v1-12 - Christianity is not like a product that needs to be sold by a fast talking salesman, or a political platform that needs to be propped up by duplicitous politicians with ulterior motives. In v4, Paul describes the authority of men called to preach God's Word:
On the contrary, we speak as those
approved by God
to be entrusted with the gospel.
We are not trying
to please people
but God, who tests our hearts.
v13-20 - The preached gospel produces life changing results. This made the Thessalonians look far different than their neighbors, which wasn't always welcome.
The Bible is not just another set of ideas floating out there that's on the same level as any other book on the shelf. The reason we participate in daily Bible reading is because this book is so different. It's powerful and authoritative, as is made clear in v13-14
you received the Word of God,
which you heard from us,
you accepted it
not as a human word,
but as it actually is, the Word of God...
This is why the Bible is the central focus of our worship services (we read the Bible, proclaim the Bible, pray the Bible and sing the Bible). As you participate in these disciplines, both when you come to church, and right now as you're reading the Bible on your own, know that God Himself is speaking to you through those words!
Because the Bible is the powerful Word of God, it is at work - it ought to transform the way you live. Verses 13-14 continue:
the Word of God,
which is indeed at work
in you who believe.
For you, brothers,
of God’s churches
The work of God's Word is not to just wipe away the problems in your life, in a sense just giving you a blank slate so that you can once again live however you want, rather your life should imitate (literally mimic) the lives of other saints who have God's Word at work in their lives.
This is one of the reasons that God calls us, both as individuals and churches, to live in community with other Christians and other churches.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
The story of Esther tells of the time when God's people were exiled and living in a foreign land. Even so, these exiles remained true to God's Word, which did not go unnoticed by the royal officials:
Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them.
You must live in a way that gets noticed, but don't expect this world to reward you for doing so. In fact, expect quite the opposite.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL— Paul commends the Thessalonians for following or imitating the churches in another place. What place was this? (See verse 14.)
After reading this chapter, how would you explain to someone what the Bible is?
Question 1 from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who has revealed Himself to us in His holy Word
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God's Word continues to be at work in your life
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: