Summary: God’s desire is for us to be joyful always, to pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances. We must avoid every kind of evil and make sure that we allow the Spirit’s flame to burn brightly in our lives as we await His glorious appearing.
Keepers of the Flame
A guy from Wisconsin and a man from Illinois are sitting next to each other on a long flight to L.A. The Illini leans over to the Badger and asks if he’d like to play a game to pass the time. The cheesehead just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines.
The flatlander persists and explains that the game is real easy and a lot of fun, “I’ll ask you a question and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5. Then you ask me a question, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll pay you $5.” The Packer backer politely declines and tries to go to sleep. The Bears fan is now agitated and decides to raise the stakes: “Okay, if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5, and if I don’t know the answer to your question, I’ll pay you $50!”
This catches the attention of the man from the Promised Land, and so he agrees to the challenge. The Illini asks the first question, “What’s the distance from the earth to the moon?” The Wisconsonian doesn’t say a word, but reaches into his wallet, pulls out a five-dollar bill and hands it to the man from Illinois. He then asks his question, “What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down on four?”
The man from the land of Lincoln is puzzled. He takes out his laptop and searches the Internet. He calls a bunch of people and finally gives up after about an hour. He wakes up the man from Wisconsin and hands him $50. The Badger politely takes the money and tries to go back to sleep. The guy from Illinois is upset so he shakes the other guy and says, “Well, what’s the answer? What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down on four?” Without a word, the wise man from the north woods shrugs his shoulders, reaches into his wallet, hands the Illini $5 and goes back to sleep.
Disciplines For the Disciple
Many of us feel like God’s will is an unanswerable question, like a punch line that we just don’t get. Maybe you’ve tried to figure it out and have decided either to take a nap because it’s too difficult to unravel, or you just plain don’t care anymore. As we come to the closing verses of 1 Thessalonians, we’re going to discover that God’s will is very clear…and easy to understand. Last week we looked at practical principles for leadership, followership, and fellowship. Our focus today is on discipleship. In bite-sized chunks we’ll discover 8 disciplines for the disciple who wants to stay on fire for God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 ends with this statement, “…For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is the second time in 1 Thessalonians that the phrase “God’s will” is used. The first time was in 4:3 where we read: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.” I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating. God is much more interested in who we are than in where we live, or what we do. We get wrapped up in questions about our vocation or location, when God is concerned more about our transformation.
Before we move to the specifics of God’s will as found in these closing verses, let me address a few misunderstandings.