Ray of Hope Shining on the Face of a Child

Devotion for Today — March 1st

Thankful For What?

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

Paul is continually thankful in prayer for these believers, for three things: Their faith, their love, and their hope. In the New Testament, those are always listed as fundamental characteristics of those who have come to Christ. You recall that at the close of the 13th chapter of First Corinthians, Paul says, and now abide faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). These three qualities, says the apostle, will never end.

But specifically, as we see here, it is not merely faith, hope, and love. It is a faith which works, a love which labors, and a hope which endures. Paul puts it that way so that we may see these as the great motives of the Christian life. If you have true faith, if you have love born of the Spirit, and if you have hope in the coming of Christ, you will be motivated to live as you ought today.

What is this work of faith that Paul speaks of? He sums it up himself in verse 9. There he speaks of how the Thessalonians had turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God. That is faith at work. Faith is not merely belief; it is something that changes you. Faith makes you turn from what is wrong to what is right, from dark and hurtful things to right and true and healthy things. And faith will turn you from the worship of idols to God. Notice the direction of this action: to God, from idols. It is not put the other way around. You do not leave your idols for some reason and then painfully try to find God. What happens is that you discover something of the beauty, the glory and greatness of God, and you are willing to forsake the cheap and tawdry things you have been trying to satisfy yourselves with.

Modern America is one of the most idolatrous countries the world has ever seen. I once heard of a Chinese man who visited here and was asked, upon his return to China, whether Americans worshipped idols. Yes, they do, he reported. They have three of them. In the winter they worship a fat man in a red suit. In the spring they worship a rabbit. And in the fall they sacrifice a turkey! We chuckle at that, but these are not true idols.

America today worships not only Eros, the goddess of sex, but Baal, the erotic deity associated with fertility rites. Baal worship encouraged degenerate practices of the most licentious kind. It is reflected in the loathsome practices in our country today. Baal worship is manifest in the rise of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle. It is behind the pornography that pervades almost every aspect of life in our times. Americans are also worshipping the god Molech, the terrible god into whose fiery mouth parents in ancient times threw their own children, destroying them to relieve the guilt of their own consciences.

Thank you, Father, for the faith, love and hope I see in those who know you. Along with them, teach me to turn from worthless idols and serve the true and living God.

Life Application

In whom do you see works produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope? Thank God for them and let them know as well.

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

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