What a journey we are on! Are you enjoying peeking over Paul’s shoulder as he writes to the Thessalonians? Paul loves that church and he is so proud of how they have grown in such a short time. They were still new believers (less than 2 years), but they had matured as they trusted the Lord through persecution. The one thing that bound them up was false teaching. But Paul has lovingly, though very straight forwardly, given them confidence that they had not missed the rapture. He followed it up by teaching them how to live as they await the day of Jesus’s return.
Friends, we’re awaiting that day as well! Jesus is coming back to take us home to the beautiful place He has prepared for us in the Father’s house! (John 14:1-3)
Now, our ship turns toward home as we sail into the last chapter of 2 Thessalonians. We’ll study verses 1-5, so go ahead and read them.
Have you ever said goodbye to someone you love, but you may never see again (or at least not for a very long time)? What do you say in those moments? It’s not small talk, its the most important and most encouraging things you can think of. That’s Paul’s position. He’s about to say goodbye to a congregation he birthed, and who have made him so proud. He wants to leave them with encouragement. Thus, he issues a call to:
- Prayerfulness (verse 1)
- Preservation (verse 2)
- Protection (verse 3)
- Perseverance (verse 4)
- Patience (verse 5)
Paul gives them a brief, but significant, lesson regarding prayer, and he begins in verse 1 by saying, “Pray for us!” Paul, the great apostle, asked for prayer! Do you find it difficult to ask for prayer? At times, in our self-sufficiency, we neglect to do what Paul often did. We all need prayer, and to deny the need is foolish. This is a call to prayerfulness.
Prayer is a lifeline, and everyone calls out to a god of their own choosing! We may pray to the One True God of heaven, or we may cry out to gods of money, power, passion or things. Those things don’t save…only God does. According to John 16:13, it is the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth, and truth sets us free.
The Bible teaches us to be persistent in prayer. Read the following verses while asking the Lord to impress upon you a new and different way to pray:
It is important that we continue developing our prayer life. One thing we know about prayer: when we pray according to His will, He hears us and will answer. Have you ever prayed God’s written word back to Him? Try it! Which of the verses above will you put into practice as you pray this week?
Our prayer should be specific also. Paul clearly provided two prayer requests in verse 1:
- That the Word of the Lord may spread rapidly. Psalm 147:15 tells us His Word runs swiftly. What do you suppose that means? Could it be that God wants us to apply His Word to our lives and “get it out there?”
- That the Word of the Lord may be glorified. He wants prayers to be answered and God to be magnified by it. Check out John 14:12-14 and John 15:7-8. How is God and His Word glorified in those verses?
Verse 2 is a call to preservation, a call for deliverance from evil, wicked people. Undoubtedly, you know a few of those, and as we draw closer to the return of Christ, the Bible tells us there will be more and more false teachers and false prophets. Evil has a foothold in our world and Paul is teaching believers that not all have faith in the One True God. We need to be preserved in the midst of a wicked world.
The NKJV also uses the term “unreasonable.” There are unreasonable people who try to convince us of unreasonable or illogical things. For example, evolution is illogical. It cannot be proven through science, philosophy or reason. It is simply wishful thinking for those who refuse to acknowledge God. The root of that behavior is fear…fear of accountability to a God they hope does not exist.
The call to protection appears in verse 3. The Lord is faithful to establish and guard you! “Establish” means to resolutely strengthen and absolutely confirm you. Wow! That’s our God. “Guard” is an interesting word, meaning God alone stands watch over you! Only He is able. Our protection comes as we stay in His Word, wrap ourselves in His presence and remain in fellowship with Him!
In verse 4 is the call to perseverance. Paul had supreme confidence in the new believers because they were doing, and would continue to do, the will of God. They were persevering through tremendous persecution without wavering in their walk. Paul was proud, and knew that the trials they faced would not destroy them, but would strengthen them. Are you going through trials right now? If so, read James 1:2-6 to find encouragement, and to find the part that prayer plays as you persevere! Read Romans 5:1-5 to find the results.
Finally, in verse 5, there is a call to patience. Paul’s desire was for the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ to be manifested in believers. To be steadfast means to be patient in the process. God is at work in the life of the believer who is prayerful, who is preserved (kept) from wickedness, who is protected by God and who persevere through hardship. This world dishes out evil and it will only get worse as the day of Jesus’s return draws near. We must activate every spiritual weapon we have.
As Paul was proud of the believers in Thessalonica, I am proud of you! Not because I hold a position such as Paul’s, but because I have the privilege of sailing through life with you. We are nearing our home port and I pray the journey has been fruitful for you. We finish off Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians tomorrow, so be sure to join us then.