Thessalonians Series #8
A Shepherd's Prayer
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
We have such a sweet closing to this and many of Paul's letters. Here it is as if thinking ahead, he realizes he is about to close this letter and he doesn't want to close it. He loves these people and he doesn't want to let go. His Pastor's heart comes out in these first 5 verses of Chapter 3
> Reviewing from Last week ... <
1. Request for Prayer
Ephesians 6:19,20 - says "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."
B. Prayer For the Gospel
1. that the gospel may spread rapidly
a. pray with urgency
- Because Satan is a Liar John 8:43-44 " … for he is a liar and the father of lies,"
Hebrews 4:12 - "the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
C. Prayer for Intercession
For deliverance from wicked and evil men
Then Paul shifts from Concern to Confidence -
<and continuing now>
2. Resounding Confidence
A. Confidence In the Lord
- Proverbs 3:26 for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared
1. the Lord is faithful - I'm NOT counting on YOUR faithfulness I'm counting on the faithfulness of the Lord who lives within you
a. His Nature - His Glory is to be Faithful to His People
Isaiah 49:7 - Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you
1 Cor 1:9 - God who has called you … Is Faithful
1 Thes 5:24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it
Lam 3:23 - … Great is your Faithfulness
Ps 89:2, 8, 33 - …established your faithfulness in heaven
… who is like you … your faithfulness surrounds you
… not … ever betray my faithfulness
b. It is the Source of all of his wondrous deeds toward us
Isa 25:1 O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago
- He does not DO marvelous things in order to remain faithful, no he IS faithful therefore he does marvelous things
c. If he IS faithful, then why would we have trouble, why would he allow "wicked and evil men" into our lives - Sometimes it IS his faithfulness that Afflicts US! What?
Ps 119:75 I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous and in faithfulness you have afflicted me
Remember that Suffering is the Refiner's Fire that makes us FIT for the Kingdom
If he is IN control, then even difficulty that comes our way does NOT escape his Faithfulness. He may NOT cause everything but he IS Sovereign and he allows and is aware of all things and he won't allow more than we can bear or deal with through him according to 1 cor 10:13
God is FAITHFUL and …
2. he will strengthen you
2 Chronicles 16:9 tells me that the Lord will strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him
Isaiah 45:5 -"I am the Lord, there is no other apart from me there is no God I will strengthen You"
1 Samuel 15:29 He who is the GLORY OF ISRAEL does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.
LET ME CHASE A but Meaty Rabbit for a minute
The Hebrew Word translated "GLORY" in the NIV is also translate "STRENGTH" in the King James - but while those words are different the Word itself carries NOT an either or but a BOTH / AND meaning - The Hebrew word - "Nes--ãh" (nay'Atsakh) carried both the meaning of Brilliance AND Endurance
Like the Sun for the Earth is BOTH LIGHT and Durability for Life - So for his People God is BOTH Brilliance and Endurance -
So Paul says that he has Resounding Confidence as Pastor in the Lord because he by Nature will STRENGTHEN and Enlighten His People because it is WHO he is and WHAT he said he is and will do and GOD cannot LIE or change his mind.
God will strengthen you - let me go a step further and say that he HAS strengthened you, get up and live in the strength he has already provided for you
1 Chr 29:12 - … in your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all
Ps 68:5 you are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary, the God of Isreal gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!
He will strengthen you and …
3. he will protect you
Psalm 91:14 - 'Because he loves me,' says the Lord 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.'
1 Peter 1:5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time -
You are shielded by God - We know already from reading these letters from Paul, that in the last days, God's salvation of us from the wrath to come will release and remove us, but UNTIL THEN you are shielded by God's Power - that means you have the strength to handle what he lets through
a. indispensable - I don't know what your protection is but mine is in God - If you are constructing your own protection, you are wasting your time if God is not in it
Ps 127:1 unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain."
Dt 31:6 - be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you
b. Grace is ENOUGH
2 Cor 12:9 my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness
Sometimes his protection for us is the invisible, inexplicable, unstoppable, untouchable, incomparable Grace of God that is ALL SUFFICIENT
c. is always available
Ps 121:3 … he who watches over you will not slumber
Oh I could GO On and ON about the Wondrous Sufficiency of God but let me move on to a Shepherd's
B. Confidence In His Work Among the Faithful
1. You are right, right now
2. you will continue to do the right thing - "what we command"
a. to do what God's inspiration of scripture demands -
b. to join in the vision of God's Leader / Shepherd
3. Resonant Direction
1. sympathetic vibrations
2. we are staying close to God and our heartstrings are resonating with the melody of heaven
3. as you stay close to us and we to God, your heartstrings will resonate as well
4. To Resonate you have to HEAR - FEEL God - Be Close -
But Paul isn't telling them that they need to "get with it and get closer to God" NO - the under-shepherd, Paul makes a gentle prayer to The Good Shepherd, knowing the plight of the sheep and the heart of the Shepherd.
While the Sheep, left to their own devises, tend to wander, sometimes alone, other times in bunches with none knowing where they should go but following fast in the wrong direction Paul prays … May the Lord direct your hearts …
Let's talk about this direction
Direct your hearts -
The Greek Verb translated "direct" here Kateuthuno - (kat·yoo·thoo·no)
Means to "clear the road of obstacles / hindrances" to "open a direct path" to or
This final prayer of this Shepherd is for the Great and Good Shepherd to move the insurmountable obstacles between the sheep and what they really need - TO KNOW GOD in his Love and Perseverance -
I'm the Butcher
Please Shepherd … Lead them into …
1. God's love
a. Inclusion in the Family - "How great is the Love God has lavished on us … children of God" 1 John 3:1
Love this community, Love your neighbor, desire to see them be a part of this family of believers
This is NOT an exclusive group. We don't have a secret handshake or a coded password at the front door. The only thing that separates us should be the knowledge of the Lord Jesus and it is our Job to scale that wall with a witness and a word
b. Innate in Nature - "Love is from God … 1 John 4:7-10, 19&21
everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God … God is Love … this is love Not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son … we love because he first loved us … anyone who does not love … cannot love God …
can't help but love
c. Inseparable from the object of affection - Romans 8 - God's Love is not a fickle love
who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Trouble or hardship, persecution or famine, nakedness or danger … no in all things we are conquerors … neither death nor life, angels nor demons, present nor future, … nothing shall separate us from the love of God
If that love, lives in US, then nothing ought to separate us from God's love expressed through us to our church, our community, our world.
We should not have a fickle love for our brothers and sisters in Christ and especially toward this world in desperate need of Jesus.
Hardship, trouble, persecution, financial struggle, danger, … Oh Satan knows how to make a church ineffective …
Give us a little trouble, give us some personal challenges or church challenges and we take our eyes off the prize, we take our focus off of our purpose and we stop reaching up to God and out to each other and we become another in the long line of ineffective, unproductive, and irrelevant churches. But we are praying that God will remove the obstacles and hindrances and lead you / us into God's Love in the fullest extent of what it means to be in God's love.
We don't really know what it is to walk in his love, to take a few footsteps in the shoes of the Love of God!
Wait a minute, what are the Shoes in the Armor of God? The Preparation of the Gospel of Peace - God's Love in Action the Gospel, Jesus Christ and him crucified, resurrected and Lord - SHOE UP - Walk in the Love of God - The Steps may be too wide but let him lead you, he may take two steps while you get one as he lifts you to the next but hang on , let him lead you into God's Love but also remove the Obstacles and direct you into
2. Christ's Perseverance
Think in closing for a minute about the GREAT Patience and perseverance exhibited by the Lord.
He emptied himself and was placed by the Holy Spirit into the womb of Mary as a developing embryo - forget the babe in a manger for a minute and think of the child in the womb. Fully a Baby, Fully God, yet in the womb, persevering through 9 months until the time of Birth
How did he respond? In Patient Perseverance. He must have been frustrated with the self-imposed limitations of this human body yet scripture says
Luke 2:52 and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men
a. grew in wisdom stature and favor with God and Man
Being Led by God into Christ's perseverance means a change in our thought process a spiritual and emotional growing up
It's growing OLDER / STATURE - literally means that Jesus God OLDER, Taller, Bigger, Stronger - seems simple and like "DUH, that's what babies do?"
Really, I know one place where children often don't grow up - The Church
One of the primary reasons that we don't move into Christ's Perseverance is that we haven't gotten any older.
How long have you been a Christian?
Have you grown up? Are you a year older than you were last year?
Are you taller, stronger, bigger, faster?
Jesus grew in Wisdom - are you wiser spiritually than last year?
Then your perseverance will lag behind.
Infants and Children don't often have a lot of perseverance.
Perseverance comes with struggle.
Smart parents learn when to let their children struggle, fall, fail, because it makes them stronger NOT to do everything for them.
God leads us into the perseverance of Christ
He persevered to gain favor with God and Man.
Don't throw out Favor with Man - Jesus had an important part of his ministry that DID NOT include just making people mad so that they would crucify him.
Sometimes we will be persecuted for him, but our purpose is to proclaim the message of Christ and be Ambassadors FOR Christ and NOT just tick people off. To be lead into the perseverance of Christ is to GROW in wisdom, stature, and Favor with God and man
b. withstood rejection
NOT rejection because he was hateful or arrogant or unloving; but rejection because he was LOVE, and LIGHT, and Humility, and Hope.
c. didn't become inflated with an ego that would choose to exalt himself even though he deserved it
He told Peter, I COULD call a legion of angels to my defense but that would not accomplish my purpose
d. didn't become discouraged by rejection
Be encouraged - God is protecting you and strengthening you and leading you into Christ's perseverance
e. finished every last drop of the cup of suffering
When you pray for relief from suffering, or struggle or strife, pray as Jesus prayed - NOT my will but YOURS be done - Pray that deliverance will not come until you complete the task or fit for the Kingdom.
Jesus said this cup is my blood which is poured out for you, DRINK YE ALL OF IT!
Oh to be lead by Christ into HIS LOVE through Christ's Perseverance.
The two are inseparable. I don't think we can know God's love fully without the experience that Christ's Perseverance leads us to know.
The Only thing that keeps a THIS Shepherd going is KNOWING that it DOESN'T Depend on Me, It doesn't DEPEND on You, But it depends on God who Will and Works IN you and Me to Complete his Purposes
My Confidence is in The Good Shepherd
He leads me with faithfulness into God's Love through Christ's perseverance.
He doesn't drive me, he leads me
I've heard of shepherds breaking the legs of a wayward sheep so that the sheep must rely on the shepherd for food and life until the leg is healed and then will never leave the shepherds side
He is my shepherd, as your under-shepherd I am following him
The shepherds in the middle east, drive their sheep at night into pens that only have a small opening for the sheep to enter and he himself lays down at the door where no sheep can leave or foe can enter except OVER the Shepherd
The great 23rd Psalm can be broken down this way
Beneath me - green pastures
Beside me - still waters
With me - My shepherd
Before me - a Table
Around me - mine enemies
After me - goodness and mercy
Beyond me - the house of the Lord