“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Have you ever wondered what God’s will is? Maybe you were facing a certain choice, an important decision, a difficult situation, or a tough challenge. You prayed and fasted and pleaded with God; but it seemed as if God wasn’t listening. “Lord, show me your will!” you cried out. “Show me the way, God!” But God remained silent.
Probably, we all have had times when we wished God would simply send us a postcard. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t seem to get clarity on what God’s will was – on which way to go. It was if God had kept us in the dark about his plans. You simply had to trust Him and take one step at time, which is easier said than done.
I have a lot of thoughts about discovering God’s will. Many times, I think God is waiting for us to make a decision so He can make it work out for good. Sometimes, I think God is saying, “There is no right or wrong answer here! Just make a decision and I’ll bless it!” Other times, I think God may not really be too concerned with what we think is a big deal. God is calling us to trust Him in all things.
But did you know that about 90% of God’s will for us is already spelled out in Scripture? It’s not a big secret and no mystery. God’s will is spelled out through his Law, through the prophets, through the example and teachings of Jesus, and through the New Testament letters and injunctions given already given us.
Truthfully, God’s will for us has much more to do with our character and who we are becoming rather than a particular place, decision, or choice before us.
Then, I came across three little verses from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” That’s it?! Three simple commands: 1) Be joyful always, 2) Pray continually, and 3) Give thanks in all circumstances. This is God’s will for us! Could it really be that simple, that short and sweet?! Yes! Too often we overcomplicate this “finding God’s will” stuff!
What a great month with Thanksgiving on the horizon to remember these three simple verses – all of which point to giving thanks and being grateful before God. Being joyful always may take a little work. Many people seem to have a knack for being negative. No matter how good something is, rather than see the positive they will turn it into a negative. They’ll see the glass as half empty rather than half full. But Paul says, “Be joyful.” To me, that means finding positive reasons for which to be joyful. Surely, there is always something good, something positive, something for which we can be joyful. Being joyful is a first step to being grateful.
Praying continually means staying in constant communion and conversation with God. It doesn’t mean walking through life with your eyes closed and hands folded. It means talking to God in your mind and heart about anything and everything that comes your way throughout the day. When we do this, we are pre-positioned to do the third command which is to give thanks in all circumstances. We don’t give thanks for all circumstances; some things are just bad, just evil. But we can give thanks in all circumstances, finding something to be grateful for no matter how dismal the situation may be. Giving thanks is not optional; it’s commanded. What are you thankful for?
So now that we know what God’s will is for us, let’s do God’s will by coming together in a combined service to give thanks on November 22 for our annual Thanksgiving Eve service. See you there!
Together in Christ,
Pastor Dave Van Netten