I love the verse in 1st Thessalonians 5:19 that says, “Don’t quench the Spirit.” In other translations it says, “Don’t put the Spirit’s fire out.” I love that! It is the statement that when life is hard and we’ve been through difficult times, it is God’s Holy Spirit that comes to ignite that fire, that zest, that enthusiasm for living in our lives rather than letting us become depressed and tired and cynical or bitter.
This verse was part of the first letter that Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica after receiving a good report from Timothy that the church was doing well in spite of great hardship. Paul was so pleased and wrote to tell them how proud he was of them and also to encourage them. This is the message that Paul had for the people in Thessalonica and it is a message that applies to us, today. I want us to think about how Paul tells us we can do this by doing three things.
He says first of all, rejoice always. Rejoice always. Sometimes you and I think that we have to wait and have good circumstances in order to rejoice. We have to wait for good things to happen to us in order to rejoice. That’s not what Paul says. He says rejoice always. In your circumstances you can rejoice. You don’t have to wait for something good to happen to you in order to rejoice. We discover that within life it is a choice that we get to make. Paul knew that things were hard for the people in Thessalonica. It wasn’t easy, it was difficult. But he said to them rejoice always.
Secondly he said, pray constantly. Pray constantly. There are times in life when I experience such overwhelming emotion and I find myself unable to do anything other than pray. In these moments, if I just started praying, usually I feel a sense of peace from God speaking to my heart. Pray constantly for life is not always easy but when we pray we open our hearts to experience God’s Spirit and it is God’s Spirit that gives us fire, it gives us life.
Third, Paul said, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for your life.” Give thanks in all circumstances. You know it’s hard to believe we’re about to come to Thanksgiving. I don’t know where this year has gone! It always bothers me after Halloween when the focus goes straight to Christmas! What happens to Thanksgiving? What happens to setting aside a day to pray and rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances? Paul tried to say to the people in Thessalonica, I know it’s hard, life isn’t easy, give thanks, it is God’s will for you. You can choose to rejoice always. You pray constantly. And you give thanks in all circumstances for it’s God’s will for your life. You can open your heart to experience the spirit that ignites your fire and lets you live.