been doing wholeheartedly. Secondly, although these believers had learned how to love many others throughout their province of Macedonia, Paul challenged them: “We urge you, brothers, to do this more and more” (v. 10). We can always love better—in frequency, consistency, genuineness, and without respect to the color of others’ skin or how “loveable” they seem to be. Make it your aim today to please God more and to love others better.