Good morning my friends. I have often thought that Paul had more to say than time to say it when it came to his shorter letters. If you look at this last chapter in 1 Thessalonians you will see what I mean. It seems Paul has run out of time so he hurriedly jots down some of the important instruction he does not have time to give details on:
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)
A little further on he writes:
Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. vs 19-22
I could spend the next month blogging on each of these subjects in detail. There is a lot of food here to digest, but there is one sentence here that jumped out at me today, considering it is the last day of 2009. It is not a resolution but instead a few things we can put into practical practice:
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. vs. 16-18
We could do with a little more joy in the new year. Mind you, this joy is not something that mere determination can bring about in us. The joy of which Paul speaks is the joy that we have when Jesus is all we need. When our joy is found in our relationship with Jesus because we have found he satisfies all our needs, then our joy is made complete and nothing can rob us of it. Isn't that the joy we should possess, that despite our circumstances in the new year, nothing can touch that inner joy that shines through everything? It is ours if we choose it. All we have to decide is that Jesus is more than enough for us. In a life filled with and dependent on "stuff" we find this simple thing very hard, but it is nothing more than a decision to love Jesus because he loves us.
Now who couldn't use a little more prayer. I find it interesting that we tend to fill our lives with everything except for those things that are good for us. It is like food. We know the stuff we need to eat to stay healthy but instead we fill our bodies with all the wrong stuff. Again it comes down to a decision. We need to pray. We need to pray all the time. We need to pray to have intimacy with our God. We need to pray to receive instruction on our Father's will. We need to pray out of love for all the saints who are busy with the Kingdom work. We need to pray to intercede for people who are desperate for deliverance from their circumstances and sin. There is so much to pray about that we do not have enough time in the day to pray it all, but that's okay because most of us don't pray at all. We know we should. We know we need to, but we fill our days with "stuff" instead. It comes down to a decision.
Giving thanks is so much more important than most people realize. It is the key to living a life of praise and worhsip, and praise and worship is the key to intimacy with our God. The psalmist wrote:
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:3-5)
Enter his gates with thanksgiving ... give thanks to him and praise his name. We should never enter into the presence of the Lord without an attitude of thanksgiving. Despite our earthly circumstances he is still good and his love still endures forever. He remains faithful to us and this will continue through all generations. Again our dependence on "stuff" clouds our spiritual vision and we often lose our attitude of thanksgiving due to this "stuff". That is when everything becomes religious because we do it out of habit and duty instead of out of love.
Three simple things that could lift us above circumstances this year and keep us in that wonderful place with Jesus; joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. I pray that this new year will contain these three elements of a solid foundation so that you will realize all the blessings of our God, for you and your family. May it be an incredible year of spiritual growth for all of us.