Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1 Thess 5:16-18 commands us to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV) How many times have you read these verses and thought to yourself, “How in the world does God expect me to do that?” Always be joyful. Constantly praying. And the last one, give thanks in all circumstances. I mean really, come on. How does He expect us to do that?
Lately this seems to be a bit of a theme in my times with God. God says, “Give thanks in ALL circumstances.” “Be joyful ALWAYS.” How is that possible? The answer I believe is in how well we know God. Not just a theological definition of His character and what He can do, but a practical, personal, intimate knowledge of Him. The kind of knowledge of God that Job spoke of in Job 42 where, at the end of everything that happened to him he declared, “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.” (Job 42:5 NLV)
Paul tells us in Romans 5:3-5 that trials teach us patience. Patience produces character in our lives. As we see God work, it gives us hope, the confident expectation that God is going to keep His word. But, from there, Paul says, “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we will know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Trials will produce an understanding of the love of God that we had not previously known, just like Job said.
Lewis Sperry Chafer in his book titled “Salvation” wrote; “Could it be possible that God would so love an individual as to give His only Son to die for him and still love him to the extent of following him with the pleadings and drawings of His grace until He has won that soul into His own family and created him anew by the impartation of His own divine nature, and then be careless as to what becomes of the one He has thus given His all to procure?”
How well do we really know our savior? I am not talking about your theological knowledge or textbook definitions. I am talking about knowing and experiencing His love to the extent that it is something that is constantly part of your thoughts and brings joy to our hearts as we reflect upon it. That, I believe is what Paul’s challenge was in 1 Thess 5. In fact, it’s more than a challenge, he said, “This is God’s will for you!” God wants us to come to know God so well that we will be reflecting upon Him throughout the day (pray continually), and as we do, it will bring joy to our hearts (be joyful always). Then, as we face the circumstances of life, the hope that we have, that confident expectation that has been built through knowing and seeing His faithfulness, will cause us to give Him thanks for each and every circumstance that He brings into our lives!
So, what will help you to reflect upon Him throughout the day? Here’s some practical ideas that I have found helpful in my own life:
- I find music is something that sticks with me. How many times do you catch yourself reciting the words of a catchy tune in your head? Some of those you just can’t get out of your head. So, use that to help you reflect on God. Find a worship song or an old hymn, something that you can listen to at the beginning of your day that will help you reflect on Him throughout the day.
- Scripture verses: Some people have a routine of scripture memory. And if you can do that, that’s great. I find that difficult, so instead, I just have verses written out that I pray through on a regular basis. Verses on different subjects; God’s love, God’s knowledge, God’s power, etc. Bring them with you and read through them when you have down times during the day.
- I start each day off reading a devotional and my Bible. Many of the quotes shared in this article came from the devotional book “None But the Hungry Heart” by Miles Stanford, and from my Bible reading. There’s nothing like filling your mind with scripture to start your day, to provide the tools to be able to reflect on Him.
Whatever you do, I encourage you to begin making a habit of reflecting on God, his character and his faithfulness throughout the day. As you do, you will find joy in life and you will become more thankful for who God is and what He does!
Thankful to be one of God’s kids