Summary: There is a great blessing in store for God’s people who REFUSE to give up. There is great power in persistence.
Paul’s first letter to church at Thessalonica was full of encouragement to be ready for the return of Christ. He reassured them that their loved ones who died won’t miss the big event—they’ll actually be the first act!
Most scholars think there is less than a year between the first letter and the second one. Between the two letters, the persecution against the believers had intensified. And apparently, someone had even faked a letter from Paul claiming Jesus had already returned. Paul corrected in the second chapter: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
Some of the church members thought that the coming of Jesus was so close that they should quit their jobs and just wait. Paul had to correct that by saying, “If a man doesn’t work, he shouldn’t eat.”
In this message, we’re going to learn about the power of persistence. Diana Nyad is a remarkable woman. She’s been a long distance swimmer for many years. At age 28 she tried to swim from Cuba to Florida. She tried again and failed. She failed a total of four times. Most people would have given up, but not her.
As you probably know, just a couple of weeks ago, she became the first person to swim that distance without a shark cage. But just a couple of weeks ago, she succeeded at age 64. She swam 110 miles through shark-infested waters battling stinging jellyfish for 53 hours of nonstop swimming.
When she stumbled ashore, she was exhausted, but she took the time to say, “I’ve got three messages. One is we should never give up. Two is you’re never too old to chase your dreams; and three it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team effort.”
There is great power in persistence. Paul begins this second letter by encouraging the believers to persevere and persist in spite of the painful trials they were facing.
2 Thessalonians 1:1-5. “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 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. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.”
I believe Satan’s # 1 temptation for Christians isn’t immorality, lying, or drug abuse. I think his most common temptation is to try to get you to give up on God. His very first temptation in the Garden of Eden was to try to get Eve to give up on God’s perfect plan. He whispered in her ear, “You can’t trust what God says. Go ahead and stop believing Him. Do it your way.”
Are you at a place where you feel like giving up on God? Are you giving in to the temptation to give up on yourself, on your dreams, on your commitment, on the Christian life? There is a great blessing in store for God’s people who REFUSE to give up. There is great power in persistence.
As Paul begins this second letter, he addressed four areas of where we need to persevere and persist.
1. KEEP ON GATHERING WITH YOUR CHURCH!
He began his letter with these powerful words, “To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Many times, when we read one of Paul’s letters we just skip over the beginning words to get to the meat of his message. But I want us to stop at the word “church” and camp out there for just a moment.
The word “church” is one of the most common words in the New Testament. It appears over 100 times. The first time it appears is in Matthew 16 where Jesus says, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18) The last time the word church appears is in the last page of our Bible where Jesus says, “Send this message to the churches, ‘I am the Root and Offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star.’” (Revelation 22:16)
The Greek word for church is ecclesia. It literally means, “Called-out ones.” Those of us who are part of Christ’s church have been “called out of this world” to live a different kind of life.