Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Today’s verses are well-known verses in Bible. As matter of fact, they were the verses given by my grandfather. For the first day of my element school, he specially prepared one beautiful Bible for me, and asked me for me to see him after school. I, as a small boy, was very much excited. Whenever I visited my grandfather, I always got something good. I recall my grandfather was especially fond of me. He prayed with me, and I especially liked how he looked at me. He was special to me, and always good to us. As soon as the school was over, I ran to my grandfather, and he was also waiting for me.
As soon as entering his office, he asked me to come close to him with a huge smile. He opened his desk draw, and grabbed a beautiful leather-bound Bible. It looked perfect to me. It was small to fit in my small hands. it was a rather thick book having lots of pages, because it had both the old and new testaments. Then he looked at me with his loving eyes, and told me, “I will give you really important Bible verses to you.” Then he opened the Bible using the bookmark that he placed before my arrival. I could see red-lined verse on the page. Then he slowly read the Bible verses for me, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.” Then he looked at me again with loving eyes, and said, “These are the verses that I give to you as your life verse.” At the scene, I repeated the Bible verses a couple of time, and I recited to my grandfather without looking at the verses. He was so happy, and his face was so bright filled with a big smile. After that moment, these verses became my life verses. They have been continuously sharping me along with other Bible verses touching my hearts. Now, I am look back and asking did I live out fully the verses? My answer is I am still working on it with prayers in Christ to live up to the Bible verses given to me as Apostle Paul wrote:
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. (Philippians 3:12)
Surely I will continue making all my efforts to reach the goal as long as God allows me to stay on earth.
“Rejoice always” (Thessalonian 5:16)
By being God’s command, it acknowledge the true nature of our life on earth – we cannot rejoice always by nature. if we are rejoicing always by nature, then why do we get such a command from God? For example, God does not have to give a command, “Breaths,” because we all breathe naturally. All living persons do breathe whether God explicitly give a command or not. Thus, we can clearly know that “rejoice always” does not come naturally to us, and we have to work out to be rejoicing always.
Indeed, nobody rejoices always, and why do we not rejoice always? We tend to rejoice when we get what we want or when something we desire comes to reality. However, such moments are few and far between in our lives. Our lives are instead filled with something that we do not rejoice about – pains, sorrows, disappointments, heartaches, hardships, miseries and agonies. In fact, these are the “reality” that we live. As long as we live on earth in this mortal body, we cannot escape from this “reality”. No matter how we do, the reality is always with us. In fact, we eat and drink with the reality every day. This is the reality on earth.
However, Bible tells us “rejoice always”, and this is God’s command. Then how to rejoice always because the world does not allow us to always rejoice? Surely, we have tried many times to be rejoicing on earth by waging against the world, but we all have experienced time after time the same outcome of the battle – our loss. The world does not allow us to rejoice. It throws at us something that hurts us and gives pains. Although we have our joyful in our heart, it becomes a moment memory in our lives. Our efforts to rejoice in Him are not respected by the world, and we experience bitter defeat again and again. Is there any way to overcome this sure defeat coming at us again and again?
“Pray continually. (1 Thessalonian 5:17)
This verse is the answer to the question asked at the end of the previous verse. Let’s see how.
We all know prayers are not of this world, but of God. We all believers pray. After all, anything we talk to God is our prayer whether we verbally speak out our own desire or just present our heart desire to God silently. Thus, our life is filled with all kinds of prayers. And our prayers are always before God continually.
However, our critical and usual mistake is the way we approach our prayers. We use our prayers as a means to get what they want from God. Please look back countlessly many prayers of ours presented to God. What is the portion of all our prayers that are in the category of asking God to get what we want?
Please don’t make a quick conclusion. Our God wants for us to pray and ask Him as our prayers. Our Gad really wants to hear our prayers because we are His beloved children. If a child does not ask anything at all to one’s father, the father is really disappointed. Likewise, our Heavenly Father loves to hear our prayer and answer our prayers. Yes, we should pray to God. After all, we are His most precious children to Our Heavenly Father. Bible encourages us to pray while asking God:
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)
“You fathers—if your children aske for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:11-13)
Indeed, our Heavenly Father cannot be compared with any earthly fathers. His love is beyond comparison. Our Heavenly Father listens to our prayers, and provide the best abundantly. This is also our faith and hope. Then why do many of us feel that prayers are not answered by God?
Bible also gives an answer for this question:
You do not have, because you do not ask. And when you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures. (James 4:3b-4)
Ah. The above verses clearly explain the reason why our prayers are not answer. The reason is that we pray with wrong motives. If we get whatever we ask, then Bible tells that we would squander it on our pleasures. Yes, many of us will immediately say, “my prayers are nothing related to my own pleasures, but it is God’s glory or at least helping others.” I agree many of us pray with pure motives, but our human weakness kicks in after we receive what we prayed about. We, before getting what we want, were humble and approaching God with contrite hearts in prayers, but after getting what we want, we become changed. The change, if we carefully monitor, surprises us also.
Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. (Proverbs 16:32)
Bible tells that one who controls its own heart is more powerful than one who conquers a city. Once we get what we want, our contrite heart in prayers suddenly disappears because there is no more needs. At the moment, our heart is filled with thanksgiving to God, but it does not last. The thankful excitement is slowly but steadily going down, and our life is being filled with satisfaction with the answered prayers. The previous contrite prayers are suddenly gone from our lives because no more need for our contrite prayers to God. This is the biggest and most profound change. Then our heart is no longer humble before God, and we are back to where we were by focusing on the world. This is our human nature. Let’s say if you were God, what you would as the Ever-Loving Father?
Then it is obvious that what we should pray to God, which is something that makes us to be trapped in the danger of the prayer-answered-syndrome described above. Luke 11:13 explains what our prayer should be — “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” What God really wants to provide to us is the Holy Spirit, and He wants a pray of asking for the Holy Spirit.
No father in this world would blindly give what his children wants. If his child asks for something dangerous, then he will not give to his child even though his child really wants to have. Indeed, all that we ask in our prayers is potentially dangerous to us. Although there is no inherent danger of what we ask in our prayer, we can be easily exposed to the dangerous syndrome occurring when we get what we want through our prayers. Let’s talk about one example how the syndrome works out. if one believer prays for a patient, and the patient is cured, then the one who had prayer for is actually in danger of being hurt by the answered prayer of his. If not humble, the answered prayer can make the person popped up while focusing on his own prayer not God who answered the prayer. The end result is obvious. He loses spiritually due to the answered prayer. How ironic! After all, this is a human nature. s a human being, it is practically impossible to be humble before God and continuously approaching Him with a contrite heart.
This is the reason why God does not answer our prayers. Instead God wants for us to pray for the Holy Spirit because this prayer does not come with the inherent danger of self-destruction. Sure, so far, we went over the secrets associated with our prayers. We ask for the Holy Spirit in our prayers, and the Holy Spirit poured out rakishly by God will continuously guides us even after our prayers being answered.
Now this is time to connect this secret of prayers with “Rejoice always.” Can we always rejoice? No, as we talked before as an ordinary human being. However, it is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit because we are driven by the Holy Spirit, not by our human nature, which changes every moment driven by the world around us. Therefore, in order to rejoice always, we should be full of the Holy Spirit. It is also true that the fullness of the Holy Spirit comes from our prayer that God truly wants – asking for the Holy Spirit. Now, we have made a full circle. We can rejoice always by the power of the Holy Spirit in our heart, which comes from our payer of asking for the Holy Spirit to God. Then is there any reason why Our God will not answer to our prayer?
“Give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18a)
When we get what we want from God, it is natural to give thanks to God. God ask more than this natural response. God is actually asking for us to give thanks in all circumstance including a situation that our thanksgiving does not naturally come.
Giving thanks to God in all circumstances is the highest level of a litmus test of our faith. Can we continue giving thanks to God despite of our failure, our misery, our hunger, our pain, our misfortune, and even our persecution? Of course, it is impossible as a mere human being. Under such circumstances, we cannot think about thanksgiving because our heart is occupied by fears and other negative emotions.
Then why does God ask for us to do something impossible — “Give thanks in all circumstances”? It looks illogical because no matter what we do, we cannot meet the standard of God.
No. The above logic is incorrect. God knows more than what we think we know. Many researchers have found. If we give thanks under a situation that we cannot give thanks, our brain actually hears our thanksgiving, and it reacts opposite than we think. It becomes more positive on the negative things happening in our life, and it becomes more active by activating all brain functions. As result, our brains are better functioning, and, in many cases, our brain finds a solution for us to overcome the painful and discouraging situations. This explanation is clearly counter-intuitive, but this is the conclusion of the researchers.
Then what kind of conclusion that we should make about our God’s command, “give thanks in all circumstance”? We can easily think it is an illogical command, but it is a logically sound command. One thing that we can observe here is that our logic is not always correct. We think we know the answer, but it is true. Our logically rationale thinking does not necessarily lead to a sound conclusion. Why? The answer is as follows:
We are created in the image of God, and have the mind of God. However, we are also the descents of the fallen man and woman, Adam and Eve. The sin came into this world after the Adam’s sin. The sin coming in this world tried to change us completely, but it could not. Instead, the sin slightly distorted everything in us and around us. The crafty scheme is to make us get astray without being noticed by us. That is, we are deceived.
Many of us should know about a famous experiment conducted on a frog. If we drop a frog in a hot water, the frog quickly jumps out of the hot water because the frog suddenly detects the huge temperature difference, and the frog immediately jumps out of the hot water to save its life. This frog’s behavior matches with what we think the frog should do.
However, if the same hot water experimentation is repeated with only a slight twist. Yes, we drop the same frog in the same pot, but in this case, the pot if filled with cool water. The frog likes the cool water, and freely swimming around inside the pot. Then the pot is slowly heated up. The frog in the pot continues swimming around inside the pot, and the temperature is kept increasing. The water temperature is getting hotter and hotter, but the frog does not notice the temperature getting hotter because the temperature is gradually raised up. The frog continues swimming until it dies in the pot. This is what sin does to us.
Satan came in and slightly distorted everything in us and around us with one goal in mind – our eternal destruction. The distortion is so slight that we cannot tell what is done by the Satan. Then we think we are doing right before God, but sometimes it is not. In other words, something right in our eyes (and our brain) is not necessarily right before God, because we are tainted by the sin that came into this world. Since then, the world is also tainted by suffering and pains along with the God’s beautiful creation. The only way to separate this subtle, but deadly scheme of the Satan from the original God’s beautiful creation is by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we should pray to God for the Holy Spirit. Then we put all our focus on what the Holy Spirit tells us while turning off noises of the world continuously bombarding us. Then surely, we will hear His subtle voice, “I love you, and you are my child purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ on cross. You are so precious to me.’ Then the Holy Spirit guides us, and He will continue His guidance throughout our lives till we see Our Heavenly Father face-to-face along with all our believers ahead of us. Praise God, and give thanks to Him for the unfathomable wisdom and blessings!
Now we know the truth and secret behind the verses – rejoice always, prayer continually and give thanks in all circumstances. The basis of the secret is to “pray continually” while asking for the Holy Spirit. Then God will provide the Holy Spirit abundantly in our heart. We shall constantly hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in us, and we will do what the Holy Spirit desires. We are weak, but God is strong. Although the sin continues pursuing our own earthly desires, the Holy Spirit keeps us to get astray. The Holy Spirit continues helping us to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, and to follow the paths of righteousness of God.
Can we rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances? We can confidently say, “Yes, we can.” Of course, we mean that we can do by our own might and strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Let’s continue asking to God for the Holy Spirit as our daily prayer. Our Ever-Loving Father pleases with our prayers, and He will lavishly pour the Holy Spirit in us.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Ephesians 3:20)
We’d like to share about how to wisely respond to the current worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. First, except our own family living together, consider all others as a potential source of transmitting the Coronavirus because people who are asymptomatic (no symptom of Coronavirus at all) can carry and transmit the virus. Thus, please avoid a physical contact with others, and maintain distance about two meters (or six feet). This social distancing saves lives. Please wash hands with soap about 20 seconds to wash out the Coronavirus that might be on our hands. Our hand skin is pretty thick and it protects well against the Coronavirus, but our hands frequently touch our mouth, then the Coronavirus on our hands will go into our body. We should prevent this type of infection by our own hands.
Most of all, this is the time to have a quality time with one’s own family and with God, Our Ever-Loving Father with prayers, and reading and medicating Bible every day. Please fix eyes on Jesus, who is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, and follow the foot step of Jesus Christ together with our own families in this difficult time. When this Coronavirus pandemic is over, we will all find that we are one step closer to each other among our own family members in Christ’s love and have a deeper relationship with God. Then we will go out and share this Good News with out neighbors and even strangers.
May God’s grace, protection, healing on all and especially for those who are physically suffering from the Coronavirus and those who are mourning for the loss of the loved ones due to the Coronavirus.