Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. I Thessalonians 5:16-22 NKJV
I have seen a number of blog posts, articles, essays dealing with numbers and or promoting numbered steps to achieve anything. Usually, I avoid these simply because each numbered step may or may not work for everyone. But as I read this passage of scripture today, I realized there is indeed a methodology to seeing the power of God at work in our lives.
Rejoice always–the phrase, “don’t worry, be happy” comes to mind. No matter what happens in our lives-the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, we can find something to rejoice about if we think about it. There are a number of jokes out there that would be applicable, but I want to bring this point with clarity. When someone loses a house in a fire or storm, we can rejoice when there is no loss of life. Things can be replaced–people cannot. Job managed to find peace within himself until he started listening to his friends. He had lost much. When we don’t get the job we want–we can rejoice in the knowledge that there is something better waiting for us. We have to be like the battery bunny–know how to keep going, and going, and going.
Pray without ceasing—continuing to talk to God no matter what happens. This does not mean we keep saying the same thing over and over again; it means we keep communicating with Him who can change our circumstances in an instant. Most people only talk to God with they’re in need, but we should always talk to Him and listen to Him on a daily basis. Prayer is not just asking–or petitioning God–it is communicating–talking to Him like we talk to one another. Think about it–if we’re saying the same thing to people every time we talk to them, soon we stop listening because it becomes boring to hear. What makes us think that God doesn’t hear what we say the first time? He’s not forgetful and He’s certainly not deaf.
In everything give thanks—for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. We need to thank God for the opportunities we have to learn from our mistakes and not just for the things we do well or what we receive. In sickness–give thanks for the strength to endure to the end. In poverty–give thanks for the will to rise above it. In turmoil–give thanks for His peace residing within. Now, notice this scripture says, “in everything” not for everything. There is a difference. When people do not know how to “rightly divide” The Word, they often lead people astray. In all of our circumstances we give thanks to God in whom we can count on to bring us out.
Do not quench the spirit–the Spirit of the Living God who resides within us, speaks to us–when we’re willing to hear Him, guiding us at all times. Hear Him! Don’t try to squelch His commands in order to fulfill the lust of the flesh. Heed what He has to say at all times!
Do not despise prophecies--from those we can ascertain are speaking God’s Truth because we know God’s Truth. When we know The Word, we know when someone who purports to being a prophet is actually hearing from God for what they say, will line up with The Word.
Test all things, holding fast to that which is good–by exercising the spirit of discernment we can determine if something is right or wrong for us. When things we do or want are not in opposition to God’s Word, we maintain our integrity to keeping God’s Word. If a person proclaims to be something and yet there is no evidence of it, disregard what they say. If the evidence is present, they have proven their credibility. This is almost like testing water temperature before we step into it. Water too hot will scald and too cold will chill.
Abstain from every form of evil--keeping away from all things that could be construed as evil or out of the will of God. This covers so much territory that I cannot begin to enumerate all of the facets of evil to which this would apply. There is an adage, “Birds of a feather flock together” that applies. If we hang out with the wrong folks, people will assume we are like the people with whom we associate. If they are liars, we’ll be labeled a liar. If they are thieves, we’ll be labeled a thief. This is why we should be careful in our associations with people.
IF–we can do these seven things–always keeping them in the forefront of our thinking, we will see the power of God working in our lives like never before and we can rest in His peace.