1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

My wife and I are celebrating with our daughter and son-in-law and our whole family.  Our first grandchild has been born.  This means of course that the new mother needs to have the company of the new grandmother.

We had been planning on this trip for a long time; around nine months.  To work it all out my bride needed to fly to the distant city to enjoy a bonding time with her grandson.  I will have to be patient and travel when my schedule allows.

Getting grandmother to the Pacific Northwest, however, was a priority.  She spent a lot of time busily packing, sorting out her wardrobe and most importantly, organizing presents for the new, first grandchild.  It was fun and exciting for her to get ready.

But, then, there was concern for me “batching it” for two weeks.  I would be all alone and no one would be here to take care of me.  She gave me a list of things to do, instructions on how to do them and priorities on when to do them.  It is those last minute instructions that fall into the “be sure and” category.

This final collection of “too-important-to-leave-out” is a demonstration of love.  It all means how important I am to her.  Selfless love cares for others in detail.

The Apostle Paul has some last minute charges to give to the Thessalonians.  They are too important to leave out.  These values are given in rapid fire succession.

One is the shortest verse in the Greek New Testament.  However, it has nothing to do with weeping.  There is no sorrow in the picture. In fact it is just the opposite.

Joy is the theme of the shortest verse.  It is not occasional joy either.  This is a verse about an exhortation, a command at the very least a directive that will trump circumstances, feelings or even people.

The Apostle Paul advocates that believers choose to let joy always be a part of their day.  This is not happiness which is circumstantial but an inner delight because of what Jesus Christ has done for us.  It is all about what the Gospel has done in our lives and how amazing it will be when it is completed in heaven.

It is also important that Christians remember to pray.  Frequency is the Apostles focus here.  It is not about praying by following a posture or appointment or method.  Rather, it is about an attitude of dependence, communication and sensitivity to the Father in the routine of our lives.

Furthermore, Christians are to be thankful people.  As recipients of God’s grace they are not to be complainers, critics or whiners.  Christians who are ardent followers of Jesus Christ know that these values are God’s will for our lives.

The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is real.  He is active in the world and especially in the lives of Christians and Christian groups.  There is a powerful promise in the Bible, which declares that this Holy Spirit will come upon all Christians with power, energy and vitality to be witnesses of Jesus Christ to the world.

How this Spirit will manifest Himself is as varied as God’s creative design.  When Christians recognize His activity they are not to resist it, hinder it or stifle it.  While no human has the ability to overcome God, it is possible to diminish His work.

If a Christian opposes the work of the Spirit, then that is an attitude or action that directly opposes the will of God.  Man cannot do the work of God.  However, he is full capable of diverting His supernatural work elsewhere.  Disobedience is a powerfully negative choice that Christians can make.

One scenario that Christians should be alert to is disrespecting prophecy.  If the Spirit makes a revelation known whether it is a current issue of right and wrong or a description of an event that is coming in the future, then to have an unbelieving, unaccepting attitude toward it is wrong.

Accepting the Spirit’s ministry is not tantamount to accepting anyone and anything that is purporting as being from God.  The Bible is not suggesting that a fear of stifling any work of the Spirit should then result in any wonton acceptance of any claim by people that they have a prophetic word from God.  In fact the opposite is true.

To heed this warning of accepting the ministry of the Spirit, believers are admonished to practice good discernment.  They are to test anything that is brought to them with claims that it is of the Spirit.  It is not easy to validate the Spirit’s work but it is possible by those who are spiritual mature.

When they discover what is consistent with God, His Word and the Spirit and attest to the good, then they are to hold on to it.  They must embrace it, protect it and let that Spirit work burn brightly.  Expectation of discovering good is to be anticipated.

Evil has no place in discernment.  Some people judge with the disposition that they are out to only pinpoint what is bad, make an example of it and destroy something.  Evil has not place in discernment.

Whether the Christian is expressing spiritual values in his life or engaging other believers in relationship, Paul is urging spiritually-minded people to be positive.  They must have the intention to do something good.  Any kind of evil is out of place.

Value is a good way to observe this passage of Scripture.  The admonition by the apostle is about something constant in our lives.  Whether it is joy or prayer or thanksgiving, these qualities should characterize what is most important to us.  Therefore, they are a part of our daily and moment by moment routine.

Recognize God in your life too.  Discern when He is making His presence and message known to you.  Resist judging with evil intent.  Do not bring hurt into the lives of others to satisfy any cravings by the sin nature to express self-righteousness.  Instead, spiritual seek the Spirit’s manifestation and rejoice in it.  When you find it and find it often, then hold on to it, share it and draw attention to it.

Be eager to show God off with your life.  Promote Him not personal human opinion.  His ways are way beyond our own.  Whatever God is revealing will last forever.  We will thoroughly enjoy being a part of His revelation.

Thanks for joining me on this journey to live the Scriptures.