True faith in Christ and a changed heart will first be exhibited in the home through the relationships with the people who know us best. As a father of three, Ephesians 6:4 speaks loudest to me, Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in training and instruction of the Lord. As parents we sometimes turn into mini dictators trying to control every aspect of our children’s lives. But here Paul tells us to raise our children through Christ’s instructions. What is good for our lives is also good for our kids. If they do not live through the instruction of the perfect teacher, then we are a poor alternative.
Being corrected is not an indictment of your knowledge, it is an opportunity to grow. Proverbs 12:1 says, Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. When we reject constructive criticism, we waste an opportunity to grow. Do not let pride limit you.
It is foolish of us to think we can attain true wisdom without the knowledge of God. It is even more foolish to think we can attain knowledge outside of God’s influence in our lives. Proverbs 2:6 says, For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Without knowledge and understanding we cannot have God’s wisdom. It is through our knowledge, understanding, and relationship with God that we have true wisdom and can apply it in our lives, and in the lives of others.
Our confidence in our beliefs should not come from our own wisdom or eloquence, it should come from our knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. In 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 Pauls says, 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. Paul does not deny the importance of study and preparation. Instead, he fully acknowledges the importance of the Holy Spirit actively working in our lives.
It is difficult to understand that Jesus came for the salvation of everyone, including Jews and gentiles, but the message He brought was easier for the gentiles to accept than the Jews. I never really understood what Mark 2:22 meant until the last few years, And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. If he does, the wine bursts the skin, and both the wine and the wine skins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wine skins. Jesus is talking about His ministry and His message, which are radically different than the Jews expected of the Messiah and broke all their expectations (old wine skin). The new message was something the gentiles were more easily able to digest and accept (new wine skin).
In today’s reading we find Jesus declaring to the Samaritan woman that he is the Messiah in John 4:26, Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.” This is one of the times in scripture where Jesus plainly reveals Himself to be the Christ. While there was some doubt, the woman recognizes Him as the one they have been waiting on. The sad part is many have heard the truth and do not believe and have rejected Him. We know the truth, we just need to accept it.
As children, at times we were foolish because of a lack of wisdom, but as we mature in understand of knowledge, we hopefully become wiser and are able to make better decisions. As believers, we should be growing in the same manner. In 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul writes, Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. While running away can sometimes be called cowardly, wisdom dictates that we make wise choices which may require running away from evil.
The Word of God is more than just a collection of words forming a book called the Bible. It is a living and active, life changing work that is capable of changing us. Hebrews 4:12 says, For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. God’s Word penetrates to reveal who we are and who we are not. It reveals the core of our moral and spiritual reality. The Word of God is not just meant to be read and remembered, it requires action on our parts to allow it to shape our lives.
God gave us the Holy Spirit so that we could begin to understand who God is. We do not need to be educated to understand God, we simply need to look to the Holy Spirit and ask for knowledge and wisdom about who God is. In 1 Corinthians 2:12 Paul says, We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. The reality is we will never fully comprehend all that God has done for us until we are finally in the presence of God. But with the Holy Spirit we can at least begin to grasp our need for God and all that Christ has done in providing salvation to us all.
In this first letter to the Thessalonian church, Paul is addressing a relatively new church of believers, having only been established two to three years earlier. These believers were remote from the epicenter of the Christian faith, and they were doing the best they could with the knowledge they had. In addition, they were also being persecuted for their faith. Paul wrote this letter to encourage and to strengthen the Thessalonian Christians in their faith. And, as with the message in the rest of the Bible, this letter is timeless for all of us. We may not be struggling with the same issues as this early church, but we all face struggles and need encouragement from time to time. Sometimes we are the encouragers and sometimes we are the ones needing encouragement. In either case, God and His strength are at the center of it all.