I think yesterday’s sermon flopped with some folks, but I didn’t have much choice in the matter… It is definitely something God wants (at least some of) us to hear, me most of all, but it’s something I’ve been bad at… so no wonder the sermon flopped! But I’m really glad for the message (if I do say so myself) because in my life it’s been a missing link. I can act happy just as well as the next guy, but rejoicing always (praying, and giving thanks under every circumstance) was not my thing. Normally I’m cynical and negative. If there are ten things right and one thing wrong, I can spot the one thing in under five seconds and have it ruin the whole experience for me. It’s no wonder I couldn’t see God move often times; my mind is trained on seeing the human parts that are broken.
I think I see this negativity in the people around me too. I probably encourage it in other people with my own behavior. And yet when I see someone growing and loving Jesus and seeking God’s Way I see joy and optimism: not the kind of optimism that is stupidly thankful when there’s no reason to be thankful (like some sweet but mentally challenged child), but the kind of hearty optimism that latches on like a pitbull onto things God is doing, cheering it on.
There were times when I thought “I would like to have that…” and nothing ever came of it, but what I learned recently is… I NEED that. God is saying to me: You may not go one step further until you gear up with relentless unstoppable rejoicing, prayer, giving thanks in all circumstances. Not being thankful for bad things, but being thankful for the good that God is doing even when other things are bad.
Why am I telling you this? Mainly because I want you to know that I’ve reached turning point, and I want to share it with you so that you can see me fail or succeed in following Jesus here. But also because some of you need to do this too, and we can do this together. Do what you ask? ”Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).