Monday, May 15, 2017

"Reason To Rejoice"

"Reason To Rejoice"     
   "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).

   Since God made us to feel happiness in pleasant things, and sadness in painful things, how is it possible to rejoice in all things?

   The Psalmist answers - "I will be glad and rejoice in Thee" (Psalm 9:2; emphasis added).

   As long as God remains who He is and does what He does, we will always have reason to rejoice -  in Him.  Circumstances, situations, and conditions will continue to elicit feelings of either happiness, sadness, or perhaps no feeling at all.  We nevertheless have cause for the gladness that transcends our emotions, the deep joy based on conviction rather than emotional or physical sensations.  Indeed, if joy could be quantifiably measured, we would discover the greatest rejoicing in the world often occurs in places and hearts that seem the most unlikely venues of rejoicing.  The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle of Philippians (can several other letters) from a Roman prison where he had "suffered the loss of all things" (Philippians 3:8).  Did Paul feel that loss?  Absolutely.  Did he rejoice nevertheless?  Absolutely.  He rejoiced in the Lord even as pain and trouble brought natural sadness - "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (II Corinthians 6:10).  The Apostle knew the Lord and His truth well enough to believe there is always reason to make the choice to rejoice in God.  This includes any and every challenge, whether internal or external.

   This is blessed, but hard truth.  It wonderful to know that the Lord Jesus Christ can enable us to rejoice in all things.  The command to "rejoice in the Lord always" would be a cruel hoax were it not.  God is too fair and just to command anything of us beyond our ability to obey, as He leads and enables.  We thus rejoice in the possibility of joy.  However, we play a role in the matter, a role of faith and submission to our Heavenly Father.  The rejoicing Paul commands does not just happen, particularly in times of difficulty.  We must believe in the reason to rejoice as a matter of doctrinal conviction, based on the Word of God.  Upon this basis, we make specific choices to rejoice, often when we feel the greatest emotions of sadness or numbness.  Again, true joy consists of conviction far more than emotion.   We must often affirm our Lord's  joy in the very midst of sorrow.  "I will be glad and rejoice in Thee" declared David, confirming the volitional determination to rejoice regardless of what or how we feel.  A blessed truth indeed.  A hard truth indeed.

   Finally, James helps us regarding this vital matter of our walk with the Lord.  "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations" (James 1:2).  Note that James does not command us to "feel it all joy."  The word "count" used by James means to consider, deem, or think.  This involves a matter of reasoned response to truth, based on knowledge, understanding, and affirmation.  Herein lies the issue: the Bible commands us to rejoice  "in the Lord."  Do we believe He is worthy of our rejoicing, even in times of sorrow and trouble?  Is He able to empower the conviction of joy when our world seems dark and difficult?  Is there really a reason to rejoice?  Is there always a reason to rejoice?  Is God Himself that reason?  How we answer these questions determines the joy of our hearts rather than conditions, circumstances, and situations.  Thus, we must heed the commands of Scripture that call us to know the God of joy, and the Truth that empowers His joy in us…

"O send out Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise Thee, O God my God."
(Psalm 43:3-4)
"The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart."
(Psalm 19:8)

Weekly Memory Verse
   But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
(II Timothy 2:23)

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