Sound Bites: 1 Thessalonians
1 Thessalonians? It’s initial audience was undergoing a season of very intense persecution. So Paul writes to them words of encouragement, words of practical instruction, and words of hope regarding their eternal destiny. It’s a solemn reminder that this world is only temporary at best but that the rewards of heaven and faithfulness are eternal. Paul reminds this young church that their faith is not in vain. God sees. God knows. And God cares about their suffering. 2000 years has done nothing to change the power of that message. Sure, maybe we aren’t undergoing literal physical persecution but life is still hard, still full of challenges. But we can take heart. No matter the trial we are safe in His hands. He holds all our tomorrows.
1:5, “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”… Wow. Moment of truth. I pray that my gospel would not be one of word only. Jesus, let Your power, Your Holy Spirit and the full conviction that only You can make possible accompany my preaching. In addition, may I be fully aware that the testimony of my life can make or break the very words I speak.
2:2, “but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.”… I am reminded that I have no real concept of what it means to suffer for the Gospel. What passion and commitment on the part of Paul. In spite of suffering, mistreatment (i.e. public beating and imprisonment), and MUCH opposition Paul continues to preach. I want such a holy boldness, a willingess to declare His Gospel in the face of any and all hardships… no matter the public opinion or the potential personal cost.
3:10, “as we night and day keep praying more earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?”… I do well to remember that there is still much room in my life for growth. In spite of what I may think I am not perfect. I need to pray more earnestly that the things that are lacking (that fall short of the standard of Christ) may be completed (made perfect). Far too easily I become complacent and comfortable in my faith. Lord, give me greater passion for You.
4:11-12, “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.”… People (outsiders) watch the way I live, the daily out working of my faith. My words mean nothing without actions that prove their value. Seek peace, work hard, and owe no man anything (except to love) are good boundaries for Christian living, practical principles for godly influence.
5:23-24, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”… Without blame. I seldom feel that to be true. But God is faithful. He has called me and by the power of His blood that is how He now sees me. His grace never ceases to amaze me. How He sees one like me as being blameless is beyond anything that I could have ever thought or asked. But He does. Truly, it is an amazing grace! Thank You, Jesus.