Joy, Prayer, Thanksgiving

Three verses together that are very short, taking up only 20 words combined.


1 Thess 5:16-18 每


16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.


Paul is writing to the people in the new church, he wants to be as direct as possible, gives amazing final instructions and directions / encouragements. This is how they should live.


Difference between happiness (pleasure, amusement, delighted about a particular thing) and joy. Joy is more like a state of mind, an attitude, a way of life.

Quote I heard on radio 每 you'll find a lot of happiness or fun at the mall, but not necessarily joy.


Rejoice and ask God for things with a thankful heart (Phil 4)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Being joyful does not mean that you always have to be happy and laughing and smiling. There are appropriate times to be sad and in mourning. The Bible says there is a time for that, and even Jesus had times when he was sad or angry or tired. Instead, you should view joy as an overall mindset, a condition in your heart that will allow you to have a different perspective regardless of your circumstances.


James 1 每 trials may be considered joy

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


I heard in a radio program once: Certain circumstance may cause you to be happy, but being joyful should not depend on the circumstances. Like verse 18 says, be joyful in all circumstances.



It's easy to rejoice when things are going our way, but how do you feel when unplanned or unpredictable things start happening?

Story about parking and driving and traffic.

Driving is the one thing in this are that can turn even the nicest person into a maniac.

Getting there early or late, can be God's way of watching out for you, how do you know?

Accident, - it is not you in the accident.

Parking 每 timing

Speeding 每 won't get caught

99.9% of the time you are safe and nothing happens to you, we are not thankful for that, instead we go crazy and curse God and others when one little "bad" thing happens in that 0.1% of the time. That's not good. I used to be a maniac, now I have learned to calm down and take it easy 每 no point in getting all crazy over trivial traffic matters. God is watching over you and he is completely sovereign to the point where even these things will not get passed him. Some times you are late for things or you miss things because that is what is supposed to happen.


Story about Jonas 每 his job situation and how he was content the whole way through, in fact had some of his closest times to the LORD during that period.


Jesus must be the course of our joy. That is why we can rejoice.

Jesus warning to disciples that life here on earth is going to get hard, but "be cheerful"

John 16:33

33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.§


Romans 5 每 we can rejoice because Christ has redeemed us, we have been justified and forgiven or our sins.


1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we a have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Non-Christian kids at school, many of them have nothing to hope for, don't know Jesus, seem not very joyful at all day in and day out. Get upset over the littlest of things. We should have a different mindset because we have this eternal hope.


Praying 每


Many Muslims pray 5 times a day, I wanted to follow it too:

Wake up, lunch, after work, dinner, before sleep

I found it so hard because I always forgot.

Bill Hybels' book "too busy not to pray"

Saying short prayers, just by remembering people during your day. Hearing about things that touch you, that's a time to lift them up to the Lord.

Getting an email about someone who is sick, seeing on the news something tragic.

Hearing about the tornado at the Alabama high school.

Good reminders 每 before a meal 每 don't make it 10 seconds long, actually pray for something substantial, many people rush through meal prayers. I heated my meals in microwave oven for 2 minutes, I would pray during those two minutes.

When you see an ambulance 每 a reminder that someone is in need, pray for safety, that particular person, and remember those ailing people that you may know.


Giving Thanks 每 Goes together with rejoicing, when you have joy, you are able to give thanks. Thanks has lost a lot of its meaning in recent years in our society.

Really mean it, don*t say it with sarcasm or with an opposite meaning practically

"oh thanks, gee thanks, thanks a lot, no thanks, thank YOU! sheesh" all come out the wrong way.

(like "thanks but no thanks, I could have done it on my own")


People were ungrateful during Jesus' time too - Luke 17:11-17

11Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"

 14When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.

 15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him〞and he was a Samaritan.

 17Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."


Story about letters of recommendation 每

Every year teachers write dozens and dozens of letters, but very few are thanked in the end sincerely.

Many kids act all nice in the beginning when requesting it, but later only a small percentage are truly grateful (they buy me a necktie). This is unfortunate, but this is human nature.


I think that when we give thanks for something, or we go and thank someone personally, it takes a lot of humility because you are really saying "thanks I could not have done it without you."

This is very contrary to human nature especially in our culture. Capitalism, land of opportunity, you can make it on your own, you can get rich, win big have great success on your own. To thank someone almost feels like a sign of weakness, as if you needed someone else to help you get through something or accomplish something, you are dependant on them and you can't do it on your own.

Of course you do! We all need help 每 ultimately our existence and life depends on God. We can do nothing without him. But people like to think we are in control of everything and decide everything by ourselves so we refuse to give thanks, or are reluctant to give thanks.


Go out and serve, experience what it is like, when you have a heart of humility and a attitude of service, you'll know what it's like to do it, and in return you'll be more thankful when you see other people do the same thing for you too because you know what it's like (being grateful for people at marathon water station). I couldn't have done it without them.


Lake Champion bike accident, Brad driving me to hospital and staying with me the whole night. I was completely powerless, I definitely needed him, I was embarrassed, humiliated since I was supposed to be good at bikes, and it was the first day of camp.


Our great examples 每 Paul, David, Daniel and ultimately JESUS


2 Cor 11:16 每

Paul boasts about his sufferings, he is not ashamed of the, he sees them as an important part of his life and his not happy that they happened, but understands the meaning of the in God's greater plan for his life, because of this he is joyful. Paul wrote many of his letters while in the midst of suffering, imprisoned, persecuted.


Acts 16 每 Paul and Silas were in prison, they were wrongly accused and unfairly treated so they were not necessarily happy, but they were joyful as they prayed and sang:


22The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. 27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!"


Prophet Daniel 每 gave thanks to God even though there was a new law that persecuted him, and even though it meant he was risking his life.

Daniel 6 -

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: "Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?"  The king answered, "The decree stands〞in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed."


Psalm 28 每 David joyful and thankful despite all his hardship. (Being chased by Saul, hunted, War within own family)

6 Praise be to the LORD,

       for he has heard my cry for mercy.

 7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;

       my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.

       My heart leaps for joy

       and I will give thanks to him in song.

 8 The LORD is the strength of his people,

       a fortress of salvation for his anointed one


Heb 12:1-3

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Jesus suffered with the mindset of joy.

How could it possibly have been joyful? Although it was a terrible ordeal. He knew exactly what was going to happen. (story of Ben V). My friend said that Jesus was completely confident and obedient in going to the cross, and that he was relaxed, ready to go, comfortable, but I don't think so. He was obedient, but I think it was not a walk in the park. It was a tough decision, Jesus was very emotional, it was very hard on him, it was not an enjoyable time. Yet he still gave thanks.


Luke 22


39Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." 41He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." 43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46"Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."


Jesus was not happy about going to the cross, he was not having fun, but he was joyful.


Matt 26 每 Jesus knew what was about to happen, and he was performing the first communion knowing that it was his own sacrifice for them that was being represented, yet he "gave thanks" for it.

26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." 27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."


Appreciate the little things, sometimes only when they are gone will you appreciate them.

Story about not smiling or laughing because of a cut in the mouth.