It’s Friday – the weekend is nearly here. Thanks for tuning into Foundations Daily this week. If you’ve found this podcast helpful, please do spread the word and encourage someone else to listen. Let’s see this community grow.
2 Thessalonians, the letter we’ve focused on this week, is primarily a letter of encouragement. The Thessalonian believers faced tremendous challenge. This small but faithful community were being violently persecuted by those around them. In addition, many had been throw in into confusion by false teaching about the Day of The Lord. They were a community under intense pressure and attack and they were worrying about what their future held.
So Paul’s message to the believers there is to not worry – the Day of the Lord hasn’t yet come, and to press on, to stand firm and fulfil God’s purposes for their lives – to share God’s love with those around them and, as Jesus taught, to love even their enemies. To keep going! I’ve personally found myself really inspired by the faith of this community as I’ve reflected on this letter this week. I hope you have too.
Today’s passage is a reminder about the importance of prayer. Paul knew this community would face huge challenges as they sought to continue to follow Jesus. He’d had plenty of personal experience of that himself. And it’s with this personal experience in mind that he probably decided to write these words:
‘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.’
Paul knew what it was to suffer for the sake of the Gospel and so he asks the Thessalonians to pray, and specifically to pray, not only for him but for themselves and their community, for God’s protection and deliverance from his enemies and the works of the evil one.
Today is a really important reminder that we can expect opposition, challenge and struggle as we seek to live out the Jesus life. The enemy of God, as we discovered on Wednesday, wants to do everything in his power to derail us, to turn us away from God. We will all face battles as we seek to follow Jesus. Some of us listening to this podcast may be right in the midst of a battle – in terms of health, work, family, relationships. Others may have just come through one. Jesus knew that and recognised that. He himself prayed that all those who follow him, those in the world, a world that hasn’t been made fully right yet, would know God’s protection.
What does Paul say to us today? That God is faithful. He is with us always. God won’t leave us or forsake. He loves us. He is for us. He will strengthen us. And he will protect us.
God is our protector. In the Lord’s prayer, we say the words, ‘deliver us from the evil one’. Today, we’re reminded that if are to keep on pressing on and loving those around us, sharing God’s love with them, bringing his kingdom into the places he has called us to – then we need to be praying this prayer every day.
In a recent sermon on this passage, our team leader here, Mick, described God’s protection as like an umbrella, it covers us, it envelops us. Also he talked about God’s protection in a military sense that God goes before us. He is in front of us, shielding us from the enemies attacks. I find that image really helpful when praying for God’s protection.
So, a key question for us today is…where do I need to know God’s protection? For me, for my family, for those I know?
I’ve been praying this prayer a lot recently. As I said earlier in the week, I lead our Youth Church here at STC. In recent weeks, myself and others on the team have had to engage with some young people who we’ve had to bring some level of challenge to because of what we’ve observed and primarily because we want to build stronger connections and trust which will allow us to begin to disciple them. Now I know that some of the challenge we bring to them could cause conflict. I know it possibly won’t be that well received. That we may not be liked. That we’ll probably face some level of opposition. And so I’ve found myself praying for God’s protection as we open up the building and set up for the evening.
Where do we need to know God’s protection this day?
Like this letter, like much of Paul’s message to the Thessalonians, this is difficult. There are times when it feels like we are facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. Or when we’ve been praying for a long time and we haven’t yet seen the breakthrough. But Paul says this to the Thessalonians, to us. God is our protector. He will protect us in the now. And he has secured our eternal future with him. Trust him. Lean on him. Rely on him. He is faithful always.
God, thank you for this incredibly faithful community, for the Thessalonian believers. Thank you God for the way that they kept on pressing on in loving others. God, we love you and we want others to know that same love to and so we ask this day God that you would help us to stay the course. To stand firm and to keep going. We thank you that you are our protector. As we seek to serve you, may we, and all those we love and care for, know your protection surrounding us and know that you go before us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
READING: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
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.