Over the past weeks I was preparing to write a couple of short devotionals for the Advent booklet my local church publishes each Advent season. My one assignment included I Thessalonians 2:1 – 10.
“You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.”
I had a few ideas for the devotional. Actually one verse in particular was a favorite and had been for many years. “Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” Last week as I set down to write that devotional I checked what the theme for that particular day was – “Our Rescuer.” What??? I was confused and reread the verses. I don’t get our rescuer from these verses. I must be missing something. Pondered and read those verses again and again. This went on for a couple of days until I contacted my pastor to confirm the scripture reference and to ask for insight if it was the right verse and I just wasn’t getting it. It wasn’t the right scripture for that day. The correct reference was I Thessalonians 1:2-10. Thankfully the right verses did speak of our rescuer and I met my deadline.
“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message 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. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 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, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”
Most days when I get out of the shower the mirror in the bathroom is fogged up. It always reminds me of the verses in I Corinthians 13: “now we see in part then we will see fully.”
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
The “wrong scripture” experience this past week reminded me of those same verses. I couldn’t see in full. I needed to ask for clarification. Unfortunately events in the news recently have reminded me of those verses as well. I know what has happened but I can’t fully understand but I know without a doubt that “Love never fails.”
- Cling to Him – The God of Comfort
- Salt and Light