At the beginning of 2023, I am beginning a sermon series on “What Matters Most.” The first thing that matters most is that we possess true, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. According to the below passage, the possession of true, saving faith in Jesus not only transforms our ultimate destiny but also how we live now. Here is the text of 2 Thessalonians 1 followed by a prayer guide:
1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Preparation: Pray and Read Through Your Passage: Record your prayer for God’s help.
- Father, we desire that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified in us at the end of 2022 and during the beginning of 2023.
- May we be found worthy of your kingdom and calling.
- To that end, speak for your servants listen. AMEN.
2. Adoration: Praise God for Who He Is
What should you praise God for based on your passage?
- God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are the source and fountain of saving grace and abiding peace.
- We praise our God for strengthening our faith in him and deepening our love for one another in the body of Christ.
- We praise our God for granting to his suffering and afflicted people the ability to persevere.
- We praise our God for his righteous judgment. He will justly judge those who afflict and persecute his people.
- We praise our God for He is the only one who makes us worthy of His kingdom and worthy of His calling (2 Thessalonians 1:5, 11).
3. Confession: Acknowledge and Turn from your Sinfulness
What sin should you confess based on your passage?
- I ask your forgiveness O Lord for a faith that too often wavers and for a love that too often grows cold.
- My grasp of you and your promises is too frequently fickle instead of firm.
- Forgive me for all the times that difficulties and disappointments have led me to doubt your goodness and question your power.
- Pardon me for my lack of zeal and boldness in sharing your gospel knowing that those who will not obey it WILL SUFFER THE PUNISHMENT OF ETERNAL DESTRUCTION. There is a devastating end for all those who are outside of Christ. May this awaken my commitment to evangelism and intercessory prayer on behalf of those who are not yet believing.
- Forgive me for allowing other things to enthrall me more than Christ. I ask your pardoning grace for a divided heart. Give me a heart that is quick to marvel at the beauty, goodness, and greatness of Jesus.
- Forgive me for attempting to do your work in my own strength and for often making even my service of you about me and my name rather than yours.
4. Thanksgiving: Express Gratitude for God’s Works and Gifts
What should you thank God for based on your passage?
- Thank you, Lord, for delivering me and those whom I love from suffering the punishment of eternal destruction away from your presence and glory.
- Thank you, Lord, for lavishing your grace and peace upon your church.
- Thank you, Lord, for my brothers and sisters in Christ. May their faith in you and love for each other grow abundantly and increase.
- Thank you, Lord, for not allowing afflictions to cause us to waver in our allegiance to you.
- Thank you, Lord, for being a God of perfect justice. You will right and redress the wrongs done against your people.
- Thank you, Lord, that one day you will be perfectly glorified in me.
- Thank you for calling me one of your “saints” – a person set apart for your purposes.
- Thank you, Lord, that the climax of human history ends with your people marveling at the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Thank you, Lord, for so moving in our hearts that we are prompted to serve you in specific ways that demand faith on our part.
5. Supplication: Ask God to Meet Your Spiritual and Physical Needs
What should you ask for yourself based on your passage?
- That my faith in Christ would grow and my love for his people would increase.
- That the Lord would grant me the grace to persevere until afflictions.
- That I would be found faithful if I ever must suffer for Christ and His kingdom.
- That I would be counted worthy of Christ’s kingdom and calling.
- That the Lord would fill me with fresh resolves for good works that honor and exalt the name of the Lord Jesus.
- That the Lord Jesus Christ would be glorified and magnified in and through me.
6. Consecration: Commit to Obeying God’s Will
What should you commit to doing based on your passage?
- Live intentionally. Ask and answer what are the works of faith and resolves for goodness that the Lord is prompting in us for 2023.
- Live purposefully: Give us a renewed urgency about making disciples of all nations for those outside of Christ who are lost and destined for a Christ-less eternity. May this awaken in us your compassion for those who are lost.
- Suffer well. When we are called upon, may the Lord strengthen us to bear up under difficulty and affliction.
7. Intercession: Ask God to Meet the Needs of Others
Record your prayer for God’s help.
- Give to all whom I love the gift of saving faith and grows under affliction.
- Give to all whom I love the grace of persevering under trial.
- Give relief today to those who are presently suffering because of their allegiance to Jesus Christ.
- Give to all whom I love the gift of knowing you and obeying your gospel.
- Give to all whom I love the ability to marvel and boast in our beautiful Savior, God, and King.
- Give to all whom I love a desire to serve you in ways that demand faith in your power. AMEN.