Summary: Depend on the Lord and be diligent in your work, because Jesus could come at any moment.
Two young boys were spending the night at grandma’s house the week before Christmas. At bedtime, the two boys knelt beside their beds to say their prayers. The younger one began praying in a loud voice: “I PRAY FOR A NEW BICYCLE...” “I PRAY FOR A NEW NINTENDO...”
His older brother leaned over, nudged him and said, “Why are you shouting? God isn’t deaf.”
To which the little brother replied, “No, but Grandma is!” (www.SermonCentral.com)
As he anticipated the coming of Christmas, that little boy thought he knew how to pray.
It makes me wonder: As we anticipate coming of our Lord, how DO we pray? In these difficult days before Christ’s Second Coming, I’m sure we have our own wish lists, but What are some things GOD would want us to ask Him for? What are some things on God’s wish list?
2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you… (ESV)
As we anticipate the coming of our Lord, 1st let’s pray for the rapid spread of God’s word. Literally, pray that it might “run!” Pray that God’s message would get out quickly and be honored all over the world.
Jesus Himself said that the end would come only after the “gospel of the Kingdom” is “preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations” (Matthew 24:14). As His coming approaches, Jesus wants the whole world to know about Him.
The Wycliffe Bible Translators tell us that out of the 6,900 languages in the world, the Bible needs to be translated in yet another 1,900 languages before everyone in the world can have a copy of the Scriptures in their own language. Wycliffe is working to complete the task and they are getting very close to getting it done. In fact, their goal is to start translating the last language by the year 2025. (www.lastlanguagescampaign. org)
Nearly 34 years ago, on January 19, 1981, when there were 3,000 languages to go, seven armed terrorists burst into the Wycliffe Bible Translators’ office in Bogota, Columbia, and took one of the translators captive. His name was Chet Bitterman, and they held him for seven weeks before shooting him in the head.
Some saw this as a setback to Wycliffe’s work, but Wycliffe’s founder, William Cameron Townsend, saw it differently. He called it a “tremendous advance,” because “young people have been awakened in a new way.”
The fact is that soon after Chet Bitterman’s death, nearly 100 students at his Alma Martyr, the Columbia Bible College, pledged themselves to missionary service. Chet’s widow, Brenda, vowed to return to Bible literacy work, and his younger brother, Craig, applied to Wycliffe hoping to become a Bible translator. In addition, a new chair of Linguistics and Bible Translation was established at California’s Biola University in Chet’s memory.
Chet’s father, Chester Bitterman, Sr., made this comment at the time: “On a human level, Chet may have lost his life, but we believe that God is not finished in this. We haven’t read the last chapter yet.” (Bible Illustrator #2379-2385)
Indeed not! After 34 years, we see that the so-called “setback” only speeded up the process, and that’s what we need to pray for today when times are tough. We need to pray that God’s Word spreads even faster during these days and that people would respond to that Word as they never have before.
More than that, we need to pray for protection. We need to pray for deliverance from evil men and from the evil one.
That’s what Paul asked his readers to pray for.
2 Thessalonians 3:2 …and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. (ESV)
That is, not everyone in the church is a believer.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. (ESV)
That is, against Satan himself. Satan will stop at nothing to stop the spread of God’s Word. He will try to discourage us. He will try to defeat us. And if he can’t do that, he will try to divide us so we waste our time fighting each other rather than working to get the Word out.
Don’t let him do it. Instead, pray for God’s protection against Satan’s attacks even if they come from “evil men” within the church itself.
One of my favorite stories of God’s protection comes out of North Africa where a believer was fleeing for his life. His enemies pursued him over a hill and through a valley where there was no place to hide. Finally, the man fell exhausted in a cave, expecting any moment to be caught. As he awaited his death, he saw a spider weaving a beautiful web across the mouth of the cave. The man’s pursuers arrived, but when they saw the unbroken web, they assumed it impossible for anyone to have recently entered the cave and ran on.