Duties to Ourselves
1 Thess. 5:16- 18
In our last lessons, we talked about our accountability to Church leaders, and then our duties to others. Today we will talk about our duties to ourselves. There were three things I want to discuss here, three verses, three things which the Lord wants us to do to ourselves.
I. Rejoice evermore (1 Thess. 5:16)
A. What’s the difference between the word happiness and joy? To some, the meaning may seem to be synonymous for to them, a happy man is a joyful man. But there is a big difference. Happiness is largely dependent upon events or circumstances. Men can be happy when good things happen to them. Joy is the fruit of the Spirit of God and can be experienced even in times of difficulties. The word “rejoice” is very familiar to Christians for it is mentioned 183 times in the Bible. In the NT alone “rejoice” is mentioned 45x in 41 verses.
B. Rejoice evermore in the NT Greek is the shortest verse not Jn. 11:35. Jesus wept. Rejoicing evermore among God’s command is one of the hardest to keep.
1. Rejoice means to experience joy and gladness in a high degree, (Webster)
2. To rejoice is to be joyful, to exult in God (Lev. 23:40; Mt. 5:12). (WOL) Matthew 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
D. Instances where we Christians can rejoice (Reasons why Christians can rejoice)
1. Because your “names are written in Heaven” (Luke 10:20). Luke 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
2. Salvation. “My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation”. Psalms 13:5 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
3. Protection. “In the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice” (63:7). Psalms 63:7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
4. We rejoice when souls are saved – Lk. 15:10, Ps. 126:5-6. Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Psalms 126:5-6 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
5. There is joy in serving the Lord – Neh. 12:43. Nehemiah 12:43 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.
6. In fellowshipping with other Christians – Acts 2:40-47
7. In Prosperity – Ps. 63:5. Psalms 63:5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
8. We can rejoice while suffering for Christ – Acts 5:41. Acts 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
E. “The Christian who remains in sadness and depression really breaks a commandment: in some direction or other he mistrusts God – His power, providence, and forgiveness” (A.J. Mason).
Illustration 1: Christians
As a third-century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend: “It’s a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians—and I am one of them.”
Moody Bible Institute’s, Today in The Word, June, 1988, p. 18
II. Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17)
A. Praying is simply talking to God, communing with God, asking things to God.
B. The words without ceasing carry the idea of consistency. It doesn’t mean that one must pray every minute of every day. The idea is that of persistence in prayer—of having a consistent and persistent prayer life. God’s people are to be a praying people.
C. Paul was speaking of maintaining continuous fellowship with God as much as possible in the midst of daily living in which concentration is frequently broken.
D. The command to pray without ceasing teaches us that God wants to answer prayer. Why would He command us to pray, exhort us to pray, and beseech us to pray if He doesn’t want to
E. The command to pray without ceasing speaks of God’s amazing love for His redeemed saints. He wants them to be in communion with Him all of the time! He wants them to share every detail of their lives with Him, even every mundane thing. He wants them to depend upon Him in every situation, to seek His wisdom, to cast their every care upon Him. He is, indeed, the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother (Pr. 18:24)!
Illustration 2: A Privilege and an Obligation
A privilege and an obligation of the Christian where we communicate with God. It is how we convey our confession (1 John 1:9), requests (1 Tim. 2:1-3), intercessions (James 5:15), thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6), etc., to our holy God. We are commanded to pray (1 Thess. 5:17).
Some personal requirements of prayer are a pure heart (Ps. 66:18), belief in Christ (John 14:13), and according to God’s will (1 John 5:14). We can pray standing (Neh. 9:5), kneeling (Ezra 9:5), sitting (1 Chr. 17:16-27), bowing (Ex. 34:8), and with lifted hands (1 Tim. 2:8).
III. Thanksgiving (1Thess. 5:18)
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
A. We can give thanks “in everything”. It includes good things and bad things, joys and sorrows, gains and losses, hurts and health, good news and bad news.
B. God ordains adversity as well as prosperity. Every circumstance that comes our way is from God. Failure to accept this as true is an indication of skepticism about God’s
plan for the universe. We can give thanks for everything because God is in control, and all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28).
C. To give thanks in everything requires refusing to be controlled by the events and circumstances of this present life and rather to focus one’s attention continually on God and His sovereignty
and greatness and His unstoppable plans for the ages and His promises to the saints. It requires immersion in the Word of God so as to have a truly biblical world view.
D. We are to give thanks in everything. Why? Paul said, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Nothing ever comes our way unless God allows it. Nothing good or bad gets past His sovereign control, and it is God’s will for us to give thanks in everything.
Illustration 3: Thankfulness—A Lost Art Today
Thankfulness seems to be a lost art today. Warren Wiersbe illustrated this problem in his commentary on Colossians. He told about a ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a life-saving squad. In 1860, a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process, his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.
Our Daily Bread February 20, 1994
Three things which the Lord Jesus Christ wants us to do. Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything. Clearly this is God’s will for all of us professing Christians.