The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the body, soul and spirit of man in the light of God’s ongoing work in us.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience [as the Hebrews who died in the desert before entering the Promised Land]. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Observation and reflection
Context: Remember that Hebrews were written to believers who considered walking away from faith in Jesus due to severe Roman persecution.
- Considering the context of the first readers, answer the following verses pertaining to Hebrews 4:12-13
- What would this verse mean for them?
- What is meant with “word”, “soul”, “spirit” and “division” in the verse above?
- Can you see the irony in the metaphor of “word of God” as a “double-edged sword”? [hint: what are the readers afraid of…?] What then is emphasized by the use of this metaphor?
- How does the Word active in “discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart”?
- How does “thoughts and intents of the heart” relate to “soul and spirit” in this context?
- From 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, what do you learn about the Lord’s work of salvation in a believer? [don’t rush your answer]
Personal reflection and prayer
- Sin results in destruction and death. Consider any particular destructive sin such as sexual perversion or substance abuse. In which way can you observe persistent sinful behavior affecting
- The body;
- The soul;
- The spirit? [hint: relationships are inherently spiritual]
- Now prayerfully consider your life in the light of the Lord’s ongoing work of restoration; how are you still in need of the Lord’s work of sanctification in
- Your body;
- Your soul;
- Your spirit?
- Personalize Paul’s prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, thanking the Lord that He is faithful and ask Him to restore and sanctify your body, soul and spirit as you have particular needs, and also ask him to preserve you wholly.
- What is your particular weakness or area where you are most frequently tempted? Confess it to the Lord, and ask Him to bring his Word to “pierce to the division of soul and of spirit… and discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” that you may know and desire what is His will.
The Aim of this devotional study is to grow in the knowledge and understanding the Holy Spirit’s function in our ongoing salvation.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
- As Paul starts to conclude his letter to the church in Thessaloniki he addresses the cultural acceptance of Greco-Roman immorality. From this text try to summarize
- his appeal to them (what should they do?) v1-7
- the motive of his appeal to them (why listen?) v3, 7
- the warning he gave them (what if they won’t obey?) v6
- the urgency of the situation (why is this important?) v8
- What is the link between the appeal to holy conduct, the warning of punishment and the indwelling Holy Spirit?
Application and prayer
- Paul is writing to Christians, reminding them of previous instructions (v1-2). Do you find it strange that they be reminded to walk in holiness now that they are saved? How do you relate, since we live a similar promiscuous world?
- Consider your own daily life with your thoughts, feelings, motives, relationships, actions, dreams – now think of Paul’s appeal “God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness… [He] gives us his Holy Spirit” (v7-8). What thoughts and feelings /convictions does that conjure up in you? Bring those thoughts and convictions in prayer to God – in confession or repentance or humble reflection.
James 4:4-5 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
- Consider also the similar instruction of James 4:4-5 above. We have discovered in the previous posts on Salvation that God has saved us from the sin, death and the world, marking us as his own through the seal of the Holy Spirit – setting us aside to and for himself. Spend time in prayer to reflect on this truth of salvation as being set aside for God, who has given his Spirit to live in us so we can have fellowship with him. How will this change your life today? Write down your thoughts and talk it through with a friend.
The Aim of this devotional study is to grow in understanding and appreciation for our salvation in Jesus Christ.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
- The gospel (according to Paul, refer 1 Cor 15) is simply the announcement of how God dealt with our separation from him (resulting in our sinful depravity and pending death) by giving his Son as a substation for our punishment and death, and subsequent victory over sin and death. Look at this text and write down what you can see about the gospel (“good news”) of our salvation.
- Some say that salvation is an event, other says it’s a process. What would you answer them out of this text?
- Some say that salvation is by faith only, other ay you have to do something. What would you answer them out of this text?
- Some say that God saves us, others say that we need to work with God. What would you answer them out of this text?
- In reference to the immediate context, what was Paul referring to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”?
- If someone asked you “how should I work out my salvation?” – what would you answer them?
- In a very practical, day-to-day way – how do you “work our your salvation”? And what aspect of your salvation are you working out at the moment? (Consider also what is the Lord busy with regarding your salvation?)
Thank the Lord that He “is always at work in us, giving you the desire and ability to fulfill his will” [Phil 2:13, NIV translation]. And ask Him what is busy with in your life – pray about that.
The Aim of this devotional study is to discover the process (sanctification) and completion (glorification) of our salvation.
1 Peter 1:3-9
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith–the salvation of your souls.
- What phrases that Peter use make you realize that you have been saved by grace, and through faith?
- What phrases that Peter use indicate that your salvation (and inheritance) is secure?
- What phrases that Peter use indicate that now at present God is working in various ways to work out your salvation?
- What phrases that Peter use point to a specific moment in the future when your salvation will be complete?
- Peter writes that hardships (in this case – religious persecution resulting imprisonment, poverty and even beatings) tests our faith. How does it test our faith, and what impact does it have on our salvation?
- Have you ever experienced that difficult times test your faith? When and how? (if not, do you know someone that went through such hardship? What do you know about their faith?)
Prayerfully reflect on your current life circumstances and your hope of an glorious inheritance in Christ. Paul wrote somewhere that “there light afflictions does not compare to the glory that awaits us in Christ”. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to the glorious inheritance in reserved for you Christ.