Devotional: December 1, 2020
Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.
First Thessalonians 1: 2-5 The Message
Filled with a thankful heart, but separated from his beloved friends at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul penned these thoughtful words.
As our nation continues to be separated from loved ones, perhaps these words can offer us some guidance.
Paul’s words have stood the test of time for several reasons. Here are a few:
First, his attitude of grateful appreciation is constant. He writes that he gives thanks for the Thessalonians every single time he thinks of them. Rather than resenting his present situation of being distant from them, he is thankful for his friends. He focuses on his memories and the blessing he experienced while being with them.
Second, Paul prays for his friends in Thessalonica. His care for them finds an outlet in his daily prayers to the Lord, and theirs as well. Perhaps Paul feels as though prayers for his brothers and sisters in the faith can span the distance between them, as indeed only prayer can.
Third, Paul affirms the special place that the Thessalonians hold in God’s heart. He knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves them. He also affirms that they each have a unique and very important calling from their Lord and Savior. Their firm convictions, for which Paul helped pave the way, are another link the Thessalonians have with Paul, and with the Lord.
This passage leads me to ask myself some questions. Perhaps it will lead you to ask yourself similar questions.
Who am I thankful for, every single time I think of them?
Who do I lift up in prayer before the Lord? Why do I mention them in my prayers? What are the specific reasons?
Where do I see God’s hand at work in my friends, my community, and my world?
Although our official “Thanksgiving” day is behind us, every single day we live is a day to give thanks to the Lord. This is an important and life-changing lesson we learn from the Apostle Paul. While our culture often focuses on the negative, and likes to grumble and complain, we as Christians have a better choice. Paul points us towards a more excellent way: eternal gratitude. Give thanks to the Lord: this day, and every day!
Today, Lord, I thank You for the blessings which may seem small, but are filled with your care and comfort. Thank You for those whom I love, but from whom I am separated at this time. Even if I cannot offer them my presence, I can always lift them to You in my prayers. Help me to be mindful of Your eternal love. May I continue to offer my love and appreciation to You.
With a thankful heart, I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen