Three Priorities to Pray For | 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 | Dr. David Harrell
Three Priorities to Pray For
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Dr. David Harrell | Bio
June, 05 2016
Three Priorities to Pray For
Each transcript is a rough approximation of the message preached and may occasionally misstate certain portions of the sermon and even misspell certain words. It should in no way be considered an edited document ready for print. Moreover, as in any transcription of the spoken word, the full intention and passion of the speaker cannot be fully captured and will in no way reflect the same style of a written document.
We come to the pinnacle of our time of worship where we look into the word of the living God, so will you take the infallible record of his word and turn to 2 Thessalonians 1. We will be looking at verses 11 through 12 this morning and I will be addressing the issues of priorities for prayer and, in fact, I've entitled my discourse to you "Three Priorities to Pray For." You know, it's such a good thing, isn't it, to be able to come together and worship the Lord, especially in light of all of the chaos, all of the confusion, all of the wickedness. I just feel like I'm drowning in it. My jaw just cannot drop anymore in the culture in which we live and I'm reminded of the Apostle Paul, he tells us in Philippians 4:8 that we are to think on the things that are true and honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent; those things that are worthy of praise. Let your mind dwell on these things. We have to come back to reality, you know, what God is up to and who he really is, and we want to make sure that we share his priorities.
So as we prepare our hearts to look at this text, let me ask you: what are the priorities of your prayers? What are those things that are absolutely essential in your prayer life when you pray for yourself, when you pray for your family, when you pray for your church? Typically at a prayer meeting, the most common requests center around physical problems and that's important, there's nothing wrong with that, that's very pressing. Many times, maybe a close second would be things like finances or careers or relational problems and certainly we pray for the lost. All of those things are important but when it comes to our spiritual needs, those things that are the most important needs of all, how do you pray? What do you pray for and why? What are your priorities? And I might say, especially to you parents, your priorities will become the priorities of your children, alright?
So it's very important that we pray for the right things with the right motives and that's what we see emerging from the text before us here. The Apostle Paul is very concerned about these matters and we get a glimpse into his prayer life, those priorities that he had for the saints there in Thessalonica, and by extension to all of us. So let me read the text here, beginning in verse 11 of 2 Thessalonians 1.
11 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, please understand something very important: the reason why so many believers typically do not share the priorities that we just read is because they simply do not share Paul's sense of urgency. Keep in mind the context. Paul was living basically in poverty. He was basically homeless. He had been fleeing from city to city for his life. He had been beaten and abused, falsely accused. His body was hurting because of all of the things that he endured. And also as a loving shepherd, he was very aware of all of the things going on in the churches. He was aware of all of the struggles that the people had there in Thessalonica. They had the same types of prayer meetings we would have. They would have the same kinds of prayers that we would typically pray for and those things are important but it's interesting that those types of things didn't really dominate his prayer list; they were not the dominant themes of his prayers for himself or even for others and the reason for that is because he knew that eternal things are so much more important than temporal things. So he had a sense of urgency about him. He was passionate in prioritizing those issues that relate to the heart. And bear in mind as well the context here, he has just finished explaining to the saints the retribution of Christ that will occur at the revelation of Christ. He is going to repay those who afflict you, he tells them. He's going to deal out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. That's what he's been talking about. He says these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power. So the very thought of this horrific judgment that is going to come upon the lost burdens his heart. It breaks his heart. But he has also just reminded them of the unfathomable glory of Christ that is going to explode upon the earth when he returns. He has reminded them of how the saints are going to be glorified in and through him when they are revealed and how at his second coming those who are alive are going to see Christ in all of his glory and the redeemed saints coming with him and they are going to marvel at the majesty of his divinity and how we reflect all of that.
So that's what he's been talking about therefore given the impending doom upon the wicked and the imminent glorification of the redeemed, he understands that there is no greater priority in life than to present our bodies as a living and a holy sacrifice acceptable to God so that when people see Christ in us, they will be drawn to the Gospel and be saved and God will be glorified. So it's for this reason he says in verse 11, "To this end," in other words, in light of all those things, "To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling." Dear Christian, please understand when the certain doom of the wicked captivates your heart and when the glory of the redeemed overwhelms you, overwhelms your mind and your senses, as you get lost in the wonder of it all, everything else in life becomes secondary. Everything else becomes secondary.
This is why he strongly encouraged them in his first letter to excel still more in their work of faith, their labor of love, their steadfastness of hope. Let me say it a little bit differently: unless you share his burden and unless you exalt in his hope, you will have no sense of urgency in your life nor in your prayers. You will prioritize things of lesser importance. You will champion your own agendas. You will fight all of the wrong enemies. And you will pursue things in your life that will distract you from God's priorities rather than help you stay focused on them and that is the danger in our Christian life. Make no mistake, substituting God's priorities with our own is really at the root of every problem that we deal with: marriage problems, family problems, church problems. Think of couples, for example, how easy it is for couples to spend all of their time, all of their treasure, making sure that their kids are happy and entertained and yet they give very little attention to the condition of their soul. Why is that? Because they are indifferent about coming judgment and they are apathetic about their own salvation and all of the glory that's involved with that. It's like a terminally ill person suddenly being told that they have found this miraculous cure and all you need to do is take this and he says, "No, no, not now. I want to finish watching Wheel of Fortune." I mean, priorities just get so out of whack because we fail to see what God is up to.
Churches chase after all these fads, all these gimmicks to entertain people and yet they can become oblivious to all of the sin, all of the suffering around them. They become apathetic about the word of God and preaching and teaching the whole counsel of God. Why is that? Because they become indifferent about the judgment of the lost. They become apathetic about all that God is doing in the redeemed and so forth, and it's so easy for us to get our priorities out of whack. I've been there. You have too. Maybe you're there right now. And we fail to realize what are God's priorities. You know, if this goes on uncorrected, everything in your life is going to spiral out of control. It's just a matter of time. It's like a mariner in a storm who takes his eyes off of the lighthouse that could guide him safely into the harbor. Once we take our eyes off of God's priorities, it's just a matter of time that we lose sight of who he really is, what he's up to and it's a matter of time our lives are going to crash on the hidden reefs of misplaced priorities.
Dear friends, you really want to ask yourself right now before we look closely at the text: do I have a sense of urgency in my life? Do I have a burden for the lost? Do I have a burden for my own spiritual condition? Am I suspect of my own spirituality? Do I have a longing in my heart to know more of Christ and the power of his resurrection? Do I have a passion to be more like Christ? Do I want to experience more of his presence and power in my life? Or am I like so many of our dear children this time of year, they get on the inner tube and float down Sycamore Creek? Do we just kind of float along, utterly indifferent to the world around us, just happy to live one day at a time? Folks, if that is you, it's just a matter of time before those waters of wrong priorities are going to grow swifter and the current is going to grow stronger and if you don't change your course quickly, your little inner tube is going to go over some Niagara Falls of disaster in your life all because you failed to see the priorities that God would have us focus upon.
Well, Paul was so careful about all of this. Obviously he's inspired by the Holy Spirit; he's passionate about these priorities with the folks that he's shepherding and so for this reason he says in verse 11, "To this end also we pray for you always." Now, bear in mind this is not a prayer, but rather this helps us look into the dominant priorities or themes of his prayer and I've divided them, as I've said, into three categories. We're going to be looking at lives that honor God. He's concerned about lives that honor God, longings that honor God and labor that honors God.
So notice, first, this issue of lives that honor God. "To this end also we pray for you always," in other words, this was the earnest habitual prayer of his life but notice how focused it was, "that God will count you worthy of your calling." This is where he begins. "I'm praying that God will count you worthy of your calling." Now, first of all, folks, it is absolutely astounding to me that our Creator God called me by name unto himself and he did that with you too, if you know Christ. It's mind-boggling.
Now, there are two aspects to this doctrine of calling. I want to make sure you understand this. It's very exciting, very important to understand. As we look at Scripture, there are really two aspects of God's calling. There is, first of all, what theologians would call a general or a universal call of God whereby he invites all men to salvation. It's a calling that may be resisted, it may be rejected although men are morally responsible for rejecting that universal call. For example, in Isaiah 65:12 God says, "I called, but you did not answer; I spoke, but you did not hear." There are so many passages we could look at. Another one would be in Matthew 22. You will recall Jesus gives the parable of the kingdom and the king and the wedding feast and all of this and he says, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son." You remember that parable. He goes on to talk about how the people paid no attention to the invitation; they went their way; they spurned the king's request; they even killed the messengers. Many were invited to the feast but they refused to come and this resulted in the king becoming furious with them and judging them. And it's interesting at the end of that section in verse 14 of Matthew 22 Jesus says, "For many are called, but few are chosen."
There is also another kind of calling that we see in Scripture and that is what we would call an effectual calling, or it has an effect, or sometimes it's called an efficacious call, or even a special call of God. Now, that call is irresistible whereby God unfailingly brings his elect to salvation. John 6 is filled with this, many other passages. I think of John 6:45, Jesus said, "Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father," remember before that he has talked about how that the Father has to draw men, all that have heard and learned from the Father, "comes to Me." These are the ones Paul described in Romans 8:28, "those who are called according to His purpose." And in verse 30 he goes on to say, "whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." And folks, it is this aspect of God's call that Paul has in mind here in 2 Thessalonians 1:11 where he prays that our God will count you worthy of your calling.
So bear in mind all of the initiative, the power and the glory belongs to God and to him alone and as we look at Scripture, we see the instrument of this special call is the word of God and the agent of this call is the Spirit of God. In fact, Paul alluded to this earlier in 1 Thessalonians 1:5, he said, "for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." In ways beyond our ability to comprehend, God is able to animate the human will so that it freely and it voluntarily chooses to come to Christ for salvation and that is one of the most humbling truths in all of Scripture to me. Later in chapter 2, beginning in verse 13, Paul says this, "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He," here it is, "called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Now, given the astounding gift of grace in God's calling, Paul's priority in prayer is that God will count us worthy of our calling. That's his prayer. In other words, he's concerned that we function in practice who we are in position. We are clothed in the righteousness of Christ therefore we need to walk like Christ. We need to look like him, so to speak, and so, in essence, he's exhorting them, saying to them, "Folks, by the enabling power of the Spirit of God, live a life that is conformed to the will and the word of God so that you look like Christ, you manifest his glory in your life." Yes, it is God that has taken the initiative in your calling but with that comes great responsibility.
We see this same kind of passion expressed in 1 Thessalonians 2:11 where he described how they were "exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory." The same thing in Ephesians 4:1, he says, "I entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." 2 Peter 1, beginning in verse 10, "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things." What things? The qualities of a worthy walk that he mentioned earlier in verses 5 through 7, "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love."
He wants us to live in a way that's worthy of our calling and the New Testament is filled with examples of what that actually looks like. We are to be Spirit controlled and that's going to manifest humility, purity, contentment, faith, righteousness, unity, gentleness, patience, love, joy, thankfulness. We're going to walk as children of light, not of darkness. It will result in knowledge, wisdom, truth, having the mind of Christ. We're going to bear much spiritual fruit. So, dear Christian, pray for yourself and pray for others that we might all walk in a way that is worthy, that God will count us worthy of our calling. Said simply: pray that our life will honor God.
Secondly, he prays for longings that honor God. In verse 11 he says, "To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness." Said differently, he's praying that God will help you complete, help you finish something that's already been initiated and that is every desire, every purpose, every choice for goodness. Now, hopefully I can help you understand this clearly because it's a precious thing, a powerful thing. You see, every true believer will have some measure of Spirit-induced, godly desires in his or her heart and the more a man or a woman matures in Christ, the more their longings will be consistent with what God longs for, but sometimes fulfilling those longings, sometimes fulfilling those desires, bringing them to completion, can be very difficult. In fact, often those godly longings can be replaced with selfish fleshly desires, right? Paul talked about this in Galatians 5, beginning in verse 16. Remember, he exhorted the saints there to "walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the," what? "Desire of the flesh." So you've got this warring going on. "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." Paul is praying that you will be able to do the things that you please.
At the end of Romans 7, Paul laments, remember over the remaining affects of sin in his life and he says, "in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind." In verse 18 he says, "I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me." The wishing is present in me, "but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not wish." Essentially, he's saying, "Because I remain incarcerated in this unredeemed humaneness, there are times when I yearn for the wrong things and sometimes my longings might be sinful but even when they're godly yearnings, godly longings, to act righteously, I run across obstacles, sometimes in my own flesh, sometimes in the world around me."
Now, for the Thessalonians, I would think that the two major obstacles would have been, first of all, the cultural differences that were represented in the church. I mean, we will experience that some here. I mean, we've got people from all over coming in here and sometimes we don't all share the same preferences, we don't all kind of come from the same culture. But what they were dealing with was exceedingly beyond anything we experience and they were having to deal with all that but worse yet, they were dealing with persecution. You know, it's hard enough to honor Christ on our best day, right? But think what it would be like to really delight yourself in the Lord and truly crave what he craves and fulfill those longings for righteousness in your life when your life is being threatened. When you've lost your job. When your kids are hungry. That's what they were dealing with.
Paul knew that the Thessalonian saints had good intentions. He knew that they were willing to suffer for their faith in Christ, but he also knew how difficult that would be given not only the proclivities of the sinful flesh but also the wicked environment in which they lived. Now, as I've said before, we're not being persecuted near like they are, but I believe it's coming. I believe there is a tsunami of persecution heading our way because the world in which we live has just gone mad with sin. My jaw just can't drop anymore, as I say. I mean, you just hear these things and look around us. I was thinking about something that I read over the Memorial Day weekend, 69 people were shot in Chicago which interestingly enough, is the most gun controlled city in the country. But we hear nothing about any of that. Instead, what's the headline? A gorilla got shot to save the life of a 5 year old boy and people are apoplectic about that. 3,700 babies are murdered every day in the United States and what are we concerned about? A gorilla that got shot in order to save the life of a 5 year old boy that fell into its cage.
Do you see what I mean? It's just insane what is happening and now, just for example, just the abominable perversion of homosexuality, it's now kind of acceptable. That's kind of, "Well, we've already dealt with that so now we're moving on to the next thing." And, of course, the next thing is just this new morality that's been set forth by our President, by his administration, and so many people that agree with this. He's ordered public schools nationwide to open their bathrooms and locker rooms to transgendered students of the opposite sex. Incomprehensible. You see, here's how it works. If you'll look even in our own culture, the original collective gasp of all of this has now become a collective yawn. Everything is acceptable. It's okay. So let's move onto the next thing.
Well, folks, I could go on and on with this. My point is only this: the world in which we live is in a spiritual and moral free fall and Paul, for example, has told us in Romans 12:1-2 that we are not to "be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind." He's warned us that the world will cause you to become like it without you even realizing it. So it's going to become increasingly difficult for us to have the mind of Christ, to long for the things that reflect the heart of God, and even harder to accomplish those things. I mean, when you hear 2 + 2 is 5 long enough, you begin to believe it and that's what's happening in our culture. So, folks, we're in big trouble and we need to be aware of that. You need to be aware of that when you let your kids live on those screens because this is how the enemy poisons their mind. We're in need of much prayer and much power so that we can have lives that honor God and we have longings that honor him because now we live in a culture where things that were once right are considered wrong; where things that were once considered moral are considered bigotry. Paul understands the metastasizing corruption of sin so he prays that God will help them fulfill every desire for goodness.
If I can digress for a moment here and reflect upon this idea of godly desires. I read to you earlier David's lament in Psalm 63. Again, he was fleeing for his life in the wilderness of Judah, fleeing from his son, Absalom. David expresses just the enormity of his affliction and his exhaustion, but what's fascinating is the priority of his heart, is his thirst for the presence of God. It's an amazing thing. That was his greatest concern. He yearns for fellowship with the Lord like one who thirsts for water in the desert. He says in verse 1 of Psalm 63, "O God, thou art my God; I shall seek thee earnestly. My soul thirsts for thee, my flesh yearns for thee, In a dry and weary land where there is no water." You see, his longing for just the presence and the power of God within his soul was so powerful, so great, that he would rise early in the morning to seek him, to commune with him, to learn from him.
Beloved, please understand even as thirst is an essential sensation necessary to preserve our physical bodies, so too our thirst for God is necessary to strengthen our soul. Like physical thirst, there is no forgetting it, right? There is no ignoring it, no satisfying it by some substitute. And apart from being hydrated by the word of God and the fellowship of his people and communing with him, we're in big trouble and that's what was going on with David. In that sense, David is saying, "You know, the more I experience you, the more I yearn for you." It's for that reason in verse 2 he said, "Thus I have beheld thee in the sanctuary, To see thy power and thy glory." You see, David had not only experienced the incredible power and presence of God in his life in so many ways, but he had also seen the power, the glory of God in the tabernacle, and he longed for that. David was familiar with the power and the majesty of God that was associated with the ark of the covenant and it is for this reason David went on to say, "Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise thee."
Well, how does he know this? Because he had experienced this in his life over and over again. His longing for God increased because he had a taste of it and, folks, the more you taste of the Lord, the more you're going to want of him and what a tragedy to think how seldom we yearn for the sublime; how seldom we earnestly seek after the Lord in intimate fellowship. We've got all of these other things that compete for our interest and frankly we thirst for him little because we commune with him little. We experience and labor little because we thirst little. But I can assure you, if you enter into the desert land of standing up for Christ in this culture that hates him, if you roll up your sleeves and begin dealing with people one-on-one in discipleship and really begin to do all the things, the one anotherings, for example, that the Lord has asked us to do, your soul will thirst for the living God. You will crave him and he will satisfy in ways that you cannot imagine. When you engage the enemy of your own flesh, when you encounter the wicked fiend Apollyon on the battlefield of truth, your soul is going to crave for the life-giving water of Christ. Jesus said, you will recall, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." He said in Revelation 22, "Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who wishes, take the water of life without cost."
Now, we all know, especially as the weather gets increasingly hot and humid here in Tennessee, if you work real hard outside or if you work out outside, if you go for a run or whatever, your body is going to perspire, it's going to sweat, and you're going to get dehydrated. And we know that when our bodies get really dehydrated, what do we want? A good cold Pepsi? No, you want water. I mean, if you drink Pepsi, you're in trouble. You want water. You crave water. And the reason why so many believers don't have a thirst for God is really twofold. Number 1: they don't work up a sweat in serving him. They don't ever work up a sweat. And the second reason is when they do feel thirsty, they drink some sugary soda substitute which is typically tantamount to showing up in some church to be entertained and leave feeling good about yourself and all that silly stuff. Folks, we just have to guard against that, but when you really serve Christ, your soul is going to thirst for the soul-satisfying presence of God. Nothing else will do. Well, David longed for this. No wonder in the midst of all of that affliction, he would say in verse 3, "Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise thee. So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in thy name."
I've learned that as we age, the body's thirst sensation begins to diminish around age 50 and it continues to diminish with age, I understand, and this is why so many elderly people suffer from symptoms of dehydration but they don't know they're dehydrated. But, you know, thirst is not necessarily therefore an indication of dehydration. You may not experience the sensation of thirst and yet you can be dehydrated. That's my point. Well, the same thing is true spiritually. Many Christians do not thirst for God. They assume that they are already hydrated with some full measure of communion with him, with discernment. It's kind of like, "Hey, you know, I've got all I need. I'm comfortable here. I possess all the essential elements here necessary to function in a way that brings honor to the Lord." But in truth many are spiritually dehydrated and if you're physically dehydrated and you're called upon to really do something that requires a lot of physical stamina, you're going to collapse. The same thing is true spiritually. If you are spiritually dehydrated, if you have really no thirst for the Lord, if you are called upon in your life to experience some great trial, you're going to quickly collapse in spiritual fatigue and you'll not be able to manifest the fruits of the Spirit nor will you bear spiritual fruit. So, folks, we have to be hydrated with prayer and fellowship and commitment to understand and obey the word of God and so most have really spent far more time probably even this week entertaining themselves than feeding on the word and communing with the Lord and so forth.
Well, it's precious to think of David and that's a long digression but I want you to get a sense of what it means to really desire the Lord and how all of that works its way out in our Christian life. And obviously the Apostle Paul understood all of this and so he's praying that their life and their longings would honor God. But then finally, he's praying that he would fulfill every desire for goodness "and the work of faith with power." So this is the third priority. Not only is it a priority in his prayer life that we would have a life that honors God and longings that honor God but, finally: labor that would honor God. In other words, he's praying that God would complete or he would fulfill the work of faith that he had initiated by his power and his grace in their life. Said differently, he's praying that God would help them bear spiritual fruit. He's praying for their labor in the Gospel; their labor in love for one another. He's praying for all of that to increase and he knew that the secret to all of that was for God to unleash more and more of his power in their lives.
If I can put it this way: Paul essentially is saying that lives that honor God are going to be the result of longings that honor God which will produce labor that honors God. It all works together. Paul said the same thing to the saints at Philippi, he wanted them, he said, "To be filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God." So all of this is empowered by God and this is what he's praying for. Paul prayed that the Ephesians would experience the riches of his glory, "that he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Beloved, I would ask you to ask yourself: am I laboring in service for the Lord? Is my labor honoring Christ? How are you using your gifts to serve him? If somebody were to ask you, "What do you see as your specific ministry for the sake of the kingdom?" What would you say? How do you spend your time? Your treasure? Your talent? Do you spend it all on temporal things or eternal things? You know, most churches have statistically about 15, at most 20% of the people that do all of the work and pay all of the bills. At Calvary Bible Church, it's more like 35-40% which is ahead of the curve but what would it be like if everyone got serious about their labor for Christ?
By the way, if you're sitting on the sidelines and you're just kind of an observer in the Christian life and at the church, I can assure you that your prayer life does not have as a priority the following statement: Lord, I plead with you to help me live in such a way that my life will honor you and, Lord, that my longings would be your longings and that they would be fulfilled, and that my labor would honor you. I can assure you if you're on the sideline, that's not a priority and that's the problem.
Well, for this reason I pray for all of you as Paul says, "That God will fulfill every desire for goodness in the work of faith with power." Why is that so important? He closes in verse 12, "so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." Folks, this is the goal of our life. This is why we are here, why we exist, so that the name of the Lord Jesus will be glorified in us and us in him.
So I would leave you with this thought as Paul says at the end here, all this is the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you rejoicing in that? Are you rejoicing in the power of God to help you have a life that honors him, longings that honor him, and labor that honors him? Are you praying for those things? If you're not, may I challenge you to really begin to examine yourself in this regard. And if you're confused about it, if you're wondering, "Pastor, how can I do this more practically?" Give me a call. Give me an email. Call Pastor Joe, any of the other elders. We would love to discuss this with you because, folks, when we all get serious about this, the Lord blesses us in ways that we cannot imagine and it brings glory to him. That's what we're concerned about because, remember, a day of judgment is coming and a day of glory is coming so we need to live in light of these great truths. Amen? Alright, so I challenge you to these ends.
Let's pray together.
Father, thank you for these truths. As always, we find ourselves humbled by them. We all experience the sting of the lash on each of our backs. Lord, in many ways, we can all say, "Lord, I'm guilty here. I'm guilty there." I pray that by the power of your Spirit, you will not only bring conviction but also repentance and the power to move ahead in our lives with our longings and with our labor in such ways that will bring great glory to you. We ask this in Jesus' name and for his sake. Amen.