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"16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. 25 Brethren, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27 I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." 
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We are so thankful have all you, our brothers and sisters, from al over the world, with us today. 

A result of continual yielding to Christ is the spiritual fruit of joy, Galatians 5:22-23 says "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
It is this daily living in Christ, that enables us to rejoice always, even when we are less than happy. And this rejoicing in Christ is something we can choose, whatever our feelings may be. It really becomes a matter of obedience. Christian joy is not bound by circumstances or hindered by difficulties. When the believer surrenders daily, to live for Christ, the Holy Spirit creates a supernatural joy, a shalom or wellness of soul, that is not usurped by adversity or affliction.
Jesus said, in John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." In Christ we not only have joy, but the enabling for us to be more joyful.
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" Rejoicing, praying, and thanking should all be facets of our continuous daily attitude and life.
Let us bow our heads.
Heavenly Father,
Thank You for the Word You have for us today. Open hearts today for Your Word about to be heard. Help us to take it to the world with courage and boldness.  Lead us to speak the truth, with the love, compassion and gentleness of Christ, remind us that we must have convictions, and clear theology. Guard Your churches against the infiltration of false doctrine, shallow teaching and preaching, that pleases men rather than You.  Convict us to teach the truth, foundational, sound doctrine, which is essential for us to grow in faith and spiritual maturity.
This we pray in Christ's name, the head of the church
Today's Message:
"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit;  do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.  Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." 
All of God's commandments in the Bible are beyond our human ability, to obey in the flesh, so we must rely on His indwelling Holy Spirit. In fact, some of the Bible's commands are not simply difficult, they down right impossible. As a matter of fact, all of history, there was no one except Jesus has ever come close to keeping all of them.
I find it interesting that the Apostle Paul doe not offer us any type explanation. Nor does he offer any help on what these commands mean or how we are to obey them. He simply states them in staccato fashion and then, moves on! However, thankfully other Scriptures do offer some help in understanding what these commands mean and how we can begin to develop the attitudes and habits that will help us move toward the mark, even if in this life we will never obey these commands perfectly as Jesus did. 
Our passage contains three imperative, commands, directing our attitudes and actions if we would live in God’s will. Paul succinctly defines it as praying without ceasing, giving thanks in everything and rejoicing always. These are inner attitudes that Christians can choose by yielding to the Spirit daily until they become abiding and constant.

These brief but pointed to admonitions, hold for us the secret of a peaceful heart amid the turmoil and clamor of a hectic, chaotic world. The instructions of these verses are to be woven into our daily lives, until they become part of the very fabric of who we are.The first is in verse 16, "Rejoice always." The second is in verse 17, "Pray without ceasing. And lastly, in verse 18, "in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."  

These frequently misunderstood verses does not mean that one is to be rejoicing praying, and giving thanks every minute of the day, nor does it necessarily call for an individual’s maintaining always an attitude of prayer. Obviously, to pray without ceasing means something other than constantly saying prayers, or the command is an impossibility. In other words, it is not in the moving of ones lips, but an the elevation of the heart. The discipline of unceasing prayer to me means nothing less than practicing the presence of God in everything that we do. The continual awareness of God’s presence means to live with a growing awareness that God is always present with you.

We know that prayer was important in the early church. It was a high and holy experience when the church united in prayer. Today, many churches call on someone to lead in prayer, having no idea whether that person is even in fellowship with God. We also know that thanksgiving is also an essential element of worship. As we grow in our application of the Word of God, we must also grow in our expression of praise. If a local church is "growing in grace" the congregation will want to learn new hymns in order to give praise to God. If the heart and head do not keep pace with each other, Christian worship becomes less spiritual and more hypocritical. verse 18 requires trust in the sovereignty of Christ. I'd like to draw your attention that the text says "in everything, not for everything." While I may not be able to give thanks for all of the things that happen, I can give thanks "in everything," for the confidence that God is always present and is always at work for good. 

Through many of the great dramas the Bible, we are taught that the belief that God is at work for good in the lives of His people, no matter what. There was nothing good in Joseph’s brothers selling him to the Ishmaelite traders. There was nothing good about the injustices he experienced from Potiphar's wife. But, in retrospect, Joseph could say of it all in Genesis 50:20, "You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good." 

In Romans 8:28, Paul teaches us "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

Beloved, we must never forget that God is at work in and through our circumstances, and often in spite of the way things might appear. Gratitude is a life-changing, happiness inducing choice.

In verses 19 through 21, Paul instructs us "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;  abstain from every form of evil."
Apart from God’s Word, we have no certain revelation from the Lord. Worship that ignores the Bible is not spiritual. Worship that ignores the Bible is not spiritual. While there may be emotion, unless there is spiritual truth, the Holy Spirit is not at work. I believe that it is important that we allow the Spirit of God, to teach us the Word of God when we meet to worship. 
The life of the believer is to be oriented lived in fellowship with God’s Spirit. This constant awareness  requires certain disciplines of devotion or prayer. You begin by dying to self by the power of the cross. Then you present yourself to God’s Presence, to love and worship Him, to offer all you are are, or doing or bearing to Him and placing your mind, body, soul and strength at His feet.
Verse 22-24, Paul says we are to " abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." The purpose of worship is that we might become more like Christ in character and conduct. Here, Paul is emphasizing the balance in Christian living: The negative in verse 22, and the positive in verse 23. Some churches only preach the negative, or the positive, which this leads to lives and ministries that are out of balance. 
 In verses 25-26, Paul says "Brethren, pray for us, Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss."
After the corporate worship is ended, the saints minister to one another. They greet one another and seek to encourage. In a lot of churches, the congregation leaves so fast, you would think the building was on fire. I have even visited some churches, in which the pastor is the first one out of the door! The "holy kiss" of Paul’s day is the same gesture as the handshake today.
Paul concludes with another reminder that the Word of God is the important thing in the local church. The Word must govern our conduct and guide our lives. We are to read the Word personally, but we also need to hear the Word in the fellowship of the local church, for the one experience helps balance the other.
In Closing...
These three exhortations the Apostle Paul give us, are not just good advice, they are God’s will for the life of every Christian. They are not the totality of God’s will, but they are a clear and important segment of it. God’s will means joy, prayer, and thanksgiving for those who are in Christ Jesus.  

As a Church family, we should always remember to pray for one another. Friends and family often greet each other in a variety of ways in various cultures. Some kiss, others hug, bow, or shake hands. The "holy kiss" likely calls for believers to express mutual love in genuine, affirming fashion.

We must express our concern for other believers to hear the message directly. Equal access to the Word of God, implies equal responsibility to obey the Word.


May it be so.. 

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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