January 13, 2012


1 Thessalonians 1:1-6

You welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 1:6


In his book Loving God Up Close, Calvin Miller admits that there have been times when he has gone to church with a critical spirit. On those Sunday mornings, nothing seems right. There are spelling mistakes in the bulletin. Singers in the choir hit wrong notes. The minister makes too many grammatical errors and should have spent more time in study before preaching his sermon.

Are you honest enough to admit that sometimes you have gone to church in that kind of mood—“snarling and growling” in the presence of God, as Miller describes it? If so, you know how important it is to have the Holy Spirit produce joy in your heart. Paul noticed that the believers in Thessalonica had the joy given by the Holy Spirit. This kind of joy touches our hearts in places that disappointment cannot reach. If this deep joy was more powerful than the severe suffering the Thessalonians experienced, it’s certainly strong enough to conquer our minor complaints and crankiness.

That’s what Miller says happens whenever he goes to church in the wrong frame of mind. The worship service gets better as it moves along—not because it’s being improved but because he is. That’s how God has designed worship to work. As we give God glory, God gives us joy.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us joy. Help us to submit more and more to you so that the Holy Spirit will increase our joy in you. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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