Transformed by the Truth
Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, 2:13
1 Thessalonians 2:13, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”
She’d been on hospice for quite some time, long before I started my job as hospice chaplain. The hospice team had done a wonderful job of caring for her and her household, but she had not been interested in being visited by the hospice chaplain (me). So, one of the nurses “negotiated” my first visit. According to the terms, I could accompany the nurse on a visit and return for subsequent visits only if I met with our patient’s approval. So, I visited. We talked. I listened. She was concerned about what was going to happen to her when she died. That first visit led to many more. She had never attended church and had never read the Bible! I got her a large print version, but the print wasn’t big enough, so I found one with an extra-large print. After explaining to her some Bible navigation basics, I encouraged her to read through the gospel of John, keeping two questions in mind: 1) Who is Jesus?; and 2) What does He want you to do? She read the gospel and kept on reading, through Acts and into the epistles. There were a lot of questions, and we spent a lot of time talking about Jesus and salvation and heaven! We didn’t know it when she professed her faith in Jesus, but she was soon to leave this world. As with the thief on the cross, salvation came when she was at death’s door. How important it was for her to accept the Word for “what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
The term translated accepted in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 speaks of a deliberate and ready reception of what is offered. It means to welcome with open arms, even going beyond what is normally expected of a host. Laura and I stayed with our son in Astoria over the recent Mother’s Day weekend. He was such a gracious and thoughtful host, seeing to his mom’s every potential need. He did that because of his love for her. You might say that he laid out the welcome mat for us. That’s the idea behind the use of the term.
Have you laid out the welcome mat of your heart to your Bible? You’d not welcome an intruder into your home. A solicitor or a stranger would not be readily received. But your door swings wide open for a best friend or beloved family member. Likewise, your heart’s door should swing wide open to the Word. You’ve no better friend. To be sure, he might sometimes confront you with hard truths, or bring up things you’d rather keep hidden or forget, but he does all that it does in love for you. No other friend can encourage as he can. No other friend can speak with such wisdom. No other friend will always prove true in all he speaks and promises. To hear from him is to hear truths that are powerful to save and transform. So where are you at with the word of God? How do you relate to it? As a hostile intruder? A questionable stranger? A mere acquaintance? A neglected friend? Anything less than a beloved and welcomed friend is not good enough. Devotion to the Word is born out of such a perspective. And to the extent we welcome the Word and give it free rein in us, it’ll powerfully work to save and transform!
Lay out a welcome mat of your heart to the Word of God, you’ll find no more trustworthy friend.Jerry Conklin
LOVE DIVINE, ALL LOVES EXCELLING
Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heav’n, to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art.
Visit us with thy salvation;
enter ev’ry trembling heart.
Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into ev’ry troubled breast.
Let us all in thee inherit,
let us find the promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be.
End of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.
Come, Almighty, to deliver,
let us all thy life receive.
Suddenly return, and never,
nevermore they temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.
Finish, then, thy new creation;
true and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee.
Changed from glory into glory,
till in heav’n we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love and praise.