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Sermon Overview & Prayer: "Outwitting the Enemy"

PRAYER POINTS | LUKE 5:1-11 | Outwitting the Enemy

These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer. 

"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. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone,  and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 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. 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."

The relational bonding of God’s people in Christ is so intimate that we feel “torn apart” when we are not able to be together and see each other face to face.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for opportunities to experience the gift of friendship, fellowship, and community in Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. Where I may feel those experiences lacking, draw me to conversations that help me make adjustments – so that I might be a means of grace, as well as experience grace, with my brothers and sisters in this local church. And where those experiences abound, help me to steward those gifts with prayer, interest, service, and care.

PRAYER: Lord, please remind me to pray for those dear fellow members who are still not able to join us on Sunday. Grant me and others creative ways and gestures to pursue them and to assure them that they are not forgotten – that we are separated in person, not in heart.

Paul reminds the church that persecution, suffering, and affliction for the sake of the gospel are the norm for the church.

“If we find ourselves living for the gospel as a minority in a culture whose controlling values are antithetical to those of the gospel, then we should expect to experience the same types of afflictions as they [the Thessalonians] did.” (Michael Holmes)

PRAYER: Lord, we are aware that as our love for you, your Word, and your ways continues to deepen, the contrast and conflict with the world will deepen as well. Strengthen our convictions and our courage. Strengthen our compassion and our care for those who are lost, or even oppose us. Give us steadfast faith in affliction, and give us wisdom to respond with grace and truth to that persecution.

If we are prepared for persecution we won’t be surprised, “unsettled” in our souls or weakened in our faith when we experience persecution...And we need to be especially alert to the devices of the tempter when we are experiencing persecution or any form of suffering.

“The most sinister thoughts that Satan insinuates into our minds are not enticements to sin but suspicions about God himself.” (Sinclair Ferguson)

PRAYER: Father, your love for us in the gospel, and your power and self-disclosure in your Word, are the surest of anchors when we find ourselves weak and tossed with doubt. Grant us grace to guard our hearts with faith. Grant us grace to guard our minds with truth. Alert us to the devices of the enemy, that we might resist every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of of God. Empower us to remain steadfast in faith and righteousness.

When we experience persecution or suffering in whatever form, we need a faithful friend like Timothy.

PRAYER: Lord, once again, thank you for the gift of fellowship. Remind us again and again, that it’s through the proper working of every part (beginning with me), and through speaking the truth in love,  that the church builds itself up in love. Please helpful me to faithfully steward that precious gift and privilege!

 

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:
Paul’s heart for the church in Thessalonica is on full display in this portion of his letter and he wasn’t about to let any obstacle stand in the way of serving them, including Satan himself. He is understandably concerned his absence is being contorted to look like a lack of care. Meanwhile, the tempter is condemning them in the midst of their affliction. Two major themes emerge from these verses: persecution for the Christian is unavoidable and the Enemy would enjoy nothing more than to convince us of lies about God. Praise Christ that, “He crushes the serpents head by taking our guilt and shame on himself”! (D.A. Carson)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Paul’s strategery against his opponent in this letter is commendable and worthy of imitation. How did your views on Christian affliction and the role of those sharing in affliction change or become enhanced by these verses?
  2. Paul’s use of “torn away” in verse 17 is more akin to a child orphaned from their parents. This vivid illustration shows us what relationship should look and feel like in the local church. How has this pandemic helped you better understand Paul’s longing for the church in Thessalonica?
  3. The tempter attempts to catch us in our sin, condemns us with that sin, and whispers lies to us about God regarding how He will deal with sin. What lies have you been believing? How can those lies be dispelled?
  4. John Stott reminds us, “The Thessalonians [and we for that matter] are trophies of Christ crucified”! How can we blend this glorious truth with the theme of affliction from these verses when speaking to unbelievers or discipling Christians young in their faith?