Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (The Voice)
A = Attitude
It all begins with our focus – our perspective which in turns affects our attitude.
Rejoice – chairo – to be cheerful, calmly happy, to rejoice exceedingly, be well and thrive.
Rejoice or celebrate always is the command. I love this! I’m always up for a celebration. I love gathering with friends and family to fellowship together. At our house it usually involves food, lots of conversation, laughter, singing and sharing of stories. But we all know that life isn’t always a celebration.
Sometimes life is hard.
Sometimes life hurts.
Sometimes life is harried.
But we are still called to rejoice and celebrate! So how do we do that in the hard, hurting and harried times of life?
Rejoicing is a way of praising God until the heart is sweetened and rested, releasing its grip on anything else it thinks it needs. -Tim Keller
How do we change our perspective & attitude to rejoice always?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
#1 Let us
A rejoicing attitude chooses its response.
It’s a choice, a determined decision we make about how we will choose to respond. It’s not a suggestion but an exhortation. This phrase is repeated three times in these verses followed by the choice we are exhorted and encouraged to embrace because of all Christ has done for us. If you read the rest of Hebrews, it’s all about Jesus!
#2 Throw off
A rejoicing attitude throws off the things
that hinder and entangle.
Throwing off means to cast off. We are to throw off those things that hinder and the sin that entangles.
Hindrances – those burdens that weigh us down, like that spirit of worry or that complaining and grumbling attitude. Throw it off!
Sin – when we miss the mark or wander from the ways that please God. And this sin entangles us which means it’s EVERYWHERE! It surrounds and encompasses. The word picture is that of something thwarting a racer in every direction.Throw it off!
It’s not enough to throw off. We’ve got to replace it with something else – we must put on something to replace that empty space.
Ephesians 4:22-24 calls us to throw off/put off (same word) our old self and its manner of life, corrupted through our deceitful desires and to be renewed in spirit of our minds. We need to put on the truth of God’s word. This is what renewing our mind is all about – put off what’s hindering and put on truth that renews and restores.
A rejoicing attitude runs with perseverance
the race marked out.
We’ve all got a race to run. Each of our races looks different with different challenges, opportunities and battles. The word for racein the original language can mean an effort, anxiety, conflict or battle. So it’s not easy. But it’s our race to run. It’s a race that has been appointed for us by God – that’s what the word setmeans. And we are all called to run our race. Often we want to jump tracks and run someone else’s race. This will just bring more anxiety and discontent. Instead we are to run our race with perseverance.
Perseverance is not about trying to do more in our own strength. It’s not a “pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps” and “get over it” kind of word. It’s about learning to press on as we press into the Lord Jesus, fully relying on His strength. The word means to come up under and remain, a patient waiting and steadfastness. So we can persevere and press on because we are running in the strength of the Lord.
A rejoicing attitude has its eyes fixed on Jesus.
Fix – aphorao – to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something.
We have a choice on what we decide to fixate on. So often we spend time fixated on the “what ifs” and “if onlys” of life. This just keeps us spiraling downward. So often in trying to make life perfect and comfortable, we miss the here and now joy available to us in the ordinary and the hard moments of our lives. We will not be able to experience the fullness of joy in our lives without an eternal perspective, without shifting our gaze from the temporal to the eternal and seeing God’s goodness in all things of life.
We need to aphorao! I love this word! We are to take our eyes off our circumstance and fix them on Jesus. Again it’s a choice. I can choose to run my race with a “what if” or “if only” attitude or looking to Jesus and with an attitude and perspective that acknowledges it’s tough … BUT GOD! Read the “But God” verse found in Ephesians 2:4-6!
But God can use the hard and the ugly in my life for His glory and my good!
“We must be clear in our minds that whatever further reasons there may be why God exposes us to the joys and sorrows, fulfillments and frustrations, delights and disappointments, happiness and hurts that make up the emotional reality of our lives, all these experiences are part of His curriculum for us in the school of holiness, which is His spiritual gymnasium for our reshaping and rebuilding in the moral likeness of Jesus Christ.” – J.I. Packer
Practical ways we can look to Jesus and rejoice always:
Remember He is good
Recognize our need for Him
Recite His Word
Rehearse His faithfulness
Rely on His Strength
Rest in His Presence
Click here to download the homework from class, Learning to Rejoice Always, with a Scripture study and life application questions to encourage you throughout your week.