24th Sunday After Pentecost
October 30, 2016
- First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4 | New International Version (NIV)
Paul, Silas and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
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.
As we wrap up this church year, we are going to look at the second letter of Paul to the church at Thessalonica. The church year ends on Reign of Christ Sunday, which usually falls on the Sunday before Thanksgiving here in the US. Then the church year starts all over again with Advent.
This letter starts out in typical Paul fashion – a salutation and a greeting – then thanks and prayer. Paul thanks the Thessalonian church because they are growing in the faith. It is what each one of us should be doing as believers. We should wake up in the morning and ask God to teach us one thing – when we go to bed, we should review the day and ask, “How did I grow my faith today?” God did not save us, just so that we could live the way we did before we came to faith – He calls us to grow in the faith. Not only are we called to grow in our faith, but we are called to grow in our love for each other. Paul is calling the church to grow in its love. We can see that Paul gives praise to the Thessalonians for growing in their love for one another. Again this is what the church should be doing. We should be growing in our love for one another – and growing in our love for the souls that are outside the church.
In this letter we are reminded once again that the churches are enduring some sort of persecution. Paul commends them for their perseverance – as far as even boasting to others of their perseverance and faith in the persecution and trials. As James reminds us…
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Our trials and our testings come to make us mature and complete. Another translation uses the word perfect. Our forefather in the faith – John Wesley – would agree. He defined holiness as “love perfected.” This is a pure love – the love that comes from God. It’s the love described in 1 Corinthians 13. Are you going through a tough time? Keep working through it – God is making you mature and complete – not lacking anything.
This leads to the second part of our text this week. If we are mature and complete – not lacking anything, then we will be able to live a life worthy of our calling. What a prayer that Paul prays for the church – not only the church in Thessalonica, but I believe the church – the universal church!
[We pray] 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.
How do we live a life that is worthy of our calling? Paul lays it out in the prayer above. The key is living in the power of the Holy Spirit’s power. The Spirit’s power gives us the ability to live out the Great Commandment – “To love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.” Or as James puts it, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God the Father is this…to help the widows and orphans in their distress and to keep yourselves from being corrupted by the world.” The Holy Spirit gives us power to live holy lives – to love the Lord with everything we have – to keep ourselves from being corrupted by the world. The Holy Spirit also gives us power for works of service – to love our neighbor as yourself.
Why is this important? Because if we live in the power of the Holy Spirit – if we live a life worthy of our calling – if God brings to fruition our every desire for goodness and every deed prompted by faith – then Jesus will be glorified – Jesus will be glorified in us and we will be glorified in him. Jesus being glorified is the goal of the believer – in all things – may He be supreme. So live a life worthy of your calling through the power of the Holy Spirit.