Big Things in Small Packages

Today’s text: Psalm 119:1-88
1Thessalonians 5

As I read through today’s text I must admit that I am partial to the writings of Paul. In this chapter of his letter to the Thessalonians Paul addresses the second coming of Christ and gives them exhortation as to the duties that were before them. Starting with the 16th verse we find a series of verses that are very short. (v16) “Be joyful always; (v17) pray continually; (18) give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” These are handy verses to know if you find yourself in a contest but other than that why do you think they are so short? Could it be that it is because they are so profound? When a man held in bonds writes to a fledgling church and tells them to “Be joyful always,” it is profound indeed. Paul was no doubt familiar with Nehemiah 8:10 and demonstrated that joy is not dependent upon circumstances. We find our joy in Him. Twila Paris said it well when she sang:

The joy of the Lord will be my strength
I will not falter, I will not faint
He is my shepherd; I am not afraid
The joy of the Lord is my strength

The joy of the Lord will be my strength
He will uphold me all of my days
I am surrounded by mercy and grace
The joy of the Lord is my strength

The joy of the Lord will be my strength
I will not waiver, walking by faith
He will be strong to deliver me safe
The joy of the Lord is my strength

The next verse of Paul’s letter is just two words, “Pray continually.” When we spend our time in His presence praying and listening we do more than make known our needs. We grow in relationship. When I married Sharon thirty one years ago, I thought I knew her. I thought that I could not love her more than I did at that moment. Now after all sharing the joys, drama and excitement of seeing four children grow to adulthood I am amazed how much stronger my love for her is now. Our relationship grew because we spent time together working towards a common goal. When we spend time with our Lord and in his word we grow in our understanding and develop a stronger relationship.

One of the jobs I had was at a chemical processing plant where we manufactured the very powerful explosive Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) used in plastic explosive and Semtex. Due to its sheer power we stored it in relatively small amounts in magazines separated by considerable distances. Similarly, I think we find these verses divided into small units because of the extreme power of their contents. “Be joyful; pray continually; and give thanks in all circumstances.”

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About Richard McGill

Hi, my name is Richard McGill and my family and I started attending CCC shortly after moving to the area eighteen years ago. Although eighteen years may sound like a long time it has past by so quickly. My wife, Sharon, and I have seen our four children grow and have twice experienced that bitter sweet day when we have loosened our grasp so that our children, could begin families of their own. Sharon and I have been more than rewarded for our sacrifices in that we again, on occasion, have in our home the squeals of laughter that only comes from innocence and youth. We revel in the titles that have been bestowed by sweet little voices and thrill to hear them say Papa and Memaw. In addition to our two married children we have two that are preparing for their future through education. Jenny is finishing her sophomore year at SIU and Alex will graduate from high school this spring. Throughout the past eighteen years I have been privileged to serve in several capacities at CCC. I have been a small group leader, greeter, usher, in the Easter production, on the worship team and have taught Sunday School. While I am honored to be asked to contribute to this most recent effort, I can’t help but wonder if they’re not still trying to find something that I am good at. View all posts by Richard McGill

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