JOY TO THE WORLD

Opening Prayer

Thank you, Father, for the long-recorded history of your church. Thank you for the many evidences of your faithfulness and for the things we are taught through those who have gone before us.

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

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 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.

For we know, brothers and sisters[b] loved by God, that he has chosen you, 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. 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. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 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, 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.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Thessalonians 1:1 Greek Silvanus, a variant of Silas
  2. 1 Thessalonians 1:4 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in 2:1, 9, 14, 17; 3:7; 4:1, 10, 13; 5:1, 4, 12, 14, 25, 27.

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.

Meditate

‘O Lord, open our lips / and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.’1

Think Further

Recently, I stayed on holiday near a friary. Early each morning the bells would ring out, calling the monks to prayer and advertising to the whole neighborhood that Christ was being worshipped. Paul adopts a similar image to tell the Thessalonians how the Lord’s message ‘rang out’ from them across the whole region (v. 8); the Greek verb more precisely means to ‘resound’ or ‘roar like thunder.’2 Their example communicated the gospel so effectively that Paul didn’t need to tell other people about their faith—other people told him about it! This seems extraordinary in a pre- internet, pre-printing-press world. How did the Thessalonians witness to so many outside their immediate area? Well, Paul says that they became a ‘model’ (v. 7) for other believers because they had received the gospel with the joy of the Holy Spirit, despite this involving ‘severe suffering,’ presumably from persecution (v. 6). In so doing, they imitated not only the apostles but also Jesus himself, who endured the cross for ‘the joy that was set before him.’3 This is the kind of example that really speaks. The reason they could act like this was because they had received the gospel powerfully through the Holy Spirit and were fully convinced of it: it was never just ‘words’ for them (v. 5).

The church is called to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ to all people, everywhere. Alongside preaching and programs, do we need to reconnect with the incredible truth that God loves us, and rediscover by God’s grace the utter joy of the Holy Spirit, whatever our outward circumstances? Let us pray that, as God’s Spirit lives in us together, our faith will roar across the world, just as the faith of the Thessalonians did years ago.

Apply

Unusually, Paul describes the whole church, not one individual, as a ‘model’ to others. Be encouraged, and encourage others, that we’re never alone: our witness is a joint effort.

Closing prayer

Gracious God, help me to see the ways you provide, teach, and encourage me within my Christian family. Thank you for the community of the church and that together, we can grow in grace and spread the good news of the gospel.

Last Updated on February 3, 2024 by kingstar

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