Irvin Wasswa- Tylertown Campus Pastor LHBC

1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[c] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

In the Summer of 2014 one of the most popular phenomena began to sweep the internet and the social media world. The movement was known as the Ice Bucket Challenge. You may have heard of it. If not, the Ice Bucket Challenge was a campaign to help raise social awareness and funding for ALS (Lou Gerig’s disease) research. The challenge consisted of you getting videoed having ice water poured on your head, and then challenging a few friends on the video to do the same thing and donate to the cause. The friends whom you challenged had 24 hours to respond to the challenge. When they did the rule was for them to say they verbally accept the challenge from you, then challenge their friends to do the same before having the ice water poured on them.  

The phenomenon exploded in popularity, as many participated all around the world. As a matter of fact, the campaign raised over $220 million dollars worldwide to help with ALS research. All that money raised was a result of many people accepting the challenge to be dunked with ice water, but also to give to the cause. 

In the book of 1 Thessalonians the Apostle Paul gives a few worthy challenges to the Christians living in Thessalonica at the time. Backtracking though, Paul was one of the ones who helped start the first church there but then was run off due to opposition. Now after several years, he was able to check in on them and saw how well they were doing as a church in living for Jesus and making Him known! Now the churches there in Thessalonica were not perfect by any means, as he had to address some of the concerns there. However, through that process Paul was able to encourage and challenge the Christians on how to continue to live for the Lord. The challenges Paul gives to the Thessalonians in chapter 5 are truths we can all take away from and apply to our lives today.

Firstly, the Apostle Paul gives the challenge to be outward focused (V.12-15). We look out for those within the body of Christ and love them. The Christian life has never been about us, but rather God and others. So we are called to look out for one another within the church. Secondly, Paul gives the challenge to be upward focused (V.16-22). How can you be a man or woman who rejoices always? Who prays without ceasing? Simple, you are a person who is upward focused. Listen, your focus and your gaze ought to be on Lord. Colossians 3 tells us to set our mind on things that are above! Our perspective changes when our minds and eyes are shifted to the Lord. Even when it is raining in your life, you are still able to rejoice in the Lord and dance in the rain. Whether the Lord is blessing or your life is leaving you stressing, you still choose to run to the Lord in prayer because you know He is both the source of your blessing, and He’s the source of your comfort! 

The Lord wants us to continue to grow in Him just like He wanted the church at Thessalonica to grow in Him. You are not going to grow in the Lord if you are focused on yourself. Paul gives us a great challenge to have an outward and an upward look. Will you choose to answer the challenge today? 

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord, thank you so much for your word. I pray today I heed the wisdom and accept the challenge from Paul to choose to not let my life be about me. Help me to have an upward and an outward type focus today. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

1 Corinthians 2:9
What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him