“May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace” 2 Thess. 1:2
The room was filled with people eager to hear the pastor’s message. His charismatic personality and wit always carried his listeners easily through each sermon. Although not challenged, his flock was certainly entertained. Randolph was very popular.
The sermon, this morning would be different, challenging both for him and his flock. God had penetrated his otherwise charming manner in his prayers and stripped him of all pretense. It was time to share the words of God as that…Words of God!
“My friends we will forego all preliminaries this morning,” he began, “God wants to speak to us from His Word. He wants to remove all distractions so turn off all cell phones, tablets or anything else that rings, vibrates or gets your attention. Yes, I’m not fooling, turn them OFF. I’ll wait.”
“If you have a Bible, turn to 2 Thessalonians. If not, close your eyes and listen carefully as God speaks to us through this portion of His Holy Scripture.”
Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.
And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him.
So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.
Randolph paused here, looking up from his Bible. He refrained from filling the silence with his usual light-hearted anecdotes. Today was different for him…for them. God was speaking today. He was changing lives, shattering strongholds, encouraging hearts. God’s Holy Spirit seemed tangible this morning.
Randolph said, “Come to the altar, friends. Let’s pray together and allow God to strip away our facades. Let’s wrestle with the spiritual forces of darkness as the body of Christ.” He turned and knelt. Soon the altar was full. A river of tears followed.