Friday, April 29, 2016

Our Loving and Just God (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

Many have argued that the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath while the God of the New Testament is a God of love.

But really? The God of the Bible is both love and justice. Throughout the Bible, God shows justice to those who fail to follow His commandments; He is holy, so He cannot abide with sin. And He rightfully punishes that sin. But also throughout the Bible, God shows love and compassion for those who follow Him. Seriously, read the book of Judges to see how God loves and forgives His people when they turn from Him … continually.

And the prophets remind us over and over again of how God will lovingly embrace those who repent and turn back to Him. Jeremiah wrote, “For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart” (24:6-7).

Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah who would be our once-for-always sacrifice and salvation from sin. And that prophecy came to fruition in the New Testament. The loving and just God who embraced His repentant people throughout the Old Testament lovingly embraces us now.

Indeed, “... there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, NIV). And we will live forever with Him.

So, be encouraged.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Children of Light (1 Thessalonians 5:4-8)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8

As children, many of us were afraid of the dark. Perhaps some of us still are. Darkness can be oppressive. Overwhelming. Sometimes terrifying.

We live in a very dark world. It too can be oppressive. Overwhelming. Sometimes terrifying.

But we who know Christ don’t have to be afraid of the dark because the One whom we follow is light, “and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). He illuminates the darkest path. He shines through the darkest night. He holds our hands and leads us when we can’t see the way ourselves.

When this world’s darkness seems to be crowding out the light of truth, be assured: The light of Christ will never dim. It will continue to shine brightly through those who have committed their lives to serving Him. It will burn through the darkness by those who are willing to give their lives for Him.

And one day, His light will be all we need: In the new Jerusalem, “And the city [will] not need the sun or the moon. The glory of God [will be] shining on it, and the Lamb [will be] its light” (Revelation 21:23, CEV).

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Like a Thief in the Night (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

No one knows when Christ will return—except for the Father Himself. Yet we really don’t need to know.

Instead, we need to be prepared at all times for He will return “just like a thief in the night.” A burglar doesn’t announce when he’s going to rob you. Neither will our Lord announce His return.

But Paul uses another analogy: He’s going to come “suddenly like labor pains upon a woman …” While a woman may not know exactly when her labor will start, she usually has a hint or two. Braxton Hicks pains. Nesting instincts. And so we have some indication of Christ’s imminent return.

Jesus said:

See to it that no one misleads you. Many will come in My name, saying, "I am He!" and will mislead many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. or nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Mark 13:5-8)
Although we cannot know the day and time, it feels very much like we’re experiencing those labor pains, so we need to, as my grandfather used to say, live as though Jesus is returning today and plan as though He won’t return in our lifetimes.

Or as Jesus also said,
But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all, "Be on the alert!" (Mark 13:32-37)

Because He will return. And I say, “Lord Jesus, come quickly.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Sleeping" Brothers and Sisters (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Ahhh … some of the more comforting verses in God’s word to us.

Most of us, if not all, have lost a loved one to death—earthly death. And we grieve for them, just as we should. We grieve because they’re not with us any longer.

But we who follow Christ know that earthly death isn’t the end. One day—in the not so distant future, I pray—Christ will return to gather those who have accepted the gift of salvation to Himself.

The glorified bodies of those who have died will rise to meet their Savior followed by those who still live at Christ’s coming.

And all of us will join together, “so we shall always be with the Lord.” Always and forever.

That’s where our comfort comes from. We know we will see our Christian loved ones again.

But there’s also a caution in these verses. Do any of those we dearly love not yet know the Lord? We need to diligently and consistently share His truth with them. We need to do everything we can to help them understand the gift of salvation. So they too can join in the celebration when Christ returns.

Amen and amen.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Quiet Life... It's a Good Thing! (1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12

These verses give us some very good advice.

Think about it: If we all led quiet lives, attending to our own business, we wouldn’t get all caught up with what others are doing. We wouldn’t worry about those things about which we have no control. We wouldn’t covet what our neighbors have.

A simple life … That’s what I’m striving for. Decluttered. Quieter.

Paul goes on. We’re to work with our hands, making a living so we can take care of others and so we ourselves won’t be in any need. I know for many employment is hard to find. But there is work, if one looks for it. And even if a person isn’t able to find the kind of work she’s used to, she can cut back on extras and still take care of her needs.

When I left full-time work a few years ago, my husband and I made a decision to cut back on eating out and other unnecessary wants. I still work part time, but now that he’s retired, we continue to live more simply.

And frankly, we’re happier and more content than we’ve ever been.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Know God? Love Others ... (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10a)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10a

Our Lord God is described by many adjectives and names throughout the Bible, and I love that.

I love that He sees me wherever I am because He’s El Roi—the God who sees (Genesis 16:13). Or when I have a need, I know He’s Jehovah Jireh—the God who provides (Genesis 22:14). Or when I hurt, I know He will give me strength as I seek His refuge (Psalm 46:1). Or when I’m feeling anxious I can go to Jehovah Shalom—the Lord is peace (Judges 6:24). Or if everything around me seems dark, I remember God is light (1 John 1:5).

But most of all, I love that God is love—pure love (1 John 4:16). He loves me more that I could ever imagine. He loves me in spite of my sin and rebellion. He loves me so much that He was willing to send His Son—a literal part of Himself—to die for my sins, to provide a way for my salvation (John 3:16).

And because He loves me that much, how can I do anything less than love others—all others. In fact, the Bible makes it very, very clear: “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). If I don’t love my brothers and sisters, I don’t know God. Convicting words, aren’t they?

So because I do know God, I must love others. No room for jealousy or hate. No room for envy or covetousness. No room for arrogance or pride.

Just love. Pure love. God’s love.

I think I have some work to do … What about you?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Sacred Purpose (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

God is in the business of saving lives. As soon as Adam and Eve made the choice to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—against God’s command—He has always had a gracious plan of salvation. His plan culminated in the death, burial, and resurrection of God the Son, Jesus Christ. It is only by the belief in and acceptance of this amazing gift that we are saved.

But our faith journeys don’t end at the moment of salvation; rather, they just begin. Once we commit ourselves to God—heart, soul, mind, and strength—He begins the process of sanctification in us.

Sanctification means being “
set apart to a sacred purpose” (Webster’s Dictionary).  And this is ongoing in the lives of believers. Every day, if we “take up our cross,” if we submit ourselves completely to God, He’ll continue to mold and refine us so that we can complete whatever purpose He has willed for us.

However, if we fight this process by constantly choosing our own way—or choosing to be impure in any way—or if we refuse to grow in our faith by ignoring His word or neglecting Him, then we prevent His perfect work in us. We are no longer being sanctified.

Our time on this earth is just a blip, a vapor, a minuscule dot on the timeline of eternity. What we do with our time has eternal impact. The question is: Are we going to spend our time here pursuing meaningless, impure things, or are we going to allow the sanctifying work of God to make us worthy vessels to be used by Him? 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

True Intimacy (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6

I believe that God originally created man and woman (Genesis 1:27), and through them, provided the means for procreation: part of man and part of woman (Genesis 1:28). For reasons only He knows (and I'm not complaining!), that procreation comes naturally through sexual intercourse.

But I also believe that God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to make that act truly pleasurable, something that actually “cleaves” a husband and wife. Nothing is more intimate than sexually connecting with another person, and I believe God intends for sex to be between married people. It is beautiful in His sight for a husband and wife to give themselves to each other in this way (see 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 in The Message paraphrase).

Anything else goes against God’s original design.

Our bodies are temples housing the very Spirit of God. We must protect them and use them only in a way that pleases and glorifies God. And that includes making certain that we keep ourselves pure unless we are in a God-designed “leaving and cleaving” relationship—a covenant blessed by God (Genesis 2:24).

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Refresh Your Faith (1 Thessalonians 4:1-2)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2

We Christians often use the phrase, “Walking with the Lord.” Paul used it as well. He also described our lives as Christ-followers as a race, more like a marathon (1 Corinthians 9:24, 26). I like to call it a journey—running just isn’t my thing.

No matter what you call your particular faith journey, how should you behave? What should all of us do to move forward rather than backward—or not move at all?

One of my favorite talks I give is “Refresh Your Faith.” I talk a lot about what we can do to keep our faith fresh and vibrant. I emphasize how important it is to keep God—Father, Son, and Spirit—first and foremost in our minds and hearts. And to do that, we can and should do several things:

Take time for personal Bible study and prayer. I believe this is the most important of all. When we spend quiet time alone with God’s word, we learn more about Him and His will for our lives. And when we pray, we draw closer to His throne.

Spend time in solitude listening to His voice. It’s one thing to talk to God. It’s another to listen to Him. When you quietly sit in His presence, focusing completely on Him, He’ll often speak to your heart.

Take times of retreat. Whether this is a weekend with the women or men from your church, or a few hours of personal retreat, it’s important to regularly get away from the “stuff” of the world to fully focus on God.

Spend time with others of faith. As often as possible, get involved with a group Bible study. The Holy Spirit reveals truth to each of us differently, and it’s inspiring to hear what has touched others’ hearts.

Memorize scriptures. Knowing God’s word by heart helps in so many ways. It offers encouragement when you face difficulties. It helps to combat the lies of the enemy. Jesus Himself used scripture to counter the enemy (Luke 4:1-13). Should we do any less?

These are just a few of the things we can do to keep our focus on God … and that’s what we need to do to win the race or arrive at our destination: eternity with Him.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Love Each Other! (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

Encourage each other. Comfort each other. Rejoice in each other.

Love each other.

I’ve written about this before: Our creator God is love, and He created us to love. We are created to love Him and each other.

The English language only has one word for love. And we use it in many ways. I love my husband. I love to read. I love ice cream. I love my family. I love dogs. I love musical theater.

I love God.

The Greek language has several words for love. Eros is intimate love in marriage. Storge is familial love. Agape is unconditional love—the love God has for us.

And Philia is love between friends. This is the love we often find when we meet our brothers and sisters in Christ. So often, we meet someone who shares our faith, and there’s an immediate connection.

Just a few months ago, I joined a new small group. From the start, I felt connected, among sisters. As we continue to share prayer requests and what God is doing in our hearts, we’re learning to love each other more and more.

Even more recently, I had lunch with a new friend, and we shared some of our stories. Our love for the Lord was clear, and we are beginning what may be a wonderful sister-ship.

As we sisters in Christ continue to grow in relationship, we’re learning to do as Jesus commanded: Loving each other as we do ourselves.

Friday, April 15, 2016

It Makes Me Smile (1 Thessalonians 3:9-10)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10

We are encouraged by our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are comforted by them.

And we rejoice in them.

When I see a child of God use his or her gifts and talents to serve God, it brings me great joy. I have been blessed to know some amazingly gifted actors, singers, and writers. I am honestly in awe of their talents.

But what really makes me rejoice in them is when I see those gifts and talents used to glorify the Lord.

Before I left California a year ago, I was privileged to perform at a faith-based theater. Some of those young people were seriously talented—I mean, Broadway-talented. Certainly some of them aspire to make a career of theater, but when I’d watch them worship the Lord on stage, I would truly rejoice. (I miss that theater … but that’s beside the point. 
J)

God has given each of us gifts and talents to be used for His glory. Not all of us are destined for the stage, but each of us can serve Him. Practicing hospitality. Teaching. Praying. Showing mercy. Giving encouragement.

When I see my friends using their gifts to glorify the Lord, I can't help but smile. I truly rejoice. There’s nothing better!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Comfort from God; Comfort for Others (1 Thessalonians 3:6-7)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7

Yesterday, I looked at how wonderful it is that we Christ-followers encourage and pray for each other. Today, it’s all about comfort.

Each of us goes through our own peaks and valleys, and when we hit bottom, the best comfort comes from those who have walked similar paths. And then we in turn can comfort others.

Paul said it well, “
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (NKJV, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).  I especially like the Contemporary English Version’s paraphrase of verse 4: “He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble.”

I know this is true in my life. God has given me such great comfort through the valleys of my life, and I am so blessed to be able to comfort others.

I’ve held the hand of a young woman crying because she isn’t pregnant. I’ve led a small group of women who are married to men who don’t share their faith. I’ve hugged those who suffer from physical pain.

It’s such a privilege to know God uses me to comfort others.  Just as He has comforted me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Encourage Others ... and Pray (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5

We have such great benefits as children of God. And one of the best is how we have brothers and sisters to encourage us. And pray for us. Just as Timothy encouraged the Thessalonian believers.

When I’m struggling with my health, I can ask my siblings in Christ to pray for me. While I might not feel any better physically, knowing I’m being supported in prayer certainly helps me emotionally.

Paul experienced the same encouragement throughout his ministry. Yet, he sometimes felt concern that his fellow believers weren’t feeling encouraged when they heard of his “afflictions.” And rightfully so.

Haven’t you sometimes felt discouraged when you hear about someone else’s pain and suffering? You hear of a friend’s battling cancer or a colleague’s child is in an accident. And you wonder why …

When these moments—or seasons—come, you have a great opportunity to bless others by encouraging them. Even if all you do is pray—it’s more than enough.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Friends and Family ... Blessings! (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

I’ve been blessed with so many amazing, wonderful, talented, unique people in my life. Friends for a season; friends for a lifetime. Family. Even acquaintances who have briefly touched my life.

The older I get, the more I appreciate how God created us for relationship. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have people who encourage, affirm, and love me—yes, and even convict me when I’m off track.

My husband who has loved me and supported me—and put up with me—for almost 28 years. My mom who prays for me and who has loved me unconditionally my entire life. My siblings whom I greatly admire. My nieces and nephews who give me hope for the next generation.

And my friends … hugs. Words of encouragement. A listening ear. A ready shoulder.

What would I do without them? And you ... who faithfully reads this devotional each day. Thank you!

These truly are my glory and joy.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Suffering ... Expect It ... (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

Have you ever suffered for the name of Jesus Christ? Have you experienced ridicule or persecution? Rejection? Betrayal?

If you have, then you can be assured you’re doing something right.

Jesus told His followers—and that includes us—that they’d suffer persecution, sometimes at the hands of those closest to them (see Matthew 10:16-26).

Paul and James both wrote about trials and tribulations that followers of Christ would go through. In fact, when Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, he couldn’t have made it any clearer: “
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (3:12).

But why do we experience sufferings? Why isn’t the Christian life all rainbows and butterflies?

Because we are at war. We are in a fallen world that craves darkness, and we shine the light of Jesus. And those who live in darkness can’t stand that light. So they do what they can to snuff it out, even when that means snuffing the life out of us.

So if you’re laughed at for reading your Bible or praying, or if others scoff at you for being “na├»ve,” or if you’re rejected for practicing your faith, remember: You’re not alone. And the God whom you serve in spite of whatever persecution you face will honor your faithfulness with eternal life with Him (see Mark 10:29-31).

Friday, April 08, 2016

The Word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:13

What do you believe about the Bible? Is it just a book with a lot of stories? Or a book with some good advice, but no more important than any other book? Or a book with some truth, some words to live by, but with a lot of irrelevancy?

Or do you believe it to be the inspired, inerrant word of God?

I guess my thought is either you believe the Bible to be God’s word or you don’t. To take bits and pieces and reject the rest seems so odd to me. If God is the sovereign of all creation, then He certainly worked through the pens of men to create a written documentation for us to know more of whom He is.

God breathed His truth through the writers, and He breathed His truth through those who gathered the books into what we now know as the Holy Bible.

Many people don’t necessarily have a problem with the idea of God’s inspiration of the Bible, but the idea of inerrancy doesn’t sit well … throughout the ages and with all the translations, there must be errors, they say. Inerrancy defined means there were no errors in the original manuscripts. And yes, as fallible man copied the original manuscripts, some fractional errors may have occurred.

But again, if God is sovereign, if He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, then don’t you think He guided the pens of the scribes? And don’t you think that if any error entered a copy, it was so minor so as not to make any real difference in His final message?

Believe what you will about the Bible. But if you believe it to be God’s word, then believe it to be God’s word.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

How's Your Walk? (1 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12

“… walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” What does this really mean? What manner is worthy enough to deserve being a part of God’s kingdom?

I believe it means behaving in a way that pleases God. It means spending time in His word learning more about Him and His character. It means praying and communing with Him, listening to His voice.

It means striving to live by the greatest commandment, and “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). And living by the second greatest, as well, by striving to “love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 31).

It means allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest His fruit in you so you are loving, joyful, patient, gentle, and kind (see Galatians 5:21-23). It means serving the “least of these” (Matthew 25:31-40).

Or as Paul wrote, it means to live devoutly, uprightly, and blamelessly, and exhort and encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sounds like a very high calling, doesn’t it? When the end result is being with God in His kingdom, it’s really the least we can do.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A Tall Order ... (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). He went on to say. “… love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

As followers of Christ, we are to love one another. We are to be kind and gentle. We should show compassion. Throughout the gospels, we see how Jesus cared for others.

He showed compassion to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:11) and to the woman with a flow of blood (Matthew 9:22). He was gentle when he met the Samaritan woman in her shame (John 4:1-26).  He grieved with Martha and Mary (John 11:35).

And Jesus’ heart broke when He saw the rebellion of His people:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34).

So as Jesus showed compassion and gentleness, we should do the same. We should treat our brothers and sisters with affection and kindness, loving them as we love ourselves. Even more, loving them as Jesus loves us.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Whom Are You Pleasing? (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6

God has called each of us to serve Him. We’ve all been given spiritual gifts, and the number one purpose of our using those gifts is to glorify Him. You may have been called to teach or preach (see Ephesians 4:11). Or you may be a generous giver or have a heart to show mercy (see Romans 12:8). You might love to help others or perhaps you’re a gifted administrator (see 1 Corinthians 12:28).

No matter our gifts, using them should never shine the light on us. None of us should “think of himself more highly than he ought …” (Romans 12:3). We should never “seek glory from men”; rather, everything we do should be “pleasing … God who examines our hearts.”

When you use a gift the Lord has given you, are you so focused on pleasing God that it doesn’t matter what others might say? Would you preach or teach even if no one ever told you that your words had encouraged or convicted them? Would you give generously to your church if that giving was never acknowledged—even by the IRS? Would you be merciful to those less fortunate, never hearing a “thank you”?

If you can say, “Yes, I’d serve anyway even if I never, ever received any human kudos,” then you’re serving for the right reasons. You’re using your gifts as God intended. But if you sense that sometimes you seek a bit of glory for yourself, then ask God to help you examine your motives.

And serve “not as pleasing man, but [as pleasing] God …”

Monday, April 04, 2016

Stress-free Christianity? Uh ... No ... (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2

Some people seem to think that once you become a Christian, your life becomes calm, peaceful, and stress-free. Clearly, those people haven’t really studied the Bible. Troubles are pretty much promised.

James made it crystal clear when he wrote, “Consider it all joy … when you fall into various trials …” (James 1:2-4). Not if you fall, but when you fall. And Jesus Himself promised difficult times when He said, “In the world you will have tribulation …” (John 16:33). Again, it isn’t a maybe; it’s a will.

Paul knew more than most what it meant to suffer for the name of Christ. In his second letter to the church at Corinth, he described trials and tribulations beyond comprehension. He was beaten, stoned, robbed, imprisoned, and shipwrecked. He experienced weariness, hunger, and thirst (see 2 Corinthians 11:22-27).

Yet he was able to rejoice in the chains that imprisoned him. He was able to withstand pain and suffering. Why? Because he knew he was following the will of his God and that any suffering he experienced on earth meant nothing in the light of eternity: 
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

More importantly, he was confident that nothing would ever separate him from the love of his Father:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
      “ For Your sake we are killed all day long;        We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35-39, NKJV)
Yes, we will have trials and tribulations, but we can be confident of one thing. Our Lord and Savior is the Victor. Or as Jesus said at the end of John 16:33, “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Friday, April 01, 2016

Walking, Talking Illustrations (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10

Some are called specifically to be pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). God has gifted them uniquely to preach the gospel and teach from His word.

But that doesn’t mean they’re the only people who should be sharing the good news of salvation. Paul commended the church at Thessalonica for its “sound[ing] forth” the gospel. In fact, the church members had been so good about letting their “faith in God [go] forth” that Paul and his comrades had “no need to say anything.”

Each of us who has accepted the gift of salvation through belief in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, should be sharing the gospel. While we might not be standing at a pulpit, we can preach and teach wherever we are. We can share the “hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7).

In fact, many people have been won to Christ, not because they heard a preacher, but because they saw the evidence of changed lives. They saw the light of Jesus shine through sincere believers. They saw anger turn to compassion. Addiction replaced by hope. Despair overcome by peace.

They saw walking, talking illustrations of Jesus.

As you go through your day, look for opportunities to preach and teach. Share what God has done in your life. Give the reason for your joy through sorrow. Be Jesus to someone today.