Prepare to Listen. Light the pink and two purple candles. Be still and pray: Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the LORD (Is 51:1).
Prayerfully Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil. 23May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
“This is the will of God in Christ for you,” writes Paul, having listed three things: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” If you’ve ever tried these always, you know it’s humanly impossible! But I wonder, are we supposed to be literal? Is that what Paul intended? If so, he’s sent us all on guilt trips of failure. I don’t believe that was his intention. Two things for our reflection.
First, the extreme terms, always, unceasing and all circumstances ought to alert us to the importance of joy, prayer and thanksgiving. Throughout Scripture all three are repeatedly urged upon God’s people. We incorporate them into our Christian life because they are essential, even though we never manage to achieve Paul’s extreme version of perfection (as in never failing).
Second, Paul’s conclusion gives comfort. God’s goal is the perfect standard Paul hints at. He writes, “may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Sound, whole, true, strong and blameless, no guilt, no shame, perfect. That’s the goal and we don’t get there in our own strength. Here’s the comfort: “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.” We can fulfill God’s will for us because God will do it for and in us. This is the will of God for us now and always.
What were you drawn to in this passage today? Name things for which you can honestly give thanks.
Respond to Jesus
Your will for me is to rejoice, pray and give thanks. I often fail at each of them, Lord, because I keep trying to do them in my own strength. Remind me throughout today that you will do this in me. Help me rest in you, all day. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world, letting God work God’s will in you.
I am convinced that reading the Christian Bible is essential for our Christian spiritual nourishment. I speak from experience, over 60 years of experience. I also believe we'll never get bored reading the Bible over and over. Each time I read it, I learn something new. Read with me during Advent and learn to wait for Christ with heart and mind alert for his coming. The readings draw on my background of study and teaching the Bible for over 30 years.