This is God’s Will

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Nestled in Paul’s teaching to believers in Thessalonica on how to relate to one another, are three simple yet profound truths, that if applied, will radically change your life.
-Rejoice always
-Pray without ceasing
-Give thanks in everything

Obviously these commands are humanly impossible to do, thus the phrase, “in Christ Jesus.”  Apart from the Spirit of God living in and through us, we naturally default to the opposite extremes.  We complain, rely on ourselves, forget to pray and are often ungrateful and dissatisfied with our circumstances.  The point is if you are not a Christ-follower, you cannot do these three things.  And if you are a follower, you cannot do these things on your own.  I love it when the Bible says, “this is God’s will for you.”  No ambiguity, simply God saying “I want you to do this, listen up!”  

God says, I want you to rejoice always.  To rejoice is more than a feeling, though feelings are involved.  It means to set your mind on God, to find contentment in Him regardless of circumstances.  It’s easy to rejoice when times are good, but this is a reminder to rejoice in God always, especially when times are confusing and difficult.  Interestingly, Paul wrote these words to new believers who were suffering persecution due to their faith.  Ask God to help you find your joy in Him, to be so enthralled with His greatness and goodness, that it overrides whatever is going on in your life. 

God says, I want you to pray without ceasing.  This is possible only because the Spirit lives in us and according to Romans 8:26, He is praying for us.  An interactive, live conversation is going on at all times, and all we have to do is join in.  Stay in conversation with God throughout the day.  Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, say, good morning Father, get a cup of coffee, read His living Word and pray.  Dialogue with God during the day, try to see Him in every person and activity.  Then as you go to sleep, say something like, “Oh Father it’s been good walking with you today.  Watch over me as I rest and we will walk again tomorrow.” 

God says, I want you to give thanks in everything.  This means to be grateful to God for who He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He promises to do.  Similar to rejoicing, thankfulness is an attitude, a way of living.  We all choose to see events in life one of two ways.  Either from our perspective… “Why did that person hurt me? How did they get the job and I didn’t? Why is this happening to me?  How can I end up with more money?” Or we see everything in life from God’s perspective which causes us to continually give thanks… “God thank you for the air I’m breathing, for the family You have given me, for the amazing portraits You paint in the sky, for work and more than enough resources, for Your Word, for calling me into Your family, for choosing to live in me, for Your Church, and yes I thank you for trials and difficulties and how You use then to deepen my relationship with You.” 

You might memorize this verse and place it on a mirror, in your car or on your desk.  Decide to do this today, and then decide again tomorrow and the next day.  Remember, this is God’s will for you. 

Jeff Wilson

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