Summary: Our text tells us how the Lord blesses us and others. 1- May the Lord clear your way 2- May the Lord increase your love 3- May the Lord strengthen your heart

INTRO.- ILL.- A 4-year-old boy who was asked to return thanks before Christmas dinner. The family members bowed their heads in expectation. He began his prayer, thanking God for all his friends, naming them one by one.

Then he thanked God for Mommy, Daddy, brother, sister, Grandma, Grandpa, and all his aunts and uncles.

Then he began to thank God for the food. He gave thanks for the turkey, the dressing, the fruit salad, the cranberry sauce, the pies, the cakes, even the Cool Whip.

Then he paused, and everyone waited--and waited. After a long silence, the young fellow looked up at his mother and asked, "If I thank God for the broccoli, won’t he know that I’m lying?"

Yes, I guess He would but I still think it would be a good idea to thank Him for everything and ask His blessing on it.

Does it do any good to ask God to bless our food? Does it taste any better? Nourish us any better? Well, it might and we’ve been told to be thankful for everything.

I Timothy 4:3-5 "They (false teachers) forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."

ILL.- A little boy was kneeling beside his bed with his mother and grandmother and softly saying his prayers, "Dear God, please bless Mummy and Daddy and all the family and please give me a good night’s sleep." Suddenly he looked up and shouted, "And don’t forget to give me a bicycle for my birthday!!"

"There is no need to shout like that," said his mother. "God isn’t deaf." "No," said the little boy, "but Grandma is."

Is God deaf when it comes to our prayers? No, I don’t think so although some people might say this.

Here are some great scriptures about prayer, which we need to read and believe.

Matthew 7:11 "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Luke 11:5-10 "5Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ’Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7"Then the one inside answers, ’Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 9"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

The old KJV uses the word "importunity," meaning persistence or insistence. Apparently, God doesn’t get tired of us asking.

James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

Isn’t this a beautiful scripture with a great promise? God gives to us generously and doesn’t find fault with us or reprimand us for asking. Wow! He wants us to ask and ask. Of course, we must ask reverently, humbly and submissively! We can’t ask like we are telling a waiter what we want and want right now!

Prayer is one of the great and perhaps the greatest blessings that we have in Christ! We have a God who sees all our faults, yet loves us unconditionally and we can talk to Him all we want and ask whatever we think is important!

And one of the lovely things about talking to God is that we can ask on behalf of others!

Ephesians 6:18 "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

Our greatest prayers are for others! When we ask for others! When we ask God’s blessing on others! And have you blessed anyone lately with your prayers? Or have you pronounced a blessing on someone through prayer?

This text is about pronouncing a blessing on others, as in "May the Lord bless you." And He will and especially, when we are thinking of others. Paul says three times "May the Lord bless you" in certain ways. May the Lord do this or that. This is sort of a benedictory type prayer, a concluding prayer or blessing on the brothers and sisters of Thessalonica.

PROP.- Our text tells us how the Lord blesses us and others.

1- May the Lord clear your way

2- May the Lord increase your love

3- May the Lord strengthen your heart


11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you.

ILL.- One grandparent said: My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, "63." He was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, "Did you start at 1?"

ILL.- A grandma said: When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, "I’m not sure." "Look in your underwear, Grandma," he advised. "Mine says I’m four to six."

ILL.- Another grandma said: My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, "Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?" I mentally polished my halo while I asked, "No, how are we alike?" "You’re both old," he replied.

I suspect that most small children think that their grandparents are somewhat old. I, too, remember those days. But aren’t grandchildren wonderful? If not, they can be and I haven’t seen mine since the last of January. Can you believe it? And I think it’s getting about time to go see them before they forget who I am!

And someone needs to clear the way so I can go! Should I pray about it and ask the Lord to clear the way or should I just make my plans and go? Obviously, some things don’t require much prayer and there certainly isn’t anything wrong with me going to visit my grandchildren. But in Paul’s day it was a big deal to go visit his brothers and sisters in Christ. There may have been some real hindrances keeping him from going.

And that is why he said, "Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you."

Is there some clearing of the way that needs to be done in your life in order to get something accomplished for Christ? Is there something blocking your way from serving the Lord? Is there something that you need to do for Christ? Perhaps we should say and pray, "Lord, clear the way!"


12May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.

ILL.- A woman proudly told her friend, "I’m responsible for making my husband a millionaire."

"Well what was he before he married you?" the friend asked. "A billionaire."

Most of us like the idea of increase and overflow, especially, when it comes to our bank account! And it’s hard to imagine that a one time very poor girl could be worth $2.5 billion dollars. Who is she? Oprah Winfrey.

Why can’t we become rich like Oprah? Because God doesn’t particularly work that way! God doesn’t allow or bless or give everyone great wealth. And number two, that’s not the most important thing in the world!

Matthew 16:26 "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"

All wealth will be worthless at the day of death and judgment. Correct? So there is definitely something greater than wealth. No, there are many things greater than wealth. And there is something that is far greater than anything else!

I Cor. 13:13 "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

I Pet. 4:7-8 "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Do you doubt that love is the most important virtue of all?

I John 4:8-12 "8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave...."

These verses and others sound like we need to love like God loves us! My bank account has room for growth but it may not come for various reasons (low interest rates, etc.) but both my heart and life have room for much more love!

Paul said, "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow..."

The Lord is the only one who can do this for us. He is author of all good and love is good! How can our love increase and overflow for others? We seek the Lord. We ask Him to fill us with His Spirit...with love and the Holy Spirit! And beyond that, we continue to practice loving others whether we feel like it or not.

ILL.- Recently, Presidential candidate John McCain said, "Americans want us to stop yelling at each other...I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again."

More than any American, God wants us to stop yelling at one another and fighting with one another. He wants us to reach out in love to one another as best we can. May His love increase and overflow in us and through us!


13May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

ILL.- Someone said: My grandfather worked in a blacksmith shop when he was a boy, and he used to tell me, when I was a little boy myself, how he had toughened himself up so he could stand the rigors of blacksmithing.

One story was how he had developed his arm and shoulder muscles. He said he would stand outside behind the house and, with a 5 pound potato sack in each hand, extend his arms straight out to his sides and hold them there as long as he could.

After awhile he tried 10 pound potato sacks, then 50 pound potato sacks and finally he got to where he could lift a 100 pound potato sack in each hand and hold his arms straight out for more than a full minute! Next, he started putting potatoes in the sacks.

Do you know what we need more than anything as we get older? Let me clarify. Do you know what kind of exercise we need most of all as we age? STRENGTH EXERCISE. I used to think we needed aerobic exercise most of all, but it’s not true.

We need both, for sure, but we need strength exercise more! Our muscles atrophy and get weaker as we age unless we continue to use them and exercise them.

But that’s not the only thing that atrophies if we don’t use it. Our faith does the same. We need to grow strong in the faith of Christ! We all need more faith, more strength in Christ! And it will only come as we practice our faith.

As we pump iron our muscles will grow. As we live for Christ, worship the Lord, praise Him daily, and present a witness for Christ, our faith will grow.

13May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

Please don’t misunderstand this text. It almost sounds like you can win holiness and salvation by growing stronger in your faith. In other words, you win your own salvation! NO WAY!

I think Paul is simply saying that we all need to become more holy and it will only come as we grow in Christ. HE IS HOLY. And He makes us holy. And as far as being blameless before God, we already are! And that’s because of Christ!

II Cor. 5:21 " God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

And now may He strengthen your heart in Jesus to become more holy every day.


Let’s keep on praying for one another! God blesses when we do this.

And may the Lord bless you, and clear your way for doing good, and increase your love, and strengthen your hearts!