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Scripture:

[16] Rejoice always, [17] pray without ceasing, [18] give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Observation:

There is a lot packed in these three short verses.  While Paul encourages the Thessalonians he reminds them of some basics:

Rejoice always
There is never a time when God’s people are not able to show great joy

Pray without ceasing
Have constant conversations with God.  Never stop.

Give thanks in all circumstances.  
I don’t think Paul is telling the Thessalonians to give thanks because they are in, or go through, difficult circumstances, but rather, he is saying that even though they are being put in difficult circumstances, give thanks knowing that God is in control with a purpose.

Why?
This is God’s will for his people.

Application:

These are all action steps for us as Christians.   It is God’s will that we, as his people, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances.  Just because it is God’s will doesn’t mean we must do these things but he is welcoming and encouraging these actions of us.

Since it is God’s will for us to pray without ceasing, He is encouraging us to have a never ending, constant conversation with him.  There should never be a time when we cannot pray.  While certainly suitable at times, it is not a requirement of prayer to be on your knees with your eyes closed, to talk with God.  He is always available for that conversation and prayer.

As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit and can find joy in the Lord at all times.  Happiness is fleeting and depends on the happenings around us.  We have an omnipresent God whose love for us is never changing.  From the Lord we can have never-ending joy that surpasses our understanding if we will just look to Him and love Him.  This is joy that is always available and should be cause to rejoice always, no matter what circumstance we are in or what is happening around us.

Just as wind plays a crucial role in the life of a tree, causing a tree to create stronger wood and survive other stress, the pain and suffering we go through in this life plays a crucial role by building character and hope.   All the more reason to give thanks and praise Him even in the midst of our trials.  And, along with that, as a wise pastor said during a sermon last Sunday.. “Strength for getting through trials is developed by going through trials” (Kel).

Yeah, I know.. this is all easy to say and hard to do sometimes – pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, and always rejoice, but as we spend more time praying and talking with God, the more we love him and the more we trust in him. The more we love him and trust in him, the more natural it is to find joy and rejoice in all circumstances.

Prayer:

Lord thank You for sending Your Spirit to live within me.  I rejoice in knowing that whatever circumstance I find myself in, that you are in control.  In Jesus mighty name I pray, amen.

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