May 3 2020 1 Thess 5 - Rejoicing Always is about Living in Peace

Lord, thank You for this day – thank You for the opportunity to worship you. You have something for each of us this morning. Help us to believe that you want to speak to our hearts. Help us to set everything aside and focus on what You would have to say to us. Thank You for Your love for us. Help me to speak with clarity and grace and to be led by the Holy Spirit.

We will close Thessalonians today –

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing

1 Thess 5: 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Is this even possible? Maybe a better question – What is Paul saying? What is he NOT saying?

First – don’t be a knucklehead and tell peop;e who are going through real struggles to be happy and rejoice!

He is not saying we are to be constantly happy.

He is not saying that we should constantly be praying through our prayer list. You don’t want your brain surgeon praying for his friend Bob while he is performing surgery on your brain!

How do we make these real? How do we follow these in the real world?

What do I always say? In order to understand a verse – you need to put it in CONTEXT.

There is a phrase that ties this together from last week. Live in peace with one another.

We tend to think that this is individual personal instruction – but it is much more than that. My opinion – that is not the primary point Paul is trying to make. The context is peace within the church community. Paul is saying that these practices will create an environment in the church community of peace when they are practiced. So we will learn to practice these in our relationships.

I look at this – it says rejoice always. Romans – Rejoice in hope – it is not happy bubbly rejoicing – but a confident hope in God and His promises – and an expression of joy in looking to that future hope. Rejoicing always is not about rejoicing in our current circumstances, but a joy in the hope that is waiting for us.

With Covid19 – there is this hope that there will be a vaccine. But for the Thessalonians, the hope is not in this world, but when life comes to a close. The hope they are looking toward is after this life.

Pray without ceasing. When we think of this – think of the contexzt of the church community – and the importance that prayer plays in the context of the church – and in the gathering together . The emphasis is on corporate prayer – and that is a weakness in general. There is an old practice that churches used to do – the prayers of the people. A time in the actual worship service where people would pray for one another – and that has been let go, in so many places. But I want to throw this out – the prayers tend to get focused on health and finance.

It was not just focused on one or two areas. Look at the Lord’s prayer.

Our Father, who art in heaven – hallowed be thy name – that God’s name would be made great throughout the earth – spread throughout the world – and that God would be seen as great.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We see that our prayers must relate to the gospel being spread and to justice being done – works of justice in our world.

Daily bread – he ties it to our finances – our livelihood.

Forgive us our sins – a repentance part –

As we forgive those – a forgiveness part.

Deliverance from evil – from sickness is included in this. This is tied together – and it would be a benefit if we could make that part of our prayer life. You could spend a week or a day on part 1 – what does it mean for His name to go throughout the world? Your kingdom come – what does that mean – focus for a day.

Look at the prayers of Paul and Peter – and the Psalms – so rich and so much more

18 – In every thing give thanks


Not – FOR

Not that we should say, Thank You God, for Covid19 – there is nothing to be thankful for about it – but thankful in the situation. How do we be thankful for shelter-in-place?

A book I’ve mentioned – written by Edwin Freedman – Failure of Nerve – relates to business and relational systems – and the disruptions that come about because of conflict – and how to address that. He focuses on emotions that disrupt and enhjanbce conflict – Anxiety/Fear/Anger. These three have a tremendous impact in how we handle conflict and disagreement. He talksabout how we need to not allow ourselves to not get caught up in those Self-differentiation – separating ourselves from the emotional conflict. How to engage in the family/business putting aside anxiety and fear and anger – and then we become agents of change rather than problem creators.

We are not the conflict. The conflict does not define nor control us.

Think of a dysfunctional family – I am not the dysfunction – it does not define me. The dysfunction I grew up in does not need to control me.

Take alcoholism. There has been so much research done -a nd this applies across the board to every conflict and disagreement – and there is so much biblical stuff in AA – when there is alcoholism in the family – it tends to define and control every member.

Someone becomes the fixer – someone becomes the enabler. There is often a kid that has to become the adult!

It is not much different in the church.

When there is conflict or disagreement – fear/anger – take control and force us to act in certain ways – and this can take place in our Christian relationships

In Romans 14 – it talks about the weak and the strong – the weak are the ones who can’t eat the meat in the Roman church. Pharisees – separatists. Sadducees – conformists. And we think our role is the role everyone should play. Gate-keepers – nothing should change. Deconstructors – everything should change!

They are often flip sides of the same coin.

In everyone’s faith journey – there are three things.

Order – we all need it – but at some point, we need disorder – something to shake it up because not every thing we learn at first is right – something to shake it up to RE-order.

I do not need to take a side in a conflict to help resolve the conflict. I would say you SHOULD NOT take a side in a conflict to resolve the conflict. Even if you agree with one side, your job is not to take that side, it is to sort out reality, the things that are causing the problem – and to help find the solution.

Do not enlist a third party to join your side when you are in conflict with another. That is called an unholy triangle – and they are just unholy. You may need to get a mediator – but that is different than getting someont to take your side.

19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic [l]utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every [m]form of evil.

How does this tie in with the context? I would say it ties in very nicely! Last week – he started off talking abvout how they should respect and admire the leaders. There were no formally recognized leaders – but just people stepping up and trying to help. Look – there must have been some conflicts – who made you king? They are doing this out of love, Paul says – so esteem them in love.

And there were probably saying – with prophetic utterance – God says THIS. And they are saying – who says that you can say that God says this! Instead, examine it! Find out if it is true.

After Thessalonica, Paul went to Berea – and many came to Christ – speaking of the Bereans, Luke writes in Acts – they were more noble minded than the Thessalonicans – because they received it and examined it.

Paul is saying 0- you have a problem – you are not examining things.

Abstain from every form of evil. – When you hear that which is good – hold onto it! Wrong things – stay away from! People were leading people down wrong paths – how to behave – how to worship – and we are probably getting that today – is that right? Is this accurate? Stick to what is right and stay away from what is not!

One final verse:

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful. He will allow us to stand blameless at the coming of Jesus – because we will not get there on our own!

We are constantly falling down, but God is lifting us up, preserving our souls complete. Full and blameless.

He ties the context together – and I have talked about bookends.

Peace will be with you. Peace in relationships and in conflict can only come from the God of peace. It is not just an issue of following the techniques and doing those perfectly. We have to tie it back into our lives – this dependence on God –

Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing! Give thanks! IT all ties back to His working – not our working. It does not have to do with the same thinking on everything.

Not just in our community – but Christians thoughout – in our families –

Sanctify – set apart – speaking to the church – within the world to become a community of peace in a world of animosity. When we think of those three emotions – fear/anxiety/anger –

Tuesday we are continuing our study of Revelation – and a key point – being a faithful witness in times of struggle – and by being a community of peace in our tiems of struggle, we become faithful witnesses of our Lord and Jesus Christ in unique ways.

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