Pray Without Ceasing

My devotional reading today reminded me of Paul’s instructions to the church in Thessalonica,

” Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The quote was written by H.L. Sidney Lear:

It is a good thing to have fixed seasons for lifting up the heart to God, not merely the appointed hours of prayer, but a momentary act before and after meals, beginning any occupation, entering into society, leaving the house, etc. Especially it is a help to make such brief acts after having said or done anything either wrong or foolish, after any trifling vexation or disappointment, when the spirit feels, it may be, wounded and desolate, or when one’s vanity is annoyed at having been guilty of some little folly or unseemliness. Sometimes we are more really troubled and sore at trifles of this sort than at far weightier things. But if all such things were met with a momentary uplifting of the heart to God, all these little frailties and worries would tend to mould the character more and more to God’s pattern, and they would assuredly lose their sting; for he who thinks much of God will daily think less of himself.”

For more on prayer see these posts:

Begin With Prayer

The Holy Spirit and Prayer

Prayer and Charity

Rejoice!

“A bright, happy soul, rejoicing in all God’s gifts, seeing cause for thankfulness and gladness in everything, counting up mercies rather than trials, looking at the bright side, even of sickness, bereavement, and death — what a very fountain of goodness and love of Christ such a one is!  I remember one who, worn with sickness and sleepless nights, answered to the question if the nights did not seem interminable:  ‘Oh, no, I lie still, and count up my blessings!”

HL. Sidney Lear

This quote was part of my devotional reading a few days ago.  It seemed very personal, as I also often have sleepless nights (no, I’m not sick, it’s just age-related!).  It also made me think of the hymn we sang in church this past Sunday, Rejoice the Lord is King.  It was written by Charles Wesley in 1746 for Hymns on the Great Festivals and Other Occasions, and it certainly inspires a joyful heart.

For more hymns about rejoicing see these posts:

The Story Behind “Good Christian Men, Rejoice”

On Our Way Rejoicing

O Come

 

 

 

Content in All Circumstances

In Chapter 4 of Philippians, the Paul tells his readers that he has learned to be calm and peaceful, no matter what was going on in his life.

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:11-13

Paul had certainly been through a lot — he had been shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, whipped, thrown into prison and rejected.  Yet he realized that those difficulties had taught him to depend upon God.  They had molded him into the person God wanted him to be.

This quote by H. L. Sidney Lear also explains why we should be content in the place we find ourselves:

“Do not let your growth in holiness depend upon surrounding circumstances, but rather constrain those circumstances to minister to your growth.  Beware of looking onward, or out of the present in any way, for the sanctification of your life.  The only thing you can really control is the present–the actual moment that is passing by.  Sanctify that from hour to hour, and you will sanctify your whole life.  The little act of obedience, love, self-restraint, meekness, patience, devotion, offered to you actually, is all you can do now, and if you neglect that to fret about something else at a distance, you lose your real opportunity of serving God.  A moment’s silence, when some irritating words are said by another, may seem a very small thing;  yet at that moment it is your one duty, your one way of serving and pleasing God, and if you break it you have lost your opportunity.”

So — live for God in the moment, accepting your circumstances.  Every situation, handled rightly will become part of your growth in grace and understanding.  Trust God.  He is the Potter — you are the clay.

For more on contentment see this post:

Good Stewards are Content

For another quote by H.L. Sidney Lear see this post:

Hold Your Tongue!

 

 

 

 

Hold Your Tongue!

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

We’ve all read this verse, and we all know how difficult it can be to comply with it.  Taming the tongue is no easy task.  Here’s some advice I came across in my devotional reading:

“The habit of letting every foolish or uncharitable thought, as it arises, find words, has a great deal to do with much evil in the world.  Check the habit of uttering the words, and gradually you will find that you check the habit of thought, too.  A resolution always to turn to some distinctly good thought when a complaining or unkind one arises in the mind, is a great help–as it is to turn every thought condemnatory of our neighbor into a prayer for him.  We never can continue to dislike people for whom we pray.”

H. L. Sidney Lear

This would make a great New Year’s Resolution — instead of complaining or criticizing that difficult person, pray for them.  It will make the world (and our lives) better.

For more on taming the tongue see these posts:

Live at Peace/Tame Your Tongue

Zip It by Karen Ehman–Book Review