1 Thessalonians 5
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
We’re already reading the same headlines, but our takeaways are different due to worldly influences, experiences, family, beliefs, and attitudes that have evolved over the years to bring us to our present state.
Some have changed so that cycles and generational curses are broken, others have persisted and grown deeper roots.
If any Apostle is the epitome of this, it’s the unconverted and faithless Saul, who went from taking Christians in chains to prisons, and was literally knocked to the ground and blinded from the power of the call of Christ to use the same zeal, education, and power of reason to speak to every type of believer in the most apostate places of the known world.
He was feared among the populace, and doubtless pleased the Pharisees who saw him as a crowning achievement in quenching the case for Christ.
And then he wasn’t.
But whatever they dare to boast about—I’m talking like a fool again—I dare to boast about it, too. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?
How many of us are inconvenienced so for preaching the Word made flesh, that we might be reconciled to G-d.
We set aside a day to give thanks for the founding and establishment of a new nation that could have been established with fellowship, but wasn’t, yet endured because of the grace of G-d, and we have lost that focus.
We lament the coming of certain family members, and stress over recipes, clean and decorate our dwellings, and then the corporations have now trained their customers and blackmailed or bribed their workers to go out and consume more.
It’s up to us, ultimately, how far we connect with this training. In the whole of the WWJD fad, were we really asking ourselves (if we were in Christ then) what would He actually do? Jesus was about humility, not pageantry, even down to riding a donkey in his kingly march through the gates.
When Jesus gave thanks, He gave it to the Father for the things the Father did for Him: keeping the disciples safe, giving Him the souls of the lost, opening the ears of sinners, concealing the truth from the legal and the hard-hearted, for imparting the Spirit of understanding to His followers, and He yet gives thanks for us.
37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
Let us be thankful for the new covenant of grace, for the grafting in, for the ability to freely abide in the vine, for the year of the Lord’s favor, and let us rejoice in the day He’s made, and for deliverance not from circumstances, but for the redemption of our souls to be reconciled, spotless and blameless, to dwell for ever in the Father’s presence eternally in the kingdom of Heaven, becoming like the angels, now and forevermore.
Father in Heaven,
On this day, we thank You for the gift of life. We rejoice and offer the fruit of our lips, the sacrifice of praise, and our obedient hearts, open ears, and joyful spirits.
Paul tells us that in as far it’s with us, to dwell in peace with all men.
Let this season of peace on earth be a time of reflection, as well as revelation to the deeper truths of Your word.
Keep us anchored in Your spirit as mankind gives indulgence to their emotions, bad thoughts, self-righteousness, hatred, lust of the eyes and flesh, and pride.
Forgive us, Lord G-d, and accept our confession that we have done the same, and repent in the power of the Spirit, pleading the blood of Your Son to make us once again spotless and blameless before You, for You will not look on sin, but You will pardon it, and we have no righteousness of our own to redeem us.
Let us praise You not only in song, but in deed, and our let our lives be a reflection of the change within us that could only have come about through the imparting of Your Spirit.
We thank you, Father, for all things, in all things, and everywhere.
May it be to us as You have said.