Prayer Focus: Timor Leste

Bible Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1-3

Scripture

2 Thessalonians 1:5-6 NLT – Persecution

5 And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering. 6 In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 NLT – Prophecy

9 This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. 10 He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.

2 Thessalonians 3:1 NLT – Prayer

1 Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you.

2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 NLT – Participation

11 Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. 12 We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. 13 As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.

Observation

In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians he highlights four basic topics; persecution, prophecy, prayer and participation.  I wanted the alliteration so I took some license with the words prophecy and participation; Paul talks about false teachings about the end times and idle disciples who refuse to work.

Paul is proud of the Thessalonians over all.  They are faithful to Christ, they will pray, and they will endure persecution.  Like any church, though, there’s always a couple of problems.  No church is perfect.  Some are scared at talk about the end times and some are simply not doing their part of the day-to-day work load.

Application

Persecution: This has always been a difficult topic for Christians.  Many prominent Christian teachers have tried to ignore it and tell us that the life of a Christian is one of wealth, happiness and prosperity.  Back in the 80’s many of them were disgraced.  Today many of them are best selling authors.  It makes you wonder if some Christians have forgotten what it means to be a Christian.  When Jesus gave the “Beatitudes” in the Sermon on the Mount he talked about happiness and joy, but he said you would find them in the Lord, not in worldly wealth.  Paul says God will use persecution to strengthen us and Paul is even proud of the Thessalonians for how they are enduring it.  Persecution is part of the Christian life.

Prophecy: There is a “man of lawlessness”, an anti-Christ, coming, but this should not worry you.  Don’t be afraid of him, or the times of trouble he brings, because God will destroy him simply by appearing.  Nothing is beyond, or out of, God’s control.  Don’t listen to those people who try to scare you by declaring who the anti-Christ is, or saying it will happen on a particular date.  Focus on God and know that He has it all under control and He cares for His people.

Prayer: There’s something endearing about Paul asking for prayer.  Paul, the great Apostle, writer of most of the New Testament, the man who stood up to Rome, is asking for prayer.  Pray that the Word of God will spread, pray that God’s people are rescued from evil.  This prayer doesn’t stop.  We should include it in our prayers even today.

Participation: It’s always important to get a complete picture of what it means to be a Christian.  In the case of Christian care we have two distinct and complimentary commands; Everyone should care for those in need (Matthew 25:31-46, James 1:27) and everyone should work in any way they can so as not to be a burden (2 Thessalonians 3:12, Matthew 5:16, Proverbs 14:23, Proverbs 6:6-11).  The world takes an opposite approach; only the rich should care for those in need, and those in need shouldn’t have to work.  This false teaching has been invading the church since the first century.

Prayer

Dear Lord, I echo Paul’s prayers for the church; that it will hold fast to Your teaching and always seek to glorify You.  I pray that Your Word spreads to all the world and that it is received with honor; that all those who hear it will turn to You and glorify You.  I thank You that You are in control and that I shouldn’t and don’t to worry about the future.  I thank you for Scio Community Church and The Church [in Hamburg], for their desire to spread the Gospel and the love of Christ.  Help us to care for those in need and at the same time to not be a burden to others.  In Jesus name, amen.

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