I. PAUL'S CONCERN FOR THEIR FAITH.
A. In verse 2 Paul tells how that he was so concerned that he sent Timothy back to them from Athens in order that he might establish and comfort them in their faith. We need to be established in our faith, if we are established in the faith we will be comforted in any and all adverse circumstances.
1. They were just babes in Christ, they had just been born again, when the persecution against Paul had become so severe that he had to escape from the city to avoid being arrested.
2. Paul was afraid that being so new in the faith they might be discouraged and give up. He had to leave before he had thoroughly grounded and established them in the faith.
3. Paul reminded them that he had told them in advance that the tribulation would come.
a. Paul declared to them that he was appointed unto tribulation.
b. When Paul was first converted on the road to Damascus and the disciple Ananias was sent by the Lord to pray for him that he might receive his sight and the Holy Spirit, when Ananias objected declaring he had heard of the reputation of Paul how he had wasted the church in Jerusalem, the Lord said to Ananias, "He is a chosen vessel unto Me, and I shall show him all of the things He must suffer for My names sake."
c. Paul knew in advance that the preaching of the gospel was not going to be easy for him, that it would bring persecution and suffering and tribulation. Note he was not teaching them an easy, bed of roses, path gospel.
d. He was able to handle it, but these new converts, how would they respond?
B. In verses 6 and 7 Paul tells them how much he was comforted when Timothy came to him in Corinth and shared how they were going on in the faith and their love.
1. The Apostle John said that he had no greater joy than to know that his children walk in truth.
2. What a great encouragement to know that those who you ministered to are going ahead in the faith.
3. What a great heartbreak to hear of those who have dropped by wayside.
4. In the past we have invested a great deal of time trying to help some in their spiritual needs, then after all of the time and effort we have seen them fall away. You feel that your labor has been in vain.
5. Paul expressed his concern that his labor among them might have been in vain, but the news that Timothy brought to him lifted his spirits, and brought him great joy.
II. PAUL'S CONSTANT PRAYER.
A. He speaks of praying night and day exceedingly.
B. What was his prayer?
1. That he might see their face.
a. He had to leave so abruptly that he probably did not have a chance to say goodbye.
b. They woke up one morning and Paul was gone.
c. They might have felt like deserted children.
d. He longed so desperately to see them again.
e. He spoke of how he tried to come to them but was hindered by Satan. 2:18
2. His great desire was to perfect that which was lacking in their faith.
III. THERE ARE VERY MANY TODAY WHO ARE LACKING IN THEIR FAITH.
A. This is manifested by the way they live.
1. If they truly believed the Bible they could not be doing the things they are doing.
2. They would not be living after the flesh.
3. They would not have a halfhearted commitment.
4. They would be more bold in their witness for Christ.
B. Their lack of faith is manifested in the way they face their problems.
1. The great despair that they experience shows the lack of faith.
2. The constant fear and anxiety show that lack of faith.
IV. WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT THE LACK OF FAITH?
A. Paul's prayer and desire was that he might perfect that which was lacking in their faith.
B. This is accomplished by developing in them a greater understanding and knowledge of God, or by teaching them the word of God more thoroughly, for the Bible is God's revelation of Himself.
1. Now faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
2. The better you know God, the easier you will find it is to trust Him.
a. It is always difficult to trust a stranger.
b. But if you have a close friend who has always stood by you in your times of need, who always kept his word to you, who has promised to stand by you through thick and thin, you find it easy to trust him.
c. The Bible is full of stories of men who have put their trust in God and were delivered.
d. Reading the stories of the men of faith bolsters your faith.
3. In Hebrews we read of the men of faith, who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire,
4. The seed has the DNA code to reproduce the original plant or escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again:
C. When Jesus gave the parable of the sower, as he sowed the seed it fell on various kinds of soil. When He explained the parable He said, "Now the seed is the word of God."
1. The seed has the DNA code to reproduce the original plant or tree.
2. The Word of God has the code to reproduce Christ in you.
3. Peter wrote,
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever.
4. Back in chapter 2 Paul said,
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received [it] not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
D. One day Jesus was talking to His disciples about forgiveness, when He told them that if a brother trespassed against them they were to rebuke him and if he repented to forgive, and he did it seven times in one day, they were to forgive him seven times The disciples then said to Jesus, "Lord, increase our faith."
1. I am certain that all of us feel a lack of faith.
2. I feel a lack of faith.
3. I desire that the Lord would increase my faith. That He will perfect that which is lacking in my faith.