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BUSY BEE

2 THESSALONIANS 2:9

that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,” 

Busy! Busy! Busy! Have you ever been so busy you lose track of time? That happens to me sometimes. I run from meeting to meeting and before I know it, it’s bedtime. Being busy isn’t a bad thing unless you are busy doing things that don’t really have an eternal purpose. That’s the point of today’s devotional.

The word “activity” in today’s verse is used eight times in the New Testament, all by Paul. But the interesting thing about today’s verse is that this is the ONLY time it is used when it doesn’t refer to God’s energy or activity. Here it’s talking about Satan’s activity. You have to remember, though, that Satan can only do what God allows him. So, this lawless man Paul is referring to in this chapter is on the same leash with Satan.

APPLICATION

Are your kids busy? Does your little Johnny wake up fully charged for the day and not stop until he drops? My fourteen-month-old granddaughter is that way. She will play and run until she literally passes out. Busy, busy, busy!  One of our goals as parents (or grandparents) is to teach our children to be busy about God’s things. There is so much stuff in the world that can distract us. Before we know it, we don’t have time for God.

Give your children some activities to do that will cause them to think about God. Hey, even chores can be done for His glory. Make sure that their daily schedules include some time to learn about and live out the Word. Don’t let the activity of Satan get a grip in your home through busyness.

Look at your calendar today and see how busy you are. Do you have 25 minutes to spend alone with the Lord? Find the time. You need it. You need to spend alone time with the Creator of the universe. Slow down. Get rid of some distractions. Take a deep breath.

Lord, I like staying busy. But help me point all my activities towards You. Don’t let me get sidetracked by the enemy and get engaged in his activities unknowingly.

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BAD BREATH

2 THESSALONIANS 2:8

“Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;” 

Excuse my thought process, lol. But I just could not resist when I read this verse. I am NOT insinuating that the Lord will have bad breath. But, unlike His first appearance on earth, He will be one “bad” dude when He returns. He won’t come as baby. He will come as Ruler and Judge. And this lawless one will pay the price simply by the breath of His mouth.

Now, that word “breath” is the Greek word pneuma, which can also be translated as spirit. In fact, it is the same word used in the title of “Holy Spirit.” I don’t think that is a coincidence, do you? The very breath of God, the very Spirit of God will slay the lawless one. No weapon is needed.

APPLICATION

Here is the great part of that verse. That same “breath” of the Lord is living in us as believers. We have that power coursing through us every day, if we just tap into it. Now, we aren’t going to slay someone with our breath (unless we have been eating a lot of garlic). But the Lord stands ready to defeat any enemy we face. All we have to do is mention His name, and the enemy flees.

We need to teach our children the importance on relying on the Lord to fight their battles. Surrender to Him first, allow Him to work in their lives, and He will stand ready to defend us. He will protect His children, just you do all you can to protect them as their earthly parent. The difference is you can’t be with them all the time. He can and will.

Are you in need of the “breath” of God today? Are you facing unknown forces that are trying to tear you down and destroy you? Allow Him to reign in and through you. Then step back and watch Him work. He is ready. Are you?

Your breath is sweet to me but harsh to the unbeliever. Help me share your breath with others. I want them to also experience its sweetness. 

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I KNOW IT’S THERE

2 THESSALONIANS 2:7

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.” 

I have mentioned before that I like to hunt. A lot of the time I get into the woods well before the sun rises to position myself for the day. There have been many of those mornings I had the distinct feeling that something was watching me. Sometimes you just know something is out there, but you can’t see it. Maybe it was a deer watching me. Perhaps it was a coyote. Whatever it was, it can make you feel kind of weird.

Paul was warning the Thessalonians that, although the man of lawlessness had not been revealed, the works he was going to try to do were already happening. He was laying the groundwork. That is still true today. The enemy has been preparing his battle plan for centuries. He is waiting for the right moment to spring into action. He just doesn’t realize that his best made plans fall short of victory.

APPLICATION

One of the greatest truths we can teach our children is the reliability of evil. Now, that may sound strange, but hear me out. The world will do all it can to disguise evil. It will attempt to shield the presence of evil until it is too late. We need to make sure our children understand that the devil is real and that he only has one motive – to tear us down. 

I am NOT one to see a demon behind every post, but I do believe we are in a spiritual war that is real and potentially destructive. That is the very reason we must equip our children with the Word. We must take them to Ephesians 6 every day to show them how to clothe themselves with God’s armor. I don’t mean to do a devotion every day on that passage. But I do mean to remind them to rely on God daily for protection and defense.

Are you prepared for the battle today? Are you clothed in righteousness? The enemy is watching for your weak spots. Don’t give him any. Show him that you are under the protection of a holy God who loves you. That is the battle plan. Let God fight for you.

I am prepared, Lord. Lead me into battle today. I will face the enemy head on knowing You are there.

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POP GOES THE WEASEL

2 THESSALONIANS 2:6

“And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.” 

Did you ever own a “Jack in the Box”? I vividly remember having one as a child. It was a little metal box with a spring-loaded lid. There was a handle on the side that you turned which caused a song to play called “Pop Goes the Weasel.” That lid would open suddenly at a certain point and out popped “Jack.” No matter how many times I played with that, “Jack” would always catch me by surprise.

This man of lawlessness is the destructive “Jack in the box.” We hear the music playing. The world is at the brink of him “popping” out. We know he’s coming (or maybe already be here). We know he wants to scare us. We see things happening that are turning the handle to reveal him. But we have no reason to fear as believers. No amount of anticipation should give us concern. We know it is God who is restraining him and who will also put him back in the box.

APPLICATION

Find a “Jack in the Box” (you can find all sorts of characters) and read this verse to your children. Illustrate this for them. After you show them how to turn the handle, let them play with it several times. But I want you to focus on the part where you shove “Jack” back in the box. Talk about what I just described above. And as you are shoving “Jack” back in the box, explain how it is the Lord who is keeping the man of lawlessness down. 

One day this man will be revealed, but even then, just like “Jack”, he will only be allowed to go so far. “Jack” can’t jump out of the box. He is tethered to the box. God keeps this enemy of believers under control and will allow him to show himself only when He is ready. Not very scary, huh?

Are you prepared to recognize God’s control over what comes next? He is way ahead of you. He knows the challenges that will come your way. He allows them to prepare you. He will see you through. No matter the challenge, God has it under restraint and will only allow what He knows you can handle. Believe that.

Father, I do not fear this man of lawlessness. Even though I do not know when he will appear, I know You do. You have him on a short leash. Thank You.

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I TOLD YOU SO

2 THESSALONIANS 2:5

“Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?” 

I am sure you have NEVER said that someone – “I told you so.” Sure, you haven’t. If you haven’t, I guarantee you have wanted to at least once. We warn people and warn people. We try to give them ample notice. But they go ahead and do something we all know is not smart. Then when it goes wrong, just as we told them it would, we want to say, “I told you so.”

Paul is telling the Thessalonians that. He is saying, “I told you so! I told you people were going to try to fool you. I told you, when I was there, to be careful who you listen to about things of God. I told you to check things out before you believe it.” I am sure Paul was more disturbed by those who were trying to mislead the church there. He knew the Thessalonians were young in their faith and wanted to do the right thing. But those who were trying to deceive them knew EXACTLY what they were doing.

APPLICATION

Children are prone to believe anything someone in authority tells them. Adults can mislead our little ones so easily. That is why it is so important for us to have them grounded in His Word. When they know the REAL truth, no amount of deception can lead them astray. But if they don’t know it, they can believe anything or anyone.

How do you ground them in the Word? I’m glad you asked. Read them the Word. Use the Word to answer their questions. Get them a good devotional, when they can read on their own, that is on their level. Help them memorize verses for AWANA or for Sunday School. Get them a very, good study Bible by the time they get into Middle School. Support them in their efforts to attend Christian events where the Word will be taught.

You, of course, have to model all this yourself. Simply telling them to do these things only goes so far. They are going to watch you and how you desire the Word. Make the Word your beginning and ending point of the day. When is the last time you have memorized a verse? I challenge you today to begin that.

You are the Word, Lord. You are the truth. Help me teach my children and others that the only true shield we have against those who would deceive us is to know You and Your Word.

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GOD COMPLEX

2 THESSALONIANS 2:4

“who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” 

Some people think they are above everyone, including God. They have what I call a God complex. Everyone should bow to them. Everyone is beneath them. What they think and say is the ONLY thing that matters. Well, this is nothing new. Paul even says that this “man of lawlessness” will be this way. 

The problem with these sorts of people is you really can’t talk to them. There is no reasoning with them. They look at you from upturned noses. They seem to resent that you are even talking to them. But guess what? God sent His Son to die for them just like He did for you. Every soul is precious to God. He wants everyone created in His image to come home to Him. 

APPLICATION

As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children how NOT to be that way. Now, I am not suggesting that your little Elrod is the “man of lawlessness.” But he can sure act like it if you don’t discipline and correct him. Our little Susie can be hard to live with if we don’t teach her respect for others. The sin nature is strong and will not be tamed on its own.

Teaching respect for others is such an important thing for a parent to do. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Our children will be tempted to see themselves as better than others at times. But humility is a much stronger trait than pride. Focus on that. Model that to them.

Do you know someone who places themselves on that pedestal? You may have a boss who comes across that way. Just be Jesus to them. Submission is hard for most, if not all, people. But if we allow the Spirit of God to live through us, we will have the attitude necessary to yield. Pray for that person. Ask the Lord to humble them as only He can. That’s not your job. Trust Him.

Father, guard my heart from self-glorification. Keep me focused on my humility before You. I know all I am is only because of You.

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OUTLAWS

2 THESSALONIANS 2:3

“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” 

Who is this “man of lawlessness” or this “son of destruction”? Well, you could read a dozen commentaries and probably get two dozen opinions. Some believe it referred to one of the Caesars. Others think it was the Pope. Others believe it represented a group of men through history. We won’t know Paul’s exacts thoughts through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit until we see him in glory.

Paul is telling the Thessalonians that certain things must take place before Christ returned. The same still holds true today. We shall always have lawless and destructive men around us. Some men have no other desire than to try to destroy anything holy. That is what Paul is talking about. They are outlaws of the faith. They want nothing to do with it.

APPLICATION

Warning our children of these men’s deception is critical. These types of “outlaws” don’t necessarily wear black hats. They come disguised so as to deceive and lead away unsuspecting people. Our children need to be prepared to recognize and detect these individuals. Leaving them defenseless is not smart and could cost them their very eternity.

“Wow, Carl, you are getting pretty heavy.” You think? Well, that’s the beauty of going verse by verse in the Bible. This is NOT my soapbox. It’s God’s. I didn’t write this. He did. And He still wants to warn us to be watchful and prepared. Parents for generations have taught their children the truth to protect them from evil men. We must do the same.

Let me ask you a question. Can you recognize these evil men? Are you grounded in the Word enough that you can discern when one of these “outlaws” tries to lead you astray? I pray you are. One good way to know is ask yourself if what you are being asked to do will glorify Jesus. If it won’t, then don’t go down that road. We should always be pointing others to Him.

Thank You, Lord, that Your Holy Spirit can tell me when I am wrong. Help me listen more closely to His voice. Give me the wisdom and discernment to spot evil and wicked people who desire to lead me astray.

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KEEP IT TOGETHER

2 THESSALONIANS 2:2

“that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” 

In verse 1 of chapter 2 of 2 Thessalonians Paul makes a request of the church there. This is it! Keep it together! Don’t get upset! Don’t let some spirit or message or letter get you all excited. Rumors were spreading that Jesus had already returned and they had missed Him. People were beginning to doubt the message Paul had given them concerning the return of the Lord. So, Paul was asking them to just calm down.

Have you ever planned to meet someone for an important meeting? What if you had that all planned and when you got there someone told you that you had just missed them? Would you be upset? You may have been planning this meeting for days, weeks or even months and now you missed it. It was a potential life changing meeting. That is what was happening right here in this verse.

APPLICATION

Has your child ever missed the bus or a ride home? Many children do that. In fact, it happens all the time. The next time that happens or you hear of it happening to one of their friends, pull out this verse. The Thessalonians thought they had missed their “ride home.” They were anticipating the return of Christ to carry them to heaven. Now they were “stuck” here on earth, looking like idiots for believing Paul.

The difference in your child missing a ride and us missing Jesus’ return is one is temporal and the other is eternal. If your child is a believer, there is NO WAY they can miss that ride. It’s a guaranteed trip. But if they aren’t a Christian, well… 

Do you have your ticket punched for the ride home? If you do, don’t worry or fret about when Christ is returning. He will, and when He does, He will carry all of us to Glory. Do you know some friends or family who are saved? If so, take the time today to share with them the saving knowledge of Christ so they too can be assured of that trip.

O God, give me the opportunity today to be a deliverer of that ticket to someone. Let me show them the way home to You.

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COMING TOGETHER

2 THESSALONIANS 2:1

“Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,” 

Isn’t it funny how circumstances can change how we ask people things? For instance, if you know you will never see someone ever again, you might be led to ask them something you REALLY want to know. If you are going to see them the next day, you might wait until later. Timing is everything when it comes to choosing your words.

Paul is beginning this second chapter (remember, there weren’t chapters in the original letter) by saying, “Since Jesus is coming and we will all be together, I need to ask you for something.” We’ll see what he asks for later. But in today’s verse he is setting the stage. He is sure they will be together and that Jesus is coming. So, with that in mind, he feels free to ask them anything.

APPLICATION

We need to teach our children how to be more tactful when it comes to asking people things, right? Have your children ever asked someone something that embarrassed you? Kids can do that. They don’t have a filter yet. As they get older they learn the appropriate time to ask certain things. But they also may lose some of that boldness.

For example, I have a nephew who would ask total strangers on a plane or in the airport if they were saved. I was humbled by his boldness. He wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed to ask that question. Why should he be? We shouldn’t be. In fact, since the Lord is coming back (as Paul says), shouldn’t we be bold asking our friends and neighbors that very question. 

Will you be bold today? Will you ask the question since He’s coming soon? Don’t put it off. Tomorrow may be too late. He’s on His way. And He wants all who are willing to come with Him to heaven. Don’t you?

I will ask someone today, Lord, what their eternal plan is. I want to be bold and deliberate as I talk to friends and strangers alike. Give me the courage to speak!

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HIS GLORY

2 THESSALONIANS 1:12

“so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and theLord Jesus Christ.”

Some people just glow for Jesus. You can tell they are believers the moment you meet them. Their smile, their countenance and their demeanor all exemplify Him. He is being glorified through them. I love watching for that in people I meet for the first time. I like to look for an opening in the conversation to ask about their personal relationship with our Lord.

Paul’s prayer, which he began in verse 11, continues here. This is the reason why he prayed for those things. His sole purpose for praying for the Thessalonians is so the Lord would be glorified in and through them. Shouldn’t that be our desire for ourselves and others? Shouldn’t we want others to see Jesus in us?

APPLICATION

Little Gertrude and Elrod will watch how you respond to people. I guarantee you that. When you respond like Jesus, they take note of that. When you talk like Jesus, they listen. When you reach out to someone like Jesus, they will file away that moment. We are the ones who must exemplify Jesus to point our children to Him. 

So, ask yourself, “As a parent, am I glorifying Jesus in my everyday life?” If you aren’t, you need to start, for your children. When our children hear us talk about Jesus but never see us live for Him, they get a very confusing message. That confusion can lead to rebellion and on to denial. Be the vessel of glory He wants to use.

But being used as a vessel of glory means we may have to let some stuff go. We can’t very well be glorifying Him and participating in behaviors which Jesus would NEVER do. I don’t have to name these. You know them. Let go of those habits or activities that cannot be attributed to Him. He will show you what and how to live to give Him glory. Just be willing to be used. He will do the rest.

Here I am, Lord. Take me and use me however You desire. I want others to see You in me.

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