by Jo Umberger
If there were three simple things you could do to ease your mind and heart, grow closer to God, and increase your joy, how fast would you run toward them?
Consider how our lives would change if we were to practice this Scripture consistently and daily.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (New International Version)
To rejoice means to recognize God’s favor and be glad about it. God’s favor is abundant! From a spiritual perspective, He has expressed far greater love than we can imagine by giving His only Son, perfect in every way, as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus willingly went to the cross; He is an obedient son who loves His Father and us in a way that we cannot comprehend.
God also provides for our physical needs. Certainly we may not have everything we want, but He never promised that we would.
Certainly the circumstances of life don’t always lend themselves to rejoicing but we always have a choice about which perspective we will take. Up or down. Joy or sadness.
We can make it a practice to take time throughout the day and consider how God has blessed us then say to Him, “Lord, this blessing is favor from You and I’m glad. I rejoice in you!”
A minister made this easier for me to grasp when he paraphrased it this way, “Stay in touch with God.”
We are bombarded with messages. How much time do we spend in conversation on the phone or in-person? How many times a day do we check social media, emails, or texts? What if we were to spend this much effort staying in touch with God?
Imagine how much peace we could have if we were to take our cares to the Father instead of pondering them over and over and over. How much more focused we would be if we were to seek His wisdom by praying over decisions instead of reacting to life’s challenges immediately!
Interceding for other people in the Name of Jesus is an important part of our prayer lives. Not only does God bless others, but we are also blessed when we focus on the needs of others. It gives us an opportunity to serve when we can as well as a broader perspective. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what’s happening in our own lives that we forget (or don’t make the time to learn) what others are going through. Praying for others benefits everyone involved.
One of my challenges of praying throughout the day is remembering to do so. It takes practice!
Give thanks in all circumstances
We are not told to give thanks FOR all circumstances. Jesus specifically said we would have trouble in this world. But is there anything for which we can choose to be thankful — even in the midst of trouble?
Giving thanks to God is one way to glorify God, to worship Him. Giving thanks demonstrates that we are paying attention and that we are not taking God’s blessings for granted. Giving thanks centers our minds on the blessings He continually pours on us.
Psychologists say that focusing on the things for which we are thankful provides multiple benefits. Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, identifies 7 benefits of gratitude.
When I focus on the spiritual blessings, people, situations, and things for which I am thankful, my mind and heart are happy. Let’s choose to focus on these things instead of negative, hurtful or even painful thoughts.
When we rejoice, pray, and give thanks, our spirit has an opportunity to rise above the hurtful and ugly things in this life. Our minds and hearts are more at ease, we grow closer to God, and our joy is increased.
Will you or I allow anything to keep us from running toward God in these ways?
If you have questions about how to follow Jesus or deepen your relationship with Him, email us at NLBIministry@gmail.com.