MODELS OF A BETTER WAY
Lord, we admire the Thessalonian Christians.
Read 1 THESSALONIANS 1
1 Paul, Silas[a] and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace to you.
Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians’ Faith
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 For we know, brothers and sisters[b] loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
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.
Think about this tough question: ‘If everyone in my church were just like me, what kind of church would my church be?’
Despite all that Paul and Silas have suffered in Philippi (Acts 16:22–24), they walk on about a hundred miles to Thessalonica. There they enter the synagogue (Acts 17:1,2), where they hope for an opportunity to share their faith. Their boldness and their presentation of the gospel make a big impact on their listeners. Those who receive their message follow them closely, imitating their lifestyle and behavior (5,6). From this beginning, the Thessalonians have become a gospel-centered group. Faith, love, and endurance mark their discipleship (3) because they see all three in their founders, Paul, Silas, and Timothy. In their turn, the Thessalonian Christians become examples to all believers in their region. We should never forget that we are always modeling something before others. A great deal of emphasis is placed on mentoring today and we are all called to make disciples, which is fundamentally a mentoring process (Matt 28:19,20), but you will never lead anyone any further than you have gone yourself.
Paul mentions both the power and the joy of the Holy Spirit. This church was born of the gospel, but the midwife was the Spirit of God. Without power, their faith would have been stillborn and their ministry void. Stripped of joy, they could not have survived the persecution that followed, nor would their message have spread so effectively. As spoken in the 1974 Lausanne Covenant, ‘without his witness ours is futile’ (Lausanne Covenant, para 14, quoted by John Stott, Thessalonians, IVP, 1991, p35). Do the power and joy of the Spirit mark our witness too? If they do, their impact will go far beyond our immediate circle, as people hear about both our faith and our lifestyle (8,9).
‘Turn … serve … wait’, ends the apostle (see 9,10). Turn from every substitute for God. Serve the living God. Wait in expectancy and hope for the climax of the ages, for Christ is risen!
Are you intentionally mentoring or discipling anyone else as you follow the Lord? If so, pray for them now. If not, is that something God wants you to consider?
Father, we have turned from our idols and are serving You, the Living God, as we await the return of Your Son.