Hello and thanks again for joining us for Foundations Daily.
This week, as we look together at 2 Thessalonians, we are reminded again that what we do with our life now matters. That God has a clear purpose for each of us whilst we are here on this Earth – to love others as he loves us. This is what Paul is trying to encourage the Thessalonian church in. They were doing it well – we read that yesterday. And so for the rest of the week we’re going to be both encouraged and challenged, as we read this letter, to keep on loving others, to press on, and like the Thessalonians to seek to live this out well.
Paul ends today’s passage, which you can hear read again at the end, by saying this…
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.
How do we fulfil God’s purpose for our lives? Well, what I love about this letter, and indeed the way this has been presented to me as someone who is part of this amazing church here at STC, is that it’s primarily through this…by doing good to the people around you. That each and every day we share God’s love through looking for opportunities and ways in which we can do good to the people around us.
The power of doing good. Last year, our vision as a church here at STC was to invite as many people as we could to join us in doing good. In following in the footsteps of Jesus, the one who went around doing good. And what is that? The phrase in today’s scripture – a ‘desire for goodness’ – is about having an attitude of kindness towards others. To treat others around us with kindness, with generosity, to do things which are for their benefit. The power of doing good. Living this way matters. Paul recognised that and that’s why he’s praying this prayer over the Thessalonian church.
Paul starts this prayer by saying, ‘With this in mind…’. What is Paul asking us to keep in mind? That our actions have eternal consequences. He’s talking in this passage about the topic of judgement. He’s talking about something called The Day of The Lord, which the Thessalonians were in a great deal of confusion about. We’ll look at this in a little more depth tomorrow but we’re talking here about the second coming of Jesus. The time when He will return and gather his people to Him. A time when he will put all things right and his kingdom will be fully established here on Earth. This what the Thessalonians believed, it’s what we as Christians believe today. There might have been some confusion on the timing and indeed the central reason for Paul writing this second letter so swiftly after his first is to reassure the church that this has not yet happened despite what they have heard and what’s happening around them.
But to keep this, The Day of the Lord, in mind. And this was certainly something the Thessalonians had on their mind. These were a people suffering severe persecution, some dying because of what they believed. They had a lot of questions! They wanted to know when God was going to come and sort this all out.
As we read this passage, there’s lots of stuff that we might not understand, that we don’t like, that we find challenging but the bottom line is this… we can see that what we are presented with today matters. And that it should spur us into action.
In this passage, Paul distinguishes between two different groups of people. Those who have accepted Jesus into their lives and those who have not. We’ve read his prayer for the Thessalonian church, those who had believed his testimony about Jesus when he had preached the Gospel there. But on the other hand there are those who hadn’t, those have rejected God. Paul is saying here that there are consequences in making that choice. We can’t get around that – as uncomfortable as this may make us feel. What Paul teaches in this passage is that there will come a point, a day, a time, where those who reject God will ultimately see that choice come to fruition. That as they have rejected God, God will reject them. We read in verse 9 that they will be ‘shut out from the presence of God and from the glory of his might.’
I’ll level with you. This makes me feel uncomfortable. I find this hard to read. We often don’t really want to engage with this…but we should. We should have an eternal perspective in mind as we live out our faith in the every day. However we want to cut it, this matters. And it should move us to action.
With all this in mind, Paul is saying…keep on pressing on with loving others, with doing good. God in his grace and wisdom has said, from what we read in verse 12, ‘This is the way that I want to reveal my love to others. Go do it and keep on doing it. I will make myself known to others and I want to do so through your acts of goodness.’
This is God’s rescue plan for the world. It’s his plan, not ours – it’s important to remember that. But in his amazing grace He has given us a part to play in that. God has a purpose for our lives. This matters. So let Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians be also the prayer for us this day.
God, we pray today that by the power of your Holy Spirit you would bring to fruition every desire for goodness in us and every good deed prompted by faith so that we may bring glory to your name and point others to you – the source of eternal life. Equip us to play our part in fulfilling your purposes today, God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
READING: 2 Thessalonians 1:7b-12
This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.