Sometimes when you read the Scripture, there are certain things you almost wish weren’t there. Ways of thinking, living, or acting that can be contrary to everything that feels natural and easy are abundant in Scripture. For the purposes of this devotion, I’d like to explore one such way of Christian living found in 1 Thessalonians: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (Chapter 5, verse 16-18).
If I’m being honest, this Scripture seems almost impossible. If we take a serious look at our lives, the way we are called to live is impossible except by God’s help. Paul admonishes us in verse 16 of 1 Thessalonians to “Always be joyful”. Humanly speaking, this is an impossibility. Even the happiest people I know aren’t “always joyful”. When we find our source of joy in Jesus, who never changes (Hebrews 13:8), we can be more consistent in living lives of joy.
So the “how of the Christian faith” is only through the grace of God. There are two specific steps we can take as followers of Jesus to live a life that honors the Lord: prayer and Bible study. God assures us in Philippians 1:6 that He will finish the good work He has started in us. So how do you live a life of more joy? Spend more time with Jesus.
Today I want to encourage every follower of Jesus to honestly and prayerfully examine their lives. In my own life I can see so clearly that as I spend more time in the Lord’s presence through prayer and studying the Scripture, every part of my life is impacted. I find greater joy, greater peace, and greater purpose as I spend more time with Him. As the Scripture says we should “never stop praying” (verse 17) and here in God’s presence we will find greater joy than we’ve ever known and the ability to give thanks in all circumstances.
As we wrap up this devotion, I encourage each of you to to consider a few questions:
- If I am stressed and overwhelmed, have I been too distracted lately?
- If I feel like I lack the joy I know should be in my life, am I spending time with Jesus?
- If I have an ungrateful heart, have I ignored God’s blessings in my life?
- Have I been feeling my life with the things of God or the things of the world?
If you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit today, remember that God corrects those whom He loves! (Hebrews 12:6) Don’t fight or run from the conviction… Jesus came so that we could have life and have it abundantly! (John 8:36) It’s time to step into that abundant life and experience the intimate relationship we have with God through our faith in Jesus.