This is the Sunday before Thanksgiving, so as a result, I thought about all things thankful this time of year. And the Lord brought my attention to a passage in 1 Thessalonians we will be studying this morning. There’s 2 passages there in chapter 5 that we’ll be reading from. The first one begins at the 14th verse of 1 Thessalonians 5. Some believe that this was the first book written by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament, so therefore the oldest of the letters Paul wrote. The second passage he later would write in another letter to the Thessalonians with some instructions to the saints For there was a time in the church when the saints were looking forward to the 2nd coming of Christ. It was actively preached, it was part of the prophetic message, and you’ll find some reference to that here, where he speaks in the early part of chapter 5 “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” 1Thessalonians 5:2, and not being caught unawares, and so forth. And that’s the reference to the prevailing thought, they were ready for the return of God. What Paul was saying was, “lets live in such a way, that no matter when Christ comes back, we’re enjoying the fruit of the Spirit, His presence, and we are witnesses now what God wants in the earth, regardless of when He determines, when his return will be.
TEXT: 1 THESSALONIANS 5:14-22
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly. comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
19 Quench not the Spirit.
20 Despise not prophesyings.
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
This is a message the Apostle Paul was preaching to the church, and which in the remains of the chapter, he ends it with a benediction, an invitation to be faithful, and closes with prayer. But we are going to focus on the verses starting with 14-22, and some of those before as well. Especially verses 16-22. These scriptures are good to use as a model, for the saints, to be used in a thankful way for a specific purpose. This scriptural “list” If embraced, it will keep us healthy, faithful, will move us into a heavenly direction, leave us with a sound mind, and help us to discern the difference between good and evil, between the will of God, and the opposition of Satan. So we’re again going to be focusing on some thoughts we brought last week, this idea of “failing to launch,” that escape velocity, or the spiritual velocity we need to escape the spiritual gravity of sin, that holds us in this life. The Lord doesn’t intend for us to remain on that launch pad bound by that hold of sin. We’re meant to escape that “capture,” and reach a certain velocity with God, that helps us to keep moving toward Heaven, and not again being drawn back into an earthy mind and condition. All that we are reading will help us to “launch” and continue to accelerate. Especially in these times that we are living in, all the things that have been going on, and until the end of the year. So how necessary it is to reach a escape velocity with God! To keep moving upwards, and not be drawn back down, by the opposition that frankly faces each one of us from day to day! It’s a critical issue for us today, ..if we fail to launch! It’s also thought of as when young people leave their adolescence, enter into young adulthood, and sometimes can find themselves moving with great difficulty to move forward into their next faze of life, launching into young adulthood. Though we often think of failure to launch as to be about mostly young people, spiritually it can happen to anybody, anytime, at any age! A person can even get well into their lives, and still find themselves having failed to launch, failing to accelerate, and find themselves, and find themselves being drawn back into an earthy mind, and not really moving forward, and upward! So failure to launch today, is a critical issue! Especially for a Christian or anyone who wants to be. Like with a rocket on the pad, it requires for those engines to start. Most of us have seen pictures or videos of rockets launching by being fired off, you see the tremendous thrust, and power to lift up all that weight against all of that opposition which is the drag of the vehicle in the air. The weight of the gravity, and the hold it has, the tremendous power that is necessary to lift off that vehicle. As it accelerates it reaches a point in the acceleration through the atmosphere of an maximum kind of opposition and it has to break through that in order to enter into orbit. And if it needs to leave orbit, there needs to be a trajectory which is getting it through the atmosphere into space.
So with all these things you can imagine the spiritual application. Of lifting off, of accelerating through opposition. I was also reminded of some catastrophes involving rockets, some loss of human life, that many times is just an unmanned mission, that lifts off for a ways, and for some reason just doesn’t keep going. It begins to decelerate and descend. And then,.. “Boom!” A spiritual life can be like that! It has great lift off, and great promise. Jesus talked to us about this in a parable about the types of ground. There was a type of ground, the seed was sown, it sprung up, created a plant, but there were thorns, thistles and weeds that choked it, and Jesus told the apostles those were the cares of the world. It’s like a rocket that launched, but didn’t get that escaped velocity, because other things started to choke it out. And it stops accelerating when the forces rage against it, and earthly life becomes greater than that desire toward heaven. This happens emotionally, and sometimes spiritually. So I believe with that, the apostle exhorts here, we can use what he is instructing the church to help us overcome the opposition that we face in life. Referring back to verse 16, There are seven commandments that the apostle is giving the church in these verses. First one is to rejoice all the time! (16 Rejoice evermore.) The way “I read this”, is having once “joyed …joy again!” I mean RE joice. If there’s never a “first” joy, there can not be a RE- joy. So part of the beginning of the launching of this life is the ability to yourself life kind of like this vehicle on a launch pad, having launched! Having lifted off! And what lifts us off, is the tremendous power underneath us in a way, that accelerates the vehicle, that gets us, 3,2,1, and that tremendous power that lifts us! What is it, that helps us find ourselves with a relationship with Christ, that once we didn’t have, but now we do? Something that creates the joy, helps that vessel to lift off! That’s what we’re calling the beginning of joy, and the apostle says, 1) “rejoice evermore!” How’s your joy? Have you started a relationship with God that creates joy? Have I gone through our present times with joy, or have I allowed something to rob it? 2) pray without ceasing, (these commandments will help us to accomplish the goals that we’re going to get to.) Don’t stop praying! Pray always in your thoughts or mind, in your walk, morning devotions, while your driving, in your conversations, alone and together, before you eat, and some even after they eat which sounds good, thankful, and needed or however that works for you. That launch vehicle on the pad, is almost kind of a prayer, God tells us that prayer is the incense that burned in the Old Testament, the witness that came up in the holy place was a type of prayer that ascended, the prayer of the saints that goes up before God, a sweet smelling savor and odor in God’s nostrils, What’s happening today is the world with all it’s present troubles In this “lift off” wants to take away your prayer! Prayer is not opinion, so people are finding themselves in trouble today, is by expressing more time in opinion, than in prayer! Then arguing over opinion. But how can you argue over prayer? God tells us to pray in “His” will! Not a request and delivery list, not like a kind of “Amazon’ that He sends us whatever we “give Him.” But if my life and my day is spent more about my opinion, worries, and troubles, then it’s easy for us to find ourselves in argument over that.
3) in every thing give thanks, in every circumstance give thanks. So it doesn’t matter what they are, for in James, he says “Call it all joy, when you fall into diver’s temptations! How can we do that” Because we’ve been rejoicing and praying! One has a difficult time being thankful in every circumstance when one has a difficult time praying and rejoicing. Often people at their thanksgiving gathering express differing opinions, and then have a hard time being thankful. So don’t stop praying. The way I read that is, “Reverence the Word of God, and The Spirit of God. Difficult to have reverence for The Word, and The Spirit, if there’s been no joy, no prayer, and not a thankful heart, Being thankful is a deep and profound way of living! It’s also hard to be thankful, if we carry around a “suitcase” everywhere we go, of not forgiving ourselves. It falls into self , of self loathing, self depreciation, a self arguing that no one knows about it but us, So we can talk about thanksgiving all day long but if we have “this bag’ with us, this “you’re not good” bag, it’s difficult to be thankful in every circumstance! This exhortation is not just being thankful for things, events, external things, but we need to be thankful for changes God makes in us ! Is there a part of me that I can’t forgive? Or is there a part of me that I know has been corrupted or damaged? And I believe it’s my lot in life to live with it, and there’s nothing to be done? He said “be thankful for all things! Am I just accepting that as my lot? No because it makes me miserable! I wish I was different! God can even lift those oppositions from us, because that will keep the vessel from accelerating past the “escape velocity!” Those that accept to live with that, their rocket will be stuck, and “not able to launch at a point!” Sometimes we don’t recognize things that we need to deal with in our own lives that need to be dealt with in order for us to measure up to this message! Thankful in every circumstance, not just in external things, but within me! That the rejoicing, praying, 4) quench not the spirit, 5) despise not prophesying, Or honor the Word, and as the 23rd Psalms tells us “His rod and His staff, they comfort me.” His Word and His Spirit, they comfort me!” Why? Because I began with rejoicing! I prayed always. Thankful in every circumstance, So now this means much more to me! So in a way this is linear, we start with this joy, and we get to this place where we honor God! 6) prove all things, Now with all that, prove all things! Not according to the standards of popular culture. 7) abstain from all appearances of evil.
We can’t even do this, unless we have been accelerating through this, beginning in verse 16. We can’t prove all things properly, or hold fast to that which is good. Why? Because my mind doesn’t even comprehend that which is good! And now he says to abstain from even the appearance of evil Don’t get “involved” like the man that left his house, and found himself on the street corner at night, and then there was a woman in seductive attire, and she said “follow me,” he lost his soul! He was found among the simple ones, devoid of wisdom! Why? Because he failed to launch spiritually! This is can be a example of any, even one at church that failed to launch. Singing the songs, maybe even reading his bible, yet failing to launch. Because in this progression, something was interrupted, and got off “sideways.” His vessel started to veer off into a dangerous trajectory. He didn’t at that point really have control of his vessel, but on a course of collision. So in life we have to “prove” things! So I wonder today, how are people “proving” things? There’s a lot of opinions being expressed about that which can’t possibly be good, and that which is evil. But the way that it is being proven, is after a model that is not after the Will of God, but by the world and popular culture. So the whole analysis by opinions is not according to the will of God. “Quench not the Spirit.” So the Spirit of God is not motivating that vehicle to move in the proper trajectory, but instead is another spirit! How do you know that? Because there’s no fruits of the Spirit proving it being revealed. The bible tells us what the spirit is, It’s kindness, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc. But when that “proving” doesn’t result in Spiritual fruit, but instead rancor and division, hard sayings, then “somebody has quenched the spirit, and the vehicle of trajectory is off now!” We won’t know really what evil is, unless we begin with joy! I don’t think we will really know all the evil, unless we have been praying, and are thankful in all our xcircumstances. Do you think we could leave any of these out and get to verse 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. and do a good job with it? Can I leave out any of the prior exhortations here, and be able to have verse 22 working in my life? Because I know somehow what verse 22 means? I don’t think so! All of these things are necessary to recognize evil, to know how to abstain from it, To be able to launch with thanksgiving!
Launching Faith With Thankfulness