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Category: Blog Written by Janet Denison
Paul was writing to the church in Thessalonica. 1 Thessalonians is thought to be one of the first letters that Paul wrote to a church. He had heard that the church was suffering persecution from the government and the Jewish people. Paul's reputation had been slandered and his teaching ridiculed. And enough time had passed to cause the church to question why Jesus had not yet returned to put an end to their persecution. So Paul writes a letter of encouragement to a church that greatly needed that. But why would he tell them to achieve the impossible? He didn't. Paul spends the first part of the letter thanking them for their faithfulness, their preaching and the obedience to the Word of God. Then he encourages them to keep growing in their faith, even though persecuted. Then, in chapter 5, Paul tells them to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. He is telling them to choose to rejoice, even though they were suffering. He tells them to pray continually, because that would be the only way to maintain their joy. And Paul tells them to rejoice, in all circumstances, because "this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Paul is telling that early church that whatever difficulties existed in their life - they were still all right. If they were in "God's will" then even the bad circumstances would soon work for their good (Romans 8:28). Paul was teaching that church, and us today, that if your soul is right with God, obedient to the will of God, then that right spiritual relationship would produce joy, prayer and thanksgiving - regardless of difficult circumstances - maybe even because of them.
Ryan's cancer is the most difficult situation that I have ever faced. He is in his last week of radiation, and even though he feels the effects of his treatment, he has been blessed and protected by your prayers. I understand what Paul was trying to tell the Thessalonian church. A right relationship with God really does provide joy in the worst of times, prompt prayers that maintain spiritual strength, and produce thanksgiving to God for honoring those prayers and bringing his good out of the world's bad.
As you are reading this, I am leading a prayer retreat....but really - I am attending it. I have so much to thank God for and I'm sure God has so much he has been looking forward to telling me. It should be a great few days! When was the last time you left your life behind just so you could spend a LOT of time talking to God? Your soul needs to spend time with the One who can "refresh" it. Why did God ask us to pray continually? Because prayer is to your soul, what breathing is to your body. If you do not breathe, you cannot live. If you do not pray, your soul will cease to thrive. Paul was telling the Church to walk through their lives in a constant state of continual communication with God. Praying should come as naturally to a Christian and breathing. Scripture doesn't ask us to do anything impossible. In fact, Jesus told us that "with God - all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). As you walk through this day, this week, this life, remember - REJOICE, PRAY AND GIVE THANKS. God will bless those choices!