“Be joyful ALWAYS; pray CONTINUALLY; give thanks IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Always? Continually? In All Circumstances? – Sounds a lot repetitive, doesn’t it? The Christian life has built into it a series of habits. The more habitually you practice the habits (a.k.a. Spiritual Disciplines, Means of Grace), the less habitual they seem and the more transformational change you experience.
Are you joyful? prayerful? thankful? Am I? How often?
a) Never? b) Occasionally? c) Regularly? d) Always?
Be joyful always – Paul doesn’t say ‘Be happy.’ Happiness is a fickle emotion that rests on circumstances. Anyone can be happy when the sun is shining, they’ve just consumed their favourite beverage and their life is peaceful. But joyfulness is a different matter. ‘The fruit of the Spirit is ….JOY…” Paul reminds the Galatian churches. Joy isn’t to be cranked up but the Spirit will produce it in the life of the surrendered saint. Let God make you joyful. Let Him be your joy. Circumstances change rapidly and if our contentment rests on them not changing, we’ll never be filled with joy.
Pray continually – How clearly does the believer manifest dependence upon God! ‘I need Thee every hour….’ so I pray continually. My wisdom is so limited for facing life’s challenges…. so I pray continually. My resources are so finite, yet God’s are so infinite…. so I pray continually. I’m so prone to wander, ‘Lord I feel it….’ so I pray continually. What are your reasons for being constantly in the posture of prayer? The busier we become the more we need to pray, to seek God’s direction, to call upon His name and not become anxious about any of life’s overwhelming circumstances.
“…give thanks IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Thanksgiving isn’t just a one day event on the Canadian or American calendar. It is an attitude–an attitude of gratitude. I may not give thanks FOR all circumstances, yet IN all circumstances I may be thankful. God is still God. He has not surrendered His throne to a lesser God. Our God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful) and omnipresent (everywhere present). We pray ‘Your will be done…’ because we know His will is good and acceptable and perfect.
Good habits are hard to break. So are bad ones! Good habits, Spirit-empowered habits, build order and blessing into our lives. Could we as God’s children encourage each other in the habitual pursuit of joyfulness, prayerfulness and thankfulness? God will be glorified, we’ll be blessed and others will be impacted.