By Pastor Doug
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I remember going to swim lessons at the outdoor pool on sixth street. I don’t think I remember a day when the water was warm or when the clouds didn’t come out when I was there. I always came away with my teeth chattering. However, I did learn some basics about swimming despite the freezing water. I won’t go into a description of them but a few years later I was able to earn a merit badge for swimming a mile because of those basics.
Applying the basics is important to our development and success as Christ followers as well. For instance, rejoicing always in a world where the waves of negativity are hitting us in the face constantly, can seem hard. As I sit here writing I can think of many things, both negative and positive to think about and dwell on. I know the devil wants me to dwell on the negative. If I do I say goodbye to my smile, my inner peace and blub, blub down I go.
The Apostle Paul on the other hand, a man familiar with hardship and adversity but also experienced in overcoming difficult situations tells us to dwell on the things that bring rejoicing. Stop right now and think of something that puts a smile on your face and when that smile fades, think of another reason to smile.
Pray without ceasing doesn’t mean you are praying with every breath. It means you often whisper prayers as you go through your day. It means you keep your heart and mind open to the influence of the Holy Spirit and the direction He wants to give you. Rejoicing and not giving up in prayer are things that you must teach yourself to do and as you do they will give you an advantage over the negative spirit we wrestle with every day.
Another basic is being thankful in everything. Notice Paul didn’t say for everything but in everything. I try to remember that in every situation I face the Lord is there with me, that there are things I can learn from the situation. Maybe there is something the Lord is trying to change in me. The list could go on of the possibilities but one we shouldn’t overlook is that the Lord simply wants us to trust Him. He says be thankful in everything, so we must express thankfulness in everything, without having an explanation or a reason. This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.