Rejoice in the Lord
"Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Philippians 4:4
How can I rejoice – or be joyful – when everything is going so wrong? You might say, I lost my job, or have chronic bad health, or any of a wide variety of other bad events happening in your life. Sounds difficult, doesn't it? What does it mean to rejoice in the Lord?
Paul Was Rejoicing! But He Was in Prison!
Remember that the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome in the 1st century when he wrote this. There was the possibility of execution for his crime of preaching the gospel. I don't know about you, but humanly speaking, that would not be a time for rejoicing. Yet Paul did rejoice.
What Does It Mean to Rejoice in the Lord?
Rejoicing is NOT happiness. Happiness is based on circumstances. Rejoicing is in the heart regardless of circumstances. It comes from within. Paul was not in a good circumstance as a prisoner, but he was joyful. Notice that the command is Rejoice IN THE LORD. The rejoicing is possible because the focus of our joy is the Lord, -- not circumstances, health, money, job – but the Lord. It is gladness and rejoicing in His presence and what He has given us.
Why Should We Rejoice in the Lord?
Paul had specific reasons to rejoice – and every Christian can have the same reasons.
* He knew his sins were forgiven. (Col. 1:14)
* He knew that he had peace with God and thus cause for joy. (Rom. 5:1,2)
* He knew that he was on his way to heaven. (Rom. 8:38-39)
* He knew that "Christ is preached and I therein do rejoice" (Phil. 1:18)
* He knew that "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Lk. 12:15)
* He knew that "to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Phil. 1:21)
* He knew that if he died, he would be "absent from the body" but "present with the Lord" (II Cor. 5:8)
Many more reasons could be given. In fact, the words joy, rejoice, or rejoicing are used 18 times in the short book of Philippians.
Our health and possessions can be taken away from us in a moment. But what we have in Jesus can never be taken away from us. Therefore, WE REJOICE!
Who Can Rejoice in the Lord?
The Potential is only given to those who qualify. See if you qualify
Saints Can Rejoice in the Lord – What is a Saint? Who are They?
Paul wrote this short book to the "saints in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:1). The word "saint" had a different meaning in the first century than the usual definition today. The word in the Greek language means separated or devoted to. Morally and spiritually, it describes someone or something separated from sin and dedicated to God.
Being a saint is a position that one receives at salvation when he is born-again (born anew or born from above). It is defined further by saying "in Christ Jesus." When a person is born-again, he is "in Christ." "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." (II Cor. 5:17)
The word "saint" is applied to every born-again person in the New Testament. (Philippians 4:21-22; Rom. 1:7; I Cor. 1:2; Acts 9:13, 32; 26:10; Rom. 8:27; I Cor. 1:2; Additional references are too numerous to list.)
A person is not born again by baptism, joining a church, or good works. A person is born again by simple repentance, faith, and trust in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. It is a conscious decision made by someone who knows and confesses that he is a sinner. He knows and believes that Jesus died to pay for his sin and then rose again from the dead. He trusts Jesus as his personal Savior and receives assurance from the Word of God that his sins have been forgiven.
Being a Saint is a Position "In Christ," But Not All Saints Live Up to That Position.
Many years ago, I earned a BS in Accounting and immediately got a job as an accountant. But to say that I was a proficient accountant the first day, month, or half-year would be a real stretch of the imagination. Newly born-again Christians are compared to human babies. They need to grow up, and that is a process that takes time. They are still a child of God but not acting like their Father. The Bible contains stories of Christians who failed and fell into sin. They were still Christians but had to repent, ask for forgiveness, and the Lord restored them to the place of blessing.
So, being a born-again Christian is the first qualification to rejoice in the Lord.
Rejoice in the Lord: Making It Possible
The rest of the criteria to be able to rejoice in the Lord is given in Phil. 4:5-9. (5) "Let your moderation (gentleness) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (6) Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9) Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
Perhaps the key to rejoicing is in v. 9. What you have learned, received, heard, and seen, DO. It is good to have Bible knowledge. But if you don't act on it, there will be few good results.
Actions that Make Rejoicing in the Lord Possible: Actions the Holy Spirit enables.
· Gentleness (moderation) (v. 5) is a spirit of calmness, kindness, and tranquility. If there is rudeness, harshness, and a critical, judgmental spirit, there can be no joy, peace, or harmony but just contention.
· Be careful for nothing: Not full of cares, or worried, or anxious, or upset, but instead: - -
· Prayer – asking and supplication – pleading, voicing definite requests. In the words of the old hymn, "Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there."
· With Thanksgiving – we can even be thankful for the trial or problem that has come our way because God wants to teach or bless us through that trial. I Thessalonians 5:18 says, "In EVERY THING give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." When we reach this point, we have wholly entrusted the problem or need to the Lord.
· Results: Peace of God – His peace that He gives us internally because we have committed the problem entirely to Him – and left it there. This peace keeps (guards) like a garrison of soldiers internally protecting your heart and mind.
· Discipline of mind (v. 8) to keep the peace and joy. You've committed the problem totally to the Lord. Leave it there. Don't pick it up again by figuring out how you will solve the problem. Instead, discipline your mind (with the Lord's help) to think about those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Sometimes this step seems the most difficult because we, as humans, like to think we can solve the problem ourselves.
Review and Apply
So – to get the full benefit from this post, you need to do this:
* Make sure you are a saint – a born-again Christian
* Build gentleness into your Christian demeanor
* Don't be anxious, but pray
* Thank the Lord
* Voice your specific requests to the Lord
* Experience His peace
You've committed the problem to the Lord, so now discipline your mind to leave the problem with the Lord and think true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and good report thoughts.
May God give you victory and peace to REJOICE in the Lord!