TEEN TREE             OF LIFE

Commands Regarding Attitude, Actions and Living in The Spirit

Part 2 - January 9, 2022

 

Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1 JOH 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

 

Last week’s Teen Tree covered a series of commands that the apostle Paul covered in 1 THESS 5:16-22 (New International Reader’s Version). These commands cover two general areas. The first three (in verses 16-18) relate to attitude and communion with God: 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus. The last five (in verses 19-22) are related to living in the Spirit: 19 Don’t try to stop what the Holy Spirit is doing. 20 Don’t treat prophecies as if they weren’t important. 21 But test all prophecies. Hold on to what is good. 22 Say no to every kind of evil.

 

            To summarize what we learned last week, first, the command to always rejoice is built upon the fact that you have received God’s Grace in Salvation. Second, faith in Christ gives you a different perspective and purpose in life. You can see things from God’s Eternal Perspective and live for His Glory – instead of living for your own selfish desires according to a temporal, human outlook. These enable you to have an attitude toward life that is directed by seeing God’s Hand at work in your life and living accordingly – instead of being controlled by the circumstances in which you find yourself.

 

            Now let’s look at the second command that Paul wrote about which is to pray without ceasing. 1 THESS 5:17 (The Message Bible) translates his writing in this way: “pray all the time.” The command here is more literally translated as without intermission, you pray.” The Greek word translated here is adialeiptōs. It’s a negation of its root word which is “to fail through lack or falling short.” From that came the idea of continuous activity. So, the command here is do not fall short in prayer. This is not praying that never stops, for that would be impossible for humans since we are limited by the need to do things such as sleep and take care of our lives. Also, if prayer was our only activity, we could not accomplish the other things God commands us to do – like study His Word, for example.

 

The idea in 1 THESS 5:17 is constant reoccurring prayer. This is an attitude of constant prayer that transitions to actual prayer at any time and in any place so that there’s no lack of praying. It’s important to have a regular time and place for prayer, but never put prayer off until it is convenient. If you can’t pray out loud, then pray in your mind and heart as soon as The Holy Spirit inspires you or a situation arises that needs prayer. You might be watching television and hear about a person who is living with a debilitating disease. Or in conversation with a friend, you might learn that they have a relative who lost his home in a fire. These moments create opportunity to turn to prayer in the middle of your day. Just stop, cite your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name and pray! (Don’t forget to pray in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s Name at the end of your prayer.)

 

The Greek word for prayer in 1 THESS 5:17, is proseuchomai – which is the word most generally used. It’s always used in reference to God. It means to speak with God, and as pointed out in PHI 4:6, it includes elements of supplication, thanksgiving, and requests. Look at what Paul wrote in PHIL 4:6 (New International Reader’s Version): Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him. Paul is talking about a worshipful approach to God that includes reverence and adoration. You can bring anything to God in prayer, but you do need to come to Him with respect and the right attitude. God is still God. He is the Eternal, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Sovereign Creator. He is not a benevolent grandpa or a magic genie in a bottle who is supposed to give you whatever you want.

 

Prayer is a powerful weapon in the believer’s life. But an important point to note is that we are not to use prayer to try to get God to do what we want done. Many believers try to use prayer to get their own way, not God’s way.  Prayer must be compatible with God’s Will and His Way. Sometimes that may line up with our will and our way, but other times it may not. This is what the apostle John wrote about prayer in 1JO 5:14-15 (New International Reader’s Version): Here is what we can be sure of when we come to God in prayer. If we ask anything in keeping with what he wants, he hears us. If we know that God hears what we ask for, we know that we have it.

 

Prayer is not designed to get us out of trouble. It’s designed to give us the opportunity to express our helplessness, our humility, and our total dependence on God. It’s also designed for us to express our recognition of His Grace and His Mercy toward us.  Prayer is not what we want for ourselves, but what God wants for us.  In fact, prayer is an expression and an extension of Bible doctrine resident in the soul.

 

We fail in prayer because we fail to understand and utilize Bible doctrine correctly. This is taught in JOH 15:7 (New International Reader’s Version): If you remain joined to me and my words remain in you, ask for anything you wish. And it will be done for you. Prayer was never designed to fulfill our lusts and desires; prayer is designed to fulfill the will, plan, and purpose of God for our lives.

 

Paul’s next command is to give thanks in everything which is summed up like this in 1 THESS 5:18 (New American Standard Bible): …in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. New International Reader’s Version translates 1 THESS 5:18 a bit differently: Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus. This version is more powerful because it points out that we are commanded to be thankful for adversity as well as prosperity.

 

The command to give thanks is directly related to Paul’s second command in 1 THESS 5 which is to pray without ceasing. This is because giving thanks to God is an element of proper prayer which Paul made clear in PHIL 4:6 which we just looked at (see above). Giving thanks equates to expressing gratitude for having received God’s Grace. The word for grace – charis – is a root stem for this verb. It is thanks given to God for physical and spiritual provision. This is an element of worship that is part of true prayer because it’s the overflow of having a proper understanding of God’s Position, Character, and the Recognition of His Work. It is that understanding and recognition that enables both rejoicing in The Lord and the ability to rest in His Peace as pointed out in PHIL 4:7 (New International Reader’s Version): Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds. He will do this because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.

 

Those who don’t give thanks to God reveal a heart of self-centeredness and selfishness. They are disrespectful, too! God doesn’t listen to the prayers of such people. This is because giving thanks is a command and not following a command of God is a sin and God will not hear those who have wickedness in their hearts. Look at what PSALM 66:18 (The Message Bible) says: If I had been cozy with evil, the Lord would never have listened. Those who refuse to give thanks to God will also lack peace since peace is dependent on having confidence in God’s Character and Promises which requires humility – a trait absent in the self-centered.

 

The word translated as “everything” in the New American Standard Version of  1 THESS 5:18 refers to the totality of any object. This eliminates exceptions since nothing is left out. But please note that the verse does not say to give thanks for everything, It says to give thanks in everything. You cannot give thanks for things that are contrary to God’s Will, but you can give thanks even when going through circumstances that are contrary to His Will. For example, God has given many commands about how people should treat one another, including prohibitions against murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting. He has also given commands about what people should do such as be kind, be honest, and love your neighbor as yourself. You do not give thanks for people that violate God’s Commands or the sins committed, but you do give thanks in the midst of suffering because of the sins of others or even living in a sin-cursed world. This means you don’t give thanks for corrupt government but do give thanks even though wrongly restricted by such regimes. Paul did not give thanks for suffering persecution, but he did give thanks while suffering persecution. We are to follow his example and do the same. That is giving thanks in everything.

{to be continued}

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