What is the Will of God for Our Lives, Sermon 05/26/2019

Ps. 134:1-3; I Thes. 5:16-18

In today’s New Testament Lesson, Apostle Paul tells what the will of God in Christ is for Christians. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he encouraged the church to have patience in spite of troubles and hardships. For Christ will return and bring victory to all who trust in him. Our text contains ethical exhortations based on the fact of the Parousia, Jesus’ coming. These moral qualities and activities bear witness to Christ and his coming again.

We are to live moral and holy lives, ever watchful for Jesus’ coming. For no one knows the time of Christ’s return. We must not neglect daily responsibilities, but always work and live as unto the Lord. Jesus’ return is always to be expected today or tomorrow. While we are waiting for Jesus’ return, we have to have life what the Lord wants us to have. The Scripture says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Let us think about the life style which God in Christ approves.

First, a happy life (Rejoice always)

Dear friends, when we understand, really understand, how much God loves us and what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, we can’t help but to “rejoice always,” because no matter what happens to us, we know that God is with us and God is for us and God will always be there for us, come what may in this world and in the world to come. That’s why we can rejoice always.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a hard life. He had been captured by the Nazi Gestapo and placed in one of those horrible prison camps as some people called them, “death camps.” In that deplorable situation, he wrote these words; “O Lord, whatever this day may bring, Thy name be praised.”

And how about the apostle Paul? He had been beaten and flogged and imprisoned and run out of town; he had been shipwrecked and suffered from exposure while adrift at sea; he had been stoned and robbed. But he said, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near” (Phil. 4:4-5).

Apostle Paul’s attitude serves to teach us an important lesson. Our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances. Paul was full of joy, because he knew that no matter what happened to him, Jesus Christ was with him.

Have you ever heard that children worry about their lives? No, they do not worry, they are happy all the time when their parents are with them. Just like that we are God’s children. God will be with us to the end of age. He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). That is why we can be rejoicing always in the Lord.

Second, God wants us to have a praying life.

Verse 17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” We cannot spend all our time on our knees, but it is possible to have a prayerful attitude all the time. This attitude is built upon acknowledging our dependence on God, realizing his presence within us, and determining to obey him fully. We then find it natural to pray frequent and short prayers in our daily lives.

There was a pastor who was serving a church in a small town. There was a man in town who never came to church but whose name came up in many conversations. Everyone seemed to know him and talked about him often. The pastor decided that he must meet this man. Upon asking where the man lived, a friend told the pastor that he should not make an appointment but should leave his car some distance away and walk quietly to the house unannounced. The pastor didn’t understand this but did as he was told. As he came near the man’s house, he heard some whistling. It wasn’t any particular tune, just some whistling sounds. He then saw the man working in the backyard and stopped to watch. Everywhere the man would go, he continued whistling. The pastor approached the man, and after a few moments of conversation asked about the constant whistling. The man said, “That’s for my wife. She is blind and becomes worried when I’m not around, but she is all right as long as she can hear me whistling.” Dear friends, our relationship with God is deepened by simply being together, knowing that God is with us. Prayer and God’s presence are two sides of the same coin. So, a prayerful attitude is realizing God’s presence within us and determining to obey God.

And third, God wants us to have a grateful life.

Verse 18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances”

Notice the preposition here is “in”- ‘”in all circumstances,” not “for all circumstances.” We don’t give thanks for cancer or car wrecks or heart attacks, but as Paul so well put it, we can give thanks in all circumstances because we can know that come what may, God is always with us, giving us the help we need. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul expressed it like this; “Bring it on! I’m ready for anything, for Christ is my strength.”

When we have God beside us and within us, we can indeed give thanks in everything. When we have God beside us and within us, gratitude becomes the theme, the overriding spirit of our lives. Dear friends! God is the Lord of life-yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever. We can count on that and we can count on him because, although we may not know what the future holds, we know who holds the future. And that’s why we can rejoice always. We can pray without ceasing. And we can give thanks in all circumstances.

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