Saturday, April 21, 2007

1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 --- Imitators

4For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8The 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, 9for 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, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Verses 4 – 5 are a picture of how I want to present the gospel: with power, the Holy Spirit and with conviction. Without the work of the Holy Spirit the impact of the message will be minimized and in many, or most, cases it will not bear fruit. The Holy Spirit brings the power and penetrates the hearts of those who hear the gospel and thus regenerates and brings the change. We need to speak with conviction. We need to confidently present the gospel. But, we must invite and cry out for the Holy Spirit to show up in power.

Verse 6 is an incredible statement that Paul makes. He actually commends the Thessalonians for being imitators of the Lord and also of himself, Timothy, and Silas. How many of us would be comfortable with someone imitating us? Are we worthy of imitating? Paul felt comfortable with others imitating him. We must live our lives as ones who are worthy of being imitated. That is a big task, but that is what we are called to do. For we are supposed to be imitators of Christ. We are supposed to be followers of Christ and live our lives as he lived his life. When we live like the new creations that we are, putting off the old self and clothing ourselves with the new self, we will be worth imitating.
What happened when the Thessalonian Christians imitated Paul and the Lord? They were able to endure suffering; they became model believers; their faith became known everywhere; and they turned from idols to serve the one true God. Basically, they lived for the Lord and spread the gospel throughout the land because of the way they lived for him. God used them because of their obedience and surrender.

Lord, may I be an imitator of you. May I continue to take of the old and put on the new. I want to be a model to all believers. That will require much more wore work in me. Please keep pushing me and changing me. Get me to the point to where it is ok for others to actually imitate me. Do you work in my life. I continue to surrender to you.

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