Monday Devotional: October 16, 2023



Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (NRSVUE)

1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. 2 We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy from the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. 9 For they report about us what kind of welcome we had among you and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

A small brown rock sits on my desk amid other sentimental stuff- wind up clacking teeth, a challenge coin from a police department I served as chaplain, a tiny carved wooden elephant from Nigeria. The unassuming rock has a word etched on one side- gozo, a Spanish word translated as “joy”. The rock reminds me of a lesson learned in a caring multiethnic community. Joy.

“You received the word with joy.” Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy commend that first-century community for the way they’ve received the message of the gospel. They’ve imitated the ways of Paul and his companions – and, even more importantly, they’ve become imitators of Jesus Christ.

Thessalonica, the capital city of Macedonia region, boasted a city of more than two hundred thousand people- Greeks, Romans, and Jews. It was a regional hub because of its hot springs. As a naval station, prominently situated along military highway, it was a wealthy city, center of commerce, but one known for cult worship and licentious behavior.

The Thessalonians receive the word with joy and not only imitate Paul and his companions but turn “to serve a living and true God.” They move their faith from head to heart to hands and become missionaries themselves. Paul states, “You became an example of all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” The rapid growth of the Thessalonian church and its commitment leads to the persecution of the merging religious community.

Even so, the Thessalonians “received the word with joy.” Perhaps it’s precisely when times are most difficult that we can discover or rediscover our solid foundation in joy. That little brown rock on my desk reminds me of this every day!


Holy One, bless our lives with joy. Lead us once again to an awareness that you are always with us- and in your presence we discover everlasting joy. Amen.

By Arthur McClanahan Steve Harper, The Upper Room Disciplines 2017, page 350.