By Todd Kangas, MPE President
One of the Bible passages that has been a source of meditation and conversation often for us this year is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
There are some very important truths that we need to be familiar with if facing challenging times. The measure of our discipleship may see this as a plumb line for our choices.
We don’t often know what we are signing up for as we enter the Christian life, but we know God’s purpose is to grow us more into the image of Jesus. This is manifest in our attitude and demeanor when the going is tough.
The holiday season of 2015 will certainly go down as an unforgettable time in the Kangas family. I knew things were in the testing phase when I went to pick up a son whose car’s tie rod arm broke. The tow truck driver recognized me. He said, “You’re the guy that had 3 kids have wrecks in 5 weeks.”
I said you’re right and this is number 4.
So I use this to introduce that we were going through trials during the last quarter of 2015. There was a combination of vehicle and health issues that were pressing us back to this passage.
We had medical procedures in the hospital. Significant dental work. An MRI. Broken wrist. Extensive lab work. And then in my extended family, two of my younger brothers are now going through divorce proceedings. “In everything give thanks.”
And did I mention we were introduced to bed bugs at our home? They come as uninvited guests, and it is quite expensive to evict them.
Pat was really feeling the weight of all of this one evening as we talked. Because we felt a little like Job, our resources, health and family were facing challenges.
Our response was prayer. “Pray without ceasing.”
Life isn’t perfect. We didn’t just go riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after. We are trying to respond to life’s crises in a 1 Thessalonians 5 manner.
I want God’s truth and Spirit to shape my responses. My 85-year-old mother tells me what a joy it is to her to hear my voice when I call. She says just hearing my voice makes her feel better because I always sound so cheerful. I speak to her every week and even during trying times joy comes forth. It is because we are called to “rejoice always.”
If you are ever wondering what God’s will for you is, take a look here: 1 Thessalonians 5:11-18.
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
We are to encourage, build up, show appreciation, esteem spiritual leaders, live in peace, admonish, help, be patient, seek after that which is good, rejoice, pray and give thanks.
As you make resolutions for 2016, would you begin by memorizing this brief passage? Then review the things that happen to you during your day or week. Remember God’s will for how we are to respond is laid out in this passage describing our daily conduct in Him.