Ever been given really bad advice? It happens. We're told some magical food will make us better and instead it makes us worse. Or, we're advised poorly on how to handle a relational dilemma and realize too late we listened to the wrong person. Well. There's One we can always go to for good advice, and that's God Himself. Sharon and Nicole will get practical, today, as they examine what Paul has to say to the Thessalonians. It's amazing how applicable it is for our own lives today. Listen in!
Speaker 1 (00:02):
It is time for a pause in your day. Welcome to a podcast where we press the pause button on our busy lives for a few moments, and we focus on God’s word with Sharon and Nicole. We pray this is a time of refreshing for you. The Sweet Selah Moments Podcast is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. This is episode 117, “God Pleasing Advice.” We’re going to give practical today! Paul is full of great advice on how to live wisely in troubled times. But, before we get to Paul’s advice to the Thessalonians, let’s talk about advice in general. Not all advice is helpful. Sharon, have you ever been given bad advice?
Oh, yes. You know, sometimes just looking at the cover of a women’s magazine is hysterically funny. ’cause on the same cover you’ll hear, ‘How to make the decadent chocolate cake’ with, you know, 10,000 calories in one bite. And then the next article will say, ‘Are you feeling like you’re eating too many sweets?’ And you’re like, okay. So in some magazines they’re like, ‘What kind of advice do you feel like today? Do you feel indulgent? We’ll advise you on how to eat rich chocolate. Do you feel, um, stringent? Let us help you diet.’ So,
Any advice you want, just pick it from the cover!
Yes! Just choose your advice and turn to the right page. That’s good. So, but more seriously, when I was first married to Ray, we had the, I guess, normal adjustment to being married. And I was not doing well with Ray. I was quite unhappy with him. Poor baby. He worked tons of hours. He’s in the military; it’s not like he could come home until his guy, what do you call it? The colonel could release him. Sure. But in my opinion, if he says he’s coming home at five, he should be home at five. Right. So I found a million little things to be sad about. Plus, as you know, Ray is a truth teller. And it took me awhile to get used to him telling me truth, like, “would you like to walk?” “No.” You know, he’s just very blunt answers. So anyways, I really like him now, so it’s all good.
I’m so glad.
Back in the early days, it was really hard and I had two good friends who will remain unnamed. One friend was kind of a man hater, you know? She just didn’t like men and she did not like Ray. Yeah. And she was giving me the advice, literally at one year of marriage, ‘you need to divorce him’.
No kidding. Like, you deserve better than this. I can’t believe he treats you this way. And, you know, just picking up on every negative thing I said and, and expanding it into something, it wasn’t.
And then I had this quiet other friend, so gentle, and she’d say, “well, why do you think he did that, Sharon?” And I’m like, how dare you make me think of Ray’s perspective.
I don’t wanna think about why! It hurt!
Exactly. Or what do you think the Lord would have you do?
That’s the question.
Yes. Had I listened to the first one, I would not be married to my bestest best friend who makes me happy just about every day now.
So I’m so thankful. I listened to the quiet, annoying one. Who would not back me up with my whininess, but forced me to see my husband’s side, so,
Oh, that’s so good.
That’s my story. That was my bad advice. How about you?
Uh, same bad marriage advice. It feels like marriage and raising kids, people always have lots of advice to offer, whether you want it or not. And sometimes you’re like, where did this come from? But we were married fairly young. Um, not terribly, but pretty young. And everyone at my work, my patients and even some of my coworkers were like, “Wow, you’re so young. Well, it’s okay. Your first marriage is for practice. Second marriage is for money. Third marriage, that one’s for love.” And I just stared at them like, I don’t want three marriages. I just want this one. Like, I’m gonna skip to three and just say, this one’s for love and we’ll just do our best.
There you go. Josh can be 1, 2, 3, all in one person.
Yes. But I couldn’t believe that they were just like, oh, it’s fine. It’s just practice. I’m like, oh gosh. I don’t know if I think that.
Isn’t that wild.
Yeah. And then I got some pretty bizarre parenting advice too. Um, my firstborn was awake during the day, and I’m sorry, she would sleep for most of the day, and be awake all throughout the night. And I was exhausted.
Exhausted. And I don’t remember if someone told me this, or probably read it online, but you’re supposed to like flip your baby upside down to reverse their day and night. It helped to flip them up and put them back where they were supposed to be. And I’m like, what? Even sleep deprived that did not seem wise to somersault my two week old baby.
That is hysterical. You just never know. You know, all advice is not good.
No. And where it comes from, and I, sometimes it’s well-intentioned and sometimes it’s not. It comes from a place of either bitterness or bad experience. You gotta be careful with advice.
We absolutely do. I so agree. Oh my goodness. Well, we’ll turn from bad advice to guaranteed good advice.
That sounds great.
I know. Whenever we read God’s words in the Bible, we’re safe, Nicole. We can trust him. These readings are always my favorite part, because we can’t mess up when we’re reading God’s words.
Our words are fallible, but Gods are not. These are our sweet Selah moments. I love it. So start us off. Let’s go to the good advice.
All right. So we’re gonna be reading good advice from First Thessalonians 4, 1 through 12 today. And I’m gonna start with verse one. “So finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus, to live in a way that pleases God as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more’
“For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. “
“God’s will is for you to be holy. So stay away from all sexual sin,”
“then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor.”
“Not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.”
“Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife. For the Lord avenges all such sins as we have solemnly warned you before. “
“God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives.”
“Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching, but is rejecting God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”
“But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another.”
“Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more.”
“Make it your goal to live a quiet life minding your own business and working with your hands just as we instructed you before.”
“Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live and you will not need to depend on others.” This is wild. Wow. Wow. Okay, let’s examine each verse one at a time. And Nicole, you’re up first.
All right. So verse one again is, “finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus, to live in a way that pleases God as we have taught you, you live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more.” So I appreciate how, first off, Paul is urging from a good place, the place to please God. So he says, in the name of the Lord Jesus, I urge you to live this way so that it pleases God. It won’t please the people around you. It doesn’t show off anything. And it doesn’t give glory to Paul. Like, ‘Hey, my little, my cute little Christian Church doing good.’
That’s a good point. “Do it for Paul”; he doesn’t say that, does he?
Right. He says, “to please God.” So I love that. And then at the end, he says, you live this way already and we encourage you to do so even more. So I like that he’s recognizing that they’ve already done well.
And I think as a mom, when I tell my kids, if I kind of blanket like, ‘Hey, you guys have been really bad about taking care of your dishes.’ One always pipes up, ‘But I put mine away yesterday and Thursday.’ And they’re so disappointed. We don’t see any of those little good things. So, Paul saw, Hey, you live this way already and we encourage you to do so even more.
I love that. ’cause that’s positive. And you’re right. It doesn’t negate the effort that has been there.
Right, even if it’s not the best effort. We’re still, I see that you’re trying. So I thought that was good of him to do.
Oh, I think that’s good advice for me. I ought to remember that. Okay. Verse two. “For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.” Well, the word ‘remember’ stood out to me. First of all, um, we need to be in the Bible a lot so we remember. I forget that I’m supposed to pray blessing on my enemies, conveniently. Right. But there are things that I need to remember. I need to remember that I’m supposed to be slow to take offense and I’m actually supposed to prefer others ahead of me. Um, we don’t, we don’t remember unless we’re reminded. So it just, it pulled me back to the word that what remember what we taught you and I need to remember what Paul taught them. And what the Bible says about it.
Oh, that’s good.
And then he says, “by the authority of the Lord Jesus.” So, um, Jesus’s authority is behind this. And you know, a lot of things I was saying that were hard just a minute ago were from the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is actually really hard stuff, so much of it.
Blessed are you, when you’re persecuted, be happy when people are mean to you. You know, it’s so funny. Living the Christian life is easier if you avoid it actually. But um, but it’s not right and it’s not good. So by the authority of Jesus, we need to obey the words he says. Even the hard words. Especially the hard words.
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that’s good. So then verse three says, “God’s will is for you to be holy. So stay away from all sexual sin.” So I think he points this one out specifically. It’s because sexual sin can be so consuming.
And I feel like it takes a lot of other sins in order to pull it off. Whether it’s an affair, you have to be coveting or envying, um, lying if you’re, you know, anytime you have, if it’s a sexual sin, it’s outside the context of what God intended, in a, um, in a marriage. So anytime you do that outside of it, I think there’s gonna be a lot of other sins to get there. And the consequences for that one is so high.
Yes. It is.
So much higher than many of the other ones. So, and you’re also messing with the possibility of creating a life.
I don’t think God takes that lightly either. ’cause then it opens up a whole new mess that you have to decide and that life could be in jeopardy. So I think he’s bringing that one up because, um, that can be a really bad one. And I think the culture of that time, which is the next verse, I’ll wait for the next verse elaborates some more on it.
You’ll segue to me. It’s funny how, it seems like all cultures struggle with sexual sin.
Isn’t that fascinating? It’s, it’s a strong drive in us and it’s. Good within marriage and it can…
Necessary for life. But…
… and there is that part of it too. Yes. But it can wreak havoc as well.
I thought you said that really, really well. I hadn’t thought of the fact that sexual sin also means you’ve committed other sins.
It’s not, it’s not usually a standalone thing.
Yeah. Thank you for that. Oh, that’s well done, Nicole. Okay. So moving on to verse four, “then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor.”
So, you know, it’s interesting. We are called to control our bodies.
And for a long, long time, I let, um, my body control me when it came to food. I ate for comfort, I ate for pleasure. If one piece of chocolate cake tasted good, two might taste better. Right. And, uh, I ate without even thinking about eating. And it took a long time and a lot of gaining of weight for me to wake up and realize, whoa. I don’t think I’m in control of my body here. I think my body’s controlling me. And the Bible’s pretty clear. We are, we are to control our bodies.
We are to take our ability through the Holy Spirit to say no to them. That’s why God asks for fasting sometimes. So that we just don’t allow cravings to become addictions. Right?
Yeah. No, that’s good.
‘Cause they can so easily. So, real important that we do that in many areas, but in this case, he’s talking about in sexual sin. We can control our bodies.
We can, yes.
We, we like to think I couldn’t help it. We actually can. Um, and to live in holiness and honor, I love that because in holiness and honor, there’s no shame. Holiness is purity. It’s a set apartness. It’s a wonderful goal. Are we all holy all the time? Oh, that would be no.
It’s a big no there.
Yeah. Yeah. Big.
No. But when we are, it feels so nice and free.
That’s why we have confession of sin. Yes. But, but that state of holiness, which we can achieve whenever we ask forgiveness and God washes us clean, there we are again. Holy washes away the shame. So if we control our bodies, we don’t let them pull us in directions we should not go. There won’t be shame. There’ll be holiness and honor.
Oh, that’s so good. Yeah.
Oh, I mean, it’s a good thing. You don’t wanna think of it just negatively.
It’s a good thing.
It’s a good thing. I forget sometimes like our body, our, our actual physical body is the flesh that we wrestle against. You know, like our spirit is new. But our body still is used to wanting to do bad things with like, kind of like, no body, you don’t need that cake. You don’t need that sexual sin. Focus.
And it is a battle.
It is for sure. We’ll fight it to the day we die.
yesss, we will.
So verse five, “not in lustful passion, like the pagans who do not know God and his ways”. So same thing. So in this culture, at the time, I believe there, the way they worshiped in the temples was with prostitutes, and other terrible manners of sexual sins. So that was very common and accepted at that time. So around them, the worship services that were being held were completely opposite of what God called them to do.
So I think that’s why, another reason why Paul might have pointed that one out, like, this is not how you’re supposed to worship. The pagans do not know God. They do not know his ways. And even that was said with some, some grace,
Like they don’t know. And like all those terrible, disgusting heathens, they don’t know God. They don’t know His ways. You are called to live apart, to show them the difference. But it was just such a beautiful way to talk about…
It was gentle, wasn’t it?
… something really heavy and and ugly. So, yeah.There was a lot going on at that time for those new believers.
Yeah. No kidding. I love that thought too, that, um, God does not want women ’cause usually, or, or little boys or what whatever they were doing in the temple with people. He doesn’t want them violated. Our God wants to protect people from being marketed.
And I just about guarantee you that the temple prostitutes were not like all jazzed about their job
Right, right. Yeah.
A lot of them were probably forced into it. And I just love that our God values every human.
Oh, so good. All right. Verse six. “Never.” So now never is a strong word here. “Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife. The Lord avenges all such sins as we have solemnly warned you before.” So sad when sexual sin is within the church.
I’m wondering, Paul wrote to the Corinthians about a sexual sin in their church. I don’t know if he was thinking of that or I almost feel like he’d seen it somewhere because he’s so firm. Why would you do this? Why would you take a fellow believer’s wife and violate her in that way? You know, don’t do this. God is angry when you do this. He’s… God is a loving, merciful God, but God does not like to see people abused. No, he absolutely does not. So we have to be in guard on, in guard, on guard about our feelings for others. And I think that’s really important. I’ll remember one time I went to, there was a prayer meeting at our church, and um, I went to the prayer meeting. I really wanted to go to the prayer meeting. And the only one there was, um, my pastor and there was no one else. And we sat there for a little bit, and then we’re both like, no.
No. If no one else comes praying, especially such an intimate thing to do. And I didn’t like, have any feelings for him, and I doubt he did for me. However, you don’t wanna gain them. And by being in a position of vulnerability like that, where we’re, you know, pouring out our hearts. It wasn’t wise.
It could open the door to possibly something. But maybe not, but possibly something in all appearances of evil.
And so, don’t walk down that path. And we both kinda mutally agreed and left!
That was that.
Yeah. So anyways, that’s, and that comes from verses like this; just back away from that far. I’d rather be silly…
… and be far away than, you know, walk to the edge that way.
Dance that line. No, I hear you. So the last verse says, “God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives.” So after all of these fairly heavy warnings, he just reminds us again, like what is God has called us to more, he’s called us to more. And sometimes it’s hard, but he wants us to live holy lives.
He does. Verse eight says, “therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching, but is rejecting God.” Whoa.
That’s a big one.
That’s a big one. “Who gives this Holy Spirit to you.” So this isn’t just Paul being fussy, this is God saying, do not do this. So that was clear.
That was very clear. And then nine says, “but we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other for God himself has taught you to love one another.” That was really neat. And I love how you, he can see the Holy Spirit working. And he points it out like, God’s already working this out in you. You’re already loving others. And that’s gonna be a comfort for Paul, who’s giving so much of himself to go around and be a missionary to these people. Start these churches, he longs for them, worries for these people, prays over them. And he sees growth because God does the growing, he does the increasing.
That’s gotta be encouraging to Paul. And then he passed on that encouragement to them like, ‘Hey…
You sure did.
… I see God working in you!’
And after that heavy lecture. It’ so nice to think, okay, so he doesn’t think we’re all doing bad things. He’s just warning us against them. He thinks we actually love. Well, yeah. And that’s reassuring because we can sometimes read into what people say the worst. Can’t we? The worst motivation.
That’s a really good point.
Yeah. So how, how clever of Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) to follow up the, the sternness with a ‘But you love each other so well.’
But you love each other well. That’s good.
So then he kind of expands on it in verse 10. “Indeed you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more”.
I love that.
What is that?! You’re doing great, now do it even more. Right. It makes me think of, um, when he talks, I think it’s in Ephesians where he says, I want you to know the height and width and depth and breadth of God’s love for you. You know, the love is so much bigger than we can even wrap our mind around. So we can always learn to do it more. We just can.
I don’t think we can ever love too much and I don’t think love ever depletes us, like serving or like other, the other spiritual gifts we can kind of overuse sometimes on our own strengths. I don’t think we can ever overuse love. Ever.
It’s so wonderful. Oh my goodness.
And then verse 11 says, “make it your goal to live a quiet life minding your own business and working with your hands just as we instructed you before.” So I just recently found this verse like two years ago. It was in my quiet time. And I’m like, oh, this is a great verse!
This should be like my motto for life. Like, here’s God’s will for your life.
Make it your goal to live a quiet life. Like, whoa, that sounds lovely. But if you think about this, like how beautifully simple our lives would be if we did this, if we just
Live simply, minded our own business, worked with our hands, what God gave us to do, it just would be a much better place.
It sure would. I love that. Mind your own business. We get into trouble when we start minding other people’s business.
Oh we do!
We love minding theirs and not our own more, I don’t know why.
It’s so true. And not everybody’s happy with us poking into their business. Ah, oh, it’s a great verse. So, and then verse 12 says, “then, you know, if we do this, if we do the quiet life, if we mind our own business. If we work with our hands, then people who are not believers will respect the way you live and you will not need to depend on others.” You know, I always go back to my neighborhood with this. ‘Cause I, I, it’s so silly, but I wrote down on this one: clean your yard. Put the trash out. Pick up the litter. Don’t be needy. Be a good neighbor. You know, part of making it your business to be quiet and just thoughtful is in your own neighborhood. I want, I don’t need to be the fanciest house on the block and trust me, I’m not , but the, the yard should be mowed. There shouldn’t be, you know, old car parts sitting all over the front of it.
I wanna be respectful of my neighbors and just make sure my own little plot is as it ought to be.
As well tended. Oh, I like that.
Well, it says that you’ll not need to depend on others. And I don’t think that, like you’ve talked about times and I’ve talked about times of need where God has provided for us. And fellow Christians have blessed us. That’s different. Not need to depend on others. I think if we’re always in other people’s business and busy and not doing the work God has given us, being faithful, we’re gonna run into some crisises, err crises. And people are gonna feel like, they’re like, oh, help me. I need this. Oh, help me. And we’re gonna be the needy people that are always running around frantic. And God doesn’t, that’s not a good witness.
It is not.
We don’t wanna be that, like you said, being a good neighbor, like being able to take care of ourselves and, and help others if they need it.
So. Yes. Exactly.
Its a good way to live. Yeah,
Absolutely. And there will be times of neediness. You’re right. Yeah. But, but we don’t wanna create them right out of our own silliness. Yes.
That’s a good distinction.
All right. Here we go to our questions now. What was my favorite verse and why? Well, Nicole, what was your favorite verse?
Let’s see. So my was verse 11. I really like that one. I think it’s a great reminder. Um, and I’ll read it again. “Make it your goal to live a quiet life minding your own business and working with your hands just as we instructed you before.” Um, it just reminds me to do what God has placed before me.
Eyes to my little furrow, my little row that I’m planting. Focus
Stay in your own lane.
And not get distracted.
I love it. I love it. Well, I chose verse two. For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. Mostly just because I’m so big on not ever thinking I know the Bible so well. I don’t have to read it. You know what I mean? I just need to be reminded. So back to it, back to it. Back to what he teaches me every day.
So that was mine.
I like that.
So, all Right. Well, I’ll start the question two, which is, what did we learn about God from this passage? Well, I, I found three things. Number one: God values sexual purity.
He surely does. He’s clear. Number two: God asks me to control my body. I’m told to do it. I know he helps me do it, but I’m asked to do it. That’s the command.
And number three: God himself teaches me to love others. Which is really good, ’cause I could not do it without his help.
We need a really good teacher for that one.
‘Cause that one’s really hard sometimes. Oh goodness. So I got what did I learn? Okay. Love each other. Oh no, that was the last one. Sorry. He works in people’s hearts. I like that. God changes them. He works. We can do all of the best. I’m sure Paul was a wonderful teacher. And a wonderful letter writer. We love reading his letters now, but ultimately God was teaching them to love each other. He worked in their hearts. So God does the work. I like that.
I like that too. I think that’s awesome. Yeah. Okay. What did we learn about living wisely in troubled times? I have to keep coming back to ‘that’s the title of the series.’
And, and it’s so good because so much of what he’s talking about, even the sexual sins you know, it’s every, it’s every generation apparently, you know?
Even way back then we thought they were so much better.
So we live in troubled times too. What did we learn about it? So I’ll let you start and you kind of cheated and went ahead, but go back to it.
New Speaker (25:28):
I did, I did!
What did you learn about living wisely in troubled times?
Yes. So love each other. Live a quiet life and mind your own business and do your own work
And do your homework.
Do your own work!
Stick to your own things. Work with your hands what God has given you. So that verse again, I just keep going back to that verse. You know.
It really does make life simpler when you’re like, okay, well what’s my next thing? Elizabeth Elliot used to say that over… and I have actually been overwhelmed lately. ‘Cause at the recording of this, by the time it’s actually aired, we’ll be way past the retreat. But we’re recording it before the retreat and things just keep coming at us, you know…
and all those little last minute things
… my broken printer, which took an entire day to fix and all that, and I just have to remember, just do the next thing. I don’t have to worry about all the rest of it. Stay in my lane. Yes. Do what God’s asked me to do this day. Trust him for tomorrow.
I don’t have to, you know, be running around worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. The half of them won’t happen. You know.
It’s true. I know. It’s so true.
Just behave yourself where you are, Sharon.
That’s a good one. I like that. So, um, I, I learned about living wisely in troubled times. It’s easy to do what feels good. And that’s kind of the mantra of our culture to, it feels good; you be you. You know, all that stuff. And although in some ways there’s truth to that, God made us uniquely and individually. And we are to be the best us we can be. It also can lead to indulgence, where there shouldn’t be indulgence. We’re supposed to be set apart holy. We’re not supposed to look like everybody else. We’re supposed to be the ones that do say no. Gently, that do love ridiculously. That do all the things that reminds me of Romans 12, one where Paul says, I urge you brothers and sisters to offer your bodies as living sacrifices and it’s your spiritual form of worship. Uh, this is how you know God’s will when you offer yourselves to him. Yeah. You know? So living in such a way in troubled times where, where every day I’m in the word and I’m offering myself in the morning. Lord left to myself, you and I both know how that’s gonna go. So,
I stray very quickly.
So help me to be a surrendered vessel. Help me to control my body. Help me to do the hard right thing that I know in the end will bring joy and not sorrow.
No, that’s good.
Oh, Paul’s so smart. He is because he’s inspired by the Holy Spirit. Well, let me pray for us. Lord, I thank you for good advice. Father, I am so grateful for advice I can trust. Lord, you made us, you wired us. You are perfect in every way. What you tell me I can trust. Help us all Lord, to live wisely even when the times are troubled. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Amen. Paul was very clear and firm on his advice this week, wasn’t he? I love God’s unmistakable words that tell me how to live wisely. It’s good to know what he wants of us. May we all please him in the way we live this week. We’d love to hear from you. Write us anytime at sweetselah.org/podcast. We would be very grateful for your donation of any amount you can donate at sweetselah.org/donations. Write podcast partner on the memo line and get our monthly email newsletter. We love our podcast partners. Come back next week for episode 118, “Facing Death With Hope”. We may not like talking about death, but it is a reality in every single one of our lives. The uniqueness of the Christian faith is found in how Christians view death and resurrection. Next week, we talk about the sure hope we have in Jesus. See you then!
Speaker 1 (29:23):
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. The Sweet Selah Moments Podcast is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast can be found at sweetselah.org. Thank you for joining us.
You can download and print the transcript here.