Sermon Overview & Prayer: "Kind Invitations"

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 SERMON PRAYER POINTS
These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

These commands are kind invitations from God to grow in our devotion to God, and deepen our affection for God, and find satisfaction in God and God alone. And these good and wise commands from God himself are meant to lift burdens from our hearts, not add burdens to our lives

PRAYER: Father, whenever I read a command in your Word, may the Holy Spirit remind me that the command is an invitation to enjoy communion with you secured through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I thank you that in every command is the grace to obey because obedience is simply a response to what Christ has purchased for me.

Actually, the comprehensive nature of these commands is good news because it means there is no moment or circumstance these commands don’t apply to our lives with life-changing potential and potency.

(1) v 16 REJOICE ALWAYS

They are commanded to rejoice “always” because the hand of God is “always” at work in their lives.

Charles Wanamaker – To rejoice always is to see the hand of God in whatever is happening and to remain certain of God’s future salvation. Without such conviction, joy would not be possible in the face of affliction, suffering and death.

PRAYER: Lord, please convict me when I grumble and complain. Please convict me when I leave you out of the circumstances that tempt me to grumble and complain. And even when I don’t grasp your purposes, bring me back to the truth, that because you are ultimately over all, I can find comfort, hope, and joy.

Thomas Watson - Our tendency is to pore over losses rather than ponder our mercies…A gracious heart spies out mercy in every condition.

John Flavel – He who observes providence will never be long without a providence to observe.

PRAYER: O Lord, how I need the reminder that your steadfast love never ceases, and that your mercies never come to an end, but are new every morning. May my waking moments begin a list of things in which I can rejoice – to which I can add until the moment I fall asleep. Please deepen my faith, that I might find my joy ultimately, and unceasingly in you.

(2) v 17 PRAY WITHOUT CEASING

This command is a kind invitation from God to enjoy communion with God, not simply during a fixed time in the morning, but throughout the entire day

PRAYER: Lord God, because I am never apart from you, prompt me to invite your active presence, your participation, your power, and your provision in every situation and circumstance in which I find myself.

Scott Hubbard – If prayer is merely an activity to do, then ‘pray without ceasing’ will sound oppressive. But if prayer is communion with God-communion with this Father, Son and Spirit-then we will hear the command differently: “Enjoy God without ceasing. Depend on God without ceasing. Gain strength from God without ceasing. And find that he is ever near, always faithful.”

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, I don’t always know how to pray as I ought, so please embolden me to pray, even if briefly, for your blessings on the things I do, the people I meet, and the situations of which I become aware. May a desire for your glory in everything, stir me to pray about everything!

(3) v 18 GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES

A Christian is to give thanks to God in “all” circumstances because God is at work in all circumstances sanctifying us and glorifying Himself.

PRAYER: May my prayer that your kingdom come, and your will be done, always include thanksgiving, because of the assurance that you are always at work as Sovereign Lord over all.

Paul Tripp – I have learned that no matter how hard a day is, there are more beautiful things in that day that I should be thankful for, and there are reasons to celebrate the love of the One who gives them to me.

PRAYER: Lord, please fill my eyes and my heart with an awareness of the all-too-obvious things for which I should be grateful, but often take for granted. And when reasons to give thanks are less obvious, open my eyes and heart to the reality that you are there, and I can therefore be grateful.

PRAYER: Help me to live...as the famous and familiar hymn exhorts us: “Count your blessings and name them one by one, and you will be surprised at what the Lord has done.

V 18b for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

So the Lord makes eye contact with you through these commands and says to you, “I mean you only good by these commands.” These commands are for your good-to lift burdens from your heart and deepen your knowledge of me, friendship with me, affection for me.

 

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:
Paul’s three commands in this passage are inspired by the gospel to equip and to shape the church. These commands are not meant to condemn, but to lift burdens through personal communion with God and by remembering His transforming grace in our lives. In the midst of their suffering, Paul reminds the Thessalonians that God’s love for them was demonstrated on the cross of Jesus Christ where God’s wrath for sin was poured out. To live in light of this gospel is to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances.”  Finally, this is “the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” personally, who trust in Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for your sins.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: 

  1. How does CJ’s sermon influence your perspective on the purpose and practice of worship, prayer, and thanksgiving?
  2. How have you seen the merciful hand of God in your life?
  3. How does reflecting on God’s mercy in Christ move our souls from condemnation to the liberation of enjoying these commands?
  4. Currently, what hardship are you struggling to rejoice and be thankful in? How can your community group come alongside you in that hardship?
  5. Sometimes, God’s will for our lives can feel elusive. How does this clear description of God’s will for you transform your view of what to do next?
  6. How might the practice of these commands shape your relationships with coworkers, neighbors, friends or family?