Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stop and Listen

I was reading through 1 Thessalonians 5 this morning and I came to verses 16-22. I laughed to myself because it almost seemed as if Paul had gotten so caught up in his letter-writing that he realized he had to end the letter and was saying a lot in a short amount of time.

Paul writes in those verses, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”

As I read it, I thought that I could probably park on these few verses for a long time because they say so much with so few words. What does it mean to be joyful always? How do we express that? Why do we seem to confuse joy and happiness? How would it look if we allowed ourselves to be joyful verses forcing ourselves to be happy?

Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to pray continually. What does that mean? How does that look when I am driving my car? If we look at prayer as communication, isn’t the most effective communication consistent communication? What happens when we try to pray sporadically?

We are to give thanks in all circumstances. That means we’re not to reserve our thankfulness and gratefulness for one holiday each year, we need to be continually thankful and grateful. When we are thankful and grateful continually, we will have a much different experience when we encounter difficulties in our lives than if we only mustered up thankfulness and gratefulness once in a while.

“Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” What does this look like? We don’t mindlessly accept everything that comes our way, we instead test it in light of what God says to us. We also don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, when we encounter something, we seek the Truth of God in the midst of it, and we hold onto that Truth. We avoid every kind of evil, even the appearance of evil.

Advent has always seemed to be a fairly reflective time of year for me. As we await the coming of our Savior, do we wait with anticipation, being joyful, praying continually, and giving thanks? When he comes, how will he find us? Will he find us expecting him or hoping that he would show up a little later? During this Advent season, prepare your hearts for the celebration of the coming of Jesus. We celebrate his coming the first time and we await his return. Glory to God in the highest!

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