Sermon: God’s Will For You
Bible Passage: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I. One of the big questions that all of us ask from time to time is “What is the will of God for me?” This question pops up in a variety of situations – college, work, marriage, residence, etc.
II. How we typically try to identify the will of God – random Bible verses, feeling of peace, asking different people until you hear an affirmation. This has various outcomes, positive and negative. In our statement today, the will of God is clearly revealed – are we listening?
III. This passage challenges us to consistently practice spiritual habits that put God at the center of our lives. The three commands given here collectively constitute “God’s will for His people.” The description of these commands is straightforward enough, but the adverbs used to describe put them in the range of impossible to keep. This is nothing short of Spirit-empowered living.
IV. Context of these statements within the letter to the Thessalonians – the prominent theme of the letter is the second coming of Jesus (1:10; 2:19-20; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11, 23-24). Those who are Christ’s will meet the Lord in the air, unbelievers will be subject to His wrath, and Christians will be delivered from this. We are called to be holy and blameless, and God is the one who produces holiness in us (5:24).
V. Jewish persecution in Thessalonica, death of some of the church members before the Lord’s return and the Thessalonians needing reassurances about them, not sufficiently concerned about holy living, laziness among some of the church members. Paul deals with these issues under the theme of Jesus’ return.
VI. The three spiritual habits that are given to us as God’s will are:
1. Develop a joyful disposition
a. Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit
b. Not just in good times but also in times of difficulty (see context of the Thessalonian letter)
c. Jesus is the reigning and returning king
d. “What is right now is not what will be”
e. “Joy is not primarily an emotional high, consisting only of feelings. In war and sports, joy is associated with being on the winning side.”
f. Joy is a feeling that is based on the fact that God is in control. Joy is not simply a self-generated feeling.
g. Rejoicing doesn’t deny sadness and grief, but God can give us both hope and joy
h. Sing songs of praise
i. Spend time around faithful Christians
2. Pray frequently and consistently
a. Takes the attention off ourselves and puts the emphasis on God, who is the true center of life
b. What is prayer?
c. Why should we pray often?
i. In order to be joyful
ii. To grow closer to God
iii. Because God answers prayer
d. Pray without ceasing
i. Persistence is required (Luke 18:1)
ii. Confession is a prerequisite
e. What motivates prayer?
i. Previously answered prayer
ii. Provisions of God’s grace
3. Practice gratitude as you encounter different life situations
a. God has good purposes (Rom 8:28)
b. An un-thankful attitude reveals the condition of the heart (Rom 1:18)
c. Examples of thanksgiving in Jesus’ and Paul’s examples
d. Think of past faithfulness and past deliverances
e. Think about the character of God
f. Testify to God’s goodness and faithfulness (esp. in small groups)
g. Encourage one another