IN EVERYTHING- GIVE THANKS. Thessalonica was the capital, foremost city and harbor of the Roman province of Macedonia. When Paul founded the Thessalonian church on his secondary missionary journey, his ministry there was terminated prematurely because of intense Jewish hostility. These believers were not only experiencing intense persecution under the tyranny of the Roman government, but the large Jewish community in their city was a constant source of affliction and persecution.
Paul’s letter was written to express his joy in their steadfast faith and perseverance in the midst of intense persecution and to instruct them further in holiness and godly living. In the last chapter of his first letter, Paul writes:“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV Here’s what I want you to understand- we were never promised that we would not face intense and hostile persecution.
Many American Christians do not understand this because they have been blinded by cheap grace, the social justice gospel and the prosperity gospel. The gospel of the cross brings with it a call to suffer for and with Christ. It’s call is to come out of the world and be separated and to radically renounce sin. The cross requires us to sacrifice for His kingdom and to deny ourselves in this world.
These latter days bring with it an increase in lawlessness and a complete ridicule of and disregard for any standards and commands held sacred in the Bible. Because of this “the love of many will grow cold”. We are seeing this in droves. This love spoken of here is “agape” love, the love that only Christians can posses. This love grows cold because Christians abandon true saving faith and Biblical truth. If the truth is absent, true love is absent. Another Jesus, a hippy, social justice warrior emerges, a humanistic god the masses of apostate Christians have made up.
The false narrative of “love thy neighbor” screams with anger from their fork-tongues and humanistic lips. Intense persecution will increase. And yet, Paul tells these believers being persecuted under the Roman Empire, which was the severest and vilest persecution in church history, “Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing! In EVERYTHING, give thanks!” I’m not sure you recognize the sufferings the first Christians endured. Antipas is mentioned by name by Christ in the letter to Pergamos as a faithful martyred saint. History records he was put in a large metal bull for his faith and it was heated until he fried to death. These are not just kind words to make us feel better, these are encouraging words of faith and hope.
We serve a real and powerful God who is fully acquainted with suffering. REJOICE! Your hope is not in this world. You have a Savior that not only gets in the fire with you, He is coming back to redeem His own. PRAY always. The prayer of the righteous will accomplish much. It’s ok to mourn and to cry out to God. But at some point, you have to arise and pray in faith the word of faith. Pray in trust and believing God has you in His hands and that He will provide. These are the days that produce great faith! These days are revealing whom you trust and where your faith has been-either the god of this world and it’s systems or the Creator God.
There is a separation taking place. The refiner’s fire is purifying a holy church. Arise and pray bold and audacious prayers of faith! Those “sun stand still” prayers. He is Lord over the battle! And GIVE THANKS! In everything, give thanks. How can Paul say that to the persecuted and afflicted? How can he tell these people to “give thanks” when their livelihoods are being stripped away? When many are facing imprisonments and death? How can Paul say that to us? Is he mocking them? By all means no! The Spirit through Paul is reassuring these persecuted and faithful people that God is enough, give thanks.
God will provide, give thanks. God is our Savior, give thanks. God is my hope, give thanks. He is returning for me one day, give thanks. He has not left us without a Comforter. He has not forsaken His own. He will feed us in times of famine and provide shelter from the cold. Remember that hymn of old, Take the world, but give me Jesus,All its joys are but a name;But His love abideth ever,Through eternal years the sameTake the world, but give me Jesus,Sweetest comfort of my soul;With my Savior watching over me,I can sing though billows rollTake the world, but give me Jesus,Let me view His constant smile;Then throughout this life’s long journeyHe will lead me all the whileTake the world, but give me Jesus.In His cross my trust shall be,Till, with clearer, brighter vision,Face to face my Lord I see!#runyourrace
To Learn More About Pastor Crystal please visit the Leadership Page