Read His Words Before Ours!
It was a bright spring day, full of hope and promise as I sat under a spreading tree waiting for my new husband to finish class. We were both ridiculously young, but here we were, months into marriage, and nearly as many months into pregnancy.
I could barely contain my excitement as I gazed up at the swaying branches above me. For as long as I could remember, I wanted nothing more than to have my own little one to lavish with adoration. I looked forward to baking cookies together, tea parties, mud pies, and learning to pray. My dreams were vivid with brilliant details of the glory of motherhood.
Today, I pulled into a parking spot far enough away from others to eat my lunch and catch up on the un-ending demands of email while also placating the constant stream of requests from my crew of seven kids. Somewhere between a bite of chicken, planning a connection coffee with a new friend, and replying to a child about their soccer cleats (again), I caught a glimpse of something green swaying above my mini-van’s convertible top wannabe.
Budding branches gently dancing in the spring air.
Instantly, my mind flew to that now long-ago day underneath another giant, sprawling tree promising so much hope, and my breath caught in my throat. I forgot about the soccer cleats and the latte meetup; I could only see the face of my firstborn as she would soon grace the stage of her high school graduation. Much too quickly, my baby would fly more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) away to university studies.
Had I done enough?
What lessons could I still teach her?
What about the lost time?
How could I possibly make these last short months count?
Thankfully, we love and serve a God who delights in small things, using even the seemingly insignificant for the widest ripples of eternal effect.
That’s all Paul had in the middle of a city ripe with unrest whose citizens were determined to run him, and any other followers of Jesus, out of town or into their grave.
Though their time was short, Paul, Silas, and Timothy did exactly what God had called them to do, preach Christ. They came into Thessalonica and taught from the Scriptures for three weeks. (Acts 17:2) The opposition was intense, and they were met with violence (Acts 17:5-6), but God did not waste their investment or their obedience. The Spirit stirred Gentile hearts to be convicted of sin, repent, and turn to Jesus for salvation and renewed lives.
“… you yourselves became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with joy from the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6)
Their message, and their obedience, was never about them, nor did it hinge on them.
Paul, Silas, and Timothy knew that whatever happened in Thessalonica, whether they stayed for 3 weeks or 30, the lasting work could only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit.
Through the faithfulness of these three Christ-followers, God established new church plants in Thessalonica that flourished despite life-and-death persecution. Their new faith “rang out,” spreading quickly to neighboring cities. (1 Thessalonians 1:8) Set against the backdrop of fellow citizens who would stop at nothing to extinguish their lives, Paul urged the Thessalonian believers to resist the temptation to believe that what they did for Christ didn’t matter. He firmly reminded them God’s mission isn’t about self-acceleration in society, but about pleasing God alone. (1 Thessalonians 2:4-5)
Sharing the gospel and living it out in everyday life was the Lord’s work, for His glory, and it simply wasn’t about their possessions, their physical safety, or their cultural clout.
“…when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you welcomed it not as a human message, but as it truly is the word of God, which also works effectively in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
The trio of preachers could teach the gospel with confidence because they were convinced this was only about Christ. If Christ would transform, it would be through His Spirit’s work in human hearts, not human work in human hearts, which is why Paul concluded his fervent letter to this precious church with unshakeable confidence.
“…the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:3-5)
Bound up on all sides with Christ, Paul leaves them with the one thing that was assuredly promised and altogether incorruptible, the presence of Christ. The Lord Himself would gird them up, encourage them for the days ahead, and teach them to be continually ready for His return.
“May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
My time with my Baby Girl is limited, but peace unfurls around the edges of my heart. I don’t need to panic over all the things I should have done, or all the things I should still “squeeze in” to teach her. She needs one thing, Christ.
Like the Thessalonians whose confident faith colored everything they did, and like Paul, who rested securely in the truth that his work hung on Christ alone, I can keep holding out Jesus to my daughter, to the rest of my kids, and even the lady I’m meeting for coffee.
One thing is needed.
May the Lord be with you all.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!