The story is told that George Mueller had a prayer list of five men who didn’t know Jesus. He prayed every day that these men would come to know Jesus. After one year, one of the men gave his life to Christ. Another one came to Jesus a decade later and then another years after that. For fifty-four years, Mueller prayed for the final two, and one gave his life to Jesus at Mueller’s funeral, and the final one did so a year after his death. The faithful prayer of one man saw five of his friends come to know Jesus. Prayer changes things.
“Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting holy hands, without wrath and dissension.”
Cry Out for a Mighty Move of God
There has never been a time when prayer is more needed than today. The church should be on its knees, crying out for a mighty move of God. This world is in need, and we have the solution through Jesus Christ. The only way people realize their need for Him is by the church coming together to pray.
The change has to start with the church. Every great revival has always started with the Holy Spirit convicting the church of its sins, and the people repenting. When change happens in the church, it overflows into the community. Repentance comes by us recognizing our sins and begging God for forgiveness. Then we seek Him with all of our heart. We can’t let dissension or wrath prevent us from seeking God.
Prayer Changes Things
Paul tells Timothy that he wants the men to pray. Imagine what it would be like if the men of every church led the people? When we do prayer, our posture is essential. We need to pray with lifted hands. There is a lot of speculation as to what lifted hands mean. Look at it in two ways: first, lifting our hands shows our surrender to God, and second, lifted hands show our desperate need for Him. When we come with this mindset, we are ready for God to do a mighty work
Every soul matters to God. I know that’s not a popular belief today but Scripture backs it up. He desires that everyone would come to know Jesus. As the Bride of Christ our desires should be the same. Our heart should be for the lost and those going to hell. This is the desire of God’s Heart.
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Plan of Redemption
God desires that everyone be saved from hell and experience the forgiveness of their sins. That is the whole purpose for sending His Son. God set His plan of redemption into action as soon as Adam committed the first sin. He wanted to reunite with the people who He created that sin separated. When He looks at people today He sees our brokenness and our inability to fix it. The path to salvation comes through Jesus
Do you desire that everyone be saved? Is there a place in your heart for those who don’t know Jesus? The previous verses in the passage tell us to pray for our leaders and to live as peaceful citizens. If we hate people who don’t think like us then it is hard to pray for them, and they will not come to know Jesus. Ask God to change your heart, so He can use you.
Desire of God’s Heart
The final part of this passage is that all come to the knowledge of the truth. The truth is essential to every believer. It is what we base our decisions on. This is the discipleship aspect of our faith. When we grow in our knowledge of the Word of God and then apply it to our lives we are becoming a disciple. That is the objective of every believer.
The saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Showing we care shows people they can open up to you. They are afraid of being hurt. People want to position themselves as experts and give other people answers to their problems. Jesus had the ability to show people how much He cared for them and then teach them the truth. Always lead with love when you encounter someone. You don’t know what they are going through.
“When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.”
Moved With Compassion
Jesus had a heart for the people He ministered to, when He saw them, He was moved with compassion. That means His heart broke for them. Their spiritual state was evident to Him, and He wanted to do something about it. They were lost and in need of a shepherd to guide them. This is why He spent long hours teaching and healing the sick. The need was evident and He did something about it.
Before you can teach people you need to have a heart for them. Doesn’t matter how much information you have that can help them, if they can’t detect your concern they will tune you out. Too many Sunday school teachers and pastors have gotten in front of their people determined to give them the answers to all of their problems, and they are answering the wrong questions.
Always Lead With Love
Always lead with love. Show the people you’ve been given to minister how much you care. Jesus blew people’s minds with his teaching, but they followed Him everywhere He went because He showed them how much He cared. Love will open doors that have been locked for years. It will shine the life of Christ in places where ears are closed.
There is a big debate about Unemployment Insurance here in the United States. When COVID-19 hit, the government approved a $600 a week bonus to those who lost their jobs because of the shutdown. Now those benefits have run out, and people are begging the government to keep the payments going because they get paid more not to work. The Bible tells us that we were created to work and that we glorify God when we do a good job. We should never rely on anyone else to support us. Paul tells us its time to work.
“For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”
Did We Miss It?
Paul spent most of his letters dealing with issues in the church. The big issue with the Thessalonian church was that they thought the Rapture had already occurred or that it was imminent. For those who thought they “missed the boat,” they were despondent. For those who thought Jesus was coming any day now, they didn’t feel any need to work. Paul was blunt in telling them if you don’t work, you don’t eat.
We’ve all heard stories of people who thought they were going to die going on lavish road trips. They spared no expense because they knew they weren’t going to be around to pay for it. That fatalist mentality has captured people in church when some “End Times” expert predicts the exact date when Jesus will return. They are shocked when the Rapture doesn’t happen. This is not how God created us. He wants us to be working for Him till the day He returns
Time to Work
We are created to work and are supposed to do it until the day we retire or put us six feet under. There is no excuse for an able-bodied Christian not to work. The church isn’t a welfare system for the capable but a support system for the down-trodden. Heed Paul’s words and do the work God has given you, not only that, be the hardest worker at your job. Don’t give your employers any reason to doubt you.
God made it very clear to the Israelites that they were to keep His laws. If they did, He promised them great blessings. If they didn’t, it was only a matter of time before a disaster was on their doorstep. While we have been extended grace through the cross of Christ God still hasn’t changed His heart. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His message is simple, “Walk in my ways.”
“I am the LORD your God; walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and observe them. Sanctify My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’
It Starts With Obedience
Israel had a hard time keeping their eyes on God. They didn’t obey his law or set apart the Sabbath day as holy. Instead, they did what was right in their own eyes and did whatever they wanted on the Sabbath. This leads them to be corrected by God and eventually being led into captivity. If they would’ve obeyed His Word, they would’ve been close to Him and experienced more blessings than they could imagine.
If we don’t obey God’s Word, we will never know Him as Lord. Obedience is essential to every believer. It won’t matter how much we go to church or how much we like to sing worship songs if we don’t live a life of obedience, it will amount to nothing. Jesus told us that those who do what the Word says are His brothers and sisters. To those who don’t, they won’t be acknowledged at the Judgment Seat.
Walk in My Ways
This may seem harsh, but it doesn’t take away its truth. Yes, God’s grace is there, and He extends mercy to those who are helpless, but there is a large segment of Christians who, after salvation, go and do their own thing. They don’t set apart the Sabbath to worship the Lord, and they live in disobedience. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to resist temptation and live a holy life in obedience to Christ. Ask Him to transform your heart. Once you do, Jesus will become more real and much closer.
From time to time I like to recommend a book or resource that I believe can help you in your walk with Jesus Christ. This is the case for “Replicate” by Robby Gallaty and Chris Swain. Jesus’ last command to the church was to “Go and make disciples, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.” (Matt 28:19 I wrote a devotion here) Discipleship is the mission of the church. We are to go and make disciples. The book “Replicate” lays out all of the reasons why you and your church should be doing it and a simple plan on how to implement it.
You don’t need to be a pastor or have gone to Bible College to be a disciple maker. Just grab three young Christians and commit to meeting once a week for a year. In those meetings spend time getting to know one another, memorizing scripture, reading the Bible, holding one another accountable, and praying for each other. That is the thrust of Replicate. We don’t have to over complicate the issue. What you will find over that year is that all of you will grow in your love for Jesus and one another. You will also grow in your knowledge of the Word of God.
The church has long focused on salvations, baptisms, and programs and forgotten the main purpose, to make disciples. When you make disciples you will build a church. That church will be packed with mature believers who love the teaching of the Bible and are ready to serve. If you focus on building the church by getting more people, bigger buildings and, more programs you will often produce consumers instead of disciples.