16 ¶ Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
I’ve spent a lot of time at church dinners, and something I’ve noticed is that most people like Jell-O. But I’ve noticed, too, that there are distinct preferences about it based on gender. If you’re making Jell-O for a man, simple is usually better. Most fellows like gelatin with nothing else in it, or maybe with pieces of whole fruit like banana slices or strawberries.
Women, on the other hand, like Jell-O with 27 other things stirred in it. The ladies have made a cottage-industry by making congealed salads containing things like cream cheese, whipped topping, chopped nuts, cranberries, coconut and crushed pineapple. (Ask around, and I think you’ll see that I’m right about this.)
When I was a little kid, there was a commercial that I liked. A hostess would be serving a splendid meal to her houseguests, and as they came to the end of the meal she would ask if anyone wanted dessert. All the folks at the table would politely decline, pointing out that they were too full to eat another bite. But then the housewife would tell her guests that for dessert she had prepared Jell-O. And upon hearing this, all the people would change their minds and decide that they would have dessert after all. After all, they would say together, “There’s always room for Jell-O.”
I love that idea—the notion that there are some things that are “always right”, regardless of the situation. In my years of preaching, I’ve found that there are Scripture passages that show us spiritual practices that are always fitting, regardless of the type of day we are facing. Today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) is one of my favorite.
As Christians we all have a desire in our hearts to do God’s will. I believe that sometimes in our lives the Lord has very specific things that He wants us to do as part of His will for our lives. He works in various ways to make this known to us. But, on some days there may not be anything earth-shattering that He desires for us to do. He just wants us to do the regular godly stuff as we go about our daily routines. In this passage, St. Paul makes us a list: 1) Rejoice always. 2) Pray without ceasing. 3) In everything give thanks. And after he gives us the list he makes us a promise: “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
My goodness, isn’t that beautiful? Can it can any more simple or straightforward than that? First, we do God’s will by rejoicing, and by finding happiness in the blessings that He provides for us each day. Who knows, maybe our joy with make the gospel attractive to someone who cannot find his way. Secondly, we do God’s will by continuing to pray—because prayer moves the hands of the Almighty, and prayer is what we all need. Finally, we do God’s will by always giving thanks—because an attitude of gratitude keeps us focused in the right direction.
In a world that’s constantly changing, isn’t it great to know some things that are always right? No matter the meal, there’s always room for Jell-O. And, every day is the right day for doing the will of God through joyful, prayerful, thankful living!
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 25 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he works at a public school.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 19) and Seth (age 16) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher believes as a matter of faith that vegetables such as diced potato and shredded cabbage should never be mixed with Jell-O.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.