Summary: A message for the 1st Sunday in Advent
Paul’s Advent prayer. 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Today is the first Sunday in the Church’s year,
the 1st Sunday in Advent, when we look forward to Christmas,
but also look back on the year which is coming to an end.
Hopefully we can look back on happy times, and praise God,
and hopefully when we look back on sad times,
we can still praise God for bringing us through them.
Paul had gone through many trials with the Thessalonians,
and Paul and the congregation at Thessalonica had grown together
and suffered together,
which is why he prayed the prayer that he prayed in our text for today.
It is not just a prayer for the Thessalonian Christians; it is a prayer for us too
His prayer is a prayer of thanks as we can see in verse 9:
he not only thanks God for them but says he cannot thank God enough for them,
because of all the joy that they had given him.
He was thankful that the Thessalonians had responded so well
to the message of the Gospel.
They very easily could have given up the faith in the face of persecution
or got angry with Paul for getting them into trouble with the Jews in the first place.
They could have accused Paul of being uncaring
for not having returned to them in the midst of their trials,
but instead, they held to the faith and even grew closer to Paul
through the trials they were facing.
They had told Timothy that they looked forward to seeing Paul again,
and that’s what made Paul so thankful;
the response of love and faith that this young congregation had
in the face of adversity and trial.
Every relationship in this world will go through these kinds of times.
and from experience I am sure we all know how much a relationship is strengthened
when all involved pull together and support each other.
The ultimate example, of course, is found in Christ.
He saw that we were helplessly drowning in our sins.
He saw that we needed help.
He could have ignored our situation, because we were getting what we deserved - God’s wrath for rebellion,
but instead, he came down into our world of sin through Mary’s womb
into a cattle stall.
He lived in a sinful world and resisted the devil’s temptations,
and He allowed the sins of the world to be smeared on Him at the cross,
but it was this love, this compassion,
that saved us from being condemned
and raised us out of our guilt and shame.
So, Paul’s prayer first of all reflected thankfulness for the Thessalonians,
but notice who he was thankful to, not just the Thessalonians, who he proud of,
He realized that the Christians who made up the church in Thessalonia
weren’t the result of his eloquence or his personality,
but were products of the mercy and power of God.
This is a similar response to when the apostles reported to the Council in Antioch
how things were going on their missionary journeys.
On arriving there, they gathered the church together
and reported all that God had done through them
and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
The congregation in Thessalonia was very much Paul’s ‘baby’.
This congregation is in a way Dr Pearce’s and Pastor Fanning’s ‘baby’.
We know from 1st and 2nd Thessalonians what Paul thought about his work in Greece,
and I imagine that Dr Pearce and Pastor Fanning would feel the same
about their work in Scotland.
I hope, like Paul about the Thessalonians,
Dr Pearce would say that he was encouraged by the work that he started here;
thank he thanked God for everyone here;
and that he wished he could be here to encourage us.
All of us are here by a miracle of God,
and all of us remain here by the work of the Holy Spirit.
That’s the attitude that Paul had throughout this letter.
One of thankfulness that God had worked faithfulness in the congregation.
His prayer is a prayer that those in the church would love each other,
and that that love would overflow out of the church to the people outside of it,
which would be a witness to what was happening inside God’s congregation.
In verse 12 Paul prayed:
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other
and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.
Paul wanted them to love each other so much
that they would have no where left to put their love,
except to share it with those who do not come through our doors,
and hopefully if we do this,
then one day they WILL come in through our doors.
I put hours and hours into writing my sermons.