Not As a Human Word

MONDAY

1 Thessalonians 2-13

Please read 1Thessalonians 2. My perspective in writing these devotions is that you are reading the scriptures. Nothing I write can be as important to you as what God can say to you as you read his word.

 

1Th. 2:1   You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, 2 but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. 3 For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; 6 nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, 7 though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. 8 So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

 

1Th. 2:9   You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. 11 As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, 12 urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

 

1Th. 2:13   We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins; but God’s wrath has overtaken them at last.

 

1Th. 2:17   As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 Yes, you are our glory and joy!

 

I highlighted verse 13. We can ask ourselves, “how do I receive the word of God?” Do we see it from a human perspective, or is God speaking to us.

 

Let me add one thing right now. It’s likely that most of the people in Thessaloniki heard the word rather than read it. Only about 10 percent of the people could read. That means this letter was written to be read out loud. It also suggests that we might understand it better if we study it as a speech rather than a work of literature. For example, if we focus on the written word, we might spend a lot of time digging into the meaning of each word. If we take a rhetorical approach, meaning understanding it as a speech, we focus more on the impact of the words. Those who study rhetoric think that this letter sounds like a half-time speech given to a football team that is winning but needs to be encouraged to play hard in the second half. Paul doesn’t write as if the Thessaloniki Christians are messing up, but rather as if they need to be encouraged to keep doing the things that they have already been doing well.

 

Again we ask, “Do you hear this word as the word of the Lord?” What does it look like when someone hears the word of the Lord?

 

-Greg Demmitt

Answer the Call

Mark 3

Mark 3-13

About seven years ago, one of my very closest friends was pregnant. She and her husband already had one daughter who was birthed at home and they had decided that their second child would also be born at home. She asked if I would babysit the older daughter during the delivery. Of course, I said yes.

 

I got a call one morning from my friend and she explained that she was experiencing contractions and that I should be ready to come over in a few hours when the contractions got closer together. Ok, no big deal, I thought. I’ll run a few errands, take care of some other stuff and I’ll simply wait for the call. About four or five hours later, she calls and says, it’s time to come over. Sweet! I was excited!

 

I got to her home and her husband wasn’t there yet, he was still at work. The midwives weren’t there yet, they were stuck in traffic. Oh boy! What had I gotten myself into???

 

I helped her prepare the bed for the delivery and get some other things situated. Thankfully, her husband eventually arrived and the two of them went up the stairs while I stayed downstairs with their little girl. Finally, the midwives busted through the front door and I told them where to go. I decided to take the little girl outside to her playset and within 20 minutes, their second daughter was born.

 

After a bit of time, my friend’s husband, came down stairs and invited me upstairs to introduce me to the newest member of their family.

 

It was only after I had left to go to my own home that I realized what I could have ended up doing if the husband and midwives hadn’t shown up in time. And so, I was so incredibly honored that my friend had asked me to be part of her delivery day. But I never would have been asked to be there in the first place if I hadn’t developed the close relationship with my friend a few years before.

 

In Mark 3, we read about Jesus inviting his closest followers to become His apostles. Simon, James and John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas had all first responded to Jesus’ call of becoming His disciples. They learned from Jesus. They witnessed miracles being performed. They left all that they had to be obedient.

 

Now Jesus was asking for more. He was getting ready to send them out and become fishers of men. A task that wasn’t asked of everyone. This was an important task, one that demanded, not just knowledge and readiness, but a dedication to persist through great trials and tribulations. These men probably had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they said “yes”. But to them, because of the relationship that they had developed with Jesus, the promotion He was offering was the natural thing to agree to.

 

Here’s the thing. Jesus wants our relationship with Him to be so close, so intimate, so natural, that when He asks us to do something, to go somewhere, to minister to some person, that we don’t have a second thought about it. In fact, when we realize His desire for us to do something, it’s an honor and privilege to serve Him in whatever task He’s given us.

 

I was not prepared to deliver a child into this world, but I would have been willing if the need arose. Likewise, I may not know exactly what Jesus is going to ask of me today, tomorrow or the next, but I am willing to do whatever He asks of me. Are you?

 

-Bethany Ligon