THESSALONIANS: FAITH IN UNCERTAIN TIMES
(Principles for holiness - October 1, 2023)
Series Big Idea: "The promise of Christ's return tomorrow is intended to purify the church today"
Sermon Big Idea: “Part of God's will for us is to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful in everything and always“
Key Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
If we are not careful there are times in all our lives that worries, disappointments, and life pressures steal the joy and thankfulness in our Christian lives. However, the Bible usually associates ungratefulness with unbelievers (Romans 1:21), (2 Timothy 3:1-5). It is not His will for Christians to act and live this way. In chapter 5 of the Book of Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul reminds this church that Jesus is coming again, but no one knows when (5:1-3). And for that very reason, they are to stay awake and alert by staying focused on living out God’s Word together (5:4-11). In verses 12-22, he gives them some brief reminders of what this means. We will focus our attention on (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) today.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
16 Rejoice always! 17 Pray constantly. 18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Paul is speaking specifically to individuals. God already desires and provides His people every reason to be happy, and Paul understood human nature well enough to see the need to rejoice always (Philippians 3:1; 4:4). This is a command. Christian joy comes from the benefits of being in Christ, not their circumstances.
The key word here is “always.” Did Paul mean this literally? Yes, he did! Christian joy is not controlled by circumstances or suffering. The New Testament connects Christian joy with sorrow and suffering. Paul’s readers had already experienced this in their lives (1 Thessalonians 1:6). So, if our sorrow and suffering come from being identified with Christ, then the Holy Spirit creates in us a supernatural joy. It is something deep inside of our soul that can’t be destroyed by our circumstances (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). But let’s be reminded, we have a part to play in this joy. It is a command. It is a choice. We are to deliberately focus on the grace and goodness of God (Hebrews 12:2-3).
Christians are to pray always. This means to pray continually. Paul knew Christians have daily responsibilities, after all, he was busy doing the work of Christ himself. He is not commanding non-stop prayer here. He is encouraging an attitude of prayer and reverence before God. A believer’s relationships and responsibilities should be maintained with an attitude of being in God's presence. This means we will pray as often as we get the chance and pray about all different things such as requests, praise, and thanksgiving. We should never get into the attitude where we feel we don’t want or need to pray. Don’t stop!
Finally, Paul encourages his readers to "give thanks in everything." He wanted them to recognize the sovereignty of God in everything. Let's just be honest, thankfulness doesn’t come naturally for most people. It is often difficult to be thankful in our painful situations and when it seems like our lives just fell apart.
This command Paul has given is only possible by God's grace. When we can agree with God that He works all things out for the good of those who love Him and are committed to obedience (Romans 8:28), then we can thank Him. And as a sidenote, he tells us that being thankful in everything is God's will for us in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to look anywhere else. God's will is that Christians are to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful because we are His children.
Pastor Beaver's thoughts and ideas are inspired by:
Holman Christian Standard Bible
English Standard Version Bible
King James Version Bible
Christian Standard Bible
Holmes, Michael. 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998. Print. The NIV Application Commentary.
Morris, Leon. 1 and 2 Thessalonians: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 13. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1984. Print. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries.
Martin, D. Michael. 1, 2 Thessalonians. Vol. 33. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995. Print. The New American Commentary.
Davis, James F. “1 Thessalonians.” CSB Study Bible: Notes. Ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017. 1908. Print.
Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985. Print.
Hoehner, Harold W., Philip W. Comfort, and Peter H. Davids. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, Philemon. Vol. 16. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008. Print.
Howell, Mark et al. Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2015. Print.
Larson, Knute. I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Vol. 9. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000. Print. Holman New Testament Commentary.
Green, Gene L. The Letters to the Thessalonians. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos, 2002. Print. The Pillar New Testament Commentary.
MacArthur, John F., Jr. The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006. Print.
Smith, Jerome H. The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge: The Most Complete Listing of Cross References Available Anywhere- Every Verse, Every Theme, Every Important Word. Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson, 1992. Print.
Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933. Print.
Butler, John G. Analytical Bible Expositor: Galatians-Philemon. Clinton, IA: LBC Publications, 2009. Print.
Vincent, Marvin Richardson. Word Studies in the New Testament. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887. Print.
Willmington, H. L. The Outline Bible. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999. Print.
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Easley, Kendell H. Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding the Bible. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2002. Print.
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