Sometimes life can be a huge bummer. I’m not talking about a bad day when you wake up late from a terrible night’s sleep, and the rest of the day seems to follow suit. I’m thinking of those times when the difficulties in life seemed to have lined up one right after another. As if you’re at a dance and there’s a line of suitors just waiting to take a turn. I think most of you have, at least, an idea of what I’m talking about. For those who don’t, then good on ya! You can skip today and let me know your secret in the comment section.

When the Apostle Paul was closing out his first letter to the Thessalonians, he gives them six instructions.

  1. Rejoice always.
  2. Pray continually.
  3. Give thanks in all circumstances.
  4. Do not quench the Spirit.
  5. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all and hold onto the good ones (the ones that pass the test).
  6. Reject every kind of evil.

These are all from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22.

I’m not going to talk about the latter three; not quenching the Spirit, treating prophecy with contempt, and rejecting every kind of evil. Although, they are each worthy of discussion. I do want to talk about rejoicing always, praying continually, and giving thanks in all circumstances.

What does it mean to rejoice? Merriam-Webster tells us it means “to feel joy or great delight.” That means rejoicing isn’t something arbitrary and without direction. Something else we need to realize is that joy and happiness aren’t the same. When we consider happiness, it’s usually a state derived from a situation or circumstances. When our circumstances are good, then we’re good. Conversely, if our circumstances are bad, we’re not happy.

Joy, on the other hand, is somewhat like hope. For example, we can find joy in unhappy circumstances, because we have hope they’re going to change. Therefore, when Paul is telling the Thessalonians to rejoice always, he’s not telling them they need to put on happy faces and pretend that life isn’t hard sometimes. Now, what is Paul telling them to rejoice in? Faith. Specifically, faith in Christ.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

When you know this truth from Romans, then it’s much easier to rejoice. This promise isn’t for those who don’t love God. It’s only for those who know God. That’s you and me if you believe.

The next thing Paul tells them to do is to “pray continually.” The King James Version and some other translations tell us to pray without ceasing. Does this mean we’re to crawl around on our hands and knees praying all of the time? No, it does not. However, we are to walk around with a posture of prayer. You might not realize it but to pray to God is to worship God. When we pray continually we’re keeping God, and His principles for living, on our minds. When they’re in our mind, then they’re in our soul. When they’re in our soul, they’re in our lives, and when they’re in our lives, we will find it much easier to reject every kind of evil (I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about that today, but it’s right there).

Therefore, to pray without ceasing is to maintain a posture of worship in all that we do.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

These verses from Proverbs and Matthew point out how to maintain a posture of worship throughout the day. Here are some ways we can keep God on our minds as we go through the day.

  1. Listen to music that edifies God.
  2. Listen to the Bible.
  3. Use Scripture for wallpaper (on our computers and phones; I’m not suggesting you wallpaper your house with them. Although, putting up verses around the house isn’t a bad idea.).
  4. Reading the Bible on breaks, lunch, etc.
  5. Pray. I talk to God a lot. Usually in my head.

After telling the Thessalonians to rejoice always and pray without ceasing, Paul tells them to give thanks in all circumstances because this is God’s will for them in Christ Jesus. If we’re rejoicing and we’re praying without ceasing, then that makes it much easier to give thanks. Don’t you think? We can rejoice because of the faith we have in Christ. Then, we give thanks throughout the day, which keeps Him prayerfully on our minds. You see, it’s hard to rejoice in God and what He’s doing in your life without having a posture of worship and giving thanks. These three things work together!

Now, what’s this bit about giving thanks because it’s God’s will for us in Christ? When we pray, and we ask for God’s will in our life, then we can expect that He hears us, we’re praying according to His will, and He will answer our prayer, in Jesus’ name, with a yes and amen. Therefore, whatever is happening in our lives, can be seen as the actualization of God’s will in our lives. Couple this with verses like Romans 8:28 and you’re golden. Here are two.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.

James 1:2 (NIV)

Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.

Romans 5:3 (NIV)

It’s so easy to be thankful when everything is going well. Even those who do not know God rejoice under those circumstances. Peter tells us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” and reminds us to “do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). People will ask, when everything looks like it’s falling apart in your life, how you’re able to hold up. When you point to God, you just might give them something to think about.

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.