Tuesday, July 1, 2008

SOAP Study - 7/1/08 (1 Thess 1:6-10)


1 Thessalonians 1:6-7

"And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how your turned to God from idols to serve the living an true God, and to wait for his Song from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come."



"After we had come to you in this way you became imitators of us and we in turn are imitators of Jesus Christ. We know this to be true because when you received the message it was received with the joy of the Holy Spirit even though you were suffering from a great deal of trouble. Because of this you are an example and inspiration to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. In fact, we are hearing reports about your faith all over the place!!! It is to the point that we don't say any thing about you because people are telling us about how you placed your trust in God, how you turned from worshipping idols, and how you are now waiting for God's Son, who was raised from the dead, to come and save us from the wrath to come."

What is God saying?

Be an example!!!! Paul and those with him were examples to those in Thessalonica. Those in Thessalonica followed these examples and became an example to Christians all over. Everyone has influence over someone. It is important that we see ourselves as being examples. What kind of example? The same kind of example Jesus was. We are to be imitators of Him so that when people imitate us they in turn really become imitators of Him as well.

What is God saying to me?

Wow. This is one time where I might wish I wasn't blogging, but on the other hand, I don't really think I struggle with anything different then the rest of humanity.

One of the things that really sticks out about Jesus is his unswerving devotion and love to others. I don't think Jesus had a selfish bone in His body (of course the only way this could be is if He was 100% God as well as being 100% human). His entire being was focused on us. God has created us to be like Him.

There are far too many times where I only think about myself. As a Christian my life should be completely devoted to becoming more like Christ. As a husband my life should be dedicated to helping my wife become more like Christ. As a father my life should be dedicated to helping my children become more like Christ. As a pastor my life should be dedicated to helping others become more like Christ. As you can see the only thinking about myself should be in relation to becoming like Jesus who only thought about others. Part of my helping others be like Christ is setting the example.


This is where it hurts. Even though I realize that my life should be dedicated to becoming more like Jesus and helping others become more like Him, I constantly think of myself. I know that I will never completely get rid of this annoying part of me.

Let me digress just a bit. The Jews have an interesting concept of human nature called yetzer tov and yetzer ra. Yetzer means impulse. They have a dualist approach to human nature. They say that humans have two types of impulses. Yetzer tov represents the good impulse or moral conscience. As a Christian I now that Yetzer tov is really the Holy Spirit who reminds me of what is right. Yetzer ra is the carnal nature. In its purest and simplist form it is "the desire to satisfy personal needs without regard for the moral consequences of fulfilling those desires." (Judaism 101: Human Nature) Jews don't see this side of human nature as being bad but being a natural part that God created. Without it we could never survive.

Yetzer ra must be under the control of yetzer tov, or for us Christians who have understanding and know the truth, our carnal nature (the basic desire to meet needs) needs to be ruled by the Holy Spirit. Where we go wrong is when our carnal desires rule over our moral conscience.

I say all this because I too often allow my carnal nature to rule over my moral conscience. I come home, I am tired and need rest. My kids are loud, they haven't seen me all day and need some attention from Daddy. The Holy Spirit says "Spend some time with your kids." The carnal nature says "Get some rest." I have two options. I tell the carnal nature "I can get rest in a little while my kids need me," or I can send the Holy Spirit a message by saying "Will you kids shut up!!! I've had a long day at work and I can't take your noise!!! Just leave me alone!!!!."

Which one seems the better? I think it is a no brainer. So how do I need to apply this to my life. I need to be more conscious of the Holy Spirit. If I want to set an example for my wife, children and congregation I need to follow Jesus' example. Just as He listened to God I need to listen to the Holy Spirit even when my carnal nature is screaming at me.


God, I admit that I am a very selfish person. I all to often allow my carnal nature to overrule what the Holy Spirit is telling me. I really do want to be an example to those around me. I really do want to become more like you. The only way it is going to happen is through your power. I am powerless to change these things about myself. I am in desperate need of your help. Thank you for hearing my prayer.

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