June 15, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
The Joy of the Holy Spirit Today
“You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit.”
1 Thessalonians 1:6, Page 1846
Have you ever noticed the way that little children imitate their parents? Sometimes, the parents become mighty embarrassed. Paul reminded people to imitate Jesus, because we should follow His example (1 Corinthians 11:1, page 1794). As believers, our lives should imitate the life our Savior. But, so often, our lives actually imitate the lives of the unsaved people around us. Therefore, we must make a conscious decision to be an example, like Jesus, for every person around us, and especially believers. But, how do we do that?
Paul recalled that the Thessalonians received the Word of God in much tribulation. This word “tribulation” means a violent time of trouble. If you were to go back and read Acts when Paul first visited Thessalonica, you would see that the Jews became enraged with Paul and his preaching of Jesus. They formed a mob and set the city in an uproar (Acts 17:1-9, page 1734). Those same Jews from Thessalonica even chased after Paul when he went to Berea and preached the Gospel of Jesus to them (Acts 17:13, page 1734). So, I hope you can now see that the believers in Thessalonica had very strong opposition from the Jews in the city who rejected the Gospel. Even so, the believers had joy.
In that atmosphere of tribulation, the believers at Thessalonica had the kind of joy only the Holy Spirit can bring. You may recall that the Holy Spirit produces spiritual fruit in our lives, including joy (Galatians 5:22, page 1825). In the same way, Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2, page 1884). Sometimes when things seem the toughest, the Holy Spirit produces joy that fills our hearts and makes us feel like Jesus inside. We know His joy deep inside, even though outside things can get intensely troubling.
So, 1 Thessalonians 1:6 shows us that Paul prayed for the Thessalonians, and remembered how they became imitators of Paul and his friends, even when the persecution of believers was rising, but the Holy Spirit gave them joy inside. You see, as we stand together in tribulation, we feel the joy together as the Holy Spirit fills us to do God’s will. We share His joy together, and set an example by God’s grace in our lives.
Application for Today
Today, I will focus upon my example. I will be setting one today for God or living in sin. By God’s power, I want to thrive in persecution, and feel the joy of the Holy Spirit as I stand strong with my Christian friends. Will you rejoice with us today and be an example for all believers?