today at Concordia, just minutes before this sermon, a little girl was baptised, claimed by God to be His daughter. Read about what happens in baptism in Ezekiel 36:25 and follwoing and in 1 Tim 3:2-8. This is truly a miracle, one of the greatest we experience!
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
† In Jesus Name †
As we receive the grace, that mercy and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, may Jesus lead our hearts into the full understanding and expression of the love of God, and may we, in Christ patiently endure!
How much will life change in Her life?
I want you for a moment to dream of the future.
A time 60-80 years from now, as Cayleen is sitting in the front row of this church, watching her granddaughter or even great-granddaughter being baptized. The church might have different music then, our new music becoming the old, archaic stuff that her generation longs to hear occasionally.
Maybe there will not be cars in the parking lot, but those little family jets that we saw on the Jetson’s.. Cell phones? Texting? Tablets? I can’t even begin to imagine what life will be like for them. I just think about how much it has changed since my son was baptized 6 years ago.
Except for one thing.
She will still need to know God’s love. There will still be the challenges of life that we will have to endure, for while many things in life changes, life itself will not change as much for her as it did this morning.
Which is why Paul not only asks us to pray, but then offers a blessing for the church in Thessalonica, as He asks God to lead our hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God, and the patient endurance that is found in Christ.
Come to think of it, if you can’t remember what to pray for her and indeed for all the baptized, that’s a pretty good prayer to remember!
You promised to pray…
Full understanding and expression of God’s love
That means His mercy, and His granting repentance
I pray that you remember to keep the commitment you made this morning to God, as you keep Cayleen in your prayers. Do not just make this something you said, as you were caught up in the moment. Pray for her, and for those around you, for we all need prayer. Even apostles, even pastors, even grandparents.
Sometimes we do not know how to pray, or what to pray, and I think that is where a passage like this comes in so handy. Two simple things to pray for, to know and express God’s love, and to endure. There will probably be some points where you need to pray for Dan and Kristen for that as well – like when Cayleen is 2, or when she’s that sweet age that starts just after the 12th year and 364th day of her life.
Seriously, pray for her, and for all believers in Christ, and for everyone you know.
Pray that they would follow Jesus, as He leads their hearts into a fuller understanding of the depth of God’s love for them. A love that does not just write us off the first time we sin but he continues to call to us, to urge us to repent, and to sin no more. The love of God that desires to fix the parts of our lives that are broken, to heal the wounds that our hearts and souls have encountered.
For to fully understand God’s love is to realize we do not have to hide our sins, we do not have to pretend they aren’t sins. Rather, we are to go to God and confess those sins, to ask Him to fix them. That takes faith, and confidence, and knowing God’s love and faithfulness so well, that we run to Him whenever we are struggling, whenever we are broken, whenever we break life.
Christ must lead us there!
That is how we endure as well, realizing that Jesus has united us to His death, and to His resurrection. That iss the promise of baptism, that unity to Christ. It is the hope He’s given us of sharing in His glory (col. 1:26-29 talks of that)
When we realize that our destiny is secure, that this life, as long as it may seem some days is going to become eternity in God’s presence, it helps us incredibly to endure. We can stand firm, knowing God’s promise that all things will work for good for us, because we love the God who called us and made us His.
It’s in knowing what Christ endured for us, that leads us to endure in His presence. For that too is a blessing given to Cayleen and all who believe and are baptized. God promises in Matthew 28 that He will never leave us, even until the end of the ages.
That’s why Paul says Jesus must lead us in knowing and expressing God’s love and into that ability to endure. It isn’t based in our own inner strength, even as Christians. Maturity for a believer doesn’t happen after we go through puberty and our voices change.
It happens when we know God’s love, when we know the promises of love given this day. When we realize how Jesus is always faithful, how He is always guarding our hearts, our minds, our souls. How He leads us as the 23rd Psalm says besides still waters and restores our soul. (which means it needed restoration)
That’s what Jesus does, that is what our Lord is tasked with, saving us from sin and the power of satan and death, and restoring us to life, quickening it us. That’s why a believer doesn’t live in terror of God, but in awe of Him, knowing His love, and being able to express that knowing (not knowledge of but knowing) through their voices in praise and through their lives.
But pray also for the mission and for those needing rescue
So pray for Cayleen, pray for those people around you! Make this your prayer for them; that they would be lead by Christ into the full understanding and expression of His love, and that they would, in Christ, endure!
Paul asks us also to pray for the mission, that this message of God’s love be honored, that it is heard and responded to with praise, wherever it goes. And to pray for those who have to deal with what the translation says are wicked and evil people – those who can’t comprehend God’s love, who don’t feel comfortable dealing with His mercy and those who are guilty, and need to deal with it. God dealt with them by the way, as we hear all of Paul’s guards in jail came to know God’s love and were granted repentance.
So finally my friends, pray, give into God’s care those you love – and those you struggle with. Let Him take the anxieties, the worries and challenges from you, freeing you to love them without distraction, to care for them as He would, to point them to Him when you don’t know what to do.
Having does so, knowing God’s love more fully, you will find yourself expressing it, in a place of peace beyond all comprehension. It is there where you are kept, guarded, your heart and mind protected by Jesus himself. AMEN?
- I Have Certainly Seen, I Am Aware, I Have Come Down! (justifiedandsinner.com)