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Rejoice in the Lord


   The theme of “Philippians” is joy and rejoicing. Seventeen times in the book, the apostle uses the words, “joy” and “rejoice.” The fourth verse of Chapter Four is the key verse of the Letter. Paul said more about joy and rejoicing in “Philippians” than in any other book he wrote. If a person had a right to be unhappy, it would be Paul: do you remember that he is (1) an old man, and (2) in prison expecting certain death. He was not writing this while he lounged in a Roman bath or sipped expresso at Café Roma! Look at these three things about Philippians 4:4:

Source of Joy.  Note “in the Lord.” Not everyone has joy. Joy issues from the nature of God. Joy is the 2nd mentioned Fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22). Christian joy is independent of all things on the earth because its source is from the New Birth experience. We might appreciate this if we compared “Happiness” and “Joy:”  (1) Happiness is a virtue of the world while Joy is a Christian virtue—not of this world; (2) Happiness is external while Joy is internal; (3) Happiness is circumstantial—based on “happenings” – while Joy is based on the Lord and never changes; (4) Happiness depends on things we have or can acquire while Joy depends on what Christ has done for us, is doing for us, and will do in the future; (5) Happiness is when the world rejoices in the creation and creature while Joy is when the Christian rejoices in the Creator.

    We are to rejoice IN THE LORD. This means our joy comes from Christ alone—not from people. If our joy comes from our husband, wife, or children—and they are taken—where will our joy be? Joy does not come from our circumstances—like our work—because, if our work were lost, where will our joy be? So our joy must come directly from our personal relationship and fellowship with Jesus. Believers can rejoice because they are forgiven, that God cares, and that He is working out His sovereign plan in their lives. Joy is given to us at salvation and the RESPONSE of Joy is REJOICING! Our joy should be visible and vocal—not muted praise, not ashamed, and we should not hesitate to praise God: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” The RESPONSE on the outside to the Joy on the inside should be REJOICING! We should have a smile on our face, a song in our heart, and a spring in our step. We can never lose our joy because we can never lose Jesus.

Season of Joy. “always.”  There are many who will serve the Lord as long as everything goes well. As long as they have money in the bank. As long as they have health and no physical problems. As long as they have everything that they want. BUT—when circumstances change, their faith fades. Paul is stating that our Joy does not come and go with circumstances. Hard circumstances did not make Paul a “hard” man. Read 2 Corinthians 11:22-29 and see some of the “hard” circumstances Paul went through for the sake of his calling and the Gospel. But he says to “rejoice in all things” and “rejoice always” in Phil.4:4, 1 Thes. 5:16,18, and Eph. 5:20. Trials can make us bitter or better.

     Our Tennessee State Law has legal and illegal seasons for hunting. The time when it is legal for deer is “in season.” The time when it is illegal is “out of season.” JOY does not have an “out of season.” Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. No exceptions. No loop-holes. Happiness occurs only when outward circumstances are pleasant—but Joy is present at all times because Jesus never leaves us. Have you seen the old-time photos? The people are dressed in black and always have somber faces—never smile. This does not please or glorify God. Have you heard of the Buck White Family? My wife and I went to Buck’s wife’s funeral—such a great Christian lady. They have three beautiful daughters who all wore great, magnificent, and multi-bright colored dresses at their mother’s funeral because she had joy and wanted them to always be joyful. Amen! We are ALWAYS to be joyful and rejoice!

Stress of Joy. “And again I say, Rejoice.” People might read what Paul says when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always” and say, “Wait a minute, Paul, I can think of a bunch of times when life is so tough that a person can’t rejoice.” I believe Paul anticipated this response and wrote: “AND AGAIN I say rejoice.” Paul sees Jesus as the Answer to every problem, so He says, “AGAIN I say, ‘rejoice!’ One virtue fits all. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” “We are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). Note right above verse 4 about the misunderstanding between two key women of the church. If a Christian is always rejoicing, he will not be negative and involved in church troubles. This world and its sin will cause tears to scald our eyes but thinking of God will make rainbows out of our tears.

     Robert Fulton invented the first steamboat. When he was going to have his first trial run on the Hudson River, a great crowd gathered. One negative old farmer started saying, “It’ll never start. It’ll never start.” But it did. The boat gathered steam and went faster and faster in the water—black smoke belching from its funnel. The old farmer started saying, “They’ll never stop it! They’ll never stop it!” Some Christians are like that—always seeing the dark side! Gloomy! Negative!

    We have so many reasons to rejoice. We have many spiritual reasons like Prayer, God’s Word, and Christian Fellowship. We have sweet providences every day. We have deliverances from harm and death. We have daily provisions for living. And, we have the blessed hope of Jesus’ Return.

    Always rejoicing gives us strength. Always rejoicing helps us enjoy life to the fullest. Always rejoicing makes us focus on the goodness and greatness of God. Our joy cannot change because the Lord never changes. No one can steal your joy unless you let them steal your joy. Are you a joyful Christian.

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