“when you received the word of God…you accepted it not as a human word, but as…God’s word.” Carefully looking at the context of this verse reveals that the proof of receiving God’s word in this manner is displayed in their imitation of other churches and their willingness to suffer for Christ as did their fellow Christians. This seems to be a different standard of “acceptance” than we often hear or see with our modern ideas of freedom and personal choice. What is the difference in practice between hearing human words and God’s word? Help us to hear your word!
“We were gentle…like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children…like a father with his own children.” Christian leaders can learn much from these verses. I have observed many Christian leaders who talk about and put their visions/dreams ahead of relationships. For Paul, ministry is a context of family. Leaders are parents who are gentle, tender, caring, urging and encouraging. The goal is that all may actual live a life worthy of God who saves us and calls us. Are these parenting fruits part of my ministry with people? Lord, have mercy and make me to lead like you.
“We speak not to please mortals, but to please God” (2:4). Courage and motives. It takes courage to face suffering, to declare God’s truth in places where there is opposition. How courageous am I? For Paul, his motives do not spring from deceit, impurity, trickery, or flattery to win some money and riches. He speaks to bring the life Jesus offer to the people. He seeks God’s pleasure, not his and not that of those around him. What motivates me in my faith? in my living? in my serving? Give us courage and a pure heart O Lord! Amen.
“what kind of welcome we had among you.” When the Thessalonians welcomed the message of Paul and the salvation of God there were clear characteristics: turning to God and from idols, active service for God, and joining with God’s people in waiting for his return. Have I turned from all my idols to God? Am I actively serving God? What does it mean for us to “wait?” Father, where there are idols help me to turn completely, where there is ministry let me serve fully, grant that I might have hope as I faithfully wait with your people. Amen.
“the Gospel came to you not in word only..but in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction…” Much Christianity these days tends to focus upon right words, right answers and catch phrases; Paul speaks here of the Thessalonian believers receiving and welcoming God’s saving work in their lives in a manner that transcends words alone. The words “power, Holy Spirit, and full conviction” imply full involvement of both God’s initiation and human response. Does my life show the power of the Holy Spirit and my full engagement? – Holy Spirit you are welcome in my life. Amen.
“your work of faith, your labor of love, and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” These are the things that Paul is thankful for in the life of Christians; faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13). Is our gratitude for the people around us based upon them living fully for Christ or am I tempted to see people just for what they do for me or for my visions and goals in life/ministry – Forgive me Lord when I see people only as resources to further my ends, help me to value and appreciate them as your children.
“We always give thanks to God for all of you…” Paul’s relationship with the people in the city is a highlight of his letter. There is great love and affection, joy and thanksgiving to know them and be with them. Who are the people that you always give thanks to God for? How could you be more intentional this week about giving thanks to God for “all the people” he has put in your life? – Heavenly Father, thank you for the people you have surrounded me with and not leaving me along. Let me live with joy and gratitude.
“To the church of Thessalonica…Grace to you and peace.” Paul’s begins with “grace and peace.” There are many longing for grace and peace to be a reality in their lives. Imagine if our church gatherings started with a welcoming “grace and peace” both in word and action. Imagine if running the sound, rushing to do the program, and recruiting a new volunteer gave way to welcoming everyone with grace and peace. How would this change our churches and worship? What could you do to offer grace and peace to others? – Holy Spirit, give us grace and peace in Jesus. Amen.
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry…” Bread is the basic staple of life. Is Jesus the essential, the basic staple of life for you? How is Jesus like bread? What feeds your soul? Are you filled or hungry? – O Bread of Life, feed my deepest hunger.
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” How earnest is my “seek”? Does my soul thirst? Do I feel it in my body? Have I come to find there is no water except Jesus, the Living Water? What do I thirst for more than anything in life? Quench the deepest thirst of my soul, O God. Lead me to refreshment from the deep wells found only in you.