Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group give a brief recap of Sunday’s message, highlighting the primary scripture passages and the key points of the message.
- How did this message change, affirm, or correct your idea about God’s will? Did you learn anything new about God this week?
- When seeking to live out God’s will for your life, do you ever rush toward the “do” before the “who”? Why is it dangerous to “do” for God while neglecting who we are before God?
- Have you been finding joy in God’s presence lately? If not, what’s preventing you from finding joy in His presence?
- Describe your prayer life. Do you have set times you pray? Do you have specific rhythms of prayer (adoration, repentance, intercessory prayer, praying with others, etc.)? What action step can you take to strengthen your prayer life and dependence on God?
- “Never give up praying.” What prayer(s) have you been consistently praying for months or years? Spend time as a group praying these prayers with each other.
- What action step do you need to take in consideration of this week’s message?
Commit to giving thanks to God daily this week. At the beginning and end of each day, journal a response to this prompt:
“God, today I am grateful to you because…”
Eight Days of Hope Buffalo is July 15 – July 22. This year, we’re serving the Lovejoy District. Commit to serving with your family or your Community Group! Register at https://eightdaysofhope.com/event/edoh-buffalo-2023/.
So I have been in ministry for a handful of years now, and even as I think about that, just being in ministry, part of the job is that you just get questions, right? And some of them are really, really good questions and they're really thought-provoking and helpful to think about. And then there's just questions. And sometimes I have to rebuttal, is that really a question? Did you just ask me that? That's okay. There's no such thing as a bad question. But in either case, when I think about that, one of the things that seems to come up a lot just in general, is simply this, maybe I'm talking to folks or just conversations with people, it's what is God's will for my life? What is God's will for me in this situation? What is it that God wants for me? Maybe you've thought that before, or maybe you've had some of those questions that you've asked before the Lord, or perhaps you've even asked a pastor those questions. That's okay. But when we think about the will of God for my life, the will of God for our lives, we actually have some answers for that. But before I get to that, I was recently going for a walk and, you know, whatever day it was, and I was just asking God to speak to my heart, asking the Lord to speak to my life. And I was reading through the Book of Acts, and even as I was reading through the Book of Acts, I saw Paul in Thessalonica. And so my mind just went to 1 Thessalonians. And so I'm just reading, you know, on my Bible app on my phone, going for a walk, just reading the word of God, asking Him to speak to me. And my mind and my heart weren't arrested in a passage yet. And so I just kind of kept reading and reading. And then finally, as I near the end of the letter of 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, I just heard the Lord say to me, "This is my will for you. This is what I want for your life, Edwin. No matter the season or circumstance or situation." In fact, this is going to be our text for today, 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verses 16-18. So you can go ahead and find your place there. And as you're finding your place there, I'm actually gonna put it on the screen for now. It says this. "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances." Why? "For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." And the Lord just stopped me in my tracks as I was thinking about, this is God's will for me. This is God's heart for my life. This is what God desires for me. And the Lord was saying some things very specifically to me about that. and it just got me thinking about, because sometimes I think we live in such a way that we say, you know, to be in the will of God, I have to be doing great things for God. So show me God that next great big thing to do for you so that I can be in your will. And of course, God leads us to do incredible things for His kingdom, certainly. But what the Lord was pressing into my heart was, "Edwin, this is about far more about who you are. This is far more about who I am shaping you to be. This is about far more about your heart before me." And I just sat with that for a while, thinking and writing some notes on my phone. And I just wanted to encourage all of us to remember that when we talk about the will of God, it's important for us to realize that it is far more about who we are. Because as we're being shaped by God, as He is forming us and molding us, He will lead us to what He wants us to do. And we're just walking in step being dependent upon Him. And so I wanted to break this passage down for all of us because I believe that when God says something so clearly to us, "This is my will for you, this is my will for you," we should pay attention to that. And in fact, when we talk about God's will, so if we were to just break down this passage, which we are going to do in our time together, 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, if I were to break down this latter part of this, it says, "For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." If I were to just take the phrase God's will. Now what we have to realize when it comes to God's will is this, is we must realize that this is not a Christian dating line. For instance, nowhere in the scripture does it tell us, for a man to go up to a woman and say, "My name is Will, God's will." It does not say that, folks. And if you ever thought it did, we'll have prayer partners up front, come and talk to one of them. We would love to talk with you. But when we think of this, God has the sovereign will of God. And when we talk about the sovereign will of God, I'm gonna make two distinctions. Sovereign will of God and moral will of God, because this is what the scripture, we see throughout the Bible that there are distinctions related to this, the sovereign will of God and the moral will of God. So the sovereign will of God, nothing can thwart, frustrate, or come against the sovereign will of God. So for instance, Psalm 115:3, when we think about that passage, for instance. It says, "Our God is in the heavens. He does all that He pleases." God is sovereign over all things. And so when we think about the sovereign will of God, just think about this for a second, just in terms of even our salvation. Salvation is found in Jesus and in Jesus alone. He has defeated death on our behalf. He is coming again and will forever do away with sin and evil and darkness. And upon the return of Jesus, the dead in Christ will rise first, as 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 talks about, the dead in Christ will rise first, the living will meet Him in the air, and we will be changed in resurrected, glorified bodies, never to die again, as we will reign and rule with Jesus. This is God's sovereign will for us. This is God's sovereign will for those who are in Christ Jesus. In other words, nothing can thwart that, nothing can come against that. Nothing can move in terms of knowing that we have an unshakable God. We can't be moved from who we are in Jesus. It's a sovereign will for us. But there's also, as we see in the scripture, the moral will of God. And now when we talk about the moral will of God, for instance, what we have to realize is that this is what God wants for our lives. This is His will, it's based upon His sovereign, His infinite wisdom, His revealed character to us. He has given us commands for how to live, for how to live uprightly, for how to glorify God based upon His sovereignty, based upon what He knows and and what He knows about those of us, His created beings. And so as we receive that, what we have to realize that when it comes to the moral will of God, you and I have the opportunity to either obey and receive the blessing that comes with that, or we have the opportunity to say, you know what? I think I know better than God, and therefore I'm going to do what I will. I'm going to do what I want. See, in other words, the moral will of God can't be broken, the sovereign will of God cannot be. And so when we think about that, for instance, God's will in terms of the moral will of God, God's will is that none should perish, but that all would come to repentance. Question, will all come to repentance? No, we know that based upon the word of God, we know that's what scripture teaches. Do we desire for that based on what God desires? Certainly. But even though it's God's will that none should perish, we do realize that some will, but also we realize that God's will is that we should avoid sexual immorality if we were to back up 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, and God even talks about the will of God for us to avoid sexual immorality. Listen to what 1 Thessalonians 4 says, "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you His Holy Spirit." So we see right there that this command could be rejected, the moral will of God can be disobeyed. And so when we talk about God's will in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5:18, our text here verses 16 through 18, and we hear this phrase, God's will, what we have to realize is that this is the moral will of God, that we have the opportunity to either live into the truth of this or we cannot. You can either choose to rejoice always and choose joy and pray and give thanks. Or you can say, you know what? No thanks, I'm gonna have a different response. And so I pray that we would lean into this because why wouldn't we? Why wouldn't we want to live out something that is so plainly God's heart for us? When something says, this is God's will for you, why wouldn't we want to lean into that with our hearts, to lean into that with our minds, to lean into that with who we are? Because this is what God, by the way, this is what He wants for me. This is what He wants for you, this is what He wants for our congregation. Because by the way, this was a church that Paul was addressing the church that he was writing to Thessalonica. And so they would've heard this instruction read to them, and could you just imagine hearing this? Okay, even despite our circumstances, even despite what we're walking through, even despite whatever it might be, the Apostle Paul has told us, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances" because this is what God wants for us. And now, so that's God's will. But then some of us might be thinking to ourselves, okay, thanks, I got that. But, but how? Because if you're like me, that's what I was asking even of the Lord, and even as I was preparing this and thinking about the text of scripture, I was thinking, okay, yes, this is God's will, but but how do I live this out, right? How? Well, what we can't miss in the text if we're all looking at it, what it says, this is God's will for you in what? In what? In Christ Jesus. You see, it's in Christ Jesus. That's how. We must not gloss over that. We must not rush over that because that is really the key to understanding how we live this out. This is in Christ Jesus. This is who we are in Jesus. And when we realize who we are in Jesus, I can't possibly exhaust that. I can't possibly exhaust it. In fact, I would encourage you go back and read Ephesians chapter one, Ephesians chapter two, and just be overwhelmed again with who we are in Christ. Be overwhelmed again with our identity in Jesus because it changes everything to know that we are seated in the heavenly realms, to know that we are chosen and adopted and will be conformed to the image of the Son of Jesus, as Romans 8 talks about. You see, there is so much of who we are in Christ that just, it's who we are. This is who we are. So, but that is the caveat. What we have to realize is that this is His joy. This is His life. This is His gratitude. This is His steadfastness, His faithfulness that He imparts to us as we pray and seek Him. This is all of who He is living out through you and through me by the power of His Spirit. You see, each of us have the ability and the capacity to live out the truth that Paul told us. You see, we're pretty familiar with that passage, but what does our obedience look like to that? And I'm here to remind us that we can live this out because greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world. The power of Jesus rest in your life, the power of Jesus rest in your heart so that we can rejoice, so that we can pray without ceasing, so that we can give thanks in all circumstances. Maybe I can boil it down and say it this way. The life of Jesus empowers us to live out God's will for our lives. You see, it's the life of Jesus, His life in me and through me that empowers us to live out God's will for our lives. So then the question becomes, well, what do we have the power to do? What are we empowered to do? Well, that's where we just break down the text that we have. In fact, the first instruction that we see, we are empowered to rejoice always. As believers, as people who are in Christ, as people who desire to follow the moral will of God, this is what God wants for our lives, and we wanna lean into that. May we realize that we are empowered to rejoice always. And by the way, these commands, right, we'll see always, unceasing, without ceasing, or continually, in all circumstances. This is the lifestyle of who we are at all times. Now, when we think of joy, oftentimes we can conflate that or confuse that with happiness, don't we? You see, happiness is so much in our culture. You know, we talk about that all the time, right? Well, whatever makes you happy, that's what you should do, right? I got a big decision to make and well, what makes you happy? And at the end of the day, happiness isn't a bad emotion to feel, it's not like we're against happiness. But what we have to realize is that underneath happiness, a lot of times, generally speaking in terms of how we talk about it within our culture at large, do you know who's at the center? You, me, whatever makes you happy, that should be how you base your decision. Actually not. That should not be the filter through which we make decisions. If happiness is a byproduct of that, great, but what does God want you to do? What's going to grow you in your walk with Jesus? How has the Spirit of God spoken to you about that? That should be the filter through which how we make decisions in terms of how we think about some of these things. But in addition to that, happiness is so circumstantial as well, right? I mean, we talk about it. You know, I would be happier if that job worked out. I would be happier if that circumstance worked out. I mean, I would just be so much happier if that relationship worked out the way I wanted it to. I would just be happier. Will you? Because what happens when it does and then it doesn't? You know, it works out. I'll throw my hands up, praise you again and again, but then it doesn't, and it's like, ah, man. Man, it's so difficult, right? And of course, when we think about these things, what we have to realize is that happiness will just take us like this, right? But joy is still possible. This is, if Paul, if he's telling us to rejoice always, there must be something that's constant. There must be something that will guide us through every circumstance, every season, even when life does this, right? And what is at the center of joy, and here's the difference, self can oftentimes be at the center of happiness. But at the center of joy, Jesus is. Jesus is at the center of joy, the fruit of the Spirit, when we talk about that, what we see in there is joy being a part of that. Jesus is, He's our joy. He shares His joy with us. You see, even in the midst of suffering, even in the midst of trial, even in the midst of difficulty, is joy still possible? Paul with a resounding yes would say, absolutely it is. He would say, absolutely it is. Because remember Paul, by the way, when we think of the Apostle Paul, he was beaten, he was stoned, he was flogged, he was persecuted, bitten by a snake. Ouch, that must have hurt, unfairly accused, jailed, abandoned. And even by the way, when he was at Thessalonica, incredible persecution, a riot broke out, a mob broke out, pushed him out of the city, he's well acquainted with suffering. And even to this church who would also be well acquainted with suffering, knowing Thessalonica, and what I just described, what we have to realize is Paul, even in the midst of suffering, still says, yes, joy is possible. Listen to what he said in First Thessalonians chapter one, "You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of" what? "Severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." See, Paul says, this is a joy that's given by the Holy Spirit. This isn't produced by you or me, this is given to us. This is shared with us as we surrender and lay our lives down for the sake of Christ. So in the face of suffering, joy is still possible because it's not produced by you or from me, it's His joy. So therefore, if I can give us a couple of things related to that, a couple of truths, here it is. Here's the first, if we're gonna rejoice always, take joy in God's presence. If this joy isn't produced by us, but given to us, then we have to go to the source of where that joy is continually, repeatedly, often, frequently. And we take joy in God's presence. Think about, you know, Paul, he loved, he loved the presence of God. He really did. When you start to read his letters and whatnot, but even 1 Thessalonians, when we think of this letter, 1 Thessalonians 5, that is the end of the letter, so Paul has already said a number of things already. So these are a lot of concluding thoughts that he's given. But if we were to back up to 1 Thessalonians chapter 3, we can actually see him talk and describe the joy that Paul has in the presence of God, listen to it. "How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?" Do you hear that? "All the joy we have in the presence of" where? "Our God." This is where it's found, in the presence of the Lord, our God, we can hear it in Paul's writings. We could even hear it within this letter that we're studying today. But also, if we just zoom out for a second, we can hear the joy and the beauty of God's presence all throughout the scripture. I mean, it is loaded in the scripture when you start to just think about the joy of the Lord, the joy of God's presence. Listen to a handful of verses, Psalm 16, "You make known to me the path of life. You fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 28, "The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song, I praise Him." When we think of Psalm 84, just listen to the joy and the yearning for the presence of God. "How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty, my soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and a shield, the Lord bestows favor and honor, no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you." Nehemiah 8:10, "Do not grieve for" what? "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice!" Is that clear enough that the joy of the Lord is our strength, that joy can be found in the presence of our God? So I would tell us, take joy in God's presence because you won't find the fullness of joy elsewhere. You won't find the fullness of joy anywhere else. Joy is possible. Joy, if you feel like you've lost your joy, get it back, because if you pursue God, if you pursue His presence, the promise is this, there's fullness of joy there. So pursue His presence, practice it. But also we see this instruction, take joy in others, take joy in others. We are empowered to do that. And so here's something that's interesting because Paul took great joy in the church at Thessalonica. You know, oftentimes of course when we think of joy, we'll think of kind of what's happening around us, what God is doing in our own lives. And that's good and we should, and we should rejoice in that. But also I think we can take it a step further. And what would it look like to rejoice in others? Because in fact, Paul's love and his heart for this church, we can actually find that Paul took great joy in this church. When you look at 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, listen to it. "But brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time, in person, not in thought, out of our intense longing, we made every effort to see you, for we wanted to come to you, certainly I, Paul, did, again and again, but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes?" Listen, "Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and our joy." Do you hear Paul just taking joy in this church, that he is taking joy in the fact that they have accepted the gospel, that they have allowed Jesus to change and transform their lives. You see, even earlier in this letter, we see Paul writing about how this church accepted the word of God as it actually was, as the word of God. And Paul rejoiced in their transformation and their spiritual growth. And so, you know, even when I think of taking joy in others, I can't help but think because I am, I'm a new dad now, so we have a six month old, so her name is Penelope Jane, so she's got a ton of hair and everything. So just, you know, super cute. We're enjoying every minute. But when I think of just these past number of months, it's funny because every little thing that she does, my wife and I are like, "Oh my goodness, she just waved her hand," you know? Or "Wow, she just turned over and rolled over and oh, you know, she's smiling, she's laughing now." And you just start, I can't even describe, right, the joy that you have just in experiencing a little child, a little baby become a child and then become a teenager, which you know, pray for me at that point. So, yeah. So in either case though, what we must realize, and something that just gets me thinking about this is Paul, he talked about the joy that he had in this church, even as a father, like a father figure, even as a mother, even use the illustration of a mother too. And you just hear the love that he has. And I think there's something impactful for us in that, because when we see people that we love take steps of faith in Jesus, what greater joy can you have than that? When we see people that we love take steps of faith in Jesus, what greater joy can you have than that? I mean, if you've seen someone who you've been praying for and God is speaking to their life, or God awakes their heart to Jesus, and what greater joy is that? Or if you're praying for someone and within your family and God just did a work, is there greater joy than that? You see, this is Paul, he's saying the fact that you just hungered for the word of God, and just even in the midst of severe suffering or following Him, bring me such joy. He says, "You are our glory and our crown, our joy." But unfortunately, I think sometimes what can happen is maybe instead of taking joy in other people, especially maybe within the body of Christ specifically, maybe what we'll do is we'll compare. Why did God bless this person and not me? Why did God give them this opportunity and not me? Why did God seem to elevate that person's influence and not mine? You see, when you read this, there's just no place for that, because what Paul is doing is he's calling to mind the return of Jesus. And what he's envisioning is this, I am so filled with joy that at the return of Jesus, you are going to be there with me. That's what's filling his heart. That's what's filling his mind. And what if we took that perspective? What if we had that view of people, people in the body of Christ, that we realize man, at the coming of Jesus, you're gonna be there with me. And in everything that is happening from now until then, I'm going to rejoice in what God is doing in your life. When was the last time you just took joy on what God was doing in somebody else's life? You see, when you love like Jesus did, you will take joy in His people. And may we grow in that, maybe even today before you leave, you just, you just tell somebody, man, what God is doing in your life, it just brings me joy. Like, it lifts my heart. And I just wanted to let you know, do that today. I encourage you, I implore you to do that. But also when we realize the joy that's found in His presence, to take joy in other people, that helps us understand rejoice always, but then the text of scripture, we see this, pray without ceasing, as that is the other thing that Paul, the other command that Paul gives here is to pray without ceasing. If we looked at the English standard version of our text says, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing." Right, or NAV says, "Pray continually." Either one, it can be translated unceasingly, continually, never quitting to pray, right? That kind of idea. And so when we think of this, maybe we've also felt a little daunted by, okay, I've heard that verse maybe, but what does it actually look like to pray without ceasing? Here's what it doesn't mean by the way, it doesn't mean that you, for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that you just isolate yourself and don't talk to anybody, and you're vocalizing a prayer, it doesn't mean that, right? Because how would then Paul also talks about earning the food that we eat and working and getting jobs. How do we live out the great commission or those kinds of things? How would we do that if we're not engaged at all? So it doesn't mean that, but certainly there might mean extended times of prayer, of giving yourself to that. There might be seasons of that, but some truths, maybe some biblical thoughts that I wanted to give us that hopefully maybe just help us wrap our minds around praying without ceasing, here's the first that we should realize. The first is pray at set times. Pray at set times. You know, maybe we've just heard this command, pray without ceasing, and you're like, well, I can't do that, so I'm just not gonna pray. Well, that doesn't help anybody. That doesn't help you. In fact, if we were to think of praying at set times, forgive me for overstating the obvious, but if we don't pray, we will not have an active prayer life. If we don't pray, we will not be spiritually fit, just as physically fit. If you want to be physically fit, eating right, exercising, those kinds of things, it's just, some of us might wish it worked in other ways than that, but that's just how it works, right? That's just how it works. And the same thing is true of prayer. If we're not praying, how can we not have, how will we have an active prayer life? It just doesn't work that way. So if we wanna pray without ceasing, we must pray. We must pray at set times. In fact, listen to what Paul said. He said, "Night and day, we pray," right? There's an intentionality behind prayer. There's an intentionality that we must realize that's behind this. You see, if we're going to seek God, if we're going to know His power, if we're going to know Him, we need to actually pray. And by the way, that means individually finding those times and those rhythms, but also communally, having people that you pray with, you pray for within the body of Christ. It's both individual and communal as well. Because by the way, what did Paul say? "Night and day, we pray," right? We pray. And so may that be so, but also not only praying at set times, but we can also see this, maintain a spirit of dependence. If we're gonna live out this command, maintain a spirit of dependence. So if we're not consciously praying, right? 'Cause at some point we have to say amen, if we're going to take care of family, go to work, or do whatever God's doing in our lives, at some point we say amen. And if we're not consciously praying, don't lose a heart and a spirit of dependence. I love how John Piper, author, pastor, writer, he wrote this. He said, "This is the very spirit and essence of prayer: dependence. So even when we are not speaking consciously to God, there is a deep abiding dependence on Him that is woven into the very essence of our faith." There's this deep abiding dependence on God where we have a heart that is ready and available for the prompting of the Spirit to instruct us to pray. So if we're going throughout our day and the Spirit just prompts us, "Hey, pray for that person," we just do it. "Pray with that person," we do it, or "Pray for that situation," we do it. And also, by the way, even if we're going throughout our day and you know, life picks up and in between maybe those times of prayer, if we just ask God the short, simple prayers, "God, help me, God, give me strength, God, allow me to see things as you do." God hears those too, by the way. I just wanna let you know, but what does that stem from? A heart that is just praying to God, it stems from dependence, maintaining a spirit of dependence. You see, if we're gonna pray without ceasing, may that be true in our lives, but also never give up praying, never give up praying. You know, Jesus actually said this, in Luke chapter 18, there is a parable that Jesus gives. And in this parable that He gives, He talks about, He's instructing His disciples to not give up praying, to continually seek God. And there's this unjust judge, and then there's this widow. And this unjust judge, basically this widow comes up to the judge and is like, you know, "Did I have justice against my adversary?" And the judge is basically like, Yeah, sorry, no can do, I'm refusing that request. Thanks, come again," right? But then the widow keeps persisting, the widow keeps asking, the widow keeps quote unquote "bothering" the judge. And the judge is just like, "Oh my goodness, this widow keeps bothering me. And just for the sake of her leaving me alone, I am going to grant her justice." So Jesus tells that story and then He kind of interrupts the story a little bit by saying this. And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice and quickly. However, when the Son of God or when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" So in other words, what Jesus is saying is God is God, what you're walking through, God will see to it that justice will happen. God will right every wrong, God will mend the brokenness of the world. God will vindicate His people. God will wipe every tear from our eyes because this is the God He is, He's a just God. And just the comparison, right? If an unjust judge can see that, how much more will a just God see everything and handle justice quickly and accordingly? And so Jesus is basically like, "God's got that, here's the question to my disciples. When the Son of Man comes, when I come, will I still find faith on the Earth?" Will He find people praying, seeking God? Will He find the married couple who hasn't given up praying for their child to know Jesus? Will He find those that maybe are experiencing financial difficulty and hardship? Will He still find even in the midst of those circumstances, those that are still following and seeking and praying, seeking God's heart? Will He still find a family who is praying and seeking for restoration and reconciliation to happen? When the Son of Man comes, will He still find that among His people? Will He find faith in the Earth because God's got it? The question is, is will we lean in and continue to seek Him with our hearts? That's what Jesus is getting at. Because what happens is when we seek the Lord, when we pray, when we give Him what we're walking through, it teaches us that we belong to the Lord, that we trust Him, and that we know that He's good to His word. And so may we pray without ceasing, never giving up, may the Lord Jesus find faith in His people. May the Lord Jesus find faith in our church, that we have not given up praying because we trust God, because we know that God is good to His word, because we know that God is faithful, because we know that God has got this. See, if we're gonna pray without ceasing, we pray at set times, we maintain a spirit of dependence and we never give up praying. Which leads me to the last instruction that we have is give thanks in all circumstances, give thanks in all circumstances. Gratitude. You know, when we rejoice in the Lord, we are praying continually, how could we not be a grateful people? I mean, when we know what God has done and just who God is, and by the way, it doesn't say give thanks for your circumstances, right? We grieve over sin, we grieve over the brokenness of sin, but it says to give thanks in all circumstances. Why? Because God is worthy of it. God is worthy of your gratitude. Honestly, that's enough that I need to say about that, really. 'Cause God is worthy of your gratitude. Who can compare to Him? There's no one like Him and He invites us into His presence. God is worthy of it. And if maybe you are thinking about, okay, not just, not just, you know, when we think about that, I wanted to point out that God is worthy of it because of who He is. But He also, He transforms any situation, He can transform any situation for our good, the God who has made us more than conquerors. The God who even in our suffering will produce perseverance and character and character, hope. See, our thanks is in God. In fact, if you're having some trouble figuring out what to be thankful for about God, listen, here's, just thank Him for this. As this letter concludes a few verses later, "May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the one who calls you is faithful and He will do it." Just thank Him. God, I thank you that you are a God of peace. God, I thank you that you will sanctify me through and through. God, I thank you that my whole spirit and my soul and my body will be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, I thank you that you are the one who calls me and the one who calls His faithful and He will do it. You see, when we look at thanksgiving, it is closely throughout the scripture, it's closely paired with worship. It's closely paired with worship throughout the scripture. Just think of the Psalms, enter His gates with thanksgiving, enter His courts with praise. Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and wonderful deeds. You see, when we just realize and pursue and know God, what other response do we have than gratitude, than to just say, God, thank you for being who you are. And I would encourage us, even before your head hits the pillow today, just list out some things that you're grateful to God for. And even before you get to maybe circumstances or things or just start with God. God, I'm grateful for you because. Start there. Because He is worthy of our gratitude. He is worthy of our thanksgiving, our worship belongs to Him. You see, this is the will of God for our lives. We rejoice, we pray, we give thanks in all circumstances. The life of Jesus empowers us to live this out. 'Cause by the way, think about it for a second, Jesus modeled all of this for us, for the joy set before Him. He endured the cross, scorning at shame, and sat down at the right hand of the Father. Before getting arrested and crucified, Jesus took bread and He gave thanks knowing what was going to come. And by the way, Jesus would oftentimes pray so much when He read the gospels, you just see Jesus praying to His Father and also He continually intercedes for us today. Jesus will empower us with His life if we allow Him to. You see, what's the will of God for our lives? Oftentimes, sometimes we rush to the do, I gotta do something. Listen, God cares far more about who you are and who you are becoming. And as we're continually shaped and molded by Him, He will lead us to what He wants us to do. And so what would it look like, church, for us to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in all circumstances. And why do we do this? Because this is God's will for you. This is God's will for me in Christ Jesus. The one who shows us what it looks like and the one who empowers us to live it out. May we be faithful to that. Let's pray together. If you're here, if you've never before given your life to Jesus, I would encourage you before you leave, to not rush out of here without knowing that you can know Christ and have your sins forgiven and your life changed and transformed. You see, Jesus went to a cross. He took upon Himself my sin and your sin so that when we turn from our sin and put our faith and trust in Him, we can know life and know the gospel, the hope, the good news that sets us free. See, I'm here to let you know, to remind you that there is no life outside of Jesus. Joy, gratitude, a steadfast faithfulness so that we pray and seek God, you can't find that anywhere else than Jesus. The world will try to offer you those kinds of things, but it will continually fall short. So if you're here, if you've never before given your life to Jesus, I would implore you today to just simply come down front. There'll be people in front that would love to take some time to pray with you, that would love to explain further about what it means and looks like to give your life to Jesus, the one who died and rose again in our behalf. If you need prayer of any kind, if you're walking through something and we can pray with you or for you, stop on down and we would love to pray for you. Father, we give thanks to you. Lord, when there's commands that are so straightforward, I pray that we wouldn't rush by those things because you have truth that you want to teach us. And Father, I pray that we would be faithful to you. May you find faith in us. Because we're not gonna stop praying. Maybe you need to start praying today and may you do that. But Father, we don't stop 'cause Jesus, we love you and we know God, that you have secured our victory, the battle, everything it belongs to you. So we're free to live out what you want for us. And I pray that you would produce a joy in us again and liven our joy. God, that we would continually seek you in prayer, and that you Lord Jesus, would engender gratitude in our hearts for you and you alone because you're worthy of our gratitude. Thank you for your presence in this place. We love you. We give you our lives, and may we be obedient to your will in Christ Jesus. It's in His name that we pray and all God's people said, amen.