Summary: Bumpers stickers say a lot in a few words - so do the Bible verses of First Thessalonians chapter five.
Bumpers stickers say a lot in a few words.
They are easily memorized. They can make us think.
Bumper stickers are a lot like these Bible verses:
1 Thessalonians 5:16 - "Be joyful always."
This is NOT an invitation to ignore sadness and sorrow. It is rather, an invitation to invite the person, presence and power of God into every area of our lives - the bad times as well as the good - in order to experience His peace of mind and heart so that we may possess His joy.
"Always" means it is a lasting experience. True, God-given joy does not have a limited warranty. It does not expire after serving Christ for a certain period of time.
The Greek word translated "joyful" here can also be translated "cheerful." It denotes the ability to maintain peace and calm when circumstances around you are anything but peaceful and calm.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 - "Pray continually."
Developing a lifestyle of prayer takes a while. It is not an overnight destination. Anyone who tells you that it is, is only deluding themselves. Don’t be fooled.
And don’t be discouraged if praying is hard work sometimes. The energies of the forces of darkness are probably aimed more intensely at our prayer lives than any other part of our existence.
Prayer is both an art and a science. There are both mental and emotional components to its practice. It is a skill to be learned and gift to be put to use.
Prayer includes thanking God, asking God, praising God and even listening to God. It is an ongoing conversation - an open phone line. Saying "amen" at the close of a prayer is not like saying "goodbye" at the end of a phone conversation with a friend.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 - "Give thanks in all circumstances."
This Bible verse does NOT say, "Give thanks FOR all circumstances."
To be thankful "IN all circumstances" is to see the big picture, to be aware that God is in control and we can trust Him even when bad things happen.
This verse encourages us to develop a grateful heart.
A grateful heart responds to God’s faithfulness and brings Him the honor and glory He deserves.
It also provides an antidote to lust, overeating, worry, envy, materialism, etc., for us.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 - "Do not put out the Spirit’s fire."
Staying on fire for God is not always easy. But it is easier if we follow the aforementioned verses.
If I’m always joyful, praying continually, giving thanks in all circumstances...the Holy Spirit will be more operative in my being.
It’s not just that I cannot serve God and others without the Spirit’s fire, I can’t even walk and talk properly without Him and His flame. I will get into more mess ups and say more dumb things when I am lacking His flame.
1 Thessalonians 5:20 - "Do not treat prophecies with contempt."
Those of us who teach and preach the Word of God have seen this all too often. But then again, we’ve also been guilty.
This verse is not addressed to the atheist and the agnostic - although they should listen to the wisdom of the Word of God. It is addressed to the church.
There are many excuses for a contemptible attitude toward Scripture. You may not like some things about the bearer of the Word of God. That is no excuse for not paying heed.
You may have some unanswered questions about Scripture, but, once again, Scripture is still more reliable than your thought processes. If you will be patient, and your attitude is right, God will reveal a deeper understanding of His Word to you.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 - "Test everything. Hold on to the good."
Obviously, since the previous verse commands us not to treat prophecies with contempt, the "everything" that needs to be tested is everything else.
Amazingly, secularists constantly appear brash and confident about their knowledge, only to see their viewpoint change in a short period of time.
God’s truth is absolute. This is a battlefield in postmodern times but it is true nonetheless. Test everything that men say. If it jives with the Word of God - hold on to it.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 - "Avoid every kind of evil."
Avoiding evil is not new for those interested in pleasing God. And evil is still basically unchanged over the course of time.
But after we learned to revere the Word of God and test other philosophies, we then have a more reliable platform from which to know what evil is so that we may avoid it - every kind of it.
We even have to avoid the evil of being criticized for believing in evil. Falling for the postmodern concept that truth is relative undermines everything that God and His Word stand for.