(If you want to see it in context, the URL is https://www.ibethel.org/features/written%20word/index.php?f=word.php&d=108 and its a bit more than half way down--I'd search for some words from it to find it quickly.)
Now, I don't know about you guys, but if I'm in prison and there's an earthquake, the chains fall off my arms and legs and the door flings open, I would say, "Jehovah Jireh. God has provided for me again. I'm out of here!" I would be out of there as fast as you can imagine. I'm gone because it's obvious it's the will of God. "Praise God! My worship worked again. It shook that thing. That poor guard, he's going to die because I got out of here, but you know, oh well. He shouldn't have been keeping me in prison in the first place." That's what I'm thinking, but not this guy. He's worshipping God and the earthquake comes. That's quite an earthquake, to knock those locked chains off your wrists and feet; it knocks him to the ground and the doors fling open. That's weird all by itself. The doors fling open and Paul senses, "I wasn't a prisoner when I was put in here. Opening the doors doesn't make me freer. I'm smelling harvest. I smell some fish that are about to be caught. Since my primary goal in life is to catch fish, I'm going to stay in the most unusual fishing hole I've ever been in. Uh, sir, about to kill yourself? You'll notice that we're all here." That was enough of a witness. This guy had to know the same Jesus. He surrendered immediately to Christ. Then his entire family got saved.
There is something enduring about joy. I could have chosen this habit out of a number of saints in Scripture, but this is one of the most unique and remarkable illustrations in the Bible.
Probably ten to thirteen years ago now, I just really felt impressed to take six months and work on three verses of the Bible to see if I could learn how to apply the instructions to my life. It's out of 1 Thessalonians 5. It says,"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks." I thought, "You know, those three commands are all-inclusive. If I could learn to do those three things, I'd have everything else in my life come together." So I would quote it throughout my day. I'd think about it as I was going about my day, "Rejoice always." That's real demanding, because that means in everything! That means I just have to choose joy and express it in every situation. Some situations are easier than others. Then there's the "pray without ceasing;" that's really demanding, too. Man, this is all or nothing here; I've got to stay in communion with the Lord constantly. Then, "In everything give thanks." No room for error here. Do these three things all the time. Always be thankful and happy, and pray about everything. So I came to the conclusion, if I could learn those three things, I'd be a saint.
People come to me and say, "I just need to know God's will for my life."
I tell them, "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks." The next phrase is, "For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
"Yeah, but I need to know whether to take this job or whether I should live in Portland or I should live in San Jose."
"It makes very little difference, if you rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks."
"Yeah, but I don't know what to do for my occupation."
"Pump gas or be a doctor, it doesn't matter to me. But just rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks. This is the will of God. Everything else is trivial."
"Yeah, but I don't know if I should go to the School of Ministry or go to college." "I don't care. It's a win-win situation. Just rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything, give thanks."
I really want to learn this principle. I want to learn to live by 1 Thess. 5:16-18. I think it will help erase a lot of my unesscisary worry, and help remind me that God is always present no matter what I'm doing. I am going to try to focus on this during this month of June, and I think it will be especially helpful as I try to finish up all my summer class work this month. Prayers for this focus on Him would be great!