Bible Study Lessons

Do You Know God’s Will for Your Life?

Introduction

The top general of the world’s most powerful army contracted leprosy – a deadly and infectious disease. Leprosy separated Naaman from friends and family, and it made him an outcast despite his high standing in society. One day a little servant girl he had taken in his extensive conquests said she wished he would visit the prophet of God in her homeland, Israel. If he would go, she was sure, he would be healed by the man of God, Elisha. With his king’s blessing, Naaman went to Israel. He took a letter from his Syrian king to the Israelite King. In the letter, Syria’s king asked Israel’s king to heal Naaman. Understandably, Israel’s king was surprised, confused, and enraged. He thought it was a ploy to find a reason to make a battle between the countries. Sadly, he hated the Lord God and did not even think of His prophet. Word got back to Elisha who quickly sent a message to the king of Israel. ‘Send Naaman to me and he will know that there is a prophet of God in Israel.’ Naaman traveled to Elisha’s house with anticipation. He would see a powerful prophet perform an amazing miracle – he couldn’t wait. When he arrived, Elisha sent his servant out to give Naaman this message. ‘Go wash seven times in the Jordan river and you will be healed.’ Furious, Naaman stormed back toward Syria. The man of God hadn’t even come out of his house. And dip seven times in a dirty river? Syria had better rivers. One of Naaman's servants asked, ‘If the prophet had told you to do some hard thing wouldn’t you have done it? Shouldn’t you do this simple thing he commanded?’ Wisdom prevailed, and Naaman went to the Jordan. When he came up out of the water the seventh time, he was completely healed – his skin was like a little child’s. Have you ever felt that way about something God has told you to do? If He would give you something bigger, more impressive to do you would do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 gives us four small commands and tells us giving thanks is God’s will. Whether these commands seem simple or hard as you study this passage, stop and think about them like Naaman’s servant urged him to stop and think about God’s command so many years ago. If you’ll obey God’s clear will – big or small – you’ll find His blessings just as Naaman did.

Observation

Pray

Before studying this life-changing passage, ask the Lord to open your mind and heart to listen to His instructions, and ask Him to show you your sin so that you can repent of it and walk with Him.

Read Focus Verses

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19. Notice the brevity and clarity of these verses.

Context

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:5-28 to understand the context around these verses. (You'll notice that verses 20-22 are part of today's passage. For sake of time, this passage is split into two sections. Check out the study for verses 20-22 called "4 Commands for a Healthy Christian Life" for the second half of the passage.)

Style

How would you describe the style and basic content of today's verses?

How Many?

How many commands are given in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19?

#1

In your own words, what is the first command given in verse 16?

#2

In your own words, what command is given second in verse 17?

#3

In your own words, what command is given in verse 18?

#4

In your own words, what does verse 19 command?

A Reason

What reason is given in verse 18 for giving thanks in everything?

Keyword - Commands

Highlighting the key theme of a passage helps it stand out.

Command

4 Commands

Highlight each of the commands in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19.

Interpretation

Command #1

Read the parallel command to rejoice always in Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in Hope

Romans 12:12 explains what Christians always rejoice about.

Names Written in Heaven

Luke 10:20 tells us what a Christian can always find a cause for rejoicing in.

Defended by God

Psalm 5:11 gives another reason God's people can always rejoice.

Seeking the Lord

In Psalm 40:16 we see another reason for rejoicing in the Lord.

Rejoice!

What are some of the reasons a Christian always has for always rejoicing?

In Trial

1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to rejoice all the time. That means even when things are really bad. See how the prophet Habakkuk did this in Habakkuk 3:17-19.

Still…

How can a believer still rejoice when their world is falling apart?

Reflection

How does a Christian rejoicing all the time (or refusing to rejoice sometimes) reflect on who God is and the consistency of His character, the nature of His love, and the quality of His provision?

Command #2

You've already read what Romans 12:12 says about prayer. Read Ephesians 6:18, keeping in mind that this verse is the end of the passage detailing the pieces of the armor of God. In that context, think about the importance of prayer for the Christian life.

Armor

Why is prayer part of a well-equipped Christian's armor?

Without Fainting

In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus teaches us to keep on praying.

Receiving Not

James 4:1-10 explains why God does not grant us some requests that we pray for - even if we ask for them again and again. (This isn't about godly prayers that are consistent with Scripture but which God is delaying to answer because the time is not yet right.)

For Your Lusts

Think of an example of a prayer you have prayed that was for your own lusts or to satisfy or aggrandize you. Why was it kind for God not to give you what you asked for?

Over and Over

How could you use Luke 18:1-8 and James 4 to answer someone who asked if it was okay to pray for something over and over again?

Without Ceasing

Take a look at the word which tells us how much Christians are to pray.

Strong's G89

Greek,adialeiptos [ad-ee-al-ipe'-toce]

--Adverb

Origin: from (88)

Definition:

  1. without intermission, incessantly, without ceasing

How?

Scripture teaches us that prayer is talking to God. It also teaches us that God cares about the details of our lives. Prayer isn't always making requests - though that is a part of prayer - and doesn't require a certain posture. How do these truths help us understand how it is possible to pray without ceasing?

When?

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us a lot about prayer.

Reminder

When is a time we should pray according to Philippians 4:6?

Parts of Prayer

What are some of the parts of biblical prayer mentioned in Philippians 4:6?

Results

According to Philippians 4:7, what is one result of biblical prayer?

Wisdom

The Bible tells us specific things we should pray for. James 1:5-8 tells us to pray for wisdom and gives us instruction how to pray for it.

Not Wavering

Why is faith in God's character and promises so important to effective prayer according to James 1:5-8?

Other Prayers

What other things can you think of that Scripture has taught us to pray? Can you find the references?

Bible Prayers

The Bible is full of prayers that serve as models. Most of the books of the New Testament include prayers and many in the Old Testament do also. In fact, Psalms is a whole book of prayers. For one example, read Paul's prayer in Philippians 1:3-11.

Praying the Bible

You can pray through any passage of Scripture - not just the prayers. As you read God's Words to you, talk with Him about them. Thank Him for who He is and what He has done. Agree with Him about who you are and that your sin is what He says it is. Repent of sin He reveals to you through His Word. Ask Him to help you apply what you are learning to your life. Ask Him what He wants you to do based on what He says. Ask Him to help you understand His Word. Thank Him for ways you see He has grown your faith. It may take some practice, but you will find this is a wonderful way to grow closer to the Lord. Try this with Titus 2:13-14.

Command #3

Ephesians 5:18-21 also speaks of giving thanks always for everything.

In Word or Deed

Colossians 3:17 repeats this command.

Trust

Knowing that God is in control of everything is the basis of a Christian's being able to give thanks in everything. Notice how Romans 8:28 builds this confidence.

Why?

So many times through Scripture, God commands us to be thankful in everything. How does knowing that God is in control and working everything for good for His people (even when they can't see it) allow them to give thanks in everything?

Come with Thanksgiving

Psalm 100:1-5 teaches us that thanksgiving is the gift we bring to God when we enter His presence to pray and praise Him just like you would bring a gift if you were to enter the presence of an earthly king or queen.

Our Sacrifice

Hebrews 13:15 takes this analogy a little further when it tells us that thanksgiving is the offering God wants us to bring to Him just like the children of Israel brought gifts of food or an animal as a thank offering in the Old Testament to praise the Lord.

God's Will

Have you ever wished you knew God's will for your life? Today's passage tells you that His will for you right now is to give thanks in everything. Just like James said you must be ready to obey the wisdom God gives you if you want Him to give it to you, so too, you must do the things you know are God's will for your life before you can expect Him to clearly show you more of His will. What are some reasons you can think of that giving thanks in everything is God's will for His people?

Command #4

Take a look at the word used in verse 19 to tell us how not to treat the Holy Spirit.

Strong's G4570

Greek,sbennumi [sben'-noo-mee]

--Verb

Origin: a prolonged form of an apparently primary verb

Definition:

  1. to extinguish, quench
    1. of fire or things on fire
      1. to be quenched, to go out
    2. metaph. to quench, to suppress, stifle
      1. of divine influence

Grieved

Ephesians 4:30 gives Christians a similar command when it tells them not to grieve the Holy Spirit.

Do Not

This short post explains quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit, and explains how to avoid it - by living for God, obeying Him, and not sinning.

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Who?

Romans 8:9-11 tells us who does and who doesn't have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.

Be Careful

Who does the Holy Spirit dwell in? Or, in other words, who must be careful not to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit?

Quenching Him

You've seen that if you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit dwells in you. What are some of the things that Scripture teaches us quench the Spirit's work in a Christian's life by grieving Him? (Hint: God - including His Holy Spirit - hates sin, it grieves Him and He cannot dwell with it.)

Welcoming Him

What are some of the things Scripture teaches us welcomes the Spirit's work in a Christian's life? (Hint: You'll find some of them in today's passage.)

Understanding

Psalm 119 says that God's Word gives us understanding and light. How has this study of Scripture given you understanding of the commands in today's passage? Based on what you've learned, do you need to go and change how you stated any of the commands in the observation section?

Application

Rejoice Evermore

How are you going to obey God's command to rejoice in the Lord forever today?

Pray without Ceasing

What specific steps are you going to take to begin learning to be in communion with God without ceasing today?

Give Thanks in Everything

What is God asking you to give thanks in today that might be hard to thank Him for? Obey His will for you in that - it will bring blessing and peace.

Quench not the Spirit

In what ways are you quenching the Spirit in your life? How are you going to 'clean house' by confessing (saying the same thing as God about your sin) and repenting (turning away from your sin to Jesus Christ)? And what are you going to do to welcome the Spirit in your life?

Wrapup

Closing

We hope this study has helped you understand God's will for your life and challenged you to obey it however simple or hard it seems.

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