I Thess. 5:16-18 – Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I recently heard a report from a lady who was in…Uganda, I think, on a short-term mission’s trip. She was working in an orphanage where many of the children came from pasts that would out-do most horror movies. And yet these children were some of the most joyful children she had ever met. Was there intense counseling? No. Drug therapy? No. They just spent all their free time in praise and worship. These children would go to school, then do their chores, eat supper, and have praise and worship time. Then in the morning, they would begin their day with praise and worship before going off to school. This missionary said these children weren’t forced into these sessions, they looked forward to them and participated in them with all that they had, and would leave the sessions still singing, dancing, and rejoicing in the Lord! Isn’t that wonderful?
It makes me wonder about us, though. How much time do we spend worshipping and praising the Lord? What would happen if we stopped wasting our time on Facebook or watching the junk on TV or even reading the latest Christian motivational book, and used that free time to worship God instead? I am willing to guess that we would find our stress and our concerns put in their proper perspective – God’s perspective. We would have a much easier time of letting go and letting God handle everything. It would change our lives.
These verses in I Thess. 5 are what came to my mind when I was thinking about all of this. I looked up some of the words. “Rejoice” means to be cheerful or calmly happy. “Evermore” means every when (which made me think of the phrase “even when ….”) and at all times. Sometimes I think of rejoicing or being joyful as exuberant happiness and I think to myself, “I just don’t have the energy for that right now”. I’m so glad that word means calmly happy – one could probably say peacefully happy. And of course, the next two phrases are pretty clear cut – “pray without ceasing” – turn everything over to God in prayer. “In everything give thanks” – giving thanks in the midst of a trial or giving thanks as soon as you’ve asked Him for something is displaying your faith in the God who hears and answers our prayers – and knowing His answer will be for our good and His glory. The next phrase is what gave me a little bit of pause: “For this is the will of God…” – we hear that phrase so much, but what does the “will” in the will of God mean? According to Strong’s, it means a determination, desire, or pleasure. God’s desire is for us to spend our time praying, praising Him (expressing gratitude for the works of God), and rejoicing in Him, which is worship.
So my challenge for myself and all of us is the next time we need to unwind, instead of picking up the remote or booting up the laptop, turn to God instead. It can be with music or meditating on His Word (not with the assistance of any other books, sometimes we’re so busy trying to figure out what so-and-so says about a verse that we miss what the Holy Spirit is saying about it.). It can be through just talking to God or just sitting and listening to Him (Ps. 46:10). It can be whatever God leads you to do. Remember, worship is all that we are responding to all that He is.