Read His Words Before Ours!
“Notice the small things. The rewards are inversely proportional.”
Deep within the core of our bodies lies a muscle called the psoas. You’ve likely never heard of this muscle unless, like me, you’ve logged time with a physical therapist. This single muscle is hugely important, stabilizing our spines, connecting the two major parts of our skeletons, and allowing movement by joining our upper bodies to our lower. If this muscle becomes tight or is injured, the domino effect can lead to pain that runs all the way down one’s leg into one’s foot, numbness, weakness, and even a lack of mobility altogether if left untreated.
That single muscle packs a powerful punch when it comes to how our bodies function, and we do well to attend to its needs.
Likewise, throughout Scripture, we want to pay attention to small words that may carry great significance, helping us uncover all the goodness God has for us in His Word.
For our purposes in 1 Thessalonians 1, we want to give attention to a small word, just two letters long, “in.”
Read through the chapter again and make note of all the places you spy this little, powerful word.
Now for a grammar lesson.
(Some of you, like me, will nod your heads in staunch agreement that grammar matters when we read Scripture. Then, there are those who are chagrined that I even mentioned the word in a devotional article. Stick with me.)
Prepositions are like tendons; both connect. Tendons connect bone to muscle. Prepositions connect nouns or noun phrases to some other part of the sentence. For our purposes, it’s important to know “in” is a preposition. So, as we read 1 Thessalonians 1, whenever we see or read the word, “in,” we want to ask a few questions.
First ask, “in what?” or, “in whom?”
For example, we read, “To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:1, emphasis mine)
In what or whom?
The answer is, “God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ.”
Putting it all together, we then have, “IN God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” That is a prepositional phrase.
Now, go through the entire first chapter of Thessalonians again and write down all the prepositional phrases you discover beginning with the preposition, “in.”
Here is what you should have found:
- In God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ (verse 1)
- In our prayers (verse 2)
- In the presence (verse 3)
- In our Lord Jesus Christ (verse 3)
- In word (verse 5)
- In power (verse 5)
- In the Holy Spirit (verse 5)
- In Macedonia and Achaia (verse 7)
- In every place (verse 8)
- In God (verse 8)
Most prepositions, including the word “in” are words that indicate placement or position. “In” is only one of these types of words. Other words like this could have been chosen for this text, such as beside, before, above, around, off, outside, near.
So, why use “in” versus other prepositions?
What if the text read, “Around God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ” or “Before our prayers,” or “Beside the Holy Spirit”?
IN describes a very different reality in regard to our spiritual identity.
I want to be IN Jesus, not just near Him.
Those for whom I pray want me to mention their names IN my prayers to God, not before my prayers.
I need the Holy Spirit’s power IN me, not merely around me, as I seek to live and speak as Jesus did.
Several years ago, my niece and nephew were publicly baptized, and I was able to be present for this special event. The church they attend gave them T-shirts by which to remember the occasion. The front of the shirt read, “All IN.”
That phrase, accompanied by the baptism, left a profound mark on my soul. I watched my then-13 year old nephew and 11 year old niece proclaim they were all IN with Jesus, with His kingdom rules and rights alike. I rejoiced with them for making a definitive statement at a young age. It’s no small thing to draw such a line in the sand, especially in early, formative years when the pressures to be all IN with the crowd are strong. I was not only proud of my niece and nephew; I was sobered by their commitment. It caused me to consider my own.
The day after their baptisms, my nephew was in an ATV accident that claimed his life. To say it shook our family to the core is an understatement. In our disorienting grief, one thing kept us from completely falling apart. It was the knowledge that my nephew was all IN with Jesus; we, too, were being held together IN the arms of Christ.
Friend, I pray you know the security of being all IN with Jesus. All IN means acknowledging our attempts at living a perfect life fall short (Romans 3:23). But, Christ’s perfect life can be ours by exchange! He died on a cross to take the eternal consequences for our shortcomings (Romans 6:23). He allowed His body to be broken so we could know wholeness. He came INTO our world so we could one day be ALL IN His perfect Kingdom, where righteousness and peace reign.
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!