Hold Fast to What is Good
1 Thessalonians 5:15-24 (NIV)
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
When the graduation season rolls around, it’s difficult not to think about your own graduation. Your senior year of fun and challenges. Senior pictures. YIKES!!!
Remembering back to how you felt. The nerves, the stress, the not knowing about the future. High school years are a time of growing. We grow in knowledge. We grow in maturity. And if we are kids of faith, we grow in that too.
Graduation time also makes me think of the grads in my life. How they’ve made me so proud over the years. It’s such a happy/scary time.
So let’s begin with remembering the good kids and how they’re leading their lives right now. Brings us hope for the future, does it not? Be they high school or college grads, they need to know one important thing…hold fast to what is good. We want them to go forward with the values we, as parents, taught them. “Hold on to your faith,” we hear ourselves saying.
Paul wanted to get that message across to the church in Thessalonica. He wanted them to remember who they were. He wanted them to understand God’s will for them—God’s will for all of us. Three of the things Paul encouraged: 1. Rejoice always; 2. Pray without ceasing (more on that later); 3. Give thanks in all circumstances. So are any of these things possible?
Let’s look at #1. As Christians, we have joy in our hearts because of what Jesus did for us. In fact, Christians should be the most joyful people on the face of the earth. Instead of being categorized as being judgmental, we should be categorized as being joyful. Why? Because God has claimed us as His. He walks with us to help us be our best selves. The gift of Jesus should bring us joy on every level. Nothing can separate us from that joy. So—rejoice always!
Now for #2. Paul wanted to convey to the church to pray like a champion! That means to pray without ceasing. Is it necessary to say “Amen” at the end of a prayer? Or should we want to keep the line open? God speaks to us all day throughout the day, so why should we stop talking by saying, “Amen?” I think the only time I ever say “Amen” is after the blessing because I’m ready to eat! Now for my (more on that later). My mother always told me, “Pray without ceasing, Regina.” And every time she said that it literally made my teeth itch. I got so sick of hearing it, especially when I was a teenager. I’d roll my eyes and leave the room. My mother was a pray-out-loud praying sort of person. It embarrassed the snot out of me. But you know what? She was right. We must pray without ceasing. It gives us a feeling of being closer to God. And now that she’s gone, I find myself doing that exact same thing. Crazy, right?
Let’s look at #3. Giving thanks—when we give thanks it really seems to give us comfort. It helps everything somehow. Give thanks in all circumstances, not for all circumstances. You don’t need to be thankful for a bad circumstance. You just need to be thankful during the circumstance. It heals your mind, your heart, and your soul. As Paul said, May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.
There are so many good kids out there doing incredible things. We just don’t highlight them like we should. The media focuses on the bad kids—better ratings. Well, shame on us. Shame on us for watching. I started a Facebook page just for those kids who go over and beyond just because. I call it Kids Inspiring Kids. The posts about these amazing kids have touched my heart so much. If you’re a FB fan check it out. But put a box of tissue beside you. I swell with pride each time I visit it.
Let’s try to remember Paul’s advise to the Church. God’s will for our lives. And let’s just do it. Let’s hold fast to what is good. What’s your graduation memory?
And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!