Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
“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). This passage teaches us three principles that should be true of every follower of Jesus Christ. We are to rejoice evermore, always be in an attitude of prayer, and be ever thankful. This seems like a tall order, which is true. Equally true is what it is: The Word of the Lord!
Our rejoicing, praying and thanksgiving are not to be limited to unique and special occasions or even a special day. It is to be the ongoing pattern and practice of our lives. Rejoice always means to rejoice and keep on rejoicing. Pray without ceasing means to pray and keep on praying. To be thankful in everything means to be thankful in everything. And I mean in everything! “Impossible,” you say? You are right. Apart from Jesus Christ, having an ongoing attitude of rejoicing, praying and thanksgiving is impossible. But in Christ, all things are possible. Paul said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Through Him, that is Christ, I can rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in everything…even in the midst of suffering and sadness.
The question then, is how do we do these things? The obvious answer is not in our own strength and energy. Notice Paul said it was “through Him” that he could do all these things. I believe the key is where our focus lies. The author of Hebrews says we are to “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (12:2). Therefore, when our focus is fixed on Jesus, we can rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks. We rejoice in three things: (1) The Lord, (2) the gospel, and (3) the spiritual growth of others, including our own spiritual growth. Philippians 3:1 tells us to rejoice in the Lord. Acts 13:48 teaches us to rejoice in the gospel, particularly as it spreads throughout the world. 3 John 4 admonishes us to rejoice as others grow spiritually. Likewise, we should rejoice in our own personal spiritual growth. A quick reading through Paul’s letters and we discover he was a man of prayer. In fact, we could say he prayed always. It wasn’t that he was constantly offering up words of prayer. The key was he was always in an attitude of prayer. He recognized he was ever in God’s presence so he always maintained an attitude of prayer. In the passage, “pray without ceasing,” the Greek word used is where we get our English word for hacking cough. Paul prayed thus for the Thessalonians and others. Finally, we are told, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It means in every circumstance. This is a tall order. But when we recognize that God is sovereign, that He orders the events of our lives and that He is in the process of making us more like Christ and perfecting our faith, “so that,” as James says, “you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4), thankfulness flows a little more easily. God wants to perfect our faith and teach us to trust Him. The only way He can do that is to take whatever measure of faith we have and stretch it. The only way He can do that is through testing it. Often times, the only way He can do that is through leading us into and through some very difficult and painful circumstances. Do I really and truly believe that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do? Well, the only place I discover the answer to these questions is in the midst of difficulty and suffering.
So then, regardless of our circumstances, no matter what the Lord in His wisdom sends our way, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Joyfully, full of hope (Romans 8:24-25), in the confidence of faith (Hebrews 11:1), we live, we breathe, we rejoice, we pray, we give thanks! When the trials of life come my way, I reflect on God’s Word and the song that reminds me, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus, life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ; One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase, so bravely run the race till we see Christ.”
You are welcome to leave comments and you don't have to necessarily agree with me. However, I expect a civil tone and charitable spirit. We can disagree with one another without being disagreeable. "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt." (Colossians 4:6)
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