“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) 

Are there any of these commands which you find easy? Paul’s words to the church in Thessalonica are profoundly difficult to follow, and this is in spite of being the will of God in Christ Jesus. Still, Paul encourages us to do what is difficult because we are increasingly conformed into Christ’s likeness, including in the aspects of our lives referenced in the verses above.

Praying constantly is something we are most likely to do in times of need. Even then we can be slow. Sometimes when we have exhausted all possibilities in our own strength, only then do we turn to God in a state of dependence. We can be slow to pray, and yet the Bible encourages us that it is good and right when we do, as God expects us to come to him for refuge from our fears, anxieties and pain, and lay all our requests before him.

However, if we can be slow to pray, we can be even slower to rejoice and give thanks, and after that to remember God’s goodness to us. After God has heard and acted on our prayers (in his perfect timing) we can be all too ready to move onto the next problem.

Think of the grumbling of Israel recorded for us in Exodus 15. What begins as the people of God praising him for their delivery from slavery in Egypt, ends up with grumbling because they couldn’t find water only three days later. They quickly forgot God’s goodness and trustworthiness and were blinded by the next problem before them.

In recent years, numbers of men and women studying theology in training for ministry have been decidedly low. This has been reflected in high numbers of vacancies in parishes in Sydney and beyond. To this end, we at Moore College, and many of you too, have been praying for the Lord to raise up labourers for his harvest and send many of them to be trained and equipped for His work.

And the very good news is that the Lord has heard our prayers and people have applied in abundance this year, meaning that numbers are decidedly up on this time last year. We need to remember that this is a miraculous answer to prayer; it is by God’s power alone that he can impress on people a sense of their need to be shaped and strengthened theologically and spiritually for a lifetime of ministry.

All of this gives us great cause for thankfulness and praise!

This is enormously encouraging. Reading the testimonies of the applicants, I am impressed by how God has gathered people from a wide variety of places, languages and backgrounds for the extension of his Kingdom. These brothers and sisters are united in their longing to serve the Lord with their whole lives, albeit with a wide range of ministries in mind.

There are a number of costs associated with studying at Moore: leaving employment, raising supporters and money, and possible family stress, to name a few. And yet, the number of people applying speaks to the miraculous nature of God’s work in bringing students to College.

We pray that as God gathers students to Moore to be shaped and equipped and then sends them out into his harvest field, the students will always be thankful for the time they have invested here in their preparation for a lifetime of service.

All of this gives us great cause for thankfulness and praise! We are thankful to God for answering our prayers and working in the life of every new student. And now we ask that each student will be praying as they study, drawing close to God in his word and that God will reveal great things to them.

While we are so thankful today, may we continue to trust in God’s goodness to us, remaining faithful in prayer for His Kingdom and not getting consumed by the next problem which comes along. While God gives us new reasons each day to be thankful, He also has the long view, and in light of our great salvation and the promise of Christ’s return, we will always have reasons to rejoice and be thankful.

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