SLINGS AND ARROWS
Heavenly Father, I come to spend time in your Word today—to spend time with you. Help me to sense your presence and hear your voice.
Read 1 THESSALONIANS 2:13–20
13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.[a]
Paul’s Longing to See the Thessalonians
17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:16 Or them fully
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhen you share stories or testimonies of God at work in your life, are they usually about God’s provision, or healing, or gifts? In other words, are they always positive?
Paul couldn’t shut up about God and Jesus! Although he often talked about ‘my (or our) gospel’ (e.g., 1:5), ultimately, he knew it was God’s message (v. 13; see also 1:8; 2:2). It had a power and a life of its own, working within the lives of those who believed (v. 13). In the Thessalonians it formed a family likeness as they imitated people they’d never met (v. 14). But what did that imitation look like? Read verse 14.
Paul was open about the suffering he and they were facing. But too often we Christians hide our personal hardships and struggles, making it harder for others to be open and honest with us about theirs. At this point in Paul’s life his troubles were almost entirely caused by Jews (e.g., Acts 17:13). He was hurt and angry at being rejected by his own people. His language condemning them sounds like the Old Testament prophets. But more than that, he was angry at those who forced him to abandon an infant church that was now suffering and in grave danger.
Are you willing to imitate the early churches in Judea and Thessalonica in their suffering (v. 14)? How can you be more honest— with yourself and with others—about your struggles, so together you can draw on God’s strength to persevere?
Thank you, Lord God that you are always with me in the hard places of my journey with you. Help me to trust that there is no circumstance beyond your using for my good and for your glory.
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