God’s Will for You

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

BIG IDEA

The mind that is preoccupied with God will be set free from the irritations of this world.

INTRODUCTION

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

EXPLANATION

When is the last time you had a lengthy conversation with someone that didn’t eventually turn to our present pandemic? As a nation, we are preoccupied with the pandemic. And I have noticed, there is an increasing irritation with the situation, regardless of the viewpoint of the individual. Masks, yes or no? Lockdowns, yes or no? Gatherings, yes or no? Conspiracy, yes or no? There is a building frustration caused by all the irritation that can only be solved by a preoccupation with God. The more aware we are of God, the less we are annoyed by the things of this world.

Today we are going to return to a text that I preached on one year ago this week. Some of the content is new, but the principles are as important now as they were a year ago, and I think it is worth the revisit.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

In the original language, these three little phrases all come in the form of commands. Rejoice always, it’s a command. Pray without ceasing, it’s an order. Give thanks in all circumstances, it’s a directive. I think that most of us here today like the verbs in the commands, but we do not like the adverbs. If we are honest, most of us are comfortable with the “rejoice, pray, and give thanks” parts, we just don’t like the “always,” “without ceasing,” and “all circumstances” parts. Instead, we’d prefer to rejoice occasionally, pray sporadically, and give thanks intermittently. The verbs seem possible. The adverbs seem impossible.   

In your own strength, these commands are impossible. But with the help of God, they are possible! God does not give commands to confound His children. With His commands comes His companionship in carrying out the command!

The mind that is preoccupied with God will be set free from the irritations of this world.

  1. Enduring Joy
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Rejoice always.” To “rejoice in someone” is to “take delight in them.”
      1. Rejoicing is an activity over which we have control. To rejoice is a choice. It is not a feeling that comes and goes. It is a decision. It is not a spontaneous feeling that comes and goes. It is a choice. You  have the ability to choose joy even in the most difficult of circumstances.
      2. Rejoicing “always” is a requirement and not a request. Bad mornings, bad days, bad weeks, and bad years are going to happen. The call of the Christian is not “fake it till you make it.” It’s not putting on a satisfied face even though your world is falling apart. To rejoice always requires a conscious effort to be occupied with Christ and not your circumstances.
      3. Rejoicing “always” is not the absence of suffering and pain. Life hurts! And when it hurts, you are not called to elation, ecstasy, exuberance, or exhilaration. Sometimes you are going to be flat out on the floor weeping and wailing because life hurts!
      4. Rejoicing is choosing the path of being God-centered. When you place God at the center of your focus, you cannot help but be joyful.
        • God is your source, everything else is just a resource.
        • Everything good that happens to you is a gift from God. He is the source. Anything that you have (clothes, health, car, house, family) are all gifts from God. What you have been given is just a resource. You are then responsible for how you use what He has given you.
        • Every bad thing that happens to you can be used for your good by God. That does not mean that everything that happens to you is good. Bad things happen to good people. But if you are preoccupied with God, you will realize that even the bad things that happen to you are just a resource to be used by God for your good.
        • The Book of James says, “Consider it (reckon it, count it, identify it) pure joy, my brethren, when you encounter trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
        • Elsewhere, Paul says, “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
        • How do you get hope out of hurt? By recognizing that strength comes through the struggle as God demonstrates His power in your pain!
    • So if rejoicing “always” is not permanent happiness, superficial satisfaction, or the absence of suffering and pain, what is it?
      1. It is an inner state of contentedness birthed by a total reliance on the sufficiency of God.
      2. It is a settled internal attitude that God is enough regardless of what you are enduring.
      3. It is a grace gift given to you by God.
      4. It is an internal disposition made possible through the power of God
    • Sometimes your dreams have to die. Sometimes your hopes, plans, aspirations, desires need to die. Rejoice in their death, even when it hurts, because God specializes in making dead things live.
    • You can rejoice always because you have the confidence that the power of God makes impossible things possible.
  2. Persistent Prayer
    • Verse 17 says, “pray without ceasing.” Pray continuously. Again, this seems impossible, but I believe it seems impossible because we have the wrong picture of prayer.
    • Perhaps this week your whole family gathered around a table to have a Thanksgiving feast. And perhaps someone said, “Let’s stop and pray.” And so everyone quieted down, bowed their heads, closed their eyes, and someone talked to God. Now listen, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, that is beautiful. But it is only part of the picture of prayer.
    • Prayer is not stopping life to talk to God; prayer is living life while talking with God! Prayer is practicing the presence of God. Prayer is cultivated communion and communication with God. Prayer is talking to God.
      1. When you wake up in the morning, talk to God.
      2. When you are driving to work/school, talk to God.
      3. When you are in a difficult situation, talk to God.
      4. When life is going great, talk to God.
      5. When it’s time to eat, talk to God.
      6. When you lay your head on the pillow, talk to God.
    • The word prayer consists of two words: to face in a direction and to call out loudly. Prayer is when you face in the direction of God, and you call out loudly, but let me add, you also listen closely. It is continuously practicing the presence of God.
    • Of course, there are times to stop and withdraw from life and talk with God. There are times to go into your prayer closet. There are times to fast and pray. There are times to get away from the noise and listen carefully. There are times you withdraw from life to pray, but there should never be a time that you withdraw from prayer so that you can live life! Prayer is not to be a part of your life; your life is to be a life of prayer.
    • Pray without ceasing. In everything you do, keep your face turned toward God, keep talking to God, and keep listening to God. 
    • The power of God can make the impossible, possible.
  3. Abiding Gratitude
    • To “abide in” means to “live perpetually in…” Perpetually, continually live in a state of gratitude.
    • How is this possible? In a world where there is pain, suffering, destruction, and devastation, how can we give thanks in all circumstances? Bad things happen! Not everything that happens is good. Listen, not everything is good, but God is always good! Therefore, we must give thanks in all circumstances for the goodness of God.
    • You can give thanks because God is present. Even on the darkest, most difficult, terrible, horrible, rotten day, God is present. So, give thanks. Even in the storm, God is in the boat with you. Even in the darkness, His light is there. God is a very present help in the time of trouble, so give thanks.
    • You can give thanks because God is purposeful. God is “working all things (ALL things) together for the good of them who love Him and are called according to HIS PURPOSE.” He is making a purpose out of your pain. Give thanks!
    • You can give thanks because God is powerful. “Now to Him who is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine, to Him be glory and power and dominion forever and ever.” God is powerful, give thanks!
      1. Give thanks in your pain, knowing God has a purpose.
      2. Give thanks in your suffering, knowing God is sufficient.
      3. Give thanks in your shortage, knowing God is your supply.
      4. Give thanks in your hardship, knowing God is your helper.

APPLICATION

  1. When you are joyful, you live in an appropriate recognition of the Majesty of God.
  2. When you are prayerful, you live in an appropriate reliance on the Sovereignty of God.  
  3. When you are grateful, you live in an appropriate relationship with the Goodness of God.

CONCLUSION

You can choose the very thing that your mind is preoccupied with. Is it the goodness of God, or the wickedness of the world?

Why should we be preoccupied with God?

  • When you are weak, He is strong.
  • His grace is sufficient for every situation.
  • There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
  • That there is no sin so deep that the love of God is not deeper still.
  • The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from every sin.
  • Even when we feel alone, we are never forsaken or abandoned.
  • The Lord Jesus is present in our pain.
  • God is faithful to finish his work in us.
  • Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Rejoice always. Stop complaining and be content. 

Pray without ceasing. Start calling upon God.

Give thanks in all circumstances. Stay grateful for all God is doing.

For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

2 Comments

  1. Ambara says: · ·Reply

    Wonderful message, thanks for making ways for us to hear God’s word when we can’t be there in Sunday.

    • We are trying hard and improving all the time! We will continue to do our best to provide increasing quality to our streams during this difficult time.

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