rejoice…pray…give thanks

by Pastor Mark Jordan getimage

 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)
So how are things going as you seek a life of ongoing thanksgiving? We are a week removed from the festive holiday, and getting closer and closer to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The love of God that we remember at Christmas, which also points to the perseverance God showed in winning us for him, can help us with an attitude of gratitude as we pray.
I love how Psalm 100 gives us the idea that prayers of gratitude work as the proverbial password into God’s presence (Psalm 100:4, MSG). Beginning with that framework, it helps garner a new perspective when reading today’s passage. Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. All of this together is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. When you break those verses down, it really offers some powerful insight.
Rejoice always. Not just when things are going your way, or you feel “blessed,” but always. Does this mean rejoice when you feel down, broken, shattered? Yes. Why? Because God is with you, and deploying others to care for you when you are down.
Pray continually. You mean not just once a day? Paul indicates that you can live your life with an ongoing prayer posture. This doesn’t mean you stay in a closet all day everyday with your head bowed and eyes closed, but head up and eyes open looking for ways to reflect God’s love in all you say and do.
Give thank in all circumstances. Note this doesn’t say for all circumstances. Not all circumstances are good, but the promise of Scripture is God can work all things together for his good (Romans 8:28). Even the bad stuff that happens to you. Really. Consider what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us” (MSG).
All of this works together to help us experience the power of an ongoing thanksgiving as we see it is God’s will for you and me in Christ Jesus. This helps to show us that we can be thankful even when times are tough, because we are not alone, have nothing to fear, and find connections with others. May we live into God’s will for us as we rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for loving me and giving me the promise that you are always with me. Forgive me for the times I neglect to rejoice, pray, and show my gratitude for who you are and all you’ve done for me. Help me transform that knowledge into an ongoing thanksgiving where I praise you in my good days and the days that aren’t so good. I ask this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.