THE BOOK OF 2 THESSALONIANS
Praying for protection
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 SCC 8/17/14
What fruit do you want from your ministry? Here you can feel the shepherd's heart as he expresses it in these verses. Basically there are four desires. They are the spiritual activities that he expects his people to engage in. They're his expectations and desires for the flock God has given him.
THAT YOUR DISCIPLES WOULD ENGAGE IN PROLONGED INTERCESSORY PRAYER 1-2
1. Finally, literally means "for the rest." Paul was without equal as a gifted, powerful, competent, effective minister. He had immense natural abilities, brilliant, logical, persuasive, erudite, educated, trained, religious, spiritually minded, perceptive, experienced. It was the power of God at work in him that transcended his natural giftedness that made him the man that he was for divine purposes. He himself confessed in Colossians 1 verse 29, "I labor, striving according to His power which mightily works within me."
2. And consequently there are frequent pleas for his people to pray for him. Those pleas underline how strongly he leaned on divine power. Paul needed their intercession. His was also a hard life. He also knew the meaning of persecution. He faced difficulty. He faced a solitary life. He faced danger constantly. He usually was self-supporting, usually had to preach to people who didn't want to hear what he said, in places where he never was invited to begin with. Life for him was one unending challenge and the threat of death was imminent. He bore in his body the marks of Jesus Christ. He faced death on a daily basis. And he knew he couldn't succeed in his own human flesh and he was dependent upon the power of the Lord and he knew that power was released through the prayers of his people. And so in verse 1 he says, "Finally, brethren...pray for us"
3. The purpose for intercessions He realized was that God would work in response to the requests of His people. Now he has two things that he wants them to pray about.
First, he asks for the success of the message that the Word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified. Pray for the success of the message. Be glorified means appreciated, honored, respected, or admired. He's simply saying that it will be received with a proper response. That people will hear the gospel and they will affirm it to be the gospel. Specifically, Paul asked the Thessalonians to ask God to facilitate the rapid and wide dissemination of the gospel and thus glorify His Word. Paulís readers had seen God do this in their midst when Paul and his fellow missionaries first visited their city.
Second, he asks for the safety of the messengers and that we may be delivered. Pray that the message will go on successfully and the messengers will be unhindered. Paul was always facing hostility. So when you pray that the message may succeed, you have to pray that the messenger will be faithful to open his mouth that he'll make known clearly the mysteries of the gospel. In Colossians 4, the same request comes out of his heart, verse 2, "Devote yourselves to prayer," verse 3, "Praying at the same time for us that God may open up to us a door for the Word so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ for which I have also been imprisoned." Then he adds, "In order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak."
3. Then he identifies who is dangerous, namely, perverse and evil men. Here it means some person who is out of his proper place, who is perverse. And then he adds evil, or malignant aggressive wickedness. Pray for us that we will be rescued from the threats and the power of perverse, aggressively wicked people who want to shut our mouths so the message can't be preached. Pray for us.
4. And then he adds a note of explanation, "For not all have faith." The Thessalonians may have responded to the gospel message in such a wonderful way and this might seem to be the norm. But, not everyone is going to respond the way you did. So the Apostle calls for the intercession of the church so that the Word may move rapidly and triumphantly and hostile unbelievers will not hinder the messengers. That's his prayer.
NB: Practice prolonged intercessory prayer!
THAT YOUR DISCIPLES WOULD TRUST THE LORD FOR SPIRITUAL PROTECTION 3
1. Remember the Lord is faithful. In 2 Timothy 4:16, "At my first defense no one supported me, all deserted me but the Lord stood with me and strengthened me." Everybody else was gone, but He was there, He's faithful. Your God is absolutely and always faithful and you need to hold to that. Even if we doubt, He remains faithful.
2. No matter what happens, no matter how hostile they are, no matter how severe the persecution and trials and trouble, you know this, your Lord is faithful so keep trusting Him. He will strengthen you. That's talking about the inside, strengthening your inner man and giving you an inner security. He will build you up on the inside and protect you from the evil one on the outside. He will fill you with internal strength and shield you from the evil one...most likely a reference to Satan. A faithful Lord will strengthen you on the inside and guard you from attacks by the enemy on the outside. Why?
NB: Understand that Satan wants to destroy your life. Every day of your life Stan wishes to destroy it and he would if he could. He is not your friend. The Lord takes up your cause.
THAT YOUR DISCIPLES TAKE GODS WORD SERIOUSLY ENOUGH TO OBEY 4
1. We have confidence in the Lord, not in your flesh, "but in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command." This is a very positive approach to this exhortation. NB: Donít misplace your confidence. It should never be in you. If it is you will not pray. Why should you? It really depends upon you?
2. That they be obedient, Obey my commands. And so he says I want to see your continued sustained ongoing obedience. I am confident in the Lord that you will continue by His strength to obey as you have been obeying. I can't be there. While I'm gone I want you to pray for the success of the message and the safety of the messenger. I can't be there to hold your hand and take you through the trials and comfort you, but you need to know this, you can trust the faithful Lord who will strengthen you on the inside and protect you on the outside. I can't be there to monitor you and hold you accountable, but I believe and am confident that as you have continued to obey you will do so in the future. This is a positive approach based upon the pattern of obedience already established. And his confidence was not a vote of confidence on human nature but in the Lord.
NB: So the expectation of Godís Word is that we understand and obey apostolic NT instruction.
THAT YOUíRE DISCIPLES AFFECTION FOR GOD AND CHRIST INCREASE 5
1. His desire is that they be spiritually growing. In other words, may the Lord open up a path for you so that your inner man can move down that path and clear the trail so to move your inner man down that path into the love of God. Is that objective or subjective? Are we talking about into God's love for you, or your love for God? The answer is probably both. Go down the path deeper and deeper into God's love for you, which is going to cause you to love Him more and more.
2. And secondly, he says, I want the Lord to lie out the path and push your inner being down the path into the steadfastness or the patience of Christ. It can either be His patience with us, or our patience in His strength through endurance. I want you to go down the path learning more and more how patient, how enduring Christ is over your sins and your problems and struggles and even how greater you can understand his own endurance in his own struggles, and consequently have a greater endurance of your own.
NB: God wants us to ascertain spiritual reality through temporal circumstances!
3. I want you to know more about God's love so you can love Him more. I want you to know more about Christ's endurance so you can endure more. I want you to grow spiritually in your love and in your endurance. That's his point. You're not there. I want you to advance in love and advance in patience under persecution as Christ did. What a group of disciples to have and then to nurture.
There should be an endgame to your discipling of others. Namely, prolonged intercessory prayer; spiritual protection, obedience, and devotion. Tangible outcomes impacting the way they think and live.