Welcome to Wednesday’s Podcast. Our reading today is 2 Thessalonians 3: 1-5. Today we’ll focus on verse 1:
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you.
I’m sure I’ve quoted him before – I’ll certainly quote him again: Bishop Sandy Millar the former Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton – home of the Alpha Course would often say: ‘There’s a war on don’t you know…’
He’d say it in a beautifully laid back non-urgent manner. But he was clear – we are in a great spiritual battle.
So, what kind of war is being waged? CS Lewis writes in ‘Christian Reflections’: ‘There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed and counter claimed by Satan’.
While this may seem a little intense for a Wednesday morning – we should not be blind to the battle.
If you’re part of STC – you’ll know that a foundational verse is John 10:10 – ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’
It’s so tempting to focus on the latter part of the verse – ‘Life to the full’ but the verse as a whole paints a beautiful picture. The enemy God – Satan – his name literally means enemy or adversary’s goal is maim, destroy by stealing, killing and destroying. But God in his redemption and glory bring life – and life in fullness.
So, if we’re in battle – what are our tools?
Without a shadow of a doubt it’s prayer: “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
There is a great disorder in our world right now around race. It’s been around for decades and it’s back and firmly on the agenda. Yes it’s right we speak out – of course. It’s absolutely that we march, that we recognise and own our part in systemic injustice – yes, we give to financial campaigns, write to our MPs and in the current discussion around the tragic death of George Floyd, Ahmed Arbury, Breona Taylor and tragically more – we must stand and say that Black Lives Matter. We must hear stories that make us uncomfortable – that our fellow citizens, our neighbours endure against a bias in our society. Why?
Because racism is a demonic – evil assault on people – inspired by the enemy of God to undermine – seeking to destroy to reality of Genesis 1:26 that ‘we are made in the image of God.’
So, it’s imperative we stand for justice but part of our journey as disciples is not to battle with hopelessness but to call on the God of justice and recognise this in the context of a great spiritual battle. Our call is to action – and the primary part of that action is prayer.
It’s quite incredible to me that the Apostle Paul – Church Planter and Theologian extraordinaire – starts chapter 3 with a request for prayer.
It’s incredible. The apostle Paul asking this little church plant for prayer.
So, if he asks this tiny church plant to pray for him – we too must engage seriously with prayer and ask others to stand with us and pray.
Paul writes Thessalonians from Corinth. If we read the book of Acts we see how many spiritual battles Paul encounters – it’s huge. He has a rough time Thessalonica and a really rough time in Corinth where he’s writing this letter to from.
He’s asking for prayer because – in claiming that Jesus will return victorious at the End Times or Day of the Lord as he calls it in Chapter 2 – we live in the ‘now and not yet’ – we still live in that day. He asks for prayer that as he preaches the gospel that people may respond – that he will stay faithful.
In Sheffield in 2020 our prayer is that of St Paul’s ‘that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly’.
If we’re honest in this current season of life – there is a fair of gloomy news going about. On a personal level – knowing that there’s a battle on – helps me to try not to give into the gloomy feelings but to pray to the one who can change nations, break demonic strongholds and bring change from awful situations.
An eyewitness of the Welsh Revival written around 1904 wrote this:
‘It is ever the darkest hour before the dawn.
The nation always seems to be given over
To the Evil One before the
coming of the Son of Man.
The decay of religious faith,
The deadness of the churches,
The atheism of the well to do,
The brutality of the masses, all these,
When at their worst,
Herald the approach of the revival.
Things seem to get too bad to last.
The reign of evil becomes intolerable.
Then the Soul of the nation awakes.’
Lord, do it again. In our lifetime.
Father, our nation is sick. Breathe upon us Holy God. Breathe your breath of revival on our land once more.
BIBLE READING: 2 Thessalonians3:1-5 (NIV)
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.