There have been thousands of articles, books, and videos on the subject of changing your life. Some may be good, but many times, they make things complicated when it is not that complicated. It amazes me how difficult we have made the life of a believer to be.
I have been teaching online the book of First Thessalonians. Last week, as we were recording, I saw something that made me take notice. Paul is writing to one of the most amazing churches of the New Testament. This church was only three weeks old when Paul had to leave because people wanted to kill him! About three months later, Paul is writing to them because he is living in Corinth, and he is hearing reports about this church in Thessalonica. These reports were about how their faith and love were growing and how they were reaching not only their city but the whole region. I think we would have to agree that was a sign of a healthy church with healthy believers, especially because they were suffering for their faith.
The verse that leaped out to me is found in chapter two, verse 13. Listen to what it says, “For this reason, we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” Paul is giving thanks because of the great things he has heard about them. Then Paul describes what happened to make the change in the lives of these new converts.
Remember this is not complicated or hard to understand! The first thing that Paul says is that they received the Word of God from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. The first step is simply to receive the Word of God. Paul is telling us that we need to take the Word of God. The very first step that the Thessalonian church took was to receive the Word of God. As believers, we need to receive the Word of God daily. There are so many ways to receive the Word. When you study your Bible, you are receiving the Word of God. When you listen to someone who teaches the Word of God, you are taking that first step. Paul taught the Word to the people in Thessalonica, and some received it, and others did not. Those that did not receive, did not receive a changed life. Those who received it took the first step to a changed life.
The next step to a changed life is what Paul said in this verse. He said they accepted it. This is a different word than receive. Many people receive the Word. In other words, they hear the Word, but they don’t take the next step and accept it. What does it mean to accept? It means to take it for yourself. It means to believe it in such a way your life depends on it. I think of it as grabbing it and hugging it to yourself. This is a much more personal step. You grab a hold of the Word of God; you accept it as truth. You hug it to yourself. The Word of God becomes yours. You are embracing it! Many people hear the Word but never embrace it personally. The Word of God cannot be effective in our lives until we embrace it. Your Bible will only work for you when you accept it personally as a Word from God Himself. It is then and only then that something powerful happens. The Word of God changes us. It empowers us! It corrects us! It makes us dynamic, life-giving people.
At the end of the verse, Paul makes this statement, “…which performs its work in you who believe.” What is it that changes you and your circumstances? It is the Word of God that has been received and accepted by you. It will change you! It will change your circumstances! It will heal your body! It will provide for you!
The Word of God works!!