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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rejoice Always

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-"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances. For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."-1 Thessalonians 5: 16-17

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]


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