Title: GERMS THAT MAKE US CONTAGIOUS
Text: 1 Thess. 5:16-22
The most magnetic people on earth ought to be those of us who are in the family of God. As Christians, we have reason to be infectiously enthusiastic...we are at peace with the Lord, we have our destiny set before us, we know the difference between the essential and the important, and we possess all the power we need to live life to the fullest. Deep within we should have an authentic excitement that we couldn’t contain even if we tried. If we lack this winsome zest for life, it’s because we have become too preoccupied with the battles and demands of life. We need to hear a positive and uplifting word. We need to know how we can enjoy life rather than merely endure it. Let’s perk up our ears and listen to the counsel God has to give us in these verses that will inoculate us with the germs that make us contagious.
We have a choice every day: We can either spread poison or encouragement; dissension or peace; despair or hope. God has told us what choice He desires us to make: 1 Thess. 5:11. Put another way: “Make edifying others a regular habit of your life. Be a contagious encourager!”
Last time we saw three groups of gifts that we can give to one another every day that cost nothing in dollars. Those were in three categories: Those kindly requested (5:12), those commanded (5:13), and those urgently needed (5:14-15). There are occasions when we all need to confront the undisciplined, put courage into the discouraged, strengthen the weak, exercise patience with all people, and replace retaliation with acts of kindness.
In our text, Paul continues to reveal the traits that will make us infectious encouragers. As he does so, let’s look for keys to experience a life permeated with joy and zest. Read Text!
1. Rejoice always (5:16). Can a person mask being sad or hurting? Can you mask being genuinely joyful? What characteristics do truly joyful people display?
2. When joy doesn’t permeate your life, would you say that you allowed circumstances to dictate the way you live? What can you do the next time that happens?
3. Pray unceasingly (5:17). Which should come first...a joyful heart, or unceasing prayer? How does unceasing prayer produce a joyful heart?
4. How often are we to pray? What do you think that means?
Comment: Pray transfers our burdens from our shoulders to the shoulders of God, and it puts us in contact with the supreme source of all wisdom. No wonder prayer can free us from the anchors of life that drag us down and drain our joy.
5. Give thanks in everything (5:18). Does the text say to give thanks for everything? What’s the difference between that and what the text does say?
6. Do you understand everything that occurs in your life? Do you have to? Do you trust God to know what He is doing in your life? Rom. 8:28
7. Do not quench the Spirit (5:19). Can a believer lose the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit? Is that what this verse means? Heb. 13:5 What does this verse mean then? How does this happen?
8. Will God’s Spirit force a believer through the process of becoming holy? How can we prevent this from happening?
9. When the Holy Spirit has full control of our lives, what things does He do with us that make us contagious?
10. Do not despise prophetic utterances (5:20). What do you think must have happened in Thessalonica that caused Paul to have to write this to them? Why should we not despise prophetic messages from God’s messengers? What can we do to be quick to hear and respond to God’s Word?
11. How can we be certain when it really is the Lord who is speaking to us through sources other than the Bible?
12. What criteria should we use in our judgments? When someone draws us away from good and leads us toward evil, are they acting on the Lord’s behalf?
Three tests: 1) _________________________________________________________________________
There are three things all of us need to do in response to God’s Word in our text:
1. Remember the goal - to build up others in the Lord.
2. Resist cheap imitations of genuine joy, regular prayer, a grateful spirit, a Spirit empowered life, and biblical discernment.
3. Release the fear of what others may say or think.
Other pointers as to what we can do:
1. Have a well-developed sense of humor. Don’t take life with such rigid seriousness.
2. Have an optimistic view of today and tomorrow.
3. Have a happy, lighthearted spirit that refuses to get it’s agenda from the morning newspaper.
4. Focus on prevention and cures instead of allowing plagues, problems, and diseases to overwhelm you.
5. Cultivate the ability to step back and laugh at yourself.