The month of November is a very special time in the life of the church as well as in the lives of our families. It's a time of transition from fall to winter, a time of a few warm days and peaks of late summer and early fall coupled with periods of cold and even snow, and a time when families look to "home" and gather together in late November for a day of Thanksgiving and fellowship. It's one of my favorite months and seasons of the year. We have the joy of family, thanksgiving to God, great food and fellowship, and joy of the Advent and Christmas season a month away - without undue rush and pressure that comes in December.
Let me share this passage of scripture that seems appropriate for all of us to ponder and reflect upon prayerfully during the month of November. From the NIV translation of the Apostle Paul's letter recorded in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, these words speak to us: "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Please reread this scripture text and join me in a time of prayer and reflection on its meaning and application for us during November 2015.
Paul's words remind us on these primary points:
---"Rejoice always..." - In all situations and times, we are called to rejoice. The joy of Christ, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, is not the same as happiness. Paul is speaking here of an assurance that is ours in Jesus Christ that in all situations, we are assured of His love, grace, and security.
---"Pray continually..." - Prayer is more than just a regularly scheduled private time of telling God what we think and need - it's more than the collective times of prayer we experience in worship in the church. Continuous prayer is a lifestyle, a state of mind, a heart that is at peace with the Lord, and taking time from the noise and clutter of daily living to listen to the "still small voice of God" (1 King 19:12). The Psalmist in Psalms 46:10 tells us to "be still, and know" that He is God.
---"Give thanks in all circumstances..." - Have you taken time in recent months, or even years, to sit down and write down and pray over all the many things for which you have to be thankful? We take much for granted, we are focused on material and temporal things, and we don't take time to give God thanks and praise in all things. You are challenged in this month and Thanksgiving season, to take time to inventory the many ways in which God has blessed you - even when you are dealing with challenges.
---"For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus..." - Paul is very clear in telling the early church, as well as the 2015 church, that it is God's will for us, as believers in Christ Jesus, that we are to rejoice in Him, that we are to pray continually, and that we are to give thanks in all circumstances. And so often, the lack of personal peace and joy is because we have forsaken our times of rejoicing, prayer, Bible study, worship, and giving thanks.
Will you join me, and other believers in our church family and community in this special season and month of the year, to heed the words of the Apostle Paul to rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks to God in all things, and follow God's will for our lives?