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The Thessalonian Church: A Cause for Rejoicing

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Paul tells the Thessalonians to “always rejoice” (I Thess. 5:16).  How could they always rejoice?  How can we? 

Sometimes it feels like there is not much to rejoice about.

The joy that Paul commands the Thessalonians is a result of the community nurturing each other with love and comfort, but also with exhortation, with urging.  In 1 Thess. ch. 5, nurturing each other means encouraging godliness, building up and esteeming those who labor among us, warning the unruly, helping the weak, and overcoming evil with good. 

This is why the Thessalonians, and we as members of the same body of Christ, must “always rejoice,” because of our concern for each other’s spiritual health, in a world that seeks to tear us down.

This kind of nurturing is no easy task.  It does not completely remove the pain from life.  It does make it bearable, and we rejoice in hope. 
 
“Always rejoice” doesn’t mean always happy and smiling.  It does mean a joy that cannot be taken away by life or death, suffering or persecution, nakedness or sword.  In Phil. 4:4, Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord,” not rejoice in your health or wealth, but in the Lord.  If Paul, from a jail cell, can say, “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice!” then we also can find our strength in the joy of the Lord. 
 
Real joy is possible because God has chosen us in Christ and called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, to be his people.

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The Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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Austin Graduate School of Theology is an Austin seminary offering accredited B.A. and M.A. ministry degrees.  Austin Grad — one of the top Christian colleges in Texas and among the top seminaries in Texas — is affiliated with the Church of Christ and is in conversation with all who confess Jesus as Lord. Austin Grad promotes faith seeking understanding and is committed to providing a high quality education for those who desire to be equipped to expand the Kingdom of God.

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