Yesterday we started a two-part Daily Note to assist us as God’s people to prove our conversion true. We have considered three steps to help us pursue the Gospel life more successfully so far. These help us to start the Christian life correctly; that we confess Jesus openly and publically and that we study the Bible continually. As we continue today we pray without ceasing, serve the Lord Jesus, and give generously.
Pray Without Ceasing
1Th 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
You will see sandwiched on either side of verse 17 is “joyful always” and “giving thanks in all circumstances”. Prayer needs to be seen in the context of joy on the one side and thanks on the other. The emphasis here is relationship. The Christian in prayer is one who has a happy, intimate relationship with the One he or she is praying to.
The joy is because of the greatest miracle in the life of a believer … that of pardon of all sin and guilt, deliverance from the evil one, made a child of God and granted eternal life with God in His heaven to be enjoyed once passing through the gateway of death. This joy continues because you now know God loves you (John 3:16) and that you have the ear of your Heavenly Father who hears your prayers and answers your prayers. This joy proceeds forward to after answers to prayer where there is a continual attitude of thanksgiving … not just because of answers to prayer but because as a Christian you trust and depend upon God.
In talking on the phone today to a man who was suicidal, I pointed out that if he is a true Christian (as he said he is), then God hears his prayers and answers his prayers. He agreed with this. God might not answer immediately, but confidence that God hears and answers is comfort to the soul and that comfort is translated into thanksgiving.
Verse 17, like verses 16 and 18, is an instruction. Be joyful is a command; give thanks is a command … and pray continually is a command as well. Because of this special union between you and God, you are instructed to prayer all the time. This does not mean kneeling in prayer all day long. It means as you have an attitude of prayer throughout the day … and should you awake at night you would desire to pray. As an intentional Christian, your attitude throughout the day would be one of prayer.
Serve the Lord Jesus
It might be a cliché, but “saved to serve” is an accurate statement of the person who is saved through grace. You are not only saved for a better personal eternity. You are saved to serve Jesus. Many people confuse the true meaning of worship to be Sunday Church services, yet worship is our daily life … which includes us serving the Lord Jesus. Read through Matthew 25:14-30 and in particular see:
Mt 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Mt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Industrious, diligent, hardworking and willing service needs to be given to the One who now owns our souls. John put it like this:
Joh 12:26 “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
Serving Jesus must be serving Him His way … hence we “follow” all the way to glory. Part of following is being the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus … read Matthew 25:31-40, especially:
Mt 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Never forget … Christianity is not an idle force … it is an active force. As God is always busy, so His subjects need to be busy.
One of the greatest drawbacks to the advance of the Christian Church is that many of God’s people are reluctant to tithe. Perhaps some think that putting something into the offering bag fulfils their financial obligation to the church, yet God’s Word is precise when is says
Mal 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
This instruction comes in the context of an interaction between God and His people:
Mal 3:8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.”
Compare this with 2 Corinthians:
2Co 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Why give generously? So that the Work of God (the glorious Gospel) might penetrate the furthest part of the world to reach lost souls for Jesus.
Recapping … we have to make certain that to enjoy a solid, continuous, healthy walk with the Lord we need to (1) start the Christian life correctly; (2) confess Jesus openly and publically; (3) study the Bible continually; (4) pray without ceasing; (5) serve the Lord and (6) give generously to the work of God. You can do the spiritual accounting to see how you match up. Maybe you are not there, but these six pointers are to be aimed at.
Dear God, help me to explore the depth of this great salvation I enjoy by being intentional about You and Your Cause to reach this lost, dying world for Jesus, as I follow You in faith for Your glory. Amen.