This litany from Paul should sound familiar as it is
common to some of his other letters. In this case, he is
closing his letter to the church in Thessaloniki with
this advice. I want you to notice what Paul is asking
here, and then we can talk about it. "Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.
For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
Alright, do you notice the theme here? It is one of
completeness. God is in all things and Lord of all
things. And while we might know this intellectually,
practically it is something we rarely acknowledge. Let's
start with Paul commandments. Rejoice, pray, give
thanks. These should be things always on the tips of our
tongues. And here is the good news, no matter what is
happening in our lives, God is always present, and God's
promises in Christ Jesus are true. It is this Truth,
that we, as Christians, often have a difficult time
absorbing into the DNA of our days. Even if we are
having a bad day, a terrible day, God is still faithful
to us. God never promised us we wouldn't have bad times,
but God does promise us that we are loved and saved in
and through Christ Jesus. God promises us hope.
Then Paul writes that this is God's will for us. Notice
again the completeness. This is not God's will for our
days, or our faith, or our worship. This is God's will
for our self, our entire self. God wants you to know
this love so well, that it pervades your entire being.
When we grow in our faith to the degree Paul describes,
it is not something we force ourselves to do, but rather
something that becomes natural for us, as it was for
Paul himself. The Christian faith is not something we do
only on Sundays, or on Christmas eve, or when we feel
like it. If we do it right, if we truly open ourselves
fully to what God is doing, then it is something that we
become. It is our fullness, our completeness our self.
Prayer: Holy God, on this day I ask that I might feel joy
in and through you. I pray that I will spend a moment today
rejoicing that you are my God, and that I will be able to give
thanks for you. Help me to do this. Help me to feel your love. I
pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
[Phillip Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]