While studying Gods Word, I am constantly seeking growth and maturity as a Christian. I believe there are many Christians out there who are seeking the same growth and maturity. In addition, talking with others I learn there is a lack of understanding about how to get there. We now have two very serious problems, both of them linked together. First, there is a need to grow and learn; second, there is a lack of direction.
Recently, while in God’s Word I ran across a passage of scripture, which I feel answers both questions. The Apostle Paul while writing to the church of Thessalonica had these words to share. “First Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” The church of Thessalonica was growing and maturing. They had many questions and needed direction. Let’s expound three obvious points that Paul makes.
First, we are to rejoice. Don’t just read this and move on, it is a building block of our Christian growth. We’re not talking about just being happy, or satisfied or even content. Paul is telling us to be thrilled about Jesus! In addition, we should be this way daily. Notice the word evermore. Evermore refers to a continuous process that builds upon itself and in this case it is founded upon Jesus Christ. Do you remember the moment and days immediately following your salvation? Do you remember how thrilled you were? Paul is reminding the church this can be and should be our daily attitude toward Christ. If I focus daily on Jesus and make time daily to read His word, I can live rejoicing in my Lord and Savior. When I can’t find this, I know to look at my heart because I have something between my Lord and me. Find an attitude of rejoicing and experience it on a daily basis.
Second, we are to pray. Prayer I feel is the most neglected part of many if not most every Christian’s life. If we do not have a good prayer life we do not study Gods Word well, neither do we walk close to the Lord. Prayer is the key that unlocks the treasures of a Christian life. Jesus tells us in Luke 11:9 “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Do you see how prayer is the key that unlocks the treasures of a Christian life! If we don’t experience the fullness of God, it is because we do not seek it. Actually, we can truthfully say an effective prayer life will help foster the attitude of rejoicing evermore. Prayer keeps our relationship with God fresh and well grounded in Jesus Christ. However, our prayer life should be constant. The term “without ceasing”, in my opinion is terribly misunderstood by many Christians. Paul isn’t talking about us going through our day constantly talking aloud to God. Paul is, I believe, referring to us having a heart that is sensitive to the needs of others and being able to readily identify prayer needs as they come before us. Do we want to lift up people and circumstances that need God? If the answer is yes then our heart must be paying attention to what is going on around us. Having the proper attitude and supporting it with a proper prayer life will greatly improve any Christians walk with the Lord. It will encourage us, edify us, and motivate us to seek and even closer walk tomorrow, not because we have too but because we want to.
Third, we should be thankful. This should be understood for the Christian. Christian’s are a thankful people; I really believe that, however, I believe we slip when it comes to the depth of our thankfulness. This depth takes on many different perspectives. For example; I am amazed when I sit in a restaurant and watch people receive their food and without giving a thought to being thankful, they just dig in. Lori and I are approached occasionally by folks thanking us for being thankful in public for the food and service we receive. Yes, we pray in public. We have never been told we couldn’t give thanks, if the restaurant would not allow it, then we have already decided we cannot dine there. We also pray at home. Does that mean we are the measuring stick for prayer? No, not at all, we are a work in progress. I’m certain there are many who can help us grow closer by being displaying a deeper thanksgiving for us. I share this to encourage your exploration and examination of your prayer life. It’s not only necessary, it’s crucial to your walk with the Lord.
Paul closes by reminding us this is Gods Will in Jesus Christ and it concerns you. It is very personal and very deep but very achievable. To grow and mature in our relationship with God requires us to have a heart that is evermore rejoicing, that is praying without ceasing and that is thankful in all areas of life, public and private. Until next month, I pray for God to richly bless each one of you!
Terry is the Broadcaster and Executive Director of The Inspiring Word Media Ministry