"A Prayer for Strength" and Map Work - April 2021

by Pastor Pete Panitzke on April 26, 2021

"May He strengthen your hearts..." (1 Thessalonians 2:13-3:13)

We see the affection that a pastor has for his congregation in our reading for today. Persecution forced Paul to leave Thessalonica in Macedonia far too soon. He fled to Athens and sent Timothy to check on the Thessalonians. Timothy found Paul ministering in Corinth, from which Paul writes this letter.

Paul prays for a reunion. Even though they cannot be together, he serves them by prayer. We are gradually seeing more people after a long separation because of the pandemic. But many of you are still separated from each other. This section of 1 Thessalonians is a great reminder that, even if separated, we can serve one another in prayer. 

I highlighted the words "May he strengthen your hearts..." because our Old Testament lesson (Judges 12-14) closes the sad account of Jephthah and begins the account of Samson to whom God gave incredible physical strength to begin to give God's people hope against their enemies. 

When the Spirit came upon Samson in power, he could do amazing things. Let us pray for each other that the Spirit will come up on us in power that God might use us to bring hope and encouragement to those around us. We also see Samson's spiritual weaknesses - the last of the judges is spiritually the worst leader. Let us pray for each other that as the Spirit gives us strength to serve the LORD, but also pray He also protects us from the spiritual weaknesses that lie within each of us. 

Map Work 

The map below can help you locate where Judges served. Three judges are listed briefly in our reading today - Ibzan in the south in Bethlehem, Judah; Abdon in Ephraim in the middle of the tribes; and Elon in the north in Zebulon. Also note that Jephthah dealt with the Ammonites attacking from the east and Samson dealt with the Philistines attacking from the west. It is possible that some of these judges did not serve all the tribes, but served in localized areas and the time of their judgeships overlapped. 


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