6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Thanksgiving, joy, God's will, prayer


1 Thess 5: 16-18 (p837) Nov. 13, 2011


I have some genuine questions as I approach this text this morning…As Paul wraps up his first letter to the church in Thessalonians he hits on some specific but essential ingredients for unity…His final instructions…

[Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you…Hold them in highest regard in love because of their work… Live in peace with each other…Warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, and my favorite “Be patient with everyone…make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else….(! Thess 5: 12-15)

Sounds like simple, great practical advice doesn’t it? Respect, encouragement, kindness…the ingredients that keep people growing the church and connected in the church… But then Paul turns his advice into something much more general…something we all deserve to know…or at least we say we desire to know…”God’s Will”… But here’s my question…or questions as I look at our text. Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances…for this is god’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

Why did the Apostle Paul put this short and simple command right in the midst of his practical advice for unity in the church?

Are there attitudes and thoughts that continually let us live in relationship with others and Our Lord that we can cultivate daily? Let me answer that first question…the question about why Paul put it right in the middle of his practical adv ice to the church…

I believe it’s because God is always telling us…don’t be selfish…consider others as more important than yourself…do nothing out of complaining or arguing…don’t live life out of selfish ambition or vain conceit…don’t just seek your own interests, but also the interests of others…your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus (Phil. 2: 3-5, 14)

God’s plan for those who have surrendered to Him is…”I’m gonna make them like Jesus…Romans 8: 29 says “To be conformed to the likeness of His son”

The battle for that to take place in any of us comes because “My Nature” My natural sinful heart” doesn’t just go away…my nature lives in a today of flesh that hungers to get its own way…and now this body has become the dwelling place of God’s Holy Spirit…His temple, if you will according to 1Cor 6:19.

So, if I want to put to death my selfishness. I need to choose to let Christ live…specifically in the way I treat others… I need my attitude to become more like Jesus’ attitude…and it won’t happen unless I work at it… intentionally seek it…with others and with God….

That’s why Paul tells us an attitude of Gratitude is the will of God for every Christian..It’s not fake…it’s not a plastic smile and saying, everything’s fine…it’s possible because


Dr. Dale Robbins writes, “I use to think people complained because they had a lot of problems…But I have come to realize that they have problems because they complain. Complaining doesn’t’ change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration, spreads discontent and discord, and can invoke an invitation for the devil to cause havoc with our lives.”

Max Lucado says “Gratitude is always on option.”

There is nothing that smothers joy quicker than grumbling and complaining…in the person doing the grumbling and complaining and those around him or her…

And the sad part is many times the grumbler is rewarded…instead of being held accountable or called to be more mature…Fear, and intimidations causes people to try, and make them happy…(good luck with that!)

Joy is something that grows as fruit from the Holy Spirit…it’s 2nd in the list after Love in Gal 5…I don’t believe it’s that high in priorities out of coincidence… because it’s our joy in the Lord that is our strength.

Joy isn’t happiness…Happiness is brought about by something external…It feels good to buy a new car, get a new promotion, have the girl of your dream say “yes”…but all those things can change in a heartbeat…A fender bender, a lost job, the gorgeous girl isn’t so pretty on the inside.

Joy is a calm security…a peaceful trust…even when the storm comes…it’s provided from God’s spirit…it cannot be taken away by externals because it’s external.

And how can the child of God choose Joy always…Romans 8:28 assures us “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called already to his purpose.”

Joy choosers focus on this truth…God’s purpose is for me to become like Jesus…that means God is working…and some of that work will involve trials and struggles…I can choose to complain, grumble or argue…or I can choose Joy…God’s will is for you and I to choose Joy…ALWAYS.

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