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Thursday, June 02, 2022

2022.06.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 5:16–22

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16–22

Questions from the Scripture text: What ought believers to do always (1 Thessalonians 5:16)? What without stopping (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? In how many things do what (1 Thessalonians 5:18)? Why? What does 1 Thessalonians 5:19 say not to do? What does 1 Thessalonians 5:20 say not to do? What are believers to do with all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21a)? So they can do what with which things (verse 21b)? And what with which other things (1 Thessalonians 5:22)? 

Having given final instructions about loving one another (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15), what are the apostolic team’s final instructions about loving the Lord?  1 Thessalonians 5:16–22 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that loving the Lord in everyday life should be continually joyous, obedient, and holy. 

As the apostolic letter to the Thessalonian church comes to its conclusion, the Spirit gives us a flurry of commands, with even more rapidity than what we saw in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15. Those instructions dealt with loving interaction with our fellow members. Now these deal with loving interaction with the Lord. It’s a sort of reverse-order treatment of the two great commandments. In the verses before us now, we have some rapid instructions to shape a life in which we love the Lord our God with all our heart. 

What is “God’s will for my life” (1 Thessalonians 5:18b)? To obey His instructions. And what happy instructions they are!

Literally happy. “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). This sounds a lot like Philippians 4:4’s “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Abbreviating it to “rejoice always” doesn’t change the meaning much. The only cause for joy that cannot be interrupted is the Lord Himself. Joy is the second-listed aspect of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. The perpetually joyless “Christian” isn’t just spiritually unwell. He’s disobedient. The source of his joy is in the wrong place. 

Pray unceasingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Christians are to be slow to speak with one another. But we are never to stop speaking to God. A believer who is continually mindful of his God and Savior will not only have continual cause for joy, but also continual recourse to God in prayer. His God is always near to hear his cries, praises, confession, intercession, etc. Whatever the results of praying seem to have been, he never gives up, because God is still there, and God is still his Savior.

Give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Is God working all things according to the counsel of His will (cf. Ephesians 1:11)? Is the counsel of that will to work all things together for good to those who love God [because they have been] called according to His purpose (cf. Romans 8:28)? Then there is no situation in the believer’s life in which he is not able to give thanks. But this is a command. There is no situation in the believer’s life in which he is not commanded to give thanks. To be unthankful would be to be unmindful of God. It’s a violation of the first commandment and the kind of willful ignoring of God against which the wrath of God is revealed (cf. Romans 1:18, Romans 1:21). 

What else are we to obey? Whatever God says. Every Word of Scripture must be taken seriously (1 Thessalonians 5:20). Treating something that the Spirit says as unimportant is to quench Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Instead, we should get to know our Bibles so well, and take the preaching of the Word so seriously, that by Holy Spirit prophecy we are literally able to test everything in our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:21a). God defines what is good and evil, and we must learn how to “test” things by His Word. We are to do this not only so that we can understand correctly, but so that we can live correctly. The point of being able to identify what is good is so that we can hold fast to it. The point of being able to identify what is evil is so that we can abstain from it. 

Yes, the Christian life is largely a life of joyously, thankfully interacting with God Himself. But it is also a life of obeying God in our interactions with everything else.

What sort of experience is it to live constantly before God? How should such a life be lived? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us when our joylessness and thanklessness expose that we are thoughtless of you. Fill our lives with that joy and gratitude that comes from remembering You. And make us measure and respond to all things in accordance with Your Word, for we ask it through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

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