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Rejoice Always … by Jeff Warren

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“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

                                                                        – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Something hit me while reading the previous verses a few years ago.  I knew that rejoicing, praying and giving thanks are things we should be doing, but it struck me that they are God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.  This is what He would have in store for us every day of our lives!

These verses give us three simple commands: rejoice, pray, give thanks.  The Apostle Paul also states the reason why we are to do these things: this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.

But what if the opposite of this was His will for us?  What if we were told to, “always be discontent, negative and dissatisfied; never look to God, talk with Him or trust Him completely; complain, grumble and be bitter in most situations”? Unfortunately, this is often where we tend to reside throughout our day.  I need to be reminded that this is not the will of God for us.  I need to be reminded to Rejoice! Pray! Give Thanks!  And remember, these are not mere suggestions by God.

There are also two explanations of timing (always, without ceasing) and specific circumstances in which we must give thanks: all of them.  But again, we often live our lives diluting the timing of these commands; “I’ll rejoice when I feel like it, so maybe tomorrow; I’m praying to God because I need an answer from Him in the next five minutes! but I tend to forget to pray when everything is going fine; if something good happens to me I’ll thank God, but that’s pretty rare.”  Always. Without ceasing. In all circumstances.      

Obeying these commands doesn’t just come from self-will or choosing to have a chipper attitude.  These actions are an overflow of the heart.  And we need God to change our hearts.  This occurs as the grace of the gospel grows deep in us as God sanctifies us to look more like His Son.  Therefore, preach the gospel to yourself every day and be amazed that Jesus Christ shed His blood for you!  We also need God’s help to see beyond our feelings, attitudes and circumstances, knowing that it is He Who is Lord over our lives.

This does not mean we try to ignore the brokenness of this world; this does not mean we are to just “put on a happy a face”; this does not mean we should shutdown the feelings and emotions that well up within us.  Paul stated that he himself was, “…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;” (2 Corinthians 6:10a).  Often, the hurt of this world can brutally weigh us down.  We live amongst a fallen world.  But, amidst the hardships of our lives, God still calls us to rejoice, pray and give thanks.  In my own life, I’ve seen how putting these three commands into practice renews my mind, lifts my soul and refocuses me onto Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

Let us approach Him as needy, helpless children (daily!) knowing that, in Christ Jesus, we can always rejoice, we can pray without end and give thanks in any situation.  His ways are always for our good and for His glory.

– Pastor Jeff