Today’s Scripture Readings Psalms 115:1-8 | Jeremiah 19:1-21:14 | 1 Thessalonians 5:4-28 | Proverbs 25:8-10
Today’s Scripture Focus: 1 Thessalonians 5
Be joyful always;  pray continually;  give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)
We all have times where we are joyful, times when we pray, and times when we are thankful. But are we always joyful? Do we pray continually (without ceasing)? Are we truly thankful in all circumstances? Words like all and always make these verses difficult. Yet, this is God’s will for you.
God’s intention for you is that you would find joy in all things. Happiness often eludes us in the tough times. But God’s deep down gladness can be found even when times are tough. But it is a choice. “Count it all joy,” James reminds us, “when you face trials of many kinds.”
Joy is produced in us by the Holy Spirit. It flows from our times in the presence of God in prayer and worship. As we spend time in his presence, he fills us with his joy. The overflow of that joy creates a reservoir of the heart. When facing difficult times, dry times, frustrating times, we draw from that reservoir. We are able to find joy in the most unusual times and places. Yet we must keep the reservoir full, and that comes from daily fellowship with the one who loves us.
That leads us to Paul’s second command. Pray continually. Always live “practicing the presence of God.” Our daily times set aside for prayer are necessary. They invite his presence into our lives and into the events of our days. But the “Amen” doesn’t have to be the end of the prayer. We can walk through the day with a sense of his presence wherever we go. When a need develops, we find it easy to move back to prayer—our ongoing conversation partner still very much with us. This brings joy and leads us also to thanksgiving.
God’s will is also that you will be thankful in all circumstances. If “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28), and that is the testimony of scripture, then God is working good even out of the difficult time you are going through now. There is reason to be thankful. Look to see how God will use this circumstance and thank him for that.
Life is not always easy, but the one who walks in the presence of God continually can find joy and be thankful in each and every circumstance. Take time to open your heart to Jesus everyday in prayer. Walk with him. Enjoy his presence. Allow thanksgiving to fuel the sense of his presence and intensify the joy. Don’t allow the circumstances to take your joy!