Summary: It is God’s will that all those who are in Christ Jesus should express constant joy, constant prayer, and constant thanksgiving.
God’s Will For You
Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice, pray, and give thanks” sound like ordinary and desirable activities to expect a Christian to engage in; but when you add the adverbs, you have a real challenge: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks.” The Christian who walks with the Lord and keeps in constant communion with Him will see many reasons for rejoicing and thanksgiving all day long. These three verses give three simple attitudes that believers need (and should want) to daily mix into their lives: joy, prayer, and thanks. When these three qualities are present, believers will be vibrant lights and savory salt to a needy world.
I Rejoice Always
A.The Exhortation to Joyfulness
1.“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
“Rejoice always.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16
The attitude of Christian joy is essential for all believers to thoroughly understand. Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians to rejoice always seems on the surface to be absurd and impossible to obey given life’s inevitable difficulties, but as a divinely inspired command, believers put this to work in their lives.
a)When the scriptures repeat a concept it is prudent (if not required) that we pay attention. There are at least 33 separate scriptures exhorting believers to rejoice!
2.Paul was very aware of the many injunctions to rejoice but also recognized the reality of very real human emotions like sorrow and distress.
a)He also knew believers must transcend their sorrows with a continual focus on Christian joy; they must be as he wrote of himself, “sorrowful yet always rejoicing” 2 Corinthians 6:10.
Such a focus is possible because Christian joy comes from God, not merely from an emotional response to earthly circumstances Philippians 3:3.
Christian joy constantly flows from what the believer continually knows to be true about God and about his eternal, saving relationship to Him, regardless of circumstances.
B.“At All Times Rejoicing”
1.The phrase translated rejoice always literally reads “at all times be rejoicing” and emphasizes that truly joyful Christians will always have a deep-seated confidence in God’s love and mighty power on behalf of His children, and in His providential working of all things according to His perfect plan.
a)Therefore, no event or circumstance in the Christian’s life, apart from sin, can or should diminish his true joy.
2.A biblical perspective on Christian joy provides numerous reasons for believers to rejoice:
a)Christians should rejoice always in God’s righteous character, which, even in times of trouble, He demonstrates so faithfully to believers. David declared, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him” Psalm 28:7.
Believers should rejoice always because of the spiritual blessings and redemption in Christ they possess.
Believers should have joy in God’s providence as He works everything to their ultimate good:
Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Answered prayer should always be a source of joy, as should an appreciation for the gift of God’s Word.
And finally, true believers cannot help but be filled with joy at the redeeming power of the gospel, as was the early church:
Acts 15:3 Speaking of Paul, Barnabas and their companions: “Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren”
II Pray Without Ceasing
1.Believers filled with joy will be believers filled with prayer.
The Greek word used here for Pray is the most common New Testament word for prayer. It encompasses all the aspects of prayer: submission, confession, petition, intercession, praise, and thanksgiving.
1.This means “constant” and defines prayer not as some perpetual activity of kneeling and interceding but as a way of life marked by a continual attitude of prayer.
2.The adverb used here was used in Greek of a hacking cough.
3.The scriptures record the active prayer life of Jesus and from its inception, the early church demonstrated a Christ like constancy in its prayer life.
a)Luke wrote how devoted Christ’s followers were to prayer, even before the Day of Pentecost: “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” Acts 1:14.
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42.