We request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 1 Thessalonians 4:1 NASB
Paul was pleased with what he heard about the Thessalonians. They were living in ways indicating that they had grasped the essence of the Gospel. But he also knew they still needed to improve.
There were lifestyle issues about which they needed to be sensitive and areas where they could be misled. They had to be aware of Satan s traps and realize how harmful these could be. They needed to become more alert, stronger in the Spirit and better equipped to avoid dangers. To seek to experience even more of God’s blessings.
While the Thessalonians were committed to walk in the right manner, Paul also knew how easily they could stagnate. He knew how much more God had prepared for them. He wanted them to excel still more. The Greek words Paul used indicated they could superabound. Go far beyond what they had been doing.
It was important that they keep growing. Always seeking to please God. Always being teachable and willing to learn. Always sensitive to His correction and leading.
Paul might well say the same things about us. He might be pleased about some aspects of our lives, while reminding us that we, too, can excel still more. There is more we can learn. More ways we can grow in Christ and be more refined by the Spirit. More ways we can be better testimonies and impact more lives for the Gospel. More ways we can superabound and excel still more.
Streams In The Desert
For our profit (Heb. 12:10).
In one of Ralph Connor’s books he tells a story of Gwen. Gwen was a wild, wilful lassie and one who had always been accustomed to having her own way. Then one day she met with a terrible accident which crippled her for life. She became very rebellious and in the murmuring state she was visited by the Sky Pilot, as the missionary among the mountaineers was termed. He told her the parable of the canyon.
“At first there were no canyons, but only the broad, open prairie. One day the Master of the Prairie, walking over his great lawns, where were only grasses, asked the Prairie, ‘Where are your flowers?’ and the Prairie said, ‘Master I have no seeds.’
“Then he spoke to the birds, and they carried seeds of every kind of flower and strewed them far and wide, and soon the prairie bloomed with crocuses and roses and buffalo beans and the yellow crowfoot and the wild sunflowers and the red lilies all summer long. Then the Master came and was well pleased; but he missed the flowers he loved best of all, and he said to the Prairie: ‘Where are the clematis and the columbine, the sweet violets and wind-flowers, and all the ferns and flowering shrubs?’
“And again he spoke to the birds, and again they carried all the seeds and scattered them far and wide. But, again, when the Master came he could not find the flowers he loved best of all, and he said: “‘Where are those my sweetest flowers?’ and the Prairie cried sorrowfully: “‘Oh, Master, I cannot keep the flowers, for the winds sweep fiercely, and the sun beats upon my breast, and they wither up and fly away.’
“Then the Master spoke to the Lightning, and with one swift blow the Lightning cleft the Prairie to the heart. And the Prairie rocked and groaned in agony, and for many a day moaned bitterly over the black, jagged, gaping wound. But the river poured its waters through the cleft, and carried down deep black mould.
“And once more the birds carried seeds and strewed them in the canyon. And after a long time the rough rocks were decked out with soft mosses and trailing vines, and all the nooks were hung with clematis and columbine, and great elms lifted their huge tops high up into the sunlight, and down about their feet clustered the low cedars and balsams, and everywhere the violets and wind-flower and maiden-hair grew and bloomed, till the canyon became the Master’s favorite place for rest and peace and joy.”
Then the Sky Pilot read to her: “The fruit–I’ll read ‘flowers’–of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness–and some of these grow only in the canyon.” “Which are the canyon flowers?” asked Gwen softly, and the Pilot answered: “Gentleness, meekness, longsuffering; but though the others, love, joy, peace, bloom in the open, yet never with so rich a bloom and so sweet a perfume as in the canyon.”
For a long time Gwen lay quite still, and then said wistfully, while her lips trembled: “There are no flowers in my canyon, but only ragged rocks.” “Some day they will bloom, Gwen dear; the Master will find them, and we, too, shall see them.”
By: Charles Spurgeon
“Zealous of good works” Titus 2:14
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 2:8-15
It would be a good thing, perhaps, if we went back to Wesley’s rule, to come out from the world in our apparel, and to dress as plainly and neatly as the Quakers, though alas! they have sadly gone from their primitive simplicity. I am obliged to depart a little sometimes, from what we call the high things of the gospel; for really the children of God cannot now be told by outward appearance from the children of the devil, and they really ought to be; there should be some distinction between the one and the other; and although religion allows distinction of rank and dress, yet everything in the Bible cries out against our arraying ourselves, and making ourselves proud, by reason of the goodliness of our apparel. Some will say, “I wish you would leave that alone!” Of course you do, because it applies to yourself. But we let nothing alone which we believe to be in the Scriptures; and while I would not spare any man’s soul, honesty to every man’s conscience, and honesty to myself, demands that I should always speak of that which I see to be an evil breaking out in the Church. We should always take care that in everything we keep as near as possible to the written Word. If you want ornaments here they are. Here are jewels, rings, dresses, and all kinds of ornament; men and women, you may dress yourselves up till you shine like angels. How can you do it? By dressing yourselves out in benevolence, in love to the saints, in honesty and integrity, in uprightness, in godliness, in brotherly-kindness, in charity. These are the ornaments which angels themselves admire, and which even the world will admire; for men must give admiration to the man or the woman who is arrayed in the jewels of a holy life and godly conversation. I beseech you, brethren, “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”