“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Short. Crisp. To the point! As Paul is wrapping up his letter to the church in Thessalonica, he leaves them with a few bullet points about what they can do to make sure they are in the will of God. There are a lot things about God’s will that we have to discern along the way. But these 3 things He makes very clear. And my assumption is that if we are doing these 3 things then the other stuff that is not quite so clear will fall into place as we seek the Father.
- Be joyful always -“Life is difficult,” so says M. Scott Peck as he opens his book The Road Less Traveled. It is unpredictable. It is capricious! How do we find joy in a world that often brings despair, and hardship, and uncertainty? We do what we CAN do not what we CAN’T do. We can’t control our circumstances. But we can control whether or not we will obey God. And Scripture tells us that there is a direct correlation between obedience to the Lord God and to experiencing joy. “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:10-11) It is God’s will is that you live a joy-filled, joy-fueled life. If this is not true for you then the first place to start is in areas where you are knowingly disobeying the Father.
- Pray continually – Why would this be one of Paul’s bullet points. I really like a quote by Pastor Mark Batterson in this regard: “People who live in prayer mode see opportunities that other people don’t notice. People who don’t live in prayer mode are opportunity blind….Prayer has a way of helping us recognize that what we might dismiss as human accidents are really divine appointments.” We should always be in prayer mode or else we are going to miss something that God wants us to see or do or be a part of.
- Give thanks in all circumstances – It’s easy to thank God for all the good stuff that happens in our lives. But what about the other stuff. Laura Story has a song out that helps to give perspective on this (click HERE to listen to it). Here are some of the words. They help us to understand how we can be thankful when we seriously wonder if what is happening could possibly be a part of God’s will.
‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”