June 14 – Thessalonica – Potential to be a great example

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:20

“Is It Cake?” is a game show cooking competition, where cake artists create replicas of everyday objects in an effort to stump the judges.  The cake artists have to imitate the “real deal” down to the texture, size, shape, color, etc.  Judges have to spot the “sweet fake” from the “real deal”.  The fake is revealed when the host of the show tries to cut into whichever item the judges decide is the “sweet fake”. 

The Thessalonians in this passage were not a “sweet fake”.  They were the “real deal” following the example of Paul.

“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message…”1 Thessalonians 1:6a

The Thessalonians welcomed the Gospel message and were fully convinced of its truth.  The evidence of this was seen in the way they lived.  The example that Paul and the Thessalonians set was based on their living faith, hope and love.

They had a Living Faith:

“…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.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6b-8

Their faith was seen in their joyful witness, in the midst of affliction.  Their response to suffering became an example to imitate.  Paul was told of the Thessalonian’s faith and word spread, and their example reached many.

They had a Living Love:

“…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…”1 Thessalonians 1:9

The proof of their faith was not only seen in their perseverance under persecution, but it was seen in their love for others.  The Thessalonians had turned from worshipping false idols, to loving the one true God.  They were devoted in service and love to God’s people.  I am reminded of a song we used to sing at camp, “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord….and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” 

They had a Living Hope:

“…and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—

Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”1 Thessalonians 1:10

They lived with the hope of His return.  Because they believed Jesus was raised from the dead, they had a confident hope that He would return.  Because they believed He would return, they had a confident hope that He would deliver them from wrath.  The Thessalonians had a living hope that Jesus had purchased their salvation, and that He would return, bringing with Him a full and final deliverance from the coming wrath – death.

The Thessalonians were watching Paul, and others were watching the Thessalonians.  Like it or not, we are being watched and examined by the world.  What we say and do, and how we respond to situations, leaves behind a witness as to who we are.  When the judge’s choice on “Is It Cake?” is cut into, all is exposed.  Whether we are going through trials or just living our life day to day, we are exposed to the world around us.  

How does your life reveal your faith? Your Love? Your Hope?

Janene Nagel

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