Monday, July 27, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 22: Thank

Day 22: Thank

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Yesterday we looked at Paul's model of praying continually and how he made prayer his lifestyle. In this passage where Paul urges the Thessalonians, and us, to pray continually, we notice that he has sandwiched this call in the center of two other commands. Rejoice and give thanks. It makes you think that Paul might be communicating that prayer is key to being able to rejoice always and to give thanks in all things. Or, is he saying that rejoicing and giving thanks is key to being able to pray continually? Or, possibly, are both true?

In another letter from Paul, he also combines rejoicing, thanksgiving and prayer.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7

Paul tells the Philippians that rejoicing in the Lord always and praying with thankfulness results in reducing worry and anxiety, and giving us the peace of God.

To the Colossians, he again combined prayer and thankfulness:
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

The call to rejoicing and thanksgiving seem to be an attitude that Paul continually calls God's people to live out of. He reminded the Colossians that part of living a life worthy of the Lord is "joyfully giving thanks to the Father" (1:12). He called them to live in Christ "overflowing with thankfulness" (2:7), to "be thankful" (3:15), and to do all things "giving thanks to God the Father" (3:15). 

To the Ephesians he also reminded them to "always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (5:20)

We are best able to rejoice when we are able to see with eyes of gratitude. When we are thankful for who God is and for all that He has done for us through Jesus Christ. Rejoicing and thanksgiving then naturally lead us to going to the Father in prayer. A lifestyle of continual rejoicing and thanksgiving then means a lifestyle of continual prayer.

Prayer reminds us that we are not alone. It reminds us that we cannot do life alone, it helps place us in continual dependence on God. Thankfulness and joy flow from a growing trust in God and belief that He cares for us and provides for us.

Through constant prayer we are better able to have the mind of Christ, to see things as He does, and thus be able to rejoice and give thanks in all things. Prayer with thanksgiving helps us focus on what we have in Christ, and leads us to rejoice in Him. 

Thanksgiving, rejoicing and prayer are so intimately connected that they constantly work together: thanksgiving in prayer results in joy; rejoicing stirs up thankfulness and moves us to pray; prayer brings both thanksgiving and joyfulness as we talk to and depend on the Father.  

It all brings us to the end of this passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19: "for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." A lifestyle of continual rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving is motivated in us because it is God's will for us. But we are not left to go it alone, for it is God's will for us in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ provides us with the ability and the power through His Spirit. The more we grow in Christ's likeness, the more we are able to grow in rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving.

Today on the Bible Study Techniques page we take a look at my thoughts on the third step in the Inductive Bible Study Method ~ Respond: Application. Then over the last week of our words challenge we will look more closely at some of the Response practices listed in today's document.

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