Chapter 3: 1-5
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. 5 Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.”
Last week, we looked at Standing Fast in Hope. The hope that comes from the Lord is a supernatural gift through the Holy Spirit. Many people, even Christians, are living hopeless lives today, and many are suffering in a quiet ‘hell’ that often we can’t see to be able to help. Frankly, many of us do not know what to do to help. We can pray, and that is good, but how do we love our neighbors? How do we bridge that gap between hope and hopelessness that exists for so many? One way is to be a true friend.
We live in a super busy world. I pastor 2 churches, work a secular job, have a wife and family, and now you want me to be an engaged friend as well. Come on; there is only so much of me. Yes, we need to be true friends. Sometimes that is all it takes to make the difference between life and death for someone.
I recall reading an account from a girl who thought it weird that her boyfriend said ‘hi’ to as many people as he could when they walked by on the streets or the mall. She asked him why he did that? He replied that he had read that many people who thought about suicide were stopped by one person showing kindness, and so be kind, just in case. This may sound like a joke, and I am not even sure if this is a true story, but I have heard many testimonies of persons who were going to kill themselves and did not because someone, often someone they did not know, was kind. Maybe you and I can be more vigilant to be kind to people. We can offer someone a bit of Hope, and by God’s grace, we can offer them Hope, Jesus himself.
Today, we will look at a very important piece of the Christian walk, that of patience. This, too, is a supernatural gift that comes when one endures trouble. Many of us do not like patience; we do not like waiting. We would prefer that life was more like our favorite drive-thru; we just make an order, pay, and get the stuff at the window in 30 seconds or less. But real life is not like that; there is no real rushing. Often when we rush, things go bad; then we suffer setbacks, which makes it take longer.
There is no fast track to patience, or it would not be patience. Often, what happens to us is that we lose hope as we attain patience. And to be honest, the two are needed to make our lives work. If we have no hope that tomorrow can be better, there is no reason to wait for it. If we have no hope that Jesus is in charge and things will go as He wants them to go, there is no reason for us to wait on His timing. If we don’t have hope that His eternal plan is way greater than the temporary trials of life, we can become bitter and cynical and lose sight of His promises. Hope and patience are reciprocal gifts from God; one feeds the other, and I pray that we will come to appreciate and understand this.
- The Word of God be glorified, verse 1
As we have mentioned before, please recall that Paul was only here in Thessalonica for a very short time, some say a few weeks, others a few months. Nonetheless, when it comes to planting a church, he was there a very, very short time. But Paul tells us that the word of God ran swiftly in Thessalonica. They were able to see people saved and see a church built in a very short time, and Paul wished that for every location that they went to. In contrast, he was in Corinth for about 18 months.
I have known missionaries that have labored in one location for years, even decades, to see just a handful come to Christ. Not every church will be planted as fast as the one here, but Paul could hope as the missionary who was doing the vast majority of the planting, which we can see in the New Testament. Noah preached for over 100 years and had no converts. Jeremiah did not see any converts as he preached and saw Jerusalem fall. But Paul had great success in just about every place he had, and he wished that would happen everywhere as quickly as it did in Thessalonica.
Paul’s other hope was that the Word of God would be glorified. The word glorified in its basic meaning is ‘form the right opinion.’ We want people to see and understand that the Word of God is true, that it is good, trustable, accurate, and able to show us the truth of life and salvation. We want people to understand that the Bible is not only important but that it is essential to not only godly living but living in general.
Lately, I have been preaching from Psalm 119:160:
“The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”
This verse is a life verse. Even before the New Testament was written, we are told that it is true – that ALL of God’s Word is true. The Bible is true.
We looked at science and the Bible in last Sunday’s sermon, and this week I am working on archaeology and the Bible. Not only is the Bible true about God’s words, but it is true about anything else that it talks about; science, archeology, and history bear that out. Sadly, too many Christians do not trust the Word of God for anything but Spiritual advice. The Word of God is powerful and true; it is the bastion of wisdom for every part of life and every endeavor that one would undertake. Oh, that we all had a proper view of the Word of God, that the gospel was swift like in Thessalonica, and churches popped up everywhere!
In verse 2, Paul prays that we will be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; wow, how did he know the future? Or maybe we should understand that unreasonable and wicked men have always existed. They have been in every decade, every century, and every civilization. We now see it more as they are on TV, and we can see their faces each and every day. We can see the global impact and that these kinds of men live in every country and place. They come in different sizes, different colors, and speak different languages, but they are the same fundamentally. This reminds us that the battle we face is a Spiritual one that plagues the whole world and not just our small space.
Satan has people everywhere, and they are all very similar; when it comes to the Word of God, they are unreasonable and wicked. They hate us and want us to shut up about the Bible and what it teaches. Sadly, some of these persons have crept into our churches and have corrupted us with the feelings and progressive ‘truths’ that are truly just lies. Lord help us be pure with your Word, and that we would show the world that it is true and trustable by our lives.
- The Lord is faithful, verse 3
This truth offers us more hope and develops our patience more than anything else. God is faithful; He cannot fail, cannot forget us, and He cannot change. No matter what the circumstances look like, no matter what our emotions are telling us, and no matter what others say, God is faithful and cannot be anything other than that. This foundational truth overrides all our fears and tramples our doubts. We often hear people say that ‘God has not failed me yet,’ implying that one day He will, BUT HE CANNOT. It is an impossibility.
Thus, if our hope is in the Lord, and we know that He cannot fail, He cannot make a mistake, and that He will always do what is right, our patience grows; we find ourselves less likely to live in doubts and fears, or the dependence on God’s faithfulness tempers those doubts and fears when they come.
In contrast to the Lord’s faithfulness, Jeremiah tells us that “cursed is the man who trusts in man,” but we tend to put our trust in what we can see versus what we cannot see. We put our trust even though they fail us and tend not to trust God, the one who has never failed us. The main reason is that we want instant gratification and tangible results.
God will do what He wants when He is ready, and He cannot be rushed nor bargained with. We have nothing to offer Him; He has everything. We cannot bargain with God and negotiate with Him, and this bugs us at times. We have to relinquish control. In Jeremiah 18, God compares us to pottery and Him to the potter. He says to us that He can do as He pleases with us because He is the one who made us. We do not like this kind of surrender; we kind of want to surrender; yet, we still want to have some control as to what happens in our lives.
In verse 4, Paul says that he has confidence in the people at Thessalonica that they will obey the Lord and His Word. This is a wonderful feeling for a Pastor when we see people actually obeying the Word of God. It thrills us, and you can only imagine the joy it brings to the Lord. But this is what happens when we have hope in the Lord and when we have patience; we depend on the Word of God, and we obey it. We trust that God will do what He says He will do in His time and for His glory. Sometimes, obeying the word of God can be costly, it can be painful, and it can seem like there is no benefit at times. But once again, God is faithful, and our obedience will work for our favor when He is ready.
- The Patience of Christ, verse 5
Jesus patiently endures that cross for us. He could have ended it at any time. Recall the night before when Peter tried to take out one of the people arresting Jesus all by himself. Jesus stopped him and said this in Matthew 26:53:
“Are you not aware that I can call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
Jesus is telling us that if He wanted out of the journey to the cross, all He had to do was to say so. Then, God, the Father would have sent angels to deal with the people arresting Him. But Jesus knew the plan— this plan that was set up before creation; this plan that meant creating that man who would cause His death on the cross; this plan that took 4,000 years of planning and oversight by the LORD to make sure all the pieces were in place for the most important event in the history of man –the death, burial and the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.
Jesus patiently endured being arrested, endured being questioned by these powerless men, endured being spat upon, hit, whipped, ridiculed, and then crucified for you and me. He endured the ire of the Pharisees and the Scribes; He endured the scoffing of the unbelieving Jews that He came to and loved openly. He endured the hatred of mere men and women, and He endured the cross for us. He endured the tomb for us, and He endured the curse of being executed on a tree for us.
In turn, as His children, we need to learn to endure the trials and pains of life so that we can learn to be patient like Jesus. We can endure the unbelieving people around us and the ones who blaspheme Jesus; we can endure the ones that hate the truth, make fun of us for believing, and treat us like uneducated cavemen for trusting in Jesus. Only the idiots need the Gospel and Jesus, they say. Well, let us be idiots for Jesus and not succumb to the wiles of the world system.
Jesus is coming again. He will come when he is ready, and He will come at the right time. He will not be cajoled or negotiated into coming sooner, and so we must be patient. We must be faithful, and we must live in the Hope that He has promised us.
I know so many that have given up, given in, and are no longer looking for Jesus to return. Oh, what a sad life to live, one with no hope outside of the confines of the world! But those of us who are hoping in the Lord and looking for His return are encouraged by His faithfulness, and we are comforted by the truth and power of His Word.
Are you living in hope? Are you living in patience? How will I know? The same verse tells us that the Love of God will be in our lives.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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