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God’s Will

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

For the last two days, we have looked at “Rejoice always” and “pray continually.” Today, we turn to the end of this scripture. Not the “give thanks in all circumstances,” but the ending part,”God’s will for you (us).” 

When we speak of God’s will, there are two components: His decretive will and His preceptive will

By God’s decretive will, I mean the providential actions, divine appointments, and the unfolding of history that aligns with his overarching plan for His creation. For example, God’s plan of redemption involved taking human form in Jesus Christ, who suffered, died for our salvation, and was resurrected so we may have eternal life. But, 

God’s preceptive will relates to His revealed commandments in scripture—the law and the Gospel—for human conduct. It guides how we should live but does not necessarily dictate immediate consequences. For example, when God commands us not to steal, the decree does not guarantee that theft will never occur.

This passage offers two ways to interpret God’s prescriptive will. The first is a commandment–do these things because God tells you to (“or else”). If you don’t, there will be consequences. Rejoice, pray, and give thanks because it’s what God demands. 

I don’t think that’s what Paul means, though. The second way of reading this is from a sense of deliverance that comes from our salvation. This interpretation is in keeping with His overall message of love and desire for us. His passion goes beyond mere commands; it reflects His heart and longing for a relationship with us. While His precepts are explicit instructions, His desires reveal His character and intentions. 

What are some of the things God desires?

  • Relationship: He longs for us to know Him intimately, to walk with Him, and to experience His love (Hosea 6:6; John 17:3).

  • Holiness: He desires that we live holy lives, set apart for His purposes (1 Peter 1:15-16).

  • Repentance: He desires that we turn from sin and return to Him (2 Peter 3:9).

  • Love: He desires that we love Him and others (Matthew 22:37-39).

  • Justice and Mercy: He desires justice and mercy (Micah 6:8).

  • Transformation: He desires to transform us into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

God’s desire is not merely about obedience but a deep, personal connection with Him. When we love God, we respond with rejoicing, prayer, and giving thanks because we want to, not because it’s expected.

Heavenly Father, we come before You with hearts full of gratitude and a deep desire to please You. Your Word encourages us always to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in all circumstances. Lord, grant us hearts that beat in rhythm with Yours. May our lives reflect Your love, and may our desires align with Your will not from a sense of obligation and fear of consequences but simply because we love You. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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