Our memory verse for tonight’s closing session of our condensed Vacation Bible School is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which states, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” (NASB). The two short verses before this verse read, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing,” (v.16,17 NASB). All three of these statements – rejoice, pray, and give thanks are all in the present imperative tense, which means they are orders or commands that are expected to have a continuous or repeated application in the present tense. So, these three things are without question the will of God for the believer living in the first century and for the believer living in the 21st century as well. As we wrap up our Vacation Bible School this evening, I am giving thanks to God for the fact that this ministry has taken place in the face of challenging, outside cultural events. Without question, the giving of thanks is the will of God for the believer.
Paul is not instructing us to give thanks “for” everything that happens to us, but rather “in” everything as we see God’s presence, even in the face of challenging times. I don’t think that we should give thanks to God for the prevailing evil that we see in our world, for He is not the author of it. But when we do see evil working in our universe and in our world (such as Covid 19) we can still give thanks to God for His presence with us and for the opportunities and grace that He gives us to minister in the face of even difficult circumstances. It is the will of God that we should find joy in prayer in Jesus Christ in every condition of life. The one cause for perpetual thanksgiving in the most difficult pathways of life shines forth in the light of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ that is revealed as we experience His grace, mercy, and love even in the most trying of times. Over the last nine months or so one of the big questions that we as the leadership had to answer was, “Are we going to have VBS this year?” When we gave an affirming answer to that question, we then looked to see how God was going to work out all the details and all the challenges that we would face. And that is exactly what Jesus has done!
Giving thanks is a source of strength as we have joyful prayer and praise for our God. This is the will of God for believers today – rejoice, pray and give thanks to our amazing Savior. God’s will for believers today should be paramount in how we choose to live our lives and the attitude our lives should reflect. His perfect will for us embraces this high privilege and holy responsibility. Part of the source of giving thanks in everything is to recognize that God is in everything and to find a sense of His goodness and our own unworthiness with all that He has blessed us within the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t deserve the least of God’s mercies and yet in His amazing compassion and love, He has given us the greatest of all gifts – the Lord Jesus Christ. So let us as brothers and sisters in Christ be about fulfilling God’s will for our lives by rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks in all things to our great God and Savior.
All for God’s glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo