Midweek Advent Service II, 6 December 2017
Are you ready for the hard times to come? St. Paul says they are sure to follow, whenever one holds fast to Christ and trusts His Word. God’s Apostle grows concerned, due to the spiritual threat of the tempter during our time of affliction. Through temptation, Satan’s relentless attacks strive to “deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice.” (Small Catechism, 6th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer) The Enemy’s first priority is to cut off the supply lines to the Gospel. Satan cut off the path between preacher and hearers in Thessalonica:
But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18)
The Enemy’s threat is real, but his efforts were in vain for the Thessalonians. The Word they believed and received in faith, holding fast to the sure promises of Christ. By the work and Word of the Lord, they find strength to endure and withstand. So shall we find God faithful in delivering His people through terrible storms of life, as together they encourage and comfort one another in Christ.
The Sixth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer
And lead us not into temptation.
What does this mean? God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.
(1 Thessalonians 3:1-13, ESV)
“1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.
“6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
“11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.