God’s Will Concerning You
A missionary summed up his desire for the future in one statement: “to be in the center of God’s will.” There is no higher ambition in the Christian life than to daily “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom.12:2) and, having proved the will of God, to love it and to walk in it.
One means for the Christian to learn God’s will is to search the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11); then the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit is performed, bringing Christ before the believer and allowing God to speak to the heart, so that the child of God can enter into the experience of the Psalmist: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).
The Bible is the revealed will of God, containing exhortations specifically stated to be His will. If we would seek His will, these precepts must become part of our daily walk.
Three closely linked purposes, relative to His will for His saints, are expressed in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Christ and joy cannot be separated. Though He was the “Man of sorrows,” “obedient unto death” (Isa. 53:3 Phil. 2:8), the Lord Jesus Christ has given millions of believers a joy which the world can neither give nor remove. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). A joyous Christian is a strong Christian.
After his conversion and baptism, the Ethiopian eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). This is as it should be. Can it be said of my Christian life that I “rejoice evermore?”
Godly believers who have passed through deep trial are generally of sober countenance, but each manifests the joy of the Lord, the strength of the soul.
Rejoicing has a prominent place in the Bible. “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). “Ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:22). Christ petitioned His Father “that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13). The apostle John said: “And these things write we unto you, that your joy might be full” (1 John 1:4).
Peter and others “departed from the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). He reminded his persecuted readers of their salvation and its joy: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice… Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:6, 8). James exhorts us to “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (testings) “ (Jas. 1:2. Paul exhorts us to “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). He used the words “joy” and “rejoicing” eighteen times throughout the Philippian epistle. He wrote to Corinth about being “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (11 Cor. 6:10), and to Rome about “that blessed hope” and the coming glory, exhorting the believers to be “rejoicing in hope” (Rom. 12:12).
If all we knew about a person was the fact that he rejoiced evermore, we could be sure that he was saved; going on with God; and bringing Christ before others. If these things can not be observed in our lives through the joy we manifest, we are not fulfilling His revealed and perfect will.
Principal Rainy defined joy thus: “Joy is the flag which is flown from the castle of the heart when the King is in residence there.”
May our lives reveal the joy of the living Christ, and may we be known as those who “rejoice evermore!”
Pray Without Ceasing:
The importance of Christian prayer cannot be over-estimated. But what does it mean to “pray without ceasing?” It cannot mean that we should be on our knees all day; such would be impossible. The Greek adverb translated “without ceasing,” is found in a papyrus letter uncovered in the Middle East; the word was used to describe an “incessant” cough; in other words a “recurrent” cough.
This clarifies the meaning of “pray without ceasing.” Prayer should be a continually recurrent exercise in the life of the believer; without this heavenly communion between the Father and His own, God’s heart is grieved and the Christian’s testimony loses its power. Daniel had stated times of prayer: “He went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God” (Dan. 6:10). We too, should set aside time for prayer. To be faithful soldiers for our Captain, we must “wait upon the Lord”, or we shall fail to triumph over Satan and his hosts. Satan wants no Christian to pray, to read the Word of God, to herald the gospel, to live for Christ, to watch for the Lord’s return, or to fulfill God’s revealed will at all.
Prayer is an attitude of the soul, aptly summed up thus:
“Prayer is so simple;
It is like quietly opening a door
And slipping into the very presence of God;
There, in the stillness,
To listen to His voice,
Perhaps to petition
Or only to listen,
It matters not
Just to be there
In his presence
May we come to know more of what it is to “pray without ceasing.”
In Everything Give Thanks
Prayer and praise go hand in hand; holiness is linked with both. Paul often links prayer with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6. Col. 4:2. 1 Tim. 2:1); his prayers are saturated with praise (Eph. 1:15-23; 3:13-21. Col. 1: 9-14). Many of us lack the “peace of God” because we do not pray and praise enough. How sad, if the saints are worriers instead of warriors, fretful instead of fruitful!
Unthankfulness is a sign of the last days prior to the Lord’s return (2 Tim. 3:2). What a tragic commentary on the Christian life when a believer yields to the sin of ingratitude. Sir Moses Montefiore had a fine family motto, “Think and Thank.” The Anglo-Saxon word for thankfulness” means “thinkfulness.” Christians need to think only for a moment of their blessed Saviour Who, in the purity and majesty of His adorable Person, condescended to suffer and die on Calvary’s cross; praise be to God our Father!
It is not easy to give thanks in everything. Nevertheless, it is God’s will that we should be “giving thanks always for all things unto God our Father’’ (Eph. 5:20). Note the preceding exhortation: “Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).
Job said: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). “Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Only the Spirit of God can evoke such confident praise as Job displayed in trial. It is God’s design for all believers to manifest this same thankful, triumphant trust in all circumstances, but the manifestation of such trust is only in proportion to our yieldedness to the Holy Spirit.
Following grievous losses, Jeremy Taylor kneeled and thanked God that his enemies had left him “the sun and the moon, a loving wife, many friends to pity and relieve, the providence of God, all the promises of the gospel, his faith, his hope of heaven, and his charity toward his enemies.”
Every loyal Christian can expect testing (Jas. 1:2, 1 Pet. 4:16), but he should reckon them among the “all things” (Rom. 8:28) which bring glory to God and good to himself (Rom. 8:18. 2 Cor. 4:17-18).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect example and fulfilment of 1 Thess. 5:16-18: He taught His disciples to rejoice (Lk. 10:20); to pray (Lk 11:1-13); and to give thanks (Jn. 6:11-23); He exemplified His own precepts. He desired His joy for His own (Jn. 15:11; 17:13). In His earthly life, His fellowship with the Father was unbroken; the Gospels give us glimpses of His habit of prayer (Matt. 14:23. John 17). When unrepentant cities rejected the Saviour, He gave thanks (Matt. 11:20-27); in view of His death, He gave thanks for the bread and the wine (Lk. 22:19-20). In submission to the Father’s will, the Lord Jesus Christ gave thanks in all circumstances; He delighted in God’s will (Heb. 10:7). As a result of His obedience, the Father said: “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17; 17:5). Hence, we should ponder these words of the Holy Spirit: “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).
“It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13); it is our responsibility to be “doing the will of God from the heart:” (Eph. 6:6). Let us press on to greater heights of spiritual victory in our Christian experience.
May the God of all grace grant to each of us the kind of life that declares what it is to: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give than for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).