Monday Devotional: October 30, 2023





Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 (NRSVUE)

9 You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. 11 As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, 12 urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

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.

Alabama’s legislature passed the meanest anti-immigration law in the nation. I wrote a letter protesting the spiteful law. An immigration activist asked, “But what are you going to do? Your letter is just words. What about action?”

Paul says that in this faith, it’s never “just words.” Paul led fledging churches through letters, praising the church at Thessalonica for receiving his words “not as a human word” but as “God’s word” so that these words were “at work in you believers”.

All God had to do to create the world was to say the word. The gospel spread like wildfire throughout the world through witness, letters, and sermons. A couple of centuries after Paul wrote these words, the church defeated the Roman Empire without firing a shot or raising a platoon, all on the basis of a bunch of words called scripture.

Why are you a Christian? Why you are reading these words? I bet that God used words to “work in you”- nonviolent, noncoercive but powerful-in-the-hands-of-God words.

Tomorrow in church, through hymns, scripture reading, prayers, and a sermon, you will hear and speak only words. Be warned: Scripture tells a story of how an active, revealing God seizes these human words to do God’s work in the hearts and minds of people like you. By God’s grace little words like grace, love, go, and invite burrow into your soul; they ignite, push, and prod you to something beautiful for God. It’s then that you acknowledge Paul’s truth-telling: Just through words, God is “at work in you”.

And by the way, that sorry law was erased without violence or mayhem, with nothing but words.


Lord Jesus, who not only loves us but also speaks to us, who speaks to us in order to change us, go ahead, speak to me. Amen.

By Will Willimon, The Upper Room Disciplines 2017, page 367.


Monday, October 30, 2023, 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.