I Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
God directed Paul to begin this chapter with some important words regarding the last days. There was a need to help the saints to be grounded in truth. The saints believed and expected the Lord Jesus Christ to return in their time. There was a true belief in the imminent and soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ. They needed to have their hope in the true God and they needed to be careful not to become careless in their relationship with Him.
Having given some needed teaching on the coming of the Lord and of the importance of walking in the light and being a light to others, Paul now gave some further instructions on how Christians behave.
Christians will face persecution. The level of the persecution seems to have been more severe at times and less severe at other times. Regardless, Christians should be able to rejoice in all circumstances. It is not that we do not suffer. The apostle Paul had spent time in the jail in Philippi, having been beaten and then put in stocks. Both he and Silas would have been in pain. However, they did not allow that to keep them from being a needed testimony to the other prisoners and to the jailer. When God sent the earthquake, the jailer knew exactly where to run for help.
The jailer also knew exactly what to ask Paul and Silas at that time. He knew that his life was not secure at all. He had a steady job. He had a position of power. However, God had shaken his footing and showed him that he had no foundation at all. He wanted what Paul and Silas were singing about. He wanted God’s forgiveness and blessing.
We see that when he was saved, he took care of the wounds of Paul and Silas. We know their wounds were not just some superficial wounds. They had been bleeding and now that was dried and stiff and it was likely quite painful for them to move around. However, the jailer took care of that for them. Paul preached the Gospel to the jailer’s household and they too realized they had nothing without knowing Christ. Salvation came to that household and they were baptized upon confession of their faith.
Paul certainly had reason to rejoice in that. God gave them something that was of greater value than the pain they were facing. They had a home in heaven. They had the love of God in their hearts. They could rejoice evermore.
Christians need to learn how to walk as Christians. We need to learn how to let God keep our minds and hearts directed to His blessings, rather than our immediate circumstances.
II Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Paul also directed the saints to pray without ceasing. We just received some sad news regarding a young couple we know. The greatest need they have at this time is God’s comfort. There are other needs that cannot be ignored, but the greatest need that all saints have is prayer. It is a privilege to be able to be used of God to intercede in prayer for one another.
The Bible commands those who are saved to pray for governments and for all others that are in authority. We need to pray for our police officers and for the medical officers of this country. We know that many of them are wicked people, but that is all the more reason to pray for them. We need to pray for their salvation. What a blessing it would be to have a doctor that looks at life from God’s perspective rather than from the evolutionary perspective. What a blessing it would be to have a police force that would honour God and seek to uphold His laws rather than bowing to the ungodly demands of wicked government officials. What a blessing it would be to have government officials who knew the fear of God in their hearts and would make wise decisions rather than throwing our hard earned dollars at useless ventures.
It is also important to pray for other needs. There are those who are not well and need prayer. There are those who need to be saved. We also need wisdom in knowing how to deal with the various challenges in life. There are so many things to pray for. True saints have the privilege of praying at all times. God is never too busy.
Jesus taught the disciples how to pray in Matthew 6. In that prayer, Jesus addressed several aspects of the life of a child of God. We worship God in prayer. We make our requests known to Him. We seek His forgiveness. We pray for others. We acknowledge His authority and His divine power over all things.
I do not like dialling a number and getting a pre-recorded message on the other end. I like to talk to someone. With God, you will never get a pre-recorded message. God is always available for His saints to talk to Him. It does not matter if it is late at night or in the middle of the day. God knows our needs, but He commands His children to pray to Him. Thus, His children accept His instructions and are blessed in doing so.
In verse 18 saints are commanded to give thanks in every thing. Again, this is a mindset. We can choose to complain, or we can choose to give thanks. We see here that it is God’s will for the true child of God to be thankful. We can be thankful when we know Him and when we walk by faith. When we understand that He is in control and He knows what He is doing, we can trust Him and we can be thankful. We have legitimate needs and we can bring them to God. God does not say we should not make our needs known to Him. At times true saints are slow to listen and we need chastening. We know He chastens those He loves. What we need to do is yield to the chastening and learn from that. True saints need to draw closer to the Lord Who loves them and gave Himself for them.
Those that are truly saved know that it is a privilege to pray to God. We also know that when we choose to obey Him, we have a better frame of mind to face the challenges of life. Life is too short to go through it carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. We can cast our cares upon Him if we know Him and He will take us through the challenges with His grace.
The lost do not have that privilege. They have a real fight on their hands that they cannot win. Those who are saved are on the winning side. Let us glorify God by choosing to follow His wise counsel in all things.