In case you are joining us, here is what is going on this week:
As a tribute to my love of Vacation Bible School, both as a child and as an adult, I started this end of summer series a few years back. At least one of you all loves it as much as I do (you know who you are) and she carries enough enthusiasm for ten people, so I am always encouraged to continue.
If you didn’t have the pleasure of attending VBS as a child, or volunteering as an adult, I am so sorry. There is something about having a place to go from 9-11 for five days and following a set schedule where you move from the opening gathering to various stations that include themed crafts, snacks, lessons and games that feels so good after a summer full of non-structure.
Here on the Journey, we have the lesson and sometimes an activity offered, but the snacks are on you as are the arts and crafts, songs and skits. I can only do so much. Also you don’t have to clean up goldfish crackers and try to track down the last few kids who didn’t pick up their felt rendition of an ark…so that’s a positive as well.
So without further ado, here is the 2020 version of AVBSWTG&G (Adult Vacation Bible School Without the Glue and Glitter)
This week our theme will center on how God is not surprised by 2020 and how we can find help to cope in His Word.
One of the things I didn’t understand when I was attending VBS as a child, nor did I fully understand when I was a young mother volunteer, is that the early Christians were not the majority. Somehow in the skits and flannel boards of my youth, nor on the coloring pages or pretty pictures in the handouts, did we cover persecution and animosity towards believers in the Roman world.
It wasn’t until I began taking meatier Bible studies and digging into the notes and commentaries that I learned these encouragements on how to live as Christ were being delivered to people who lived counter culture. They experienced opposition from Jews, Romans and even heretics and false teachers within the Church. As a child and young mom, I just assumed that being a Christian made life easy and better and all the world would applaud.
Yeah, no…not at all the case.
So when we, especially in the United States, get our hackles up because we are facing backlash for being believers, great weight and value is added to the words of Paul in his letters to the churches. And when we look at the way Jesus handled not being popular or admired, we can see how relevant the Scriptures are to our modern, enlightened existence in 2020.
Today’s passage is 2 Thessalonians 3. It is a short chapter but so chock full of good advice for how to live and thrive in adverse times. Please read it and then come back to some thoughts. But don’t just take my thoughts and stop there. I hope and pray you will take some time to marinate in these passages and let God speak HIS specific word to you from the Word today. Take that word and carry it and prayerful act on it as you move through Tuesday <3
For our consideration together, I want to focus on the opening passages:
In addition, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen and guard you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.2 Thessalonians 3: 1-5 CSB
I am led to also share this same passage from The Message this morning, so bear with me and read again in Eugene Peterson’s translation of the words:
One more thing, friends: Pray for us. Pray that the Master’s Word will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response, just as it did among you. And pray that we’ll be rescued from these scoundrels who are trying to do us in. I’m finding that not all “believers” are believers. But the Master never lets us down. He’ll stick by you and protect you from evil. Because of the Master, we have great confidence in you. We know you’re doing everything we told you to and will continue doing it. May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God’s love and Christ’s endurance.2 Thessalonians 3: 1-5 The MSG
So many thoughts flood my mind as I seek to share the way God is showing us how to live. I will do a list of them for you to ponder and meditate on, but again I urge you to think through these passages yourself and ask God what He is showing YOU about living and thriving in His purpose for YOU in 2020.
<3 As we are praying for so many things to return to normal (cue the sad faces of all the Big 10 fans who found out the season has been canceled…) Paul gives us a powerful prayer to be praying.
I love Peterson’s phrasing of this and we can turn that into such a simple prayer…
Lord, let your Word simply take off and race through this country with a groundswell of response!2 Thessalonians 3: 1-2
Why reinvent the wheel when you can pray God’s mind and heart so directly from Scripture?
<3 It is okay to acknowledge and recognize that not everyone who says he/she is a Christian or a believer really is a believer. I also see here that Paul is not taking these charlatans on but is turning them over to God.
His confidence is not in himself to set them straight or expose them, but instead he is putting his trust in God alone to protect him and his flock FROM them.
Paul is acknowledging that the evil behind any false prophets is spiritual and he wages war in the spiritual realm. Through faith in God’s sovereignty and prayer – not relying on his own powers of persuasion and conversation. (This is backed up in other passages written by Paul regarding spiritual warfare.)
<3 Paul finally expresses confidence in authentic and genuine and growing believers but again, his confidence in THEM is because of his confidence in Christ and who He is. Paul additionally shows us that we need to be praying for others who are devoted to following Christ.
He prays for these Christ followers to be filled with and characterized by God’s LOVE and to have the endurance of Christ. This endurance was what carried Him to and through the suffering of the crucifixion on our behalf.
I believe if we, as true believers, would put our energies into the prayers Paul has given here, we would see a powerful movement of God in the concerns and circumstances of our day. It is not cheating to simply pray these passages. You can use them as given, or you can pray them in your own words.
Our activity today is to read through Chapter 3 and then write out a short prayer based on one of the passages. Even if it is just a word for word copy. The act of writing it down helps solidify it in your heart and mind.
Three prayer prompts are offered:
- Pray for the word to spread like a wild fire through the land
- Pray for God’s protection from those who oppose His work and word going out from us
- Pray for believers to be filled with God’s love and Christ’s endurance
I would love to see your worksheets, little campers.
May our God bless you as you apply the work and word and get it into your life in practical ways.
See you tomorrow <3