Focal passage: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
We’ve all done it. We give a passing smile and feign politeness as people walk in to church on a Sunday morning, all the while guzzling our coffee as we prepare ourselves to be “present” with our local assemblies.
Even as a leader, sometimes we can feel guilty or self-conscious by our lack of authenticity.
Is everyone this happy or are they faking it too?
Rather than faking, what if God is calling us to true joy and love for others. A love and a joy that lasts for the glory of God and good of others.
Jesus envisioned His disciples receiving from Him “full joy” (John 15:11), a joy that expresses itself in tangible ways to those around us.
In this session passage, Paul gives thanks to the fellow believers in Thessalonica and expresses how the gospel has impacted their lives.
The gospel has clearly gone to them first, but then it spread to the surrounding areas, creating a greater gospel presence “in every place your faith toward God has gone forth” (v. 8).
This group of believers then becomes the example for others as they serve God and eagerly await the return of Jesus (v. 10).
From this passage, we see two themes: the roots of true joy, and the fruits of true joy. In verses 1-5, the roots of joy are grounded in the Thessalonians’ work, labor and steadfastness in Jesus.
Specifically, in verse 5 Paul says the gospel didn’t simply come in word only – but in “power” and “full conviction” all accompanied by the Holy Spirit.
Once the gospel came, true Christian virtues like faith, hope and love inevitably became the catalyst for works of love toward others. It also must be with us!
Has the gospel impacted our communities with true power?
To round out the passage, the fruit of joy produces disciples that serve the true God and become examples for others to follow!