1 Thessalonians 5
The last chapter in this letter from Paul to the Thessalonians, where he packs in his last instructions to them. How lovely to be described as ‘children of the light’. I always think of this around Halloween when the darkness comes to the fore in so much around us and the focus is on the night and evil. When he says not to sleep as others do, I am sure he doesn’t mean this literally, but is just encouraging the Christians of Thessalonica to remain aware, watching for the end times. As I get older, I am definitely more aware of situations around the world (the joy of the internet and 24 hour news!), and of the times we are in. Perhaps it is the same for each generation that they feel things can’t get much worse. This could bring us into a state of despair, but Paul says ‘let us be sober’, in other words, don’t try and escape life by using other things (possibly alcohol, gaming or the social media), and ‘put on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet.’ We are not in this world on our own, we have a hope and a future and Jesus died to secure it! Paul wants us to encourage each other in this, building each other up. It doesn’t take a lot to encourage someone. I know just a few words from someone is enough to help me face the day when I am discouraged, alarmed or stressed with life. It is our calling to help each other out, encourage one another and make someone’s day with just a few kind words. Hardly difficult right?
At my father-in-law’s funeral, some years ago now, he wanted v16 to go on the Order of Service and he had even made bookmarks for people to take home with them, he felt it was that important. We have definitely had circumstances this year which many of us will not have felt like rejoicing over or giving thanks for but again, as Christians we can hold onto the long game, we know the end result and we can be encouraged to keep praying during this time.
For all of these efforts, to remain encouraged, joyous and to live in faith, we need the Holy Spirit. We can’t do it in our own strength! So therefore, in what ways can we quench the Holy Spirit? If we really desire the Holy Spirit in our lives, it is worth considering how it is that we can douse the flame which symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit.
As Paul mentions, we can quench the Spirit by ‘treating prophecies with contempt.’ He advises we test them, but don’t be contemptuous of what God is saying through his people. We are flawed and as Andy said on Sunday, we sometimes get it wrong, but if we are judged by others on mistakes, we are hardly likely to have a go again and the Holy Spirit is quenched.
So then the Spirit can be quenched by a judgemental spirit, where there is suppression of the work of God because of human fear, control or flawed theology. Be open to the work of the Holy Spirit and allow him to help you fly! Question your fears and check your spirit when God is working in the church.
I finish these notes with the words Paul uses at the end of his letter to the Thessalonians… ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.’