Today is the first day of November, which is the month of “Thanksgiving” in our country. Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. In a couple weeks, Lord willing, I will be preaching a message from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. And, 1 Thessalonians has persecution as one of its major themes. Yet, 1 Thessalonians also has a strong message of hope and joy in the midst of that suffering and persecution.
All that to say – the next few weeks on DrakeCity are related to those three topics: suffering, gratitude, and 1 Thessalonians.
You know what kind of men we were among you for your benefit, and you became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with joy from the Holy Spirit. As a result, you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia (1 Thessalonians 1:5b-7).
The message they welcome was the message of the gospel. If you have believed and embraced the gospel, you understand why such a message is welcomed with joy, no matter the cost. If you do not understand, I ask you to begin with the gospel. Cry out to Jesus today, and trust in Him to take away your sins and give you new life.
How in the world, despite the persecution the Thessalonians were facing, could they welcome the cause of that persecution with joy? How in the world can our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ today endure with such joy? Again, the answer to those questions can only be known, understood, and embraced when you know, understand, and embrace the gospel. When Jesus saves our souls, He changes our lives. He transforms us from the inside out, giving us the kind of joy, peace, and hope only He can give. They are the kind of joy, peace, and hope that endure the trials of this life because the treasure of what is to come is so sweet.
And so, when you welcome the gospel with joy, your life is changed. When your life is changed, you become an example to others. People will see a difference in you that can only be explained by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.
Do you see that difference? Do those who know you best see that difference? Of what are you an example?