For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 1 Thessalonians 3:8-9 (NIV).
I don’t know all the people who have come to faith or been encouraged in faith because of me; some day, in heaven, I’ll find out. Perhaps there are many; perhaps there are few. Yet, here and now, I’m very encouraged. Occasionally people do message me, thanking me for sharing devotions like these and others. When I see those messages, I’m encouraged. They make me realize that doing these things is doing the right thing. At the same time, they’re a great reminder that ‘it’s not about me.’ Life is about using the talents God gives us to help others in their paths to Jesus.
Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Even on days like today, when there is fear, doubt, and struggle in so many things we do, God still has a plan for our lives. That plan isn’t to fear and doubt, though sometimes struggle will be involved. But it will be struggle to remain standing firm in the Lord. Through it, we will really live.
Paul knew this. He knew the words of Jeremiah; he had been inculcated in them since he was a boy. Later in life, he had a personal, radical encounter with Jesus, who immediately transformed his entire life. Paul knew God had plans for him and that these plans were to prosper him, to use his talents to bless others. Paul’s reward? Thankfulness. Joy; incomparable joy before God because of God because of the faith his friends had.
I don’t know what you’re going through today. Me, today is going to be a tough day. I have a hunch some big things are coming down in my life today and to be honest they intimidate me. Yet through them, God is still working in me. He has plans for me and they don’t involve fear and doubt. They may not even involve ever really knowing how my words and my actions have benefitted others. Yet, no matter what’s going on in my world, I do know that God is working through me, like He did through Paul, like He does through you, too. I know that, here and now, I can celebrate in real joy because He has let me share words of faith with you and that’s important. Instead of worry, my posture will be to thank Him and ask Him for more. And in this, there is real life.
For further reading: Jeremiah 29:11, 1 Corinthians 16:13, 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10.
Lord, thank You for using me to share You with my friends. Help me to do it more.