To exhort and take to heart

Note: Re-posted from May 3, 2011.

***

Isn’t that bouquet of flowers beautiful?

My younger sister gathered it from the garden, while another sister (Abby) took a picture of it. I just felt it would fit well in this post where I’ll share some beautiful nuggets from God’s Word that I recently read. Isn’t it true that while you read the Bible, you find things that are just as beautiful as a bouquet of flowers?

Well, that’s just what I found one morning as I read my Bible from 1 Thessalonians chapter 5. Here is the collection of verses that I especially felt were exhortations for me that day, and I hope you will find them useful too:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,
in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Do not quench the Spirit. Test all things; hold fast to what is good.
Abstain from every form of evil.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely;
and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)

The beauty of reading God’s Word, is that the Lord Himself reveals things to you if you are truly interested in delving in!
As it says in Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me, and I will answer you, I will show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Or again in John 16:13 “But when He the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.
The word all in this verse is important. God is the source of all wisdom, so as children of God we have access to His goodness and wisdom, through the Holy Spirit! All we have to do is pray and ask Him to reveal things to us!

So I was so happy when the Lord showed me a few interesting connections while reading the verses above. Allow me to share it a bit with you all.

Firstly, all things in the Word have to be taken in context. It’s rule #1 when in Biblical interpretation (that I learned from my dad who is a pastor). Otherwise, many errors can come up.
So we have to keep in mind this was written by Paul to the Thessalonians. That church was worrying about the end times, thinking that the persecutions they were going through are signs that they are taking part of the tribulation, and wondering if the “Day of the Lord” or the Day of Judgment had come.

Secondly, I realized these verses are not placed here haphazardly…but in a certain order and chronology which is important.
It starts with “rejoice always“.

How important that is for us as believers! We have to remember to rejoice in the Lord, otherwise we would be as those of the world….worrying about the circumstances around us as if we don’t have a God in whom we trust! But we are humans, and we do forget….that was one thing I was reminded to take to heart. Rejoice!

But the sentence does not end there. A comma follows with the words “pray without ceasing”.
That means that in the midst of this dangerous world we have to remember to rejoice while interceding in prayer. We see that it is equally important as rejoicing, but since prayer is a difficult thing, we are sustained by rejoicing in the Lord.

Then we are told “in everything give thanks” . We should not forget to start our prayers with thanksgiving, because joy comes as a result of a thankful heart, and that “is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
We see the verse immediately following that says “Do not quench the Spirit”. Taken in context, it can mean that we can quench the Spirit by an ungrateful heart….mumbling and grumbling. Of course it also implies other attitudes as well.

Also, “Do not despise prophesies. Test all things…”  The Bible is filled with prophetic utterances. We must take them to heart, and in this context it means that of the end times and the Rapture when Christ comes to take us in heaven! So we must not get too caught up with our plans here to the extent that we dislike reading about the Coming of the Lord in the Bible. Yet this verse is immediately followed by “test all things”.
We should not be gullible and believe every preacher/religious leader out there- since there are many false prophets in the world. We should test all things against God’s Word. If it doesn’t line up with the Bible, then we should discard it and “hold fast to what is good.”

Interestingly, the next verse says “abstain from every form of evil.”  So if anything seems dubious and sinful/evil  (a book, a movie, a game, an action or circumstance) we must remember that we must abstain from every form of evil and honor the Lord.

Finally after the exhortation comes the promise of God’s blessing and sustaining hand that will carry us through all this:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
See here how the “coming of the Lord” is brought up again? All the exhortations are in reference to how we should live our lives in view of the Rapture.

It ends with the assuring promise of: “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”

Amen!

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