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He Will Forgive Your Cheerfulness

Daily Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5

 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5.16-22)

 

Devotional Thought: You know the feeling… when you are writing a note and get to the bottom of the card but have more to say.  You start conserving space,  squeezing your words together and writing up the side of the stationery - so that you can say everything you wanted to say.

 

When Paul neared the end of this letter he began to give the Thessalonians godly counsel in quick, curt statements.  It’s almost as if he was running out of paper and he wanted to get in these last words! 

Be joyful always!                             Don’t ignore God’s voice!

Pray continually!                             Don't assume you know everything!

Give thanks always!                         Hold on to the good!

Don’t quench the Spirit!                  Stay away from evil!

 

All of this counsel is good, but I am particularly drawn to his first terse instruction:  "Rejoice always!"  Always?  Yes always!  But you don’t know what I’m going through!  That’s right, I don’t.  But, joy doesn’t depend on your circumstances.  Your joy comes from something much deeper: God’s good grace.

 

I love it when, in the words of C. S. Lewis, I am "surprised by joy"!  I can’t help but smiling, laughing, or singing.  Not because of what’s happening, but in the midst of or in spite of what’s happening.  Sometimes that joy seems incongruous – even impertinent – considering the facts.  But the joy comes forth of its own accord.  It is born in the love God has shown me.  I subscribe to what the composer Joseph Haydn said, "As God has given me a cheerful heart, He will forgive me for serving Him cheerfully."

 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the undeniable joy that breaks in upon me.  When I am tempted to despair, remind me of what I mean to you.  Help me to be joyful always, for the joy of the Lord is my strength!  Amen.

 

Psalm of the Day: 29.1-6

1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters.

4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.

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