Last week we looked at biblical persecution and suffering and discovered that in context, Paul spoke of suffering because of a stand or position for Christ. We learned that one reason for suffering is for God to determine if we are worthy of the Kingdom. Suffering also produces endurance which is proof of our salvation.
We saw that God will take care of those that do suffer for His sake and we saw that God will also take care of those that persecute.
I hope you’ll take your Bible and read 2 Thes. 1:11-12. You can listen to the accompanying podcast here.
The first thing I want to look at is Paul’s prayer. Paul spent a significant amount of time in prayer. He not only taught the Thessalonians and spent time with them, he used the one tool each of us possess to affect change. Paul prayed for them. The Thessalonians were continuously on his mind and on the minds of his companions. It is no wonder that Paul prays always for them. Remember in 1 Thes. 5:17 Paul instructed them to, “Pray without ceasing.” Paul practiced what he preached.
We know Paul is a prayer warrior, but what did he pray? It’s a two part prayer. The first thing Paul prays is, “That our God will count you worthy of your calling.” Paul knows what is happening to them and it’s interesting to note that no where here is a request for God to take away their situation. Paul has experienced persecution and suffering first hand. Remember he was run out of Thessalonica by the religious crowd of the day. To get some more insight into Paul’s personal persecution, read 2 Cor. 11:23-29. Paul knew persecution and suffering and his prayer was that the Thessalonians would be counted worthy.
The second thing Paul prays is that God will, “fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power.” Notice who Paul asks to make it happen. It is God’s desire for goodness or God’s purpose and our work of faith. We are supposed to work by faith to achieve what God desires. We often confuse our desires with God’s desires. I think this confusion results from our ignorance of God’s character. We wrongly conclude that God wants us happy not holy. We live for the moment rather than for eternity. We emphasize God’s love over His judgment. We think our plans are more important than God’s plans. God has great plans in store for us, but I wonder how often do we get in the way of what He desires? Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare [which means completeness] and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
It is God’s goodness and our faith. Our faith that is infused by God’s power. Power that is inherent simply because it is God’s. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Now I understand faith is a hard thing, but it seems it’s only hard when talking about God. We have faith in our government even though I would classify it as a mess. We have faith in our friends even though they repeatedly let us down. Remember Charlie Brown? He faith that Lucy wouldn’t pull the football out, but she did every time.
We have faith in everything except:
- The One that will never fail us.
- The One that cares for us more than anyone.
- The One that created the heavens and the earth.
- The One that created us in His own image.
- The One that breathed life in us.
- The One that loved us so much He was willing to send His only Son to die for us.
- The One who cares so much about us that He left the Holy Spirit to live within us and lead us and guide us.
- The One that really wants a relationship with us.
So we have to ask ourselves, why is our faith in God so hard? Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” 1 John 5:4 says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” Overcome here means conquer. Our faith in God has conquered the world. When you look at it in that light, there is no reason to doubt.
The Gospel writer Mark tells us of the father that brought his demon possessed son to Jesus for healing. He complained because the disciples weren’t able to help the boy. As the father relates this to Jesus, in Mark 9:23 Jesus tells him, “All things are possible to him who believes.” The father responded by saying, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Believe and unbelief in these two verses are both forms of the Greek word for faith – pistis. The father was saying, “I believe, but my faith is lacking, Jesus fill in the holes so I can have complete confidence in You.”
James 1:8 tells us that, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” It means one who is wavering. Someone who has no settled principles; who is controlled by passion; who is influenced by popular feeling. He is unstable in all his ways. His prayer life. His personal life. His work life. It is fair to say that life lives him, he doesn’t live life. Maybe that’s where you are. You know what faith is, but are having a hard time applying it to your life and really letting go and trusting God.
If you know the character of God, it’s easier to let go. Was it hard for Abraham when he was told to sacrifice Isaac? Was it hard for Job when he lost everything and had a nagging wife? Was it hard for Moses to go to Pharaoh when all he thought about was his lack of ability? Was it hard for Noah to build a boat when he didn’t know what rain was? Was it hard for Joseph to stay engaged to Mary when he found out she was pregnant?
For most of us, the biggest stretch of faith is trusting that God will provide what we need to live. Look at Matthew 6:25-34. You see, God does have it all worked out, but this is a conditional clause and the “but” is recorded in v. 33. Perhaps we’re struggling because our priority isn’t on seeking God’s kingdom or His righteousness first.
Paul’s provides the goal of his prayer in v. 12. Paul prays that Jesus will be glorified in us and for us to be glorified in Him. But that glorification doesn’t begin with Christ’s return. The glorification process began with our salvation. As we are changed into the image of Christ, Jesus receives glory from what He is doing in us. 2 Cor. 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” Transformed literally mean change form. It’s where we get our English word metamorphosis. Each day, we look more like Christ then we did the day before. It is amazing to look at the beauty that God created, but it’s even more amazing to look at the transformation occurring on a daily basis in those that are called children of God.
Paul’s prayer is that God will count us worthy of the calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power and that God will be glorified in us and us in Him.
Is that happening in your life?