Summary: Looks at Paul’s closing to the first letter to the Thessalonians
Disciplines of Discipleship
Fan into Flame the zeal of the Spirit
Heed the Word of God
Test the Truthfulness of Teaching
Focus on that which is Good
Avoid that which is Evil
Knowing God’s will.
It is something that everyone thinks of at times. What is God’s will for my life?
Well, back in the beginning of chapter 4, Paul talked about God’s will for each of us to avoid sexual immorality so that we might be able to grow in our sanctification.
This week, we also learn about God’s will for us, but Paul gives us things to do, not just to avoid, that will help us continue to be sanctified, to grow in relationship with the Lord and to be His disciple.
Last week we learned some principals regarding leadership, followership and fellowship, this week we learn some principals regarding the Disciplines of Discipleship
so that when Christ returns, He will find us ready.
Turn with me to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-28
Let’s read what Paul says for us to do personally as God works to sanctify us and prepare us to be blameless at his coming.
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
25 Brothers, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Ok, as we take a look at some of these disciplines of Discipleship, they don’t seem to bad.
The first thing Paul tells us to do is
Wait a minute. Is Paul telling us to be joyful in bad circumstances?
How do you do that?
How can we be joyful when life has got us in a hammer lock and doesn’t seem to be letting go?
How can we be joyful
when we’ve lost our job,
when we just got a call from the Doctor with bad news,
when a loved one has passed away,
when our house is being foreclosed on?
How do you do that?
Happiness and Joy
Well, first we need to understand the difference between happiness and joy.
They are not the same thing nor do they emanate from the same place.
Happiness is related to “happenings.”
Our external circumstances have a lot to do regarding how happy we feel.
Joy, on the other hand, is something that, biblically speaking, emanates from within, not from outside of us.
I think we need to recognize that joy is not something we just manufacture.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
It comes from a close relationship with the Lord as we walk in the Spirit.
If we are not experiencing joy, the question is not
“what circumstance can I change to be joyful?” but
“why are we not bearing this fruit of the Spirit?”
Right after Paul lists out the fruit of the Spirit, he says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)
When we are not experiencing any of the fruits of the Spirit, it is not that the Spirit that is in us is bad, but the problem is more likely what the Spirit is planted in. We need to be tending the ground of our hearts.
Just like in any fruit bearing plant, we need to water and fertilize so the plant grows and bears fruit.
We too need to check the soil of our heart and fertilize it with faith.
We do that by paying attention to the Lord’s leading and keeping in step with the Spirit.
As Christians, the Spirit is continually seeking to lead us into a deeper and closer walk with the Lord. We will need to continually take steps of faith as He leads.
When we fail to do that, we fail to keep in step with the Spirit and we won’t be bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
But when we continue to follow, to trust in faith and to “keep in step with the Spirit” then we are going to be able to experience the joy of the Lord always.