Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Three Simple Steps to finding the will of God in your life.

Have you ever noticed that the marketing world loves to use “Three Simple Steps” to sell us nearly anything? No matter what you may be looking for…or maybe not looking for, someone wants to sell you their fool-proof, money back guaranteed solution in just “Three Simple Steps”. There a books upon books available that utilize this principle. There is one simply called Three Simple Steps – A Map To Success In Business And Life . Another one that looked interesting was Will Work For Fun: Three Simple Steps For Turning Any Hobby Into A Business. You can find three simple steps to losing weight, buying your next car or house, cooking gourmet meals or becoming wealthy beyond your wildest dreams. There is probably somebody out there who has tried to market a book about three simple steps to counting to three…hmmm, I am an author,  maybe I should consider…no it wouldn’t be right…funny, but not right.

Why are we so ready to buy something if it is broken down into three simple steps? Who ever got anywhere exciting by taking just three simple steps? I can clearly see from where I sit, where three simple steps will take me in any given direction…so let me check…nope, nothing earth shattering or life changing is just three simple steps away from me right now. So, what ever happened to ideas like “Anything worth having is worth working for”, or “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”, or one of my personal favorites…”If it was that easy, everybody would be doing it”. As far as I can tell, everybody isn’t meeting with wild success. So, can we agree not everything can be broken down into three simple steps?

The Apostle Paul did write about three simple steps for finding the will of God in your life, but this wasn’t a marketing ploy to sell books, nor was it deceptive in any way. This one is the God’s honest truth. These three steps are laid out for us in his letter to the Thessalonian church. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says this: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Three simple steps, laid out in three simple verses. Simply put however, these simple steps seem kind of complicated. How are we supposed to always be joyful? Are we supposed to start praying and never get to the part where we sign off with a reverent “Amen”? Are really expected to be thankful in all circumstances? One might counter that these three simple steps don’t look simple at all…they look impossible!

Ok let’s start with step one –  Always be joyful. Paul indicates here as well as other places like in in his letter to the Philippian church that joy is always appropriate. In Philippians 2:17,18 he writes, But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. In Philippians 3:1 he writes, Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord… And further in Philippians 4:4 he says it again,  Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Ok, so I’m starting to detect a pattern here…Paul really does think it is possible to always be joyful. So I went to my trusty Greek-English Bible and looked it up. It seems that what Paul was trying to convey is that God’s grace or favor toward us is something we should always be joyful for because that grace is always is present in our lives. In other words, God’s grace is always with me regardless of my day-to-day situations. Paul isn’t necessarily telling me to be joyful for the specifics of my day, they may be viewed in a positive or negative light, but I can and should be joyful that God’s grace accompanies me through all of those situations whatever their outcome may be. I can be joyful because no matter what I face, I do not face it alone. My joy can be found in the One who accompanies me, even if it cannot be found in what we are walking through together.

Now for step two – Never stop praying. I shared regarding this scripture just a few weeks ago in my podcast entitled Dad…Dad…Dad…Dad. There I went into greater detail breaking down the meaning of this particular passage. In that episode I pointed out that in Luke chapter 11 Jesus told a story about a man who woke up his neighbor in the middle of the night to ask for some food he needed because an unexpected guest had arrived at his home, and he had nothing to feed him. Jesus said that the sleepy neighbor would likely refuse to help because of the late hour, but that if the one at the door continued to knock incessantly, his neighbor would in fact, give him what he needed, not because of their friendship, but because of his persistent knocking and asking. He went on to say this about the value of Simple step number two…never stop praying. His words are recorded for us in Luke 11:9-10, there he said, And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks finds. And to everyone who knocks the door will be opened. In verse 13 he let us know what those who ask, seek and knock, could expect…God will give to them the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives. According to Galatians 5:22-23 with The Holy Spirit’s influence we are able to face every situation life throws our way with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, we were created in His image and His likeness, asking that the fruit of His Own Spirit might be displayed in our lives certainly fulfills God’s will that we would be reflective of Him. Additionally, Jesus made the point that God does not answer us because He is annoyed by our persistence as the sleepy neighbor in His story was. Jesus was quite clear. God is good and responds to us out of love, not frustration. God desires that we ask, seek and knock continually because that action on our part indicates to Him our desire for a continual relationship with Him. James 4:8 tells us that if we draw near to God, God will in return draw near to us.

Simple step number three to finding the will of God in your life – Be thankful in all circumstances. Paul understood a great psychological truth. An attitude of gratitude causes us to view the things that are happening in our lives with corrected vision. Giving thanks to God every day is an act of faith, because not every occurrence in our life is a positive one. Some things are downright negative, bad, wrong…maybe even evil. So are we really supposed to give thanks for all those negative circumstances we encounter? Absolutely. Even more so in those situations. Meeting our literal God-given potential to be reflective of Him is relatively easy when all is going exactly as we would like it to. In those instances, we may not even see a great need for His assistance, but when all is not going well, or perhaps seemingly nothing is going as we want it to, giving thanks will illustrate our faith in God. A grateful attitude during times of duress, difficulty or even despair highlights our belief that He is interceding for us and that He will use those challenging times for our good by helping us to become even more like Christ. (Romans 8:26-29) One of the scriptures that is near and dear to my heart that speaks so clearly of why, when where and how we should give thanks in all circumstances is found in Psalm 100. Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Finally, Hebrews 12:28 offers an unshakable reason for step three…be thankful in all circumstancesSince we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.

So there you have it, just three simple steps. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances and God’s word says the result of those are that this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

So now, you have the three simple steps…following those steps and finding God’s will for your life…Go Be Awesome!