Summary: Is your heart and life being directed by the Lord, or are you the director? Do you care about others who still need to hear the good news about Jesus? Paul addresses these issues with encouraging words.
The God-Directed Heart
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.
Intro: [Recap ch.2 and lead into ch.3, then read text]
A God-Directed Heart…
1. Prays for the messengers of the gospel (1-2)
A. That the Lord’s message will spread quickly and be honored
-As a group of college students toured the slums of a city, one of the girls, seeing a little girl playing in the dirt, asked a guide, “Why doesn’t her mother clean her up?”
“Madam,” he replied, “that girl’s mother probably loves her, but she doesn’t hate dirt. You hate dirt, but you don’t love her enough to go down there and clean her up. Until hate for dirt and love for that child are in the same person, that little girl is likely to remain as she is.”
-Likewise, we must hate the dirt of sin in people’s lives as well as love them in order to have a heart for sharing the gospel with them. Hate sin and love the sinner (Steve Shepherd, sermoncentral.com).
-There is nothing wrong with the gospel that we need to pray for it to improve or be stronger. It already is the power of God that leads to salvation. The main focus of our prayer needs to be for the messengers and the recipients (the tellers and the hearers).
-Missionaries are the main ones who come to mind here. We currently support 9 [Powers (Africa & Wash. DC), Blatchley’s (Davao City, Philippines), Stewart’s (Ghana), Shipley’s (Iran), Tamara Henkes (Romania), Walker’s (Mexico), Jim Book (Global), Jamie DeWees (Chi Alpha), and most recently Phil Malcolm (children of Africa)].
-As you pray for them, pray first that the Lord’s message will spread quickly and be honored. Why quickly? Why so urgent? B/C people are dying every day without Jesus and they need to hear about Him so they can call on Him and be saved.
B. That they would be delivered from wicked people
-The struggles are many! There are days when everything seems to happen at once and the resistance to the gospel is so strong that a person feels like giving up. And if people were not praying and giving and participating in their ministries, more of them probably would call it quits.
-There are wicked people who will go to any length to hinder the spread of God’s truth and love. Prayer can bring deliverance to the messengers, the missionaries, so that what the enemies intend for evil God turns around for good!
A God-Directed Heart…
2. Recognizes the Lord’s faithfulness (3a)
-In contrast to those who have not trusted and cannot be trusted, Jesus can be trusted! He is reliable. That is part of His nature and character.