A New Year Prayer
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to II Thessalonians, chapter 1, verse 11:

I Thessalonians 1

11Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
12That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let each phrase of the verses sink into your thinking today, because they do constitute the message we believe God would have us bring to you. Those of you who are familiar with Paul's second Thessalonian letter will recognize immediately that this is one of four prayers which are contained in this letter. In the text that is before us, we have the opportunity of meditating upon a prayer which the apostle prayed for the Thessalonican believers and which I believe we should pray for one another.

Basis of the Prayer

So that our minds might be able to comprehend the truth that is presented in these few verses, I want to suggest that we are going to think, first of all, about the basis of prayer. Then we are going to think about the general request that is contained in it, and then we are going to think about three specific petitions which are worthy of our consideration. Look again at verse 11 and notice the words, “wherefore also we pray.” We have told you many times when you find the word “wherefore” in the Scriptures, we should not pass over it lightly; we should ask with another word a question, and that word is “whyfore.” When you see the word “wherefore,” always say “whyfore” and go back and find out what the Spirit of God is talking about. In doing that, we could suggest to you that the “wherefore” refers back to the glorious prospect of verse 10. It does so in such a manner that this phrase has been variously translated. It has been translated, “wherefore we pray always.” It has been translated, “to which end we are praying.” It has been translated, “in view of this, we always pray”; and it has been translated (and I rather like this), “in view of this great prospect we pray.”

What is that great prospect? Look back at verse 10, where we read:

I Thessalonians 1

10When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

When He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all them that believe in that day. The apostle, as we learned in our last lesson, was announcing the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ someday was going to come again. And he said when He did it would be a great day because it would be a day when the Lord Jesus Christ would be glorified in the lives of those whom He has redeemed, and it would be a day when the Lord Jesus Christ would be admired by all who had placed their faith and their trust in Him.

A Practical Request

The Apostle Paul was a very practical individual, and in view of the great prospect in the future he makes a very practical request for the present, and that practical request is found in verse 12 of this paragraph, where we read:

I Thessalonians 1

12That the name of the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is it that the apostle is saying? He is saying that the prospect of the future might become the experience of the present, and he is praying that you and I will be able to glorify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is praying that you and I will so live that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified. This is not an unusual request, because it is based upon many injunctions in the Word of God that we should glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever you do, we are told in the Word of God, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? For the purpose of bringing glory to Him.

Have you ever stopped to consider what it means to glorify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? Let me say to you that it means more than just saying, “Praise the Lord!” It means more than just singing a song. It means more than just saying a prayer. What does it mean to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in present, everyday living? Turn in your Bibles, please, to a very familiar passage of Scripture that, by way of contrast, I might show you what it means to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn, please, to Psalm 19, and notice in the very first verse a statement that I believe will help us to understand what we are talking about when we are talking about glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ; for if we cannot approach this matter practically, there is no point in talking about it at all. Notice, please, the first verse of Psalm 19:

Psalms 19

1The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.

What is he talking about? What is the Spirit of God saying? He is not talking about two different things. He is talking about one and the same thing. “The heavens declare the glory of God.” How do the heavens declare the glory of God? “The firmament showeth the handiwork of God.” What does that mean? The firmament shows the skill and the wisdom of God. The firmament shows the knowledge of God. The firmament shows the power of God. What is He suggesting? Every time you look up into the heavens you should recognize that God has made what you see see and you should recognize that there is an intelligent personality behind everything that meets your eye in all of creation. The firmament is not saying anything audibly; the firmament is not doing anything actively; the firmament is merely a testimony to the handiwork of God, what God is able to do in creation.

Glorifying God In Our Lives

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Ephesians, chapter 2, and notice verse 7 where we will be able to see what we are talking about when we are talking about glorifying God. In Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 6, speaking of you and me, the Lord Jesus Christ said:

Ephesians 2

6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
7That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Did you notice what is happening? The Lord Jesus Christ has worked a miracle in your life if you have been born again. The Lord Jesus Christ has done something tremendous, something marvelous, in your life if you have come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior. Throughout all eternity men will look at the redeemed, angels will look at the redeemed, all of the heavenly host will look at the redeemed, and they will say, “Lord what God hath done!” It will be a matter of glorifying Him through His handiwork in the lives of men.

Now bring that right down to the present and recognize what we are talking about when we are talking about glorifying God. Does your life today say anything at all to people who are watching it? When people observe your life, when people observe you in everything you do, can they say, “Look what God has done?” Or, and I hesitate to say this, but we might as well be very practical and face the situation as it is all too often, when men look at you do they see nothing? Do they see nothing that would cause them to think that God is great and God is wonderful and God can do great things?

More times than I have time to mention people have said to me, when I have tried to deal with them about their relationship to God and to Christ, “There can't be very much to what you say. There can't be very much to what you are talking about. I know someone who has believed that for a long time, and I don't see any difference between his life and mine. There can't be very much to what you say, Joe. Oh, maybe it works for you, but it doesn't work for too many people, because I know this person who is doing everything he has always done, and he says the same things you say.” Do you see why it was necessary for the Apostle Paul to pray that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you?

Will you do something for me? Will you covenant with God to pray for me during this year that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ might be glorified in me? Will you pray that prayer for me? If you covenant to pray that prayer for me, I will covenant to pray that prayer for you. I believe from the bottom of our hearts that if we mean it, we can touch the throne of God with it, and your life and mine will not be the same. Hearts will be touched as the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified.

Three Petitions

Now, the apostle is going to be very specific. If your life and mine is going to be such that we will glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, he is going to be more specific in His praying; and so there are in these two verses of Scripture three specific petitions that are fitting. We can borrow them from him and we can make them requests related to our own lives. Go back to II Thessalonians, chapter 1, and notice in verse 11, the words: “Wherefore, also, we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling”–that is the first specific petition. “That God would fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness”–that is the second specific petition. The third petition is “and that God would fulfil the work of faith with power.”

Let us meditate for a moment or two upon the first petition that He makes when he says, “that God would count you worthy of this calling.” Look at the word “calling.” What is that? Well that word is used in the Scriptures in relation to a number of different aspects of the call, but the simplest definition of the call is found in I Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 9. You will notice that the apostle said:

I Corinthians 1

9God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

The calling, then, is the calling to the fellowship of Jesus Christ. Now, there are a lot of folk who are very proud of what they are. Bless you if you are proud of what you are; that is fine, but I am not proud of anything today except that my fellowship is with the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone came in the bookstore and wanted to know if we had a charm for a charm bracelet that said, “I am a *UL____*UL and named a certain denomination. I thought to myself, ”Well, there should be something like, “I am in fellowship with Jesus Christ.” That is the important thing, and that is our calling today. Our calling is to be in fellowship with Him.

Let that sink in for a moment or two, and then let me ask you today, in view of that fellowship and in view of that calling, if the prayer that the apostle is praying is needed for your heart and for your experience? Look at it again in II Thessalonians, chapter 1, verse 11:

I Thessalonians 1

11Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

God's Evaluation of Us

What does this phrase “count you worthy” actually mean? It is from one Greek word, the Greek word *ULaxioo*UL, and it means simply that God would do a number of different things, all of them expressed within this one phrase that we are thinking about. That phrase has been variously translated, and I want to read one or two of the translations to you so that you will be able to get the full meaning of the petition which Paul prayed. Let me suggest to you that the apostle prayed that God would think that you were worthy of the calling. What evaluation does God place on your life? What does God think of you? Have you ever stopped to consider that? Oh, how many times we are concerned about what other people think of us! How many times we are quiet about our testimony for fear of what others will think of us. How many times we are quiet about taking a stand upon which we have a firm conviction just for fear of what other people would think of us. Have you ever stopped to consider what God thinks of you? Well, that is what Paul is praying about. He said, “My prayer is that you might walk so worthy of this calling that God will think you are worthy of it.” I wonder as He looks down on my life if He can think that I am worthy of being part of the fellowship, part of the fellowship that is related to the Lord Jesus Christ.

This word also involves something else, and I am grateful for this because I can pray this prayer sincerely. I might find it difficult to pray that the day would ever come that God would think that I am worthy of the fellowship, but I can pray this part of the prayer, and that is that God would make me worthy, that God would make me worthy of the fellowship because that is exactly what is included in the phrase when we read that “God would count you worthy of the fellowship.”

That word “worthy” is a tremendously interesting word. It comes, as far as its root meaning is concerned, from the word for “weight.” Do you carry any weight for Jesus Christ? You know, we have that in our everyday parlance. We speak of a person who we may think is rather important, and we say, “Now, you ought to see him because he carries a lot of weight.” We all know what we are talking about. He is influential. His word means something. If he puts his stamp of approval on something, it will go through. Listen carefully as I ask you and trust the Holy Spirit will minister the question to your heart: Do you carry any weight for the Lord Jesus Christ? Now, wait a minute. I did not ask if you carry any weight *ULwith*UL Him, but do you carry any weight *ULfor*UL Him? Does you testimony mean anything at all?

Fulfill Every Good Resolution

Look again at verse 11 as we notice the second petition which the apostle made when he said:

I Thessalonians 1

11Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of his calling,[now notice the second request] and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness,…

It would be wise, I suppose, and helpful for us to meditate upon that phrase exactly as it is in our translation, “that God would fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness,” but that really is not what the Spirit of God is saying because it sounds like the Spirit of God is saying that God will fulfill all of His goodness in your life, and that really isn't what the subject is about. It is something more practical than that, more personal than that, and something that entails a more definite responsibility than that. Let me suggest to you that in the original text the word “the” is not in the text. It is not talking about the goodness of God. And the word “his,” as is indicated in our translation by the fact that it is in italics, is not in the original text so it is not talking about the goodness of God.

May I remind you that this word for goodness in the Greek is *ULagathosune*UL which is never used of the goodness of God. It is always used of goodness as a moral characteristic. If we keep in mind and we read the request this way, it does make a little difference. We read, “that God will fulfill all the desires that you may have for goodness, that God will fulfill all the desires that you have for that which is right and that which is good.” As a matter of fact, Williams translates this very phrase we are thinking about in this fashion: “that God might fulfill your every desire for goodness.” Moffet translates it: “that God might fulfill every good resolve, that God might fulfill every good resolution.”

Of course, we joke a lot about resolutions and we say that resolutions are made to be broken, but they don't need to be. If you depend upon the Holy Spirit, you can make your resolution and then you can pray, and we can pray for one another, that God will fulfill every good resolution that you will make. That is what Paul prayed for these Thessalonican believers, and that is what we can pray for each other today. Will you do that? Will you pray that every good resolution that I make God will fulfill? I will do the same for you.

Work of Faith Fulfilled

Now, for the third request, look again at verse 11:

I Thessalonians 1

11Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

Notice that the word “fulfill” in the preceding statement belongs also to this particular verse here, so that what we are reading is, as the third request, that “God will fulfill your work with faith.” And it may be translated, if we want to be very practical, “that the Lord God will fulfill every effort of faith, that the Lord God will complete every activity of your faith.” Isn't it a strange thing that our faith is stirred any number of times for any number of reasons and we feel like we can really believe God for something. We start out going to believe Him; we are going to do it, and then the way gets lost and we get discouraged and the Devil whispers in our ear and says, “Oh, well, I don't suppose God really wanted you to do that.” And the first thing you know, you have fallen by the wayside. What is this prayer? “That God will complete every effort of your faith, that anything you begin by faith God will complete it.” Isn't that a marvelous request? That is what he is saying in this passage of Scripture.

God's Power Fulfills Success

Now, one last thing that I want to say to you is that these requests will become reality on the basis of two things that are mentioned in the text. One of them is found in the very last word of verse 11. It is the word “power.” You are aware of the fact, I am sure, that the word “power” comes from the Greek word *ULdunamis*UL from which we get our English word “dynamite,” and it is always good for us to emphasize that because so many of us have such a reduced and meager opinion of the power of God. Listen to me today: The power of God is dynamite, and God says that His power is related to these three requests that we have been talking about. “Oh, God, make me worthy of thy calling; God, help me to so live that you will think I am worthy.” And immediately the voice of man says, “Oh, but I can't; I can't.” And God says, “I can.” That is the meaning of the word “power.” “God, my request today is that you will fulfill every resolution I make related to goodness, every resolution I make related to that which is right, and every resolution that I make which is related to that which is spiritual.” The old Devil slips up alongside of you and says, “What is the use to make that resolution? You made it last year, and you didn't keep it over a week's time.” But God answers, “My power is involved and my power can keep that resolution.” And then I pray, “Lord, so many things I want to do for You; Lord, fulfill every effort I put forth in faith. Please, Lord, every effort I put forth in faith, fulfill that effort.” And the old Devil says, “Why, you are not big enough and you are not strong enough to do anything.” But God says, “My power is involved, and my power can fulfill every effort of faith.”

The Devil never takes anything lying down, did you know that? He never quits after the first attempt. Don't think that he is through because you have won the initial skirmish. He isn't. He will be right back before long with something else. And what does he come back with? He comes back with his old idea. Why, you are so sorry and you are so worthless, and you are so unimportant, why should God want to answer your prayer and why should God want to fulfill these three requests that you are making?

Grace Makes It Possible

Now we notice the last thing related to the basis upon which these requests are made, in verse 12:

I Thessalonians 1

12That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

When the Devil comes along and says, “Why should God do anything for you?”, you can answer, “He shouldn't. There is no reason in the world why He should. But His grace makes it possible for Him to do it!” Will you make this your prayer? Will you pray, first of all, that you will be able to glorify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? Will you pray that God will so arrange your life that you will be worthy of this calling? Will you pray that God will so guard and protect your life that every resolution you make for good will be fulfilled? Will you pray in such a fashion that God will complete every work of faith that you begin?


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