Young adults tussle with knowing God’s will. They change their major four times, often wonder whom God will send their way to marry, and many struggle with finding the right job. Well, Paul spelled it out: ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). Can’t get any clearer. If we do these three things, tough issues we face just got easier. Guaranteed. Not that it won’t take concentration or time or sweat or waiting, but these three exhortations place us in the center of God’s plan for us, not on the periphery. Here goes:


How about, “Rejoice sometimes?” I can pull that one off. When the team wins or when the neighbor asks for forgiveness for being annoying, it makes sense to rejoice. Why always? Because “always” says that what is threatening me is not a threat to God, that God is bigger, stronger, smarter than I am, that he is truly involved in EVERY detail of my life.


How do we manage this? I’ve been asking God to teach me how to pray unceasingly. Not there yet by a long shot. I don’t think it means non-stop prayer. It does mean that every circumstance in life, positive, neutral, negative, calls for prayer, an attitude of dependence that turns continually toward the Father for what the situation requires. That is doable if we remain childlike as we grow up. Praying in the Spirit helps us fulfill this command–when we rise, while driving, working in the garden, as we hit the sack.


How is this different from the first command? We say, “Under the circumstances, I need to respond this way.” Question: what are you doing under the circumstances? We are told to live not by the circumstance but by the will of heaven. If we believe that some circumstances are able to take us down and maybe out, we just lost. Our God is not proficient enough to see us through, so we are on our own. Apparently the three young men who chose the furnace rather than bowing the knee knew that he was. In fact, he chose to show up in the furnace with them. Cool!

Okay, let’s face it. We cannot possibly fulfill these commands. Does God really expect us to pull off these impossible commands? Wait a minute. What command from heaven is doable? What about loving your enemies or overturning evil with good? We desperately need the Holy Spirit working in our emotions and wills to fulfill what God commands. The Christian life is supernatural from start to finish. Paul writes that “he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). The holy will of God is fulfilled IN us, not BY us.That is really good news. The Holy Spirit who works in bodies that have become his temple does the will and purpose of God as we yield to his supernatural influence in our lives. Come, Holy Spirit!

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