December 31

At the end of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he sounds like a parent giving instructions to his children before leaving. He tells them to obey and to be helpful and to stay out of trouble—not in those exact words, but the idea is the same!

But Paul includes these lovely “orders” as well:

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)

What kind of instructions are these? These are the hopes of a Father for his children; His will for His sons and daughters.

Our Father desires our happiness (Rejoice always!); He desires that we keep in regular communication with Him (Pray continually); and He encourages us to have an attitude of appreciation (Give thanks in all circumstances). These are three practices that we must strive to make our own:

  1. Rejoice Always: We may not always feel joyful, but we can try  to cultivate an attitude that is positive, cheerful, and makes  others feel comfortable around us. True joy blooms, not from  the events of our lives, but from the love we receive and give in  Christ Jesus.
  2. Pray Continually: You are always thinking, aren’t you? Simply  direct those thoughts to God, and you will be praying  continually! (Remember to take time to listen, too!)
  3. Give thanks in all circumstances: Think about all that has been  given you; all of the good people who love you, all of the beauty  and goodness which you are able to enjoy. Thank God and  thank others.

May all of God’s children strive for joyfulness, prayerfulness, and thankfulness, and so fulfill God’s will for them in Christ Jesus!

Sharon Edel