Summary: Implementing a constant communion with God is a great help for keeping oneself under control in life.

1. Title: How Can I Get Life Under Control?

2. Text: I Thessalonians 5:16-18

3. Audience : Central Christian Church, July12, 2015

4. Objectives:

-for the people to understand that prayer is central to dealing with life’s challenges, and to understand what it means to pray continually

-for the people to feel confident that prayer will help them handle life’s challenges, and to feel eager to implement ways to make prayer more of a constant in their life

-for the people to deliberately pray on more and more occasions, expecting it to be a way that God will empower them to better handle life

5. When I finish my sermon I want my audience to pray continually, making God and His presence a constant in their thinking every day

6. Type: expositopispringpracticobang

7. Dominant Thought: I

8. Outline:

Intro – Life throws us a lot of curves. Even when we plan things out pretty carefully…

A young man goes into a drug store and brings 3 boxes of chocolate up to the register. The pharmacist looks at them and says, “That’s different. You realize those are 3 different sizes, don’t you?”

The young man says, "I know. I’ve been seeing this girl for a while and she’s really beautiful. I want the chocolate because I think tonight’s "the" night. We’re gonna have dinner with her parents, and then we’re going out. If she lets me hold her hand I’m going to give her the small box if she lets me kiss her on the cheek I’m going to give her the medium box and if she lets me kiss her on the lips I’m going to give her the big box. The young man makes his purchase and leaves. Later that evening, he sits down to dinner with his girlfriend and her parents. He asks if he might say the prayer before the meal, and they agree. So he begins. And he prays and prays and prays – one of the most eloquent and thorough prayers the girl had ever heard. Finally, he says Amen. The girl leans over and says, "You never told me that you were such a religious person." He leans over to her and says, "You never told me that your father is a pharmacist." You never know what life is going to throw at you!

How can I get life under control? You can’t! You can’t control nature. You can’t control the stock market. You can’t control gasoline prices. You can’t control what other people do. You can’t even control the hearts of the people who live in your home.

So answering this question begins with a resignation: resigning to the fact that no matter how well you invest, no matter how many of the right foods you eat and how many of the right exercises you do, no matter how much you study, no matter who you get to know, you can’t control life. The market can collapse; some other driver can cross over and hit you; someone you trusted will let you down; a tsunami will strike. You can’t control it.

The real question you’re asking is: How can I keep myself under control in a life that’s out of my control?

The answer can be found in some finishing verses in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian Christians. They were people who were doing a lot of things right, but they still didn’t control everything around them. They still needed to hear this, and I suspect that there are a lot of us here this morning who need to hear this too:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Rejoice, pray continually, give thanks.

#1 and #3 are pretty easy to figure out. But #2 there is often glossed over as “one of those commands that can be fulfilled only in the ideal, but not in real life.” So, the question I really want to narrow down to this morning is “What can we do to make prayer a constant in our lives…or can we?” ‘Cause once that’s in place, the idea of being joyful and giving thanks in all circumstances will happen a lot more readily. “The secret of true joy,” Wilbur Fields said, “is to avoid trying to be happy and just go on quietly doing our work and service.” Overflowing with thanks is another result of looking for the right things. What we need is to find how we can make v.17 happen.

We’re looking at one of the shortest verses in the Bible. In English, the shortest is:

John 11:35

Jesus wept. (16 letters, 3 words, in Greek)

In the original language, though, the shortest is actually

I Thessalonians 5:16

Be joyful always. (14 letters, 2 words, in Greek)

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