The church has a magnificent design to it. And one of the wonderful aspects of the church is that it is built for burden bearing. In the church, we are called and equipped to bear each others burdens. And at the conclusion of Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians, he offers words of encouragement to those who are weary from doing good and rebukes those who would take advantage of the generosity and sacrificial kindness of others.
Paul has repeatedly prayed for the Thessalonians. Here, Paul asks for reciprocity. He asks them to pray for him and for the spread of the gospel. One of the primary ways God intends the church to participate in his mission is through prayer. Prayer advances the Kingdom.
Paul is writing to a church that is suffering doubts and is thrust into confusion. So he writes to bring stability to their instability by reiterating several truths to anchor their life in.
The Bible is full of commands to protect the vulnerable and defend the oppressed because God loves every single person made in his image and He is just. Hence, He commands his people to act justly and even to rescue others from oppression and death. His people are to do so in the strength of his might and to the glory of God.
The young church in Thessalonica is enduring significant affliction and persecution for their faith in Christ. And in their communication with Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, they ask, why are they having to suffer so much? Why doesn't God stop their persecution? Paul and his companions respond that God has good purposes even in their unjust suffering and they share with them the hope of Heaven.
Paul writes a second time to the church in Thessalonica to strengthen their faith in the midst of great suffering. He praises God that their faith is not failing, but growing. We learn from their example, that faith in Christ is not static, but dynamic. Furthermore, our faith can and should be growing no matter our earthly circumstances.
At the start of every new year, we focus on the vital role of prayer in our spiritual life and in advancing the Kingdom of God. Prayer is the means by which the gospel and the Kingdom of God advances in us and in the world. In other words, prayer is God’s appointed means by which His will is accomplished, gospel is advanced and his Kingdom grows and spreads.
As we come to the end of the year and begin to look forward to the next, we emphasize our need to grow in prayer in the new year. All of us have room to grow and need to grow in our relationship with the Lord through prayer. In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul shows us just how vital prayer is to our spiritual life.
It is fitting end to 2020 to come and receive a message of hope from God’s Word. Hope is what every one of us needs. This year has been a difficult and dark year. And the gospel and all of its implications, is good news; the good news we need not just this year, but every year. When the gospel is understood, received and delighted in, it produces hope in us. Hope that is strong, hope that is able to hold us up under the weight of affliction, hope that literally changes the way we live.
At the heart of Christmas is love. You can’t have Christmas in any meaningful way without love. Christmas is a season of love and generosity because God is loving and generous. Christmas is about God’s love in action. The celebration of the birth of Jesus, is about the goodness and love of God appearing, that is, being made manifest, tangible, seen, experienced so as to change our lives forever.