1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 - We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our Gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the Word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the Word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Is it just me, or does anyone else think that sock puppets are a bit creepy? There they are, wiggling and rolling their fake eyeballs and pretending to talk, but all the while you know that there's an invisible human hand inside the sock, making them do whatever they do. Maybe it's the same reason why popular movies about demon possession are creepy—or body snatchers, or anything else that supposedly takes over human beings and makes them do things willy nilly. We instinctively know that we are supposed to have free will. We are not supposed to be puppets, toys, marionettes on a string. God didn't make us for that.
And yet He did make us to be people who have the Holy Spirit living and working inside us—living out Jesus' life through us—changing us more and more into the image of Christ. I suppose that's the good, positive, real thing of which the horror movies are a caricature. Having God inside us is what we were made for—our normal state, not some horror. When He lives in us, we retain our freedom—and we have all His help and power as we live as disciples of Jesus.
That's what Paul is highlighting when he talks to the Thessalonians about "your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." The Thessalonians are full of faith and hope and love, and their lives reflect that. Their faith shows in the way they live every day. The love of Jesus shines through in the way they take care of each other and of their non-Christian neighbors. And they have hope, real, solid hope—a hope that the world does not have, and can't really understand—because Jesus died and rose from the dead to make them (and you!) His own forever.
As someone who trusts in Jesus, this gift is for you as well. Jesus lives in you, and will live through you, as much as you let Him. He will not force you, but He will gladly help you—because He loves you, through life and death and life again.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, live in me and through me, and help me to know You better. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. How do you feel about puppets? Do you like them or not, and why?
2. Why is having the Holy Spirit living in you not the same as being a puppet?
3. Tell about a time when God living in you helped you handle a difficult situation in your life.
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"