‘God is love ... perfect love drives out fear ... We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:16,18,19). Reflect on these words and receive the truth that God loves you.
Request for prayer
3 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you 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.
This passage starts by focusing on the importance and power of prayer in the spreading of the gospel message. How would you summarise the gospel? Why is prayer such an important foundation? After leaving Thessalonica, Paul travelled to Athens, Corinth, Ephesus (Acts 17–19) and later, to Rome, in order to bring people God’s message of salvation. He is well aware of his need for protection and of his need to rely on the faithfulness of God (v 3).
Paul weaves in yet another prayer for the Thessalonians (v 5), demonstrating how his passion for God and his passion for God’s people are interconnected. What does it mean for our hearts to be directed ‘into God’s love’? Why does Paul juxtapose ‘God’s love’ with ‘Christ’s perseverance’ (v 5)? The expansive, sacrificial love of God was poured out for us on the cross: Jesus died and rose again for our sake (see Mark 15:33–38). When we accept this, we no longer need to fear failure, our mistakes, our brokenness, or even death. That is the glorious message that Paul was passionate about sharing and the story that we are part of.
Find a map of Paul’s missionary journeys. Be inspired by how courageous, resilient and passionate he was in sharing the message of the gospel, the Jesus story, with as many people as possible.
Deeper Bible study
‘The act of praying is the very highest energy of which the human mind is capable.’1 Prepare your heart by asking what priority prayer has in your life now.
‘Brothers and sisters, pray for us’ was Paul’s request at the end of his previous letter. Now he gets specific. It’s good to be clear with those whom we love and trust about what our prayer needs are. Paul is wise enough to recognise his need of prayer from those whom he has led to Christ. There is a fellowship in prayer that involves us all and none of us is above needing to be supported in this way. When my family and I lived as front-line missionaries far from home we felt well supported in prayer by our sending church and a list of praying friends. Once we returned to pastoral ministry in the UK, I suspect that sense of urgency in prayer evaporated. Yet, all who serve in whatever circumstances need the help of prayer.
Paul asked for prayer that the gospel might spread rapidly and that he and his team might be delivered from the attacks of their opponents, of whom there were many. If Paul was writing from Corinth, he was dragged into court there and, although the case was dismissed, his associate was badly beaten.2 Yet he maintained a confidence in the faithfulness of God, for himself and the Thessalonians too. ‘The Lord is faithful’ (see v 3) is a wonderful encouragement and carried Paul through many battles with enemies of all kinds.
The Lord’s faithfulness occurs again in verse 5, just before the warnings that follow. Christ’s perseverance through suffering and his faithfulness in doing his Father’s will are supreme examples to us all. After all, things may be tough, but we have probably not yet resisted evil to the point of shedding our blood as Christ did.3 Pray that your heart may also be directed into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance on your behalf.
Memorise the words of verse 3 and/or write them on a card to keep with you today as a promise from God to encourage you to persevere.
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Deuteronomy 25,26; Romans 6
Pray for Scripture Union
Please pray for the regional support workers as they provide an organisational, digital and administrative service within each of the five regional teams. Pray that as they work closely with the rest of their teams, they will continue to help churches to make a difference in children and young people's lives.