Cup Prayer – This prayer will help you pour your heart out to God (Ps. 62:8). Begin with your hands folded together like an upside-down cup. Pour out before God all your fears, anxieties, guilt, sin, and shame. Tell Him what troubles you. Take time to be specific. When you feel like you’ve poured out your heart, flip your hands over, folding them like an open cup, ready to receive from God. Sit in silence, asking God simply to fill you with His Spirit. If your mind runs back to sin, shame, anxiety, or concerns of the day, flip your hands back over and pour it out to the Lord. When you are finished praying, read today’s Scripture and listen as God shares His heart back with you.
For more help use this Bible Study method
by Mary Alice McGinnis
How would you define an enigma? The Oxford dictionary defines it as “a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.”
On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, those of us who are old enough to remember the events of that day know, it was an enigma in the worse kind of way. As we watched the events unfold on our televisions or computers, we were horrifically puzzled, perplexed, and yearned for answers as to how something like this could happen. The cruel devastation that was unleashed upon our country that day left a mark on all of us.
The church at Thessalonica was also experiencing hardship. It is not clear exactly what their circumstances were, but we do know from the book of Acts (17:1-10) that this body of believers was birthed in and through persecution.
The apostle Paul writes to them, “Therefore, we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.” 2 Thessalonian 1:4
The next sentence is puzzling and begs for deeper understanding.
Paul says, “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.”
He says, this suffering, this hardship, this persecution they were suffering is evidence or PROOF of something. Another translation says, “It is the plain indication.”
What is their steadfast, enduring faith evidence of?
The righteous judgment of God.
This word EVIDENCE in the original language, Greek, is the word endeigma.
Does that seem like a mystery, puzzling enigma to you?
In the Divine Courtroom where God is the good and perfect Judge of all, how does remaining steadfast in their faith provide conclusive proof of God’s righteous judgment?
In their suffering and persecution, they knew they did not measure up on their own. And neither do we. We all know we are not worthy of God’s hand of blessing but only deserved His punishment. Yet, God counted them righteous, and therefore worthy of the Kingdom of God because of Jesus.
We too can have this same confidence of righteousness before God when we trust that because of Jesus we too have been declared “NOT GUILTY” in God’s Divine Courtroom.
Therefore, as the Thessalonians were suffering, they became an enigma. They did not give up, they did not get crushed under the weight of their persecution, they held steadfast to their faith. They did not allow the judgment or retribution of earthly accusers to dissuade them.
Philippians 1:28 says, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ . . . striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”
What stories of Christians of faith enduring suffering, remaining steadfast in the faith encourage you? How are they an enigma to the world around them? How is God using these as evidence that He will indeed come again in all His Righteousness? How does this encourage you today? Lord, thank You for counting us worthy of the Kingdom of God through Your sacrifice of Jesus for us. You alone guard and keep us through faith until You come again. Use our lives as a shining beacon of conclusive evidence of Your Glorious Righteousness.