Modern sexual mores are viewed as enlightened and new, but they aren't. First-century pagan culture was rife with sexual perversion. Like those early Christians, we must realize that sexual purity is not man's idea, but God's... and it is a key to our spiritual growth.
Paul's epistles are so upbeat and optimistic, we forget that he faced constant opposition and discouragement in ministry. The Christians in Thessalonica suffered persecution, too, so Paul shared secrets of joy in the midst of trials. These are valuable lessons for us today.
Paul is called the greatest evangelist in church history, and it's hard to argue the point: 2000 years of the Gentile Church is traced to his ministry! But he knew persecution and disappointment, too. What enabled him to be so effective? He tells us in 1 Thessalonians 2.
The new church at Thessalonica, like every church, had problems. But it also had spiritual qualities for which Paul thanked God. In the first chapter of this letter, the apostle cites five things which stand out in the church - qualities to which we should all aspire!
It's the early 50s A.D. Jesus' resurrection occurred less than twenty years earlier, but already churches dot the ancient Roman world. In Thessalonica, a band of Christians faced persecution and questions. Paul writes to encourage and instruct them.
Time to take one last look at Genesis, where we've been, and what it all means. From the dawn of creation, our journey has brought us to the banks of the Nile; Jacob's children and their families are in a foreign land, but God is enacting His plan to rescue the world.
Scripture says that 'it is appointed unto men once to die' - but how we die, and how we face death, reflects the reality of our faith. The final scenes in Genesis recount the deaths of Jacob and Joseph, and demonstrate their faith in God and His promises, at the end of life.
While Genesis reveals God as being patient and faithful, He is also holy and just. In Gen. 49, Jacob gathers his sons to tell their futures, both good and bad, based on how they lived their lives. The lesson for Christians today is transparent: What you do now matters!
Aren't you glad God is patient? We are fickle, and often fail, but He is faithful! Jacob fought with God for much of his life, but God never gave up on him, and in his last days, God won his heart. He showed he had learned to trust God - a life lesson we all need to learn.
While God's plan cannot be thwarted by the sinful actions of men, it is magnified when combined with the wise leadership of godly men. Joseph is 'Exhibit A' of this truth, both with his family, and with the Egyptians. Happy is the man who finds wisdom (Proverbs 3:13)!