#MeditationMonday – Out of the abundance of a man’s heart, his mouth speaks.
Welcome, dearly beloved. I pray the mercies of God be with you throughout this week. I hope to encourage and build you up in the Lord. I pray you gain a deeper understanding of these verses. As you grow in knowledge and understanding, may you be empowered to share your convictions with others.
We discussed in a separate blog post, the first 4 things God wants us to do in 2018 from our #MeditationMonday verse: I Thessalonians 5: 12 – 22.
Once again, they are:
- 1 Thessalonians 5:12 – To Respect our leaders
- 1 Thessalonians 5:13 – To Live in peace with each other
- 1 Thessalonians 5:13 – To Admonish the idle
- 1 Thessalonians 5:14 – To Encourage the fainthearted
- 1 Thessalonians 5:14 – To Help the weak, be patient with them
- 1 Thessalonians 5:15 – To Repay evil with good
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – To Rejoice
- I Thessalonians 5:17 – To Pray
- I Thessalonians 5:18 – To Give Thanks
- I Thessalonians 5:19 – To Quench Not (or grieve not) the Holy Spirit
- I Thessalonians 5:20-21 – To Despise not prophecy/prophesying, test everything
- I Thessalonians 5:21-22 – To Hold fast to good, abstain from evil
We will be discussing the final 4 in this post and the excerpt of scripture reads:
Always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. Don’t stop the work of the Holy Spirit. Don’t treat prophecy like something that is not important. But test everything. Keep what is good, and stay away from everything that is evil. [ERV]
Alright, let’s jump in!
9. Give Thanks In All Circumstances.
He who thanks God for all things as happening for the best, will have continuous joy. [Matthew Henry’s Commentary]
So last week we discussed what it means to pray without ceasing. Now, if prayer is the first step to rejoicing always, the second is to give thanks in all circumstances. God greatly desires for His children to appreciate Him no matter what we may be going through (I Thessalonians 5:18 – for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you). When we give thanks in the face for plenty or scarcity, good or evil, blessings or persecution, love or hate; it truly demonstrates our devotion to God and His kingdom.
We often quote Romans 8:28 (and even sometimes out of context) but fail to put it into practice. Those who truly believe that all things are working out for their good will be able to give thanks despite their present predicament. They will turnover all things into the hands of God, giving thanks and trusting His sovereignty to guide them into His best-laid plans.
So give thanks, no matter what the circumstance. For we are but threads in the tapestry of God’s grace. We never see the full picture of His plans. It is easy to fill our flesh with resentment and bitterness over our present predicament, but it is much rewarding in the long run to give thanks to God knowing that He is right there with us, holding our hand and comforting us through it all.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
Isaiah 43:2 [ESV]
Don’t be like the disciples who were fearful despite having Jesus in their boat (Mark 4:35-41). We ought to give thanks not because we like our situation, but because God is PRESENT in our situation and that’s the best news; a reassuring comfort and the most trustworthy solution we could ever hope for!
10. Don’t Quench The Spirit.
It may astonish many of us that the Holy Spirit in us can be quenched. Yes, quenched. As in, put out, extinguished, stifled, suppressed and reduced to silence. That sounds so scary! By my decisions, choices, actions and lifestyle, I can silence the Holy Spirit. What a dangerous thought! May this never befall you in Jesus name!
To further explain this concept MHC describes the Spirit as a holy fire:
Quench not the Spirit. The Spirit being a holy fire: “where the Spirit is, He burns” (Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:3; 7:51).
As Christians, the baptism of the Spirit works in us like a fire, enlightening and purifying our souls. However, just as fire can be put out by taking away fuel or pouring a great deal of water or earth on it; the spirit in us can also be suppressed to silence when we refuse to open ourselves up to the leading of the Holy Spirit. By doing this, believers hinder their growth in grace and maturity.
The fastest way to quench the Holy Spirit is continuous disobedience. To demonstrate this, look no further than the examples of Samson and King Saul. Their stories reveal that disobedience quenched the influence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Therefore, it is important to always listen to whatever the Holy Spirit tells you. In this context, listening means obedience. Where he instructs you or rebukes you, heed His words. If you stop listening (obeying), He stops speaking.
A life of obedience is a life that will be full, in an ever-increasing measure of the Holy Spirit. If you do not do what He says, He will leave you to do your will, which will certainly lead to your destruction. It is a dangerous thing to quench the spirit, so let’s always be on the watch.
If you suspect you’ve been living a life that has silenced the Holy Spirit in some way, there is hope for you yet. Just as a fire is quenched by effort, by the same effort it can also be restored. Just like Samson in his last hour repented and regained His strength, you too can repent, heed the Holy Spirit’s last instructions to you and begin to rekindle the fire.
NB: The next two instructions are specific ways we can avoid quenching the spirit.
11. Don’t Despise Prophecies; Test Everything.
One way to quench the spirit is to have a complete lack of tolerance for prophecy. God often communicates his heart to us through prophecies inspired by the Holy Spirit. These prophecies may not always be predictive but can come in form of words of encouragement from others. To disregard such messages when they are given to you or to ignore a prompting by the Holy Spirit to share such messages with a(n) (un)believer, grieves the Holy Spirit.
You see, the reason is that the Holy Spirit is in us to get out. The Holy Spirit is not just in us to stay in us and work in us alone, He also wants to work through us to touch others. Whenever He desires to use us in one way or another to minister to others and we refuse or ignore his leading, we begin to suppress Him and reduce Him to silence.
It is true that there are those who have faced disappointment because one “prophecy” or the other they were told never materialised, so they choose to stop trusting in prophecies altogether. However, this is not the approach scripture encourages us to adopt in response to such situations.
To avoid disappointments which occur when false prophets minister, scripture encourages us, to test everything (not just prophecy alone) rather than despise it altogether. Therefore, it is important to have the gift of “discerning of spirits” whenever we engage the prophetic and ensure that whatever is professed accords with scripture. (I Corinthians 12:10, 14:29, I John 4:1, Isaiah 8:20; Acts 17:11, Gal.1:8-9).
See more on testing the spirits.
12. Hold Fast To Good. Abstain From Evil.
Another way to quench the spirit is to disregard good and instead hang on to what is evil. It seems like something a devoted Christian would never do, but let’s take a look at the full instruction one more time:
Hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
This instruction can be divided into 3 levels.
First, see it as one that carries on from the instruction on prophecy. What you ought to do right after testing every prophecy is to keep the good and throw away the evil.
As the result of our “proving all things,” especially all prophecies, we ought to “hold fast to the good, and keep ourselves from every appearance of evil”
Second, implement this instruction in your relationship with others.
An important part of holding fast to good and abstaining from evil is watching how we respond to offences which arise in the course of dealing with people, especially those who are in our family of believers.
How many times have we held on to evil words and things that people have spoken or done to us? Not only do we hold on to them, we meditate on them, bury them deep in our hearts and reguritate them as soon as we get the first opportunity!
Someone offends you, you bury it someplace safe in your heart, pretend you have forgiven them, only for it to resurface as gossip or a means to chastise the next time the same person does something wrong.
Beloved, God holds fast to our good, not our evil deeds and we who are made in His image ought to demonstrate the same in good measure to others! Just as 3 John 11 encourages us:
Do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
Finally, you must incorporate this instruction in your relationship with God.
When scripture speaks of abstaining from evil, we often imagine not doing bad things to other people i.e. wickedness, which is “action-based” and is committed by one person against another.
However, it is better to think of the general notion of evil in terms of sin. All form of sin is evil. Therefore, to abstain from evil is to abstain from sin and maintain your intimacy with God. He alone is good, and we must hold fast to Him and throw whatever threatens our hold on Him in the gutter.
In Matthew 18:9 Jesus makes a very chilling statement:
If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
How serious are you about avoiding sin?
Are you serious enough about holding fast to God that you would cut off anything that prevents you from doing so? Are you serious enough about abstaining from every form of evil that you would go to great lengths to tear it out and throw it away?
These are questions worth thinking deeply about. How committed are you to holding fast to God? Will your hold be affected by circumstances, external forces or the opinions of people? As you ponder on these questions, I leave you with one last charge:
Abstain from sin, and whatever looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it. He who is not shy of the appearances of sin, who shuns not the occasions of it, and who avoids not the temptations and approaches to it, will not long keep from doing sin.
– Matthew Henry’s Commentary
That’s a wrap everyone! 12 things God wants you to do in 2018. Hope it’s been edifying, hope you’ve been blessed and you already noted a couple of things you would like to put into practice. This year, I pray Abba gives you the grace and strength to put your money where your mouth is. As you do so, may you find growth, fruitfulness and unending devotion. In Jesus name, Amen.