I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Paul, in the book of Philippians, while in prison, in chains and under the threat of death, commands us to “rejoice”. Paul, in his awful circumstances tells us to rejoice, he says that feeling thankful is right. But, hang on … don’t we feel that depression, negativity, doubt, and frank acts of disobedience, are normal responses of justice to an event such as imprisonment? I would have to say I do. If I was in prison, I would think the appropriate response would be despair, anger, and a well-timed temper tantrum. Yet Paul, in Philippians 1:3-11, spends his moments and days remembering the believers in Philippi, and instead of pitying himself, he cannot stop thanking God—and he says in verse 7 “it’s right for him to feel this way.”
Consider God’s command to rejoice and be thankful. It’s not a request, as if God were pleading with you. He’s commanding you to do it because it’s right, and he knows that if you obey, you will reap the fruits of experiencing his presence and enjoying his peace and contentment. Also, as you read 1 Thessalonians 5:18 consider the boldness of God to sum up his will for your life through one word–thankfulness. Many of you reading today are asking “what is God’s will for you?” Guess what? God tells you. His will is for you to be thankful. He never promised you a job, an education, a spouse, a marriage, kids, a church, a city, or that all your dreams would come true. All God asks, is that in whatever situation, and wherever you find yourself, that you stay thankful. Not only is this command a benefit to you, but it keeps you centered on the person of Jesus. When we think upon God and all He is, there’s no other right response than to be thankful.