Take the Challenge: Rejoice, Pray and Give Thanks
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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Three simple, yet profound instructions on how to live the Christian life, and literally how to fulfill the will of God. Take the challenge that over the next year you will daily read these verses and endeavor to respond to every situation by rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks in everything. Read on to find out what a difference this can make in your life!
God's Will for My Life:
We all want to KNOW the will of God for our lives. Any real Christian should be interested in and ask the question "what is God’s Will for my life? Does He want me to pursue THIS career, marry THAT person, move to this city, become a missionary, start a business? What is His will?"
He can guide and speak to us about those specific personal matters. But if we are IGNORING, or not acting on what He CLEARLY spells out as His will for us in His Word, why would He be motivated to reveal specifics of His will for our personal lives? This scripture spells out plainly that it is God's Will that we REJOICE ALWAYS, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING and GIVE THANKS IN EVERYTHING.
Transcend the Circumstances:
Notice that these actions of rejoicing, praying and giving thanks transcend any HAPPENING in our lives, good or bad. They transcend any FEELING or STATE OF MIND we might be experiencing. Notice the terms: ALWAYS, WITHOUT CEASING, IN EVERYTHING. It is the WILL OF GOD that we not be moved by circumstances or feelings, or a state of mind. Because these things arise, not out of our FEELINGS, but from our SPIRIT.
You can CHOOSE to rejoice, even when you don’t feel like it. You can CHOOSE to pray, even when it looks like it isn’t working, you can CHOOSE to give thanks, even when it seems you have nothing to be thankful for. I don’t mean just because someone told you too, but because you KNOW in your heart THIS IS THE WILL of GOD.
Why is it God's Will? Because GOD KNOWS that these actions, from the heart, give Him an avenue to work miracles in our lives!
The Power of Faith:
The underlying component of all this is FAITH. Through FAITH, we can rejoice always. Through FAITH we can pray without ceasing. Through FAITH we can give thanks in everything. These are all ACTIONS that release our faith. Faith has to be RELEASED to accomplish anything. God has to have our FAITH to work with.Jesus told Jairus “fear not, only believe”. In other words, I can turn this situation around for you, but I need you to give me something to work with – only BELIEVE.
James 1:2-4: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Count it all JOY…KNOWING. You can “count it all joy” because you KNOW something. You know that when your FAITH (notice the connection between faith and joy) is tested, it provides the opportunity for patience or endurance to go to work. When it does you will be defeated, destitute and destroyed? NO!!! PERFECT and COMPLETE, LACKING NOTHING!
In any situation you can COUNT IT ALL JOY, when you KNOW you have promise from God that covers that situation.
In any sickness, you can COUNT IT ALL JOY, knowing, “by His stripes, I am healed”!
In any financial pressure you can COUNT IT ALL JOY, knowing “my God shall supply ALL my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus”!
1 Peter 1:3-8: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
In this you greatly rejoice. In what? You have a LIVING HOPE. You have an INHERITANCE that is laid up for you. You are KEPT by the POWER of God!
1 Peter 3:8: whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
Faith must be able to KNOW the reality of the unseen. Though you do not SEE, yet BELIEVING you REJOICE…
PRAY WITHOUT CEASING:
Don’t GIVE UP praying. Keep at it. Why would he have to tell us that? Because we will have OPPORTUNITIES to give up in our praying. There will be times where it looks like our prayers aren’t working.
1 Kings 18:41-42:Then Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain." 42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees,
Elijah “heard in his spirit the sound of abundance of rain”. That MOTIVATED him to pray. God will cause you to hear in your spirit, to motivate you to pray and seek Him.
1 Kings 18:43: and said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again."
Each time the report came back “there is nothing”. There is no change. But Elijah knew “PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.”
1 Kings 18:44-45: Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.'" 45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain.
PRAY without ceasing. Hold on to what God has spoken to you in prayer.
Luke 18:1:Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS
Hebrews 13:15: Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
The fruit of our LIPS giving thanks to His Name. Giving thanks from the heart, and with our mouth.
What Happens When We Thank God:
#1. Returning to GIVE THANKS makes us whole. It completes the miracle God is doing in our lives. (See Luke 17:15-19)
#2. Thanksgiving (in advance) releases FAITH, and causes the peace of God to fill our hearts and minds. (See Philippians 4:6-7)
#3. Giving thanks, acknowledging God as the SOURCE of our blessings and every good thing, causes our thoughts to be PRODUCTIVE rather than futile, and causes our HEARTS to be filled with LIGHT (revelation and understanding) rather than darkness. (See Romans 1:21-22)
#4. Giving thanks brings the presence and glory of God into our midst, or, we could say brings US into the presence of God. (See 2 Chron 5:13-14)
Psalms 100:4-5: Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,And into His courts with praise.Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good;His mercy is everlasting,And His truth endures to all generations.
All scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.