6 December 20171 Thessalonians 2:9-13
“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.” (v. 13)
Psalm: Psalm 133
The rumours and accusations about Paul's motivation and activities as a preacher when he visited Thessalonica caused him great concern. Because he had needed to flee for his life he had not been able to see what the end results of his stay there had been. It could have been that the very fact of his escaping from danger had ruined the effectiveness of his message, as people wondered how much he had really cared for them if he was not prepared to stay with them. So Paul emphasises the way he worked with the people and cared for them (verses 9-12) and goes on (verse 13) to thank God for the fact that they listened to his message and realised that it was a word coming to them from God.
Preaching can seem to be a thankless task and Paul only found out much later that his message had been received - and understood. Those who are preachers today have that same feeling of uncertainty. God knows who hears, understands and responds to the message, but how does the preacher feel about it?
After the service, when people come and shake my hand and use those conventional phrases - "Good morning." "Thank you." "Lovely service." "Enjoyed the hymns." "Sorry, there weren't more people here." "Nice day, isn't it?" "The weather's turned nasty again, I see." "You gave us something to think about this morning." - I hope and pray that the thinking wasn't that I'd gone on too long, or missed out their favourite hymn, or forgotten to include the offering.
Did I really speak the words God gave me? Or did I create a barrier to the message I was supposed to deliver? It's a great responsibility, catching someone else's imagination and trying to help them to make sense of faith in the light of everyday life.
Then, here and there and rarely, but often enough to be encouraging, someone speaks those words that confirm my calling - "What you said this morning was meant for me." And I thank God again that this sometimes seemingly thankless task has been worth all the effort and that God has spoken that right word through me to the one who needed it most.'
- When did you last feel that God was speaking to you through someone else and did you take any action?
- What is the most memorable message you have ever heard from a preacher and why was it so significant?