“Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3
True story: A few minutes ago I sat down at my writing desk to look up the scripture my Sunday-morning adult discipleship class talked about yesterday (1 Thessalonians chapter 5 – I’ll quote from that text little later).
While waiting for my computer to power up, I counted on my fingers and realized this week marks 18-months in our new home. How cool, I thought to myself, I wonder what I could say to describe what’s been going on at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church?
GOD HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD! At the exact moment I was wondering about our church, I clicked on the Bible Gateway site (my “go-to” online Bible source). And – I kid you not – this is what appeared on their home page under “verse of the day” – Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
Yesterday, my post discussed the dangers of “proof-texting.” Believe me, this wasn’t that. Plus, I think we all know I’m not the kind of Bible student who closes my eyes, opens the Bible, and randomly pokes my finger, hoping to find my fortune through some obscure, isolated verse.
But then, sometimes, The Word simply reveals itself, as if God has left a trail of breadcrumbs for me to follow. Or seven-foot tall neon lights flashing, “Here it is!”
“Look, Derek,” God is saying to me; “this disciple-making business you’re invested in isn’t that much different from what we witnessed in the early church. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians may be the oldest extant document in the New Testament – but what’s going on here in Wake Forest just happens to be the newest, contemporary letter I’m writing, right in front of your eyes…”
Or, as Paul wrote to his friends in Corinth:
“The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This ‘letter’ is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 3:2-4
BACK TO CLASS: My discipleship group, called “Practical Christianity,” is one of three new adult-ed classes added back in September. Our real interest is talking about, understanding, and living faith out loud; it’s about what it means to move beyond the “church member” designation and live as disciples of Jesus.
Our conversation this Sunday morning centered around the idea – in 1 Thessalonians 5 – of “staying awake” as followers of Jesus. People shared from their hearts about what it means to live in the light, and to be, as Paul puts it, “alert and clear-headed.”
Here are two passages from the text. It’s Monday morning, we’re already well north of 500-words into this post; so I’ll sign off, and let the scripture speak directly into your lives.
Always thankful – DEREK
“For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.” (v 5-6)
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (v 16-18)
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.