The Gospel came, was received & was passed on… (1 Thessalonians 1:5-10)
1) The Gospel CAME to you… vs5
‘not just with words’
This means at least two things; firstly, it did come with words, words are important, we must share the good news about Jesus with our words as Christ followers, with our preaching as the church.
‘but also in power and in the Holy Spirit’
Secondly, words alone are not enough but need to be confirmed with God’s power which at least is God’s miraculous power at work through Holy Sprit in anyone who believes. More than this it can also point to external miracles of healing etc that authenticate what is being spoken of about God/Jesus.
So when we share the good news we should pray for our words to come with Holy Spirit power and we should step out in faith allowing God to use us to authenticate His word with acts of power!
‘and with full conviction’
The Gospel was proclaimed as it is, the truth and so was proclaimed with confidence and or it was received with full conviction by those who heard it.
2) And you RECEIVED it…vs6
The Thessalonians received the good news about Jesus with joy that was given by the Holy Spirit in spite of much affliction from the surrounding culture (opposition/persecution) because they believed.
Do you remember that feeling of bubbling joy, the feeling that something was exceedingly right when you came to faith in Jesus?
Coming to faith might mean much struggle, much that needs to change or even opposition… But nothing can rob one of the joy of knowing, sins are forgiven, future is secure, identity & belonging are resolved forever!
3) You were TRANSFORMED & you RESPONDED passing it on to others…vs8-10
The result of the Gospel in their lives was that they became an example for other believers. The Gospel sounded out from them in the whole region, more than that their faith was reported way further….
The testimony that rung out from them was specifically how they had; ‘turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God’ and how you’re now waiting ‘for His Son from heaven’.
True Gospel transformation starts with the gospel coming to us, then us responding to it with faith and then our being transformed so that we become ‘speakers’ relaying the very same Gospel to others.
Meditate again on your salvation, the goodness of the Gospel message.
Meditate again thanking God for saving you, for convincing you, for giving you freedom and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Ask God to use YOU, to let the Gospel ring out from you, your lips, your life.
So where has the romance gone?
Reading the story of how Abraham sent out his servant to find a wife for his beloved son, Isaac, it seems that finding a marriage partner was a very calculated activity. But it is in fact the opposite!
God knows the desires of our hearts, He knows our personalities and habits. Only He can perfectly suit two people to each other. And His choice for Isaac was perfect, because the two of them loved each other dearly. And what a wise servant, to stay close to God in this pursuit (Gen 24:21)
“The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.”
I have experienced a very similar story recently when a dear friend of mine’s daughter got married. And to illustrate how much God is involved in the choosing of a marriage partner even today (as much as, and even more than, He is involved in every part of our lives), let me briefly recap the story to you.
There was a young South African woman who dedicated her life to God and purposed to also trust Him to provide her with a husband. She set out to get a clear picture in her own mind about the qualities a man should possess to make him a good husband. She allowed herself to dream of her perfect man, and entrusted these dreams to her Father.
On the other side of the world was a young man who, amidst constant pressure to join the dating game, and constant ridicule for not doing so, trusted God to point out to him whom to marry. He decided to keep himself pure until that day.
So the young woman went to the other side of the world for a short period of time, attending a course at the very insitution where this young man worked. And sure enough, God pointed out to him that this is the woman whom He has chosen for the young man. And although the young woman recognised many of the attributes of a good husband in this young man, she had no idea of the conversation between him and God and in due course she returned to South Africa.
Almost despairing, the young man asked God for wisdom in ways to start courting the young woman. Telling the story in detail astonishes everyone as to how God’s masterplan came together in ways no human being can conceive.
The two of them got to know each other through e-mail and a deep appreciation and love for each other grew in their hearts. God opened the way for them to get engaged and then married, and they now have a beautiful little girl and another child on its way.
Their lives still speak of God’s miraculous dealings as they move forward in His plan for them.
Are they a unique couple? Is God really interested in helping young men and women today, find their perfect life partner? YES!
It is not only the old, Biblical story of Isaac and Rebekah, or the recent, modern story of my two young friends above – it can be your story too!
You have entrusted God with your life when you answered “yes” to His call. Won’t you trust Him and WAIT until He shows you the one He has chosen for you?
by Lise Oosthuizen
The power of promises…
What are God’s ‘precious and very great promises’ Peter refers to in 2 Peter 1:1-4? After all they seem to contain incredible life transforming power as Peter says that “through them you might become partakers of the divine nature”! So, what are the promises that Peter might have had in mind?
Maybe Peter was thinking of the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh, and of Jesus as the promised Messiah that he referenced in his sermon at Pentecost… (Acts 2)
That seems likely as it would also fit the textual context here in 2 Peter 1 as he has just said that God’s ‘divine power’, has given us ‘everything we need for life and godliness’ (NIV). God’s power is not some impersonal force in Scripture, rather Peter is in all likelihood referring to the person of the Holy Spirit whom John also describes as our “Helper” (See John 14-16 in ESV)!
So, with the precious and very great promise of new life through faith in Christ Jesus as Messiah, and with the precious and very great promise of divine enabling power by the Spirit who leads us not into sin but into Christliekness (Galatians 5:16-24) as we keep in step with Him and as we are enabled by His power in us…
…we as people CAN share in God’s excellency, in God’s divine nature and character – it’s possible when we are living out our new life in Christ (Galatians 2:20) enabled by and Helped by the Holy Spirit.
So let’s remember these precious and very great promises of new life in Christ and the empowering and guiding the Holy Spirit our Helper, let’s draw on His help and in so doing become more and more like our Father who is in heaven.
By Gareth Bowley