2 Thessalonians 1
1 From Paul, Silas, and Timothy.
To the church at Thessalonica united with God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Good will[a] and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are yours!
Paul’s Prayer for the Thessalonians
3 We always have to thank God for you, brothers and sisters. It’s right to do this because your faith is showing remarkable growth and your love for each other is increasing. 4 That’s why we brag in God’s churches about your endurance and faith in all the persecutions and suffering you are experiencing. 5 Your suffering proves that God’s judgment is right and that you are considered worthy of his kingdom.
6 Certainly, it is right for God to give suffering to those who cause you to suffer. 7 It is also right for God to give all of us relief from our suffering. He will do this when the Lord Jesus is revealed, coming from heaven with his mighty angels in a blazing fire. 8 He will take revenge on those who refuse to acknowledge God and on those who refuse to respond to the Good News about our Lord Jesus. 9 They will pay the penalty by being destroyed forever, by being separated from the Lord’s presence and from his glorious power. 10 This will happen on that day when he comes to be honored among all his holy people and admired by all who have believed in him. This includes you because you believed the testimony we gave you.
11 With this in mind, we always pray that our God will make you worthy of his call. We also pray that through his power he will help you accomplish every good desire and help you do everything your faith produces. 12 That way the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored among you. Then, because of the good will of Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, you will be honored by him.
By now you have probably started getting used to the way Paul starts his letters – always focussing on the grace/peace/mercy of Jesus, before giving thanks for the recipient of the letters, and then going into the initial thought of his teaching.
Today – Paul does the same. He thanks the Thessalonians, affirms the that they “brag in other churches about them” and encourage them to persevere.
What is different about 2 Thessalonians from the other letters we’ve read recently is Paul’s immediate focus on the afterlife – on what is to come for those who are not connected to Jesus; who have not received the gift of Salvation and have not responded to the Good News of Jesus Christ. He says:
“They will pay the penalty by being destroyed forever, by being separated from the Lord’s presence and from his glorious power”.
It is only by the grace of God that you and I are able to enjoy anything that is good in life. Our very breath is the breath God has breathed into us to sustain our lungs. Our ability to do anything positive is as a result of the way God has gifted us and given us abilities. We can only work, we only have the ability to learn, to love, to succeed, to be joyful because of God’s work in our lives. Ironically, this applies even to those who are not “in Christ” (have not received Salvation). I say this because eventhough they may not be connected to Christ through salvation, there is still an element of Christ’s influence in their lives. They still live with His air in their lungs, they are still using the gifts He has given them etc.
So when Paul says “they will be destroyed by being separated” – this is a powerful statement.
The torment of hell will not be, so much, the demonic influence and the everlasting fire – but rather the separation. Separated from God, nothing good can exist. No health, no knowledge of truth, no spiritual awareness, no love, no compassion, no joy – nothing good.
Aren’t you grateful, that as an adopted child of the most high God, you don’t ever have to experience that separation again?
A CALL TO ACTION
Today’s response is simply one of appreciation. Take time throughout your day to quantify how much of what you do is as a direct result of Christ’s work in your life. The fact is, everything you do today will be as a direct result, but when we specifically take time to appreciate it, worship flows naturally.
‘Thank you God for blessing me with the car that I can drive to work in’
‘Thank you God for the education I have so that I can have this job’
‘Thank you God for that I am physically well enough to eat my breakfast that you have provided’
Get the point?
A PRAYER TO PRAY
Today is one long prayer, that by now you should have already started – a prayer of thanksgiving. Take time to pray throughout the day and focus today on thansgiving. If there is something you must ask for – feel free, as He is loving Father. But do your best to focus on prayers of thanksgiving today.