By Andrew Hartzler, associate professor of accounting at Goshen College
Reprinted from Advent Devotions
Within many of us there is an innate desire to believe in something greater than ourselves. For Christians, this belief is rooted in the creator God of the Bible, a God whose Word became flesh incarnate in Jesus Christ. After his death and resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven and left with us his Holy Spirit. It is this Holy Spirit that Christ calls us by faith to reach out to and commune with in our daily lives. In John 15:4, Jesus exhorts us to “Abide in me as I Abide in you.” Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, offers some advice on how to “abide” in Jesus.
Verses 16 – 19 of today’s text call us to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in all circumstances, and to not quench the Holy Spirit. In my faith journey, I have recognized that it is part of the human condition to struggle to rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances. When we rely on our own abilities and develop expectations based on what we believe we can accomplish, we are frequently disappointed because of our own fallibility (i.e. we are not God). In order to rejoice always, we must pray without ceasing (daily), that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, would guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). This peace comes when we trust that God is in control of the universe and when we admit that we are in fact not in control. When by faith we can do this, we truly have cause to rejoice always.
Holy Spirit, help me to relinquish control of my circumstances to you each day, and fill me with your peace; that my spirit may find rest in you.
SCRIPTURE: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 (NRSV)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this..