Posts Tagged ‘all’

Good and Evil

July 9, 2015

The Supreme Court has made its’ decision. Gay marriage is now the law of the land. I had prepared this message before that news was made public. I think that the timing of this message was inspired by God.

I. Woe!: Isaiah 5:20-24

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!

Woe to men mighty at drinking wine,
Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,

Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away justice from the righteous man!

Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble,
And the flame consumes the chaff,
So their root will be as rottenness,
And their blossom will ascend like dust;
Because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”

I cannot help but think of this recent ruling by the Supreme Court. God’s Word declares homosexual sex to be an abomination in Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”. In I Corinthians 6:9-10 it is listed as a sin which is capable of keeping us from heaven ” Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”. It is condemned as evil in both Old and New Testaments, yet we now as a society declare it to be good.

What bothers me even more than our government endorsing gay marriage is when Christian leaders give their approval. There is a growing number of denominations and independent churches that are recognizing gay marriage. This requires either a dismissal of scripture or a drastic reinterpretation. Either route usually involves a sense of intellectual superiority. “You literalists just don’t understand how to interpret scripture.” Or so they say.

It has been a long time since I was in the Marine Corps, but I still remember that there were people who were proud of how much alcohol they could drink and still be conscious. Substance abuse in all its forms is unhealthy for our bodies, and a bad testimony for Jesus Christ.

God is concerned about justice. As the people of God, we too, should care about justice. Our society is better than many, but we should continue to press for just laws and just enforcement of those laws. There is still room for improvement.

These scriptures in Isaiah warn about coming judgement for these sins. We in America should be concerned. What is keeping God from judging our society for our sins?

As a country we have rejected the Law of God. We have removed the Bible and prayer from our schools. We have legalized sin. There is reason to be concerned.

II. Pray!! II Chronicles 7:14

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Judgement is held off by the mercy of God and the presence of Christians in our country. The missionary work that goes forth from the United States is phenomenal. Although there is much evil in our land there is also much good. As Christians we are to humble ourselves before God and ask God to forgive the sin in our lives, and in our land. If we will seek the face of God, if we will turn from our sins, then God will hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and heal our land. It is not necessary for all Americans to be saved. It is important that those who call themselves Christian, behave in a Christ-like fashion. This includes our interaction with those who do not agree with us. God loves everyone. We are to call out to all to return to the God who loves them. Some will listen. Some will not.

These are the sermon notes from 6/28/15. Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress. I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

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Time Matters

May 14, 2015

The last time that I remember being bored was the winter of 1982-83 in Beirut, Lebanon.  I was serving in the Marine Corps and was a part of the multinational peacekeeping force.  A part of my duties was to stand twelve hours of guard duty every other day.  Six hours on, six hours off, repeat.  Standing guard for twelve hours on the perimeter of an airport where you normally did not see anyone was conducive to boredom.

That was a long time ago.

Now, I have far more things to do than I have time or energy to do.  Since I have so much to do I find it helpful to make a daily list.  This list is kept on my computer and updated each work day.

The first thing on my list is the Today category.  In this category I list those things that are scheduled for that day, or that really should be done that day.  The minimum goal is to have those things completed each day.

The second category is Daily.  This category lists those things that I would like to do on a daily basis.  These are good, routine things that I try to make a part of each day.  This list includes things like make list, take vitamins, read the paper, do some other reading, pick up around the house, do some weeding, and so forth.  I really want to get these things done each day, but sometimes it doesn’t happen.

The third category is Should Do.  This list contains a list of things that I should do, that are waiting to be done.  Once the first two parts of my list have been completed, if I have any time or energy left, then I turn my attention to this list.  On a good day, I will get numerous things scratched off this list.

The fourth category is Call/Contact.  I place peoples names on this part of the list that I need to call or visit.

The final category is Could Do.  This part of the list is all of those things that I would like to do if I can find the time.  Sadly, if an item is on this part of the list, it is not forgotten, but it may never get done.  It’s only real hope is that someday I may feel the desire to bump it up into the Should Do category.

The nice thing about the list is that it helps me to stay organized.  I can get the things done that I need to get done.  I can have a sense of accomplishment as things are scratched off the list.  If I am having a day that is overwhelming, or that I am just not very with it, I simply go to the next thing on the list, do it, and check it off.  My wife can provide input to help me in prioritizing my day so that important things are not left out.  It works well for me.

Some people do not like lists.  They feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume, or they feel that everything must be done.

I can assure you.  Everything on my list will not be done today…or this week….or possibly ever.

I can live with that.

It is merely a tool by which I organize my time.  So if you want me to do something, I will write it down,  get it on my list, and it will get done…eventually.

The Acceptable, the Good and the Perfect

May 7, 2015

I am a percussionist.  I have played percussion instruments in performance groups and in worship teams for over thirty-five years.   As a percussionist, I have a fairly large collection of instruments.  I have a vibraphone, marimba, orchestra bells, timpani, congas, bongos, tempo blocks, cowbells, tambourines, a guiro, afuche, claves, various types of shakers, and more.

I played drums and percussion in school.  There was music.  I played what was written.  When I was first asked to play in church, I asked if there was music.  The director laughed, told me no, and that he would teach me to improvise.

Now I hardly ever use written music.

One of the challenges that  a percussionist faces is determining what instrument is going to be the best choice for a particular song, or part of a song.  Personally, I pray that I will be inspired by God’s Spirit to best be in tune with the worship that is taking place.  Paul speaks of singing in the Spirit, my goal is to play in the Spirit.

Last night during the worship service, as I was selecting which instrument to play, it occurred to me that it was a good illustration of our life choices.  In the same way that I have many instruments from which I can choose to play, I also have many ways in which I can spend my time.  In fact, I have far more things that I could do, than I could possibly have time or energy to do.

I could play many instruments and sound decent, but there is only one instrument that would be best.  It is the same in life, the challenge is to select the best thing to do with our time at any given moment.

I am still working on that.

Romans 12: 1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

In playing my instruments, I want to be the best that I can be.  In life, my desire is to be in the perfect will of God, not just the good, or the merely acceptable, but the perfect.  I am glad that God accepts me in my imperfection, but I want to be the best that I can be in my service to God, not just as a musician, but in all areas of my life.

I hope that is true for you as well.

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How to Survive an Encounter With Police

March 5, 2015

The headlines of our local paper yesterday chided the Ferguson police for racial bias.

A homeless man was shot in Los Angeles.  The public is outraged.

Perhaps we should look at the other side of the issue.  How should we behave in an encounter with police?

Michael Brown assaulted the police officer.  The bruises and scrapes are clear in the photos.

The police claim that the homeless man was grabbing for the gun of one of the officers.  After the incident, an officer’s gun(one who did not shoot) was half-cocked, with a bullet partially ejected.  It is cited as evidence of the struggle for the gun.

In addition to questioning police action, we should focus on our action.  We should not punch police officers.  We should not try to take their guns.  In all of the articles that I saw after the Ferguson incident, I only saw one comment made about how the public should act in an encounter with police.  It was an African-American police chief who said that the advice that he gave his own children was simple.

Cooperate with the police and move slowly. 

In the last year three men who have died at the hands of police have made national news.  The focus has always been on the action of the police.  The fact is; the police have a dangerous job.  In our area, a while back, a deputy sheriff was shot in the face and killed while serving an arrest warrant.  In the months since these three men have died at the hands of police, I wonder how many law enforcement officers have died?  Their deaths do not often make the national news.  Their job is to protect and to serve, but they must also protect themselves.  We do not often see the footage of police officers being killed in the line of duty, but I am certain that they are used in training police officers.  They want to be able to go home at the end of their shift and they want to be able to live with themselves.  I am certain that the vast majority of officers are not looking for an excuse to kill someone.

Cooperate with the police and move slowly.

It could save your life.

 

Plans, Promises, and Truthfulness

February 12, 2015

Years ago, when I started this blog, I wrote an article four times a week.  Those articles were about all kinds of different topics.  For quite a while now, I have been simply posting sermon notes.  I am going to try to get back to writing articles on a variety of topics.  The sermon notes will still come out on Mondays.  On Thursdays, I will be writing something different. At least, that is the plan.  Please feel free to make comments on anything that I write.  I enjoy interaction.  Thank you. 

Have you ever wondered what the world would look like if everyone was truthful?  If everyone kept their word?  If everyone kept their promises? This world would be a better place.

A number of years ago, I told my philosophy class that I tried to always tell the truth.  They laughed.  Apparently, they thought that I was lying, because, of course, everyone lies, at least in their minds. That memory has stayed with me as a sad commentary on society today.

I do not mean that we have to share every thought that goes through our minds. Some things we can keep to ourselves.

Sometimes, it is important to use tact when speaking the truth.  If we speak the truth with the right attitude, in the right way, at the right time,  it is a very good thing.  This is not always easy to do.

Wouldn’t it be nice if people kept their word?  If we tell someone we are going to do something, we should do it.  This is especially important in the business world.  If we hire someone to do some kind of work and they take the money but don’t do the work, then we are cheated.  On the other hand, if someone does the work, but isn’t paid, then they are cheated.  Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens far too often. It makes us suspicious of people.  Until someone has proven themselves, we may not trust them.

Promise keeping is especially important.  When my children were young, I wanted to impress on them the importance of keeping promises.  One way that I did that was to use promises very sparingly.  I would tell my children that I was planning to do something, but that sometimes plans have to change.  That way if something came up, and I had to change my plans, I was not breaking a promise.  When I did make a promise, I made sure that it was something that I could keep.

Incidentally, wedding vows are a form of promise.  For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, forsaking all others for as long as we both shall live.   This is not something to be taken lightly.  There may be bad days, but your commitment to each other should bring you through them.

Maybe we cannot transform the entire world, but we can change a little part of it.  May we learn to be truthful people who keep our word.

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Justice and Forgiveness

April 10, 2014

Last night in our Bible study at church, we were discussing the Lord’s Prayer and the emphasis on forgiveness.

And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  (Luke 11:4)

We were in agreement that it is necessary for us to forgive those who have wronged us.

Then someone asked about justice.  Just the day before, a family had observed the one year anniversary of a tragic event.  A baby had been shaken by his father, causing severe damage.  The child went through months of seizures, and has lasting damage that, unless miraculously healed by God, will likely be permanent.  While the baby fought for his life, and while the mother and family dealt with the multiple treatments, seizures, and ongoing effects, the father moved out, and was free to go about his business while the justice system went through the various steps leading eventually to conviction and confinement.  The family was, and is, concerned about justice.  A wrong had been done, a penalty should be paid.

How do we reconcile forgiveness and justice?  This blog does not claim to present the final solution to that problem, but rather, a starting point for thought, and perhaps discussion.

I would suggest that forgiveness is an act of an individual, while justice is a function of society.  Forgiveness is an attitude that allows us to let go of the anger, resentment and hatred that poisons our hearts.  Justice is a necessary component of society that punishes wrongdoers, thus preventing us from taking matters into our own hands.

It would be wrong to think that God only supports forgiveness.  The Mosaic Law set forth laws, and punishments for those that broke the law.  These penalties were considered to be just.  It would be wrong to think that the God of the New Testament, with the emphasis on forgiveness; and the God of the Old Testament, with an emphasis on judgement, are incompatible, or different Gods.  God is both just and forgiving.

There are consequences to wrongdoing.  These consequences can be both temporal and eternal.  God is both merciful and just.  We can be forgiven the eternal consequences of our sins, and still face the temporal consequences of our actions.

For the believer who has been wronged, it is important for us to forgive the wrongdoers and leave the consequences for their actions in the hand of God.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

Clearly there is a tension between justice and forgiveness.  As individuals we must forgive those who have wronged us.  As a society we must pursue justice for those who have been wronged.  The Holy Spirit can help us have the ability to forgive in our hearts,  and the wisdom to pursue justice in our land.

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The Path of Life

January 16, 2014

God will lead us down the path of life, but will we follow His direction?

I.  Two Paths:  Psalms 1:1-6

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
    Nor stands in the path of sinners,
    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

There seems to be only two kinds of people, the godly and the ungodly.  Clearly, the godly people are blessed, while the ungodly will perish.  If we believe the scriptures, we will certainly want to be godly people, so that we may enjoy the blessings of the Lord.

II.  Joyful Trust:  Psalms 5:11-12

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

A godly person is one who trusts in God.  One who trusts in the Lord may expect their lives to be filled with the joy of the Lord.  We are not meant to be miserable people, simply enduring this life while we hope for the next.  There will be times of testing, but our lives should be marked by the blessings of God.  We should remember that the problems of this life are temporary, but the blessings of the Lord are forever.

III.  The Path of Life:  Psalms 16:11

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

A godly person follows the path of life.  Here again there is a promise of joy in the life of the believer.  Here, the responsibility is placed on God to show us the path of life.  God is faithful, and He will reveal to us what we need to know.  We need to be faithful to continue to choose to follow the direction of the Lord.  God shows us the path.  He does not force us down it.  We should accept His invitation to follow Him.  It is in our best interest.

IV.  Prayer:  Psalms 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

This should be a prayer of all godly people.  It is not just our actions, but our words and even the thoughts of our heart should be pleasing in the sight of God.

V.  Teach Us:  Psalms 25:8-11

Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
The humble He guides in justice,
And the humble He teaches His way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,
To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

Godly people are taught by God.  Following the path of life is an ongoing learning experience.  God will teach us His ways.  It is a lifelong process.  We recognize that we fall short and need forgiveness.  We recognize that we do not know everything.   There is always more to learn.

VI.  Wait On The Lord:  Psalms 27:11-14

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Godly people wait on the Lord.  Life can be hard at times.  Do not lose heart.  Wait on the Lord.  He will strengthen us as we spend time in His presence.  He will give us wisdom and strength.  Wisdom to know what to do; and strength enough to do it.

God offers wonderful blessings to those who chose to follow Him down the path of life.

These are the sermon notes from 1/12/14.

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IV.

Make a Difference

January 7, 2014

Our lives impact those around us.

Introduction:  Impact- Job 35:4-8

“I will answer you,
And your companions with you.
Look to the heavens and see;
And behold the clouds—
They are higher than you.
If you sin, what do you accomplish against Him?
Or, if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to Him?
If you are righteous, what do you give Him?
Or what does He receive from your hand?
Your wickedness affects a man such as you,
And your righteousness a son of man.

Our lives do have an impact on those around us.  Our sins hurt people.  Our righteous acts can help people.  We make a difference.   All of us.

I.  Let Your Light Shine:  Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

This is one of my favorite verses.  Here it is clearly stated that our light is our good works.  People cannot see our thoughts, but they can hear our words, and observe our deeds.  We should pray that what they hear and see in our lives will be the light of Christ shining through us.

II.  A Living Faith Produces Works:  James 2:15-18

 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

One of the charges that I hear most frequently is that the church is full of hypocrites.  May God help us to live out in our lives the faith that we confess with our lips.  May we be not simply hearers of the word, but doers of the word.  If we have a living faith, then the Spirit of Christ is dwelling within us.  If that is true, our lives should be changed.  We should live a life that is filled with good works, not because we are trying to be saved, but because we are saved.

The most important thing that we can do is to love God, and the people around us.  This is an attitude that is expressed in our actions.

III.  Faith/Love/Works:  I John 5:1-5

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Faith produces love.  Love produces works.   The works of faith are to keep the commandments of God.  See the Bible for specific details, but a brief summary would include the following.

Keep God first in your life.  Take the time to pray, read the scriptures, and worship with other believers.

Do not lie.  Our society seems to think that occasional lies are acceptable.  As the people of God, we should speak only truth.

Do not steal.  This includes things like being honest at tax time and giving our employers a full days work for our pay.

Do not commit murder.  This is expanded in the New Testament to not hate our neighbor and to not speak evil to our neighbor.  We are called to love all people, even as God loves all people.

Do not covet.  This is rooted in the idea that we are to seek fulfillment in the things of God, not in the things of this world.

Be sexually pure.  God created sex.  He intended for it to be only between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship.  Anything else is wrong.   Marriage is meant to be a lifelong commitment.  It takes work.

Be compassionate.  We are to care about other people.  We can express this by listening, praying, and when possible, physically helping.

As Christians, we should make a difference.  We are called to be salt and light in the world.  People should be able to see the difference that Christ has made in our lives.  They should see that difference in our words, deeds and the attitudes that we express.

These are the sermon notes from  12/29/13.  Feel free to make comments or ask questions.

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God Has a Plan

December 30, 2013

God Knows What He is Doing:  Esther 4:13-14

And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

When Esther was selected to be queen, there was no way for her to know what was going to happen in the coming days.  God, however, does know what is going to happen.   One of the things that I find most fascinating to think about is how God is able to use His foreknowledge of future events, many of which are caused by the free choices that humans make, and blend them together into His plan.

I.  The Will of Man: Psalms 37:23-24

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

God enables us to make the right choices.  When we are faced with decisions we can ask God for guidance, and He will guide our steps.  We can believe this to be true even if we do not receive clear guidance.  If we are sincere in our desire to let God guide us, He will guide our steps.

There are times when we fail to seek God’s will.  Sometimes we  are led into error by our flesh, or even by demonic spirits.  Thank God that He does not abandon us when we stray from the path.  We might fall, but we are not destroyed.  God helps us to get back up, and back on track.

II.  The Will of Satan:  John 10:10a

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. 

Satan desires to destroy the people of God.  However, we learn from Job that Satan is limited by what God allows.  There is a hedge of protection around the people of God and Satan is only allowed to tempt us and try our faith.  It is important that during the times of testing and trial that we keep our eyes on Jesus, seek to do His will, and place our trust in Him.

III.  The Will of God:  John 10:10b

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

God desires to give us abundant life.  Abundant does not mean merely everlasting, but joyful and fulfilling.  The abundant life that God has for us does not begin when we die, it begins the moment that we enter into a relationship with God through our faith in Jesus Christ.

Having abundant life does not mean that we do not have tests or trials.  It means that God is with us in the midst of those tests and trials.  It also means that God is able “to work all things together for good, for those who love God”.  (Romans 8:28)  This does not mean that all things are good.  It means that God can take something that was a mistake, or an evil choice, and still ultimately use it for good.

We can trust that God knows what He is doing.  He loves us.  He has a plan.  And in the end,  it is all good.

These are the sermon notes from the message preached December 15, 2013.  Feel free to make comments or ask questions.

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Directions for the Journey

November 7, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 11/3/13.

I.    I Thessalonians 5:14

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

A.  Warn!  We are told to warn those who are unruly.  There are Christians who do not take the call to pursue holiness seriously.  We should warn believers that ignoring the commandments of God has serious consequences.  This should be done in an attitude of love, not judgement, recognizing that we all have our faults.

B.  Comfort!  The Christian walk can be very difficult at times.  We should speak words of comfort and encouragement to those who are enduring the various tests and trials of this life.

C.  Uphold!  Those who are struggling need our encouragement, not our condemnation.  We are not meant to live for Christ in isolation, but as a part of the family of God.  We should look out for, help, and encourage one another as much as possible.

II.  I Thessalonians 5:15

See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

A.  Do not render evil for evil!  The world tells us that it is important to ‘pay back’ those who have wronged us.  With interest!  As Christians we are called to a different path.  We are not to seek our own revenge, but to leave people in the hands of God.  This is good both for us, and for them.  We should let go of anger and bitterness, forgiving those who have wronged us.

B.  Pursue Good!  We have limited resources.  We should put our efforts into doing what is good.  That is a much better use of our time and energy.

III.  I Thessalonians 5:16

Rejoice always,

We are called to a life that is marked by an attitude of joy.  We can celebrate the good things that God has blessed us with here in this life, but even more, we can rejoice in the love of God.  Sometimes the circumstances of this life can be difficult, but the love that God has for us is an ever-present source of joy for those who turn their attention to that reality.

IV.  I Thessalonians 5:17

pray without ceasing,

A.  Don’t give up!  We can continue to pray about the concerns that are present in our lives.  Some say that if we have prayed about something once, to pray more is a lack of faith.  I would suggest that praying each day about the concerns that are present in our life is perfectly appropriate.  Sometimes the answer to our prayers is delayed for quite a while.  Keep praying.

B.  A second way that this verse can be interpreted is to cultivate an attitude of prayer.  Prayer is communion with God.  We should seek to constantly be aware of His presence.  We recognize that God is present everywhere, always, but how often are we aware of His presence?  How much of our lives can be spent with our spiritual eyes open?  I suspect that many of us could grow in this area.

V.  I Thessalonians 5: 18

in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Give Thanks!  We do not have to accept that the terrible things that happen in this life are necessarily what God wanted for us.  The free will of humans and demons is responsible for evil.  That evil is not God’s will, or desire, for us.  God allows it, but that is not the same as God wills it.  God is however, able to use all things ultimately for good for the believer.  ( Romans 8:28)  We can thank God that He is in control, and looking out for us.  We must remember to keep the right perspective.  Things may be bad things at times in this life, but for the believer, it all ends well.

VI.  I Thessalonians 5: 19

Do not quench the Spirit.

We should be sensitive to the work of the Spirit in our lives.  Far too often people are not willing to listen to the direction that the Holy Spirit is speaking to them in their hearts.  The Holy Spirit will work in all sorts of ways in our churches and in our personal lives if we will be willing to listen and to act.  May God help us to develop a sensitivity to the Spirit’s voice.  May God grant us the courage to act in obedience to that voice.

VII.  I Thessalonians 5: 20

Do not despise prophecies.

God speaks to us in a variety of ways.  We should be willing to listen for His voice.  Sometimes God will speak correction into our lives through means that are surprising.  We should look for the truth that is present in our lives.

VIII.  I Thessalonians 5:21

Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Not everything is good.  Not every teaching is correct.  We are to pray, search the scriptures, discard the bad, and hold onto the good.  Gaining knowledge and truth is a process.  We should pray that God will continue to guide us into all truth.

IX.  I Thessalonians 5:22

Abstain from every form of evil.

As we grow in our knowledge of the truth, we will be more able to recognize evil.  As we recognize evil, we should purge it from our lives.  That is a part of the path of growing in godliness.  It is important for us to recognize that this is a journey in which God leads each individual believer.  Our journey may not look just like our neighbors journey.  Ultimately we must answer to God, not to each other.  We should be careful not to judge our neighbor, but to encourage them in their journey of faith.

Conclusion:  Our walk with God is both personal, and in community with others.  We should seek to be all that God has called, and enabled us to be in Christ.  We should also seek to encourage and help one another in the journey of faith.