"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS" Our Duty To Ourselves (5:16-18)
INTRODUCTION 1. In 1st Thessalonians chapter five, we continue to note our various responsibilities as... a. "the children of light" b. "the children of day" - cf. 1Th 5:5 2. In recent studies, we have considered... a. "Our Duties To Those Who Serve" - 1Th 5:12-13 1) To recognize them 2) To esteem them highly in love b. "Our Duties To Those In Need" - 1Th 5:14-15 1) To warn the unruly 2) To comfort the fainthearted 3) To uphold the weak 4) To be patient with all 5) To render to no one evil for evil 6) To pursue what is good for us and for all 3. Our duties are not just directed toward others, we have some that address our own spiritual well-being... a. Three such duties are mentioned in our text for this lesson - 1 Th 5:16-18 1) To rejoice always 2) To pray without ceasing 3) To give thanks in everything b. Note that Paul says these things are "the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" 1) These three things are what God wants us to do for ourselves 2) Therefore I have entitled this study "Our Duties To Ourselves" [It is in the fulfillment of these three duties that we strengthen ourselves spiritually and emotionally, enabling us to be better fit to serve God and others. Consider first our duty to...] I. REJOICE ALWAYS A. THE NEED TO REJOICE ALWAYS... 1. In joy there is great strength - cf. Neh 8:10 2. When we have joy in what we believe, we abound in hope - cf. Ro 15:13 3. When we are joyful, it helps those around us to be joyful - e.g., 2Co 2:3 -- To be joyful, to be merry, is crucial to remaining strong ourselves, and being a source of strength to others - cf. Pro 15:13,15; 17:22 B. THE WAY TO REJOICE ALWAYS... 1. It is in the Lord that we find the ability to "rejoice always" - cf. Php 4:4 a. His salvation is the source of much joy - cf. Ps 21:1 b. He grants joy to those who please Him - Ec 2:26; 5:20 c. His mercy is a source of great joy - Ps 31:7 d. In His presence there is fullness of joy, and He will abide with us if we obey His commands - Ps 16:11; cf. Jn 14:21,23 2. To rejoice in the Lord always, follow these simple guidelines: a. Read and feed upon the Word of God daily - cf. Jer 15:16 b. Meditate upon the teachings of Christ and His apostles 1) Jesus spoke that His disciples joy might be full - Jn 15:11 2) The apostles wrote that our joy might be full - 1Jn 1:4 c. Spend time with brethren who make us happy 1) As Titus' joy encouraged Paul - 2Co 7:13 2) As Philemon's love and joy refreshed the hearts of others and gave Paul joy - Phm 7, 20 d. Lead others to Christ, for they will be a great source of joy 1) As the Thessalonians were to Paul - 1Th 2:19-20; 3:9 2) As Philemon was to Paul - Phm 1:7 3) As John's converts made him joyful - 3Jn 4 e. Sing praises of joy to God 1) Certainly we should sing when cheerful - Jm 5:13 2) But we can also find joy by singing praises (cf. "Sing and Be Happy") - Ps 71:23; 104:33-34; 135:3 [By being "proactive" and following these guidelines, it is possible to "rejoice always" even when external circumstances are not conducive to creating joy (cf. Paul and Silas, singing and praying in prison, Ac 16:25). Of course, what helps to "rejoice always" is to...] II. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING A. THE NEED TO PRAY WITHOUT CEASING... 1. In prayer we find mercy and grace to help in time of need - He 4:14-16 2. In prayer we find forgiveness of sins as we confess them - 1Jn 1:9 3. In prayer we find the peace of God, so helpful in anxious times - Php 4:6-7 B. THE WAY TO PRAY WITHOUT CEASING... 1. Having "set times" to pray can help create the habit of praying a. E.g., consider the example of David and Daniel 1) David, whom God described as "a man after My own heart" - Ps 55:17 2) Daniel, whom the angel described as "O man greatly beloved" - Dan 6:10 -- These great men of God made it a habit to pray at set times throughout the day; we would do well to imitate their example b. At the very least... 1) Find some time each day to be alone with God in prayer a) Early morning may be best for some b) Others might find it easier to be alone late at night 2) Make it a SPECIAL TIME to be alone with your Heavenly Father! 2. We should not limit prayers to "set times", special needs may call for special praying a. Jesus, praying on important occasions - Lk 6:12-13 b. Paul, praying in trying circumstances - Ac 16:25 c. Nehemiah - praying on the spur of the moment - Neh 2:4-5 [Having "set times" helps to develop experience and persistence in praying; praying "spontaneously" as needs arise develops the disposition to pray in every circumstance. Together, they fulfill the command to "pray without ceasing". What helps us even further is if we...] III. GIVE THANKS IN EVERYTHING A. THE NEED TO GIVE THANKS IN EVERYTHING... 1. Ingratitude is very displeasing to God a. It is included among other sins that would be prevalent in "perilous times" - 2Ti 3:1-5 b. The wrath of God will be revealed against those who are unthankful - Ro 1:18-21 2. Christians should be known for their "attitude of gratitude" a. Thankful for what the Father has done for us - Col 1:12-14 b. Abounding in thanksgiving - Col 2:7 c. A part of the "garment" we are to put on - Col 3:12-15 d. A complement to our prayers - Col 4:2; 1Ti 2:1 3. Thankfulness added to our prayers is the key to... a. Overcoming anxiety - Php 4:6 b. Obtaining the peace of God which surpasses understanding - Php 4:6-7 B. THE WAY TO GIVE THANKS IN EVERYTHING... 1. Remember that all things can work for our good - Ro 8:28 a. We can therefore glory in tribulation - Ro 5:3-5 b. We can rejoice in persecution - Mt 5:10-12 c. We can rejoice in trials - Jm 1:2-3 2. Include thankfulness along with our prayer requests - Php 4:6 a. Just as Daniel made the giving of thanks as part of his daily prayers - Dan 6:10 b. As we "pray without ceasing", so we will be "thankful without ceasing"! CONCLUSION 1. What is God's will for us in Christ Jesus? a. To be a thankful people! b. To be a prayerful people! c. To be a joyful people! 2. These three are intertwined, with one leading to another... a. The more thankful we are, the more prayerful we will be b. The more prayerful we are, the more joyful we will be -- Thus the key to much joy in Christ begins with the "attitude of gratitude"! In our zeal to fulfill our duties to those who serve and to those in need, do not overlook these duties we have to ourselves...they can help us be more productive in the service we render to the Lord and to all!