THINK: We all know that life can be unfair. For Jesus' followers, it can seem even more so in a world that persis- tently defies God and opposes His people. But God's Word assures us that in the end, justice will be served and everything will work out right for those who know God. While that should give comfort as we endure difficulty and opposition, it should also stir in us compassion for those who don't know God and are headed their own way toward judgment and destruction. While there is still time, those of us who know the way to God and have experienced His mercy must do all we can to lead others to the truth, regardless of the injustices we may encounter in the process.
RESPOND: What does it take for your faith in God to keep growing and your love for others to continually increase (v. 3)? How can this happen through "persecutions and trials" (v. 4)? In what way did the Thessalonians' faithfulness to God through intense persecution demonstrate God's justice? (See 1:5 note.) As a result, how would God respond to the Thessalonians and how would He respond to their persecutors (cf. v. 6-7)? When will God demonstrate both sides of His justice - salvation for His people and judgment on His enemies? (See 1:7 note.) What will ultimately become of those who do not know God? (See 1:9 note.) When and how will Christ ultimately "be glorified in his holy people"? (See 1:10 note.) In what way will Jesus' followers be glorified in Him (v. 12)?
PRAY: Ask God to help your faith in Him to grow and your love for Him and others to increase. Pray that you recognize and capitalize on opportunities He provides for you to grow spiritually, particularly through difficult times. Give God thanks for His justice that ultimately will reward faithfulness and punish wickedness.
ACT: Find a practical way to demonstrate faith in God today. Take a bold step and do or say something to honor Christ - something you might not have attempted without this challenge. Also, find a practical way to demonstrate God's love to someone who already follows Jesus and to someone who doesn't.
THINK: In many ways, the world is in desperate shape, and it's only going to get worse. While that's no cause for alarm among those who will be rescued from God's impending judgment, it is a cause for urgency and compassion. We must not stand idly by while the world brings disaster on itself. It's not our place to pass judgment; God will do that in His time. For now, we must remain faithful to Christ, letting our lives serve as a gracious warning of things to come. For some, this will feed their misguided notion that Christians are a scourge on society. But they can't imagine the chaos that will come when the Church's influence is gone and God's Spirit steps back and allows evil to run it's brutal course among those who rejected God. Before that time comes, let God use you to influence as many as pos- sible to accept the truth. That may bring persecution for you now, but it can spare others from destruction forever.
RESPOND: What is "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" to which verse 1 refers? (See 2:1 note.) Why had some people become "unsettled or alarmed" (v. 2) about that time, and what assurance did Paul give them? (See 2:2 note.) What will signal the arrival of "the day of the Lord"? (See 2:2 note.) What sequence of events will surround this end-time period? (See 2:3 note.) What is "the rebellion" (v. 3) Paul refers to? Who is "the man of lawlessness" (v. 3), what will he do (v. 4), and what will ultimately happen to him? (See article on The Age of the Antichrist, p. 1760.) Who or what is currently "holding him back" and why? (See 2:6 note.) When and how will this restraining influ- ence be "taken out of the way" (v. 7)? What is "the secret power of lawlessness" and how is it already at work in the world? (See 2:7 note.) How and when will the Lord overthrow the man of lawlessness? (See 2:8 note.) Who will "the lawless one" (v. 9) deceive and how will he do it? (See 2:10 note.) What does it mean that God will send "a powerful delusion" on those "who have not believed the truth"? (See 2:11 note.) Why will God do this? (See 2:12 note.) What does it mean that "God chose you" (v. 13), and what does your choice have to do with this? (See 2:13 note.) How can you continue to "stand firm" (v. 15) and what "eternal encouragement and good hope" has God given to help you?
PRAY: Give God thanks for hope and comfort regarding Jesus' return. Pray for people you know who aren't follow- ing Jesus. Ask God to help you influence them to accept His truth so they won't be deceived in the days ahead.
ACT: Go through the day with a strong awareness of how many people are spiritually deceived. Be prepared for God to use you to convey - and to demonstrate - God's truth. In all you say and do, be conscious of the fact that you are reflecting God's character and setting an example of what it means to follow Jesus.