The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe….
(This is actually a repeat from September of last year. It seems to fit so well with the theme, I decided to resend. And pardon our being so late today with this. We have been on the road. Glen)
"With Gladness of Heart"
Part 3 - Rejoice Always?
Is there any circumstance, situation, or condition in which born again believers cannot rejoice? The Apostle Paul plainly states the answer:
"Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).
Paul affirms the capacity of the believer to rejoice in all things as so possible he repeats the command twice. However, if we define joy according to human understanding, we will find countless instances in life wherein such rejoicing is impossible. The world - and many believers - think of joy in emotional terms (as being synonymous with happiness). This meaning does sometimes apply. We can feel happiness because we are joyful. "I will be glad and rejoice in Thee" (Psalm 9:2). However, joy may also exist concurrently with sadness: "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (II Corinthians 6:10). The world knows nothing of such joy. It's definition of joy precludes sorrow. However, believers well-versed in Scripture and in walking with the Lord know that a joyful heart sometimes coincides with heartache and even heartbreak.
"Count it all joy when fall into diverse temptations, knowing that the trying (testing) of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:2-3).
What then is joy? In the verse above, James provides the answer. He commands that we "count it all joy" (rather than feel it all joy). The word "count" in the original Greek means to consider with authority. Our Heavenly Father calls us to view everything in our lives according to the truth of His Word - consider - and in context of His rule in our lives - authority. Joy in its essence thus becomes more a matter of conviction than emotion. What does the Bible declare that could cause us with the conviction of faith to "count it all joy" in both happy and sorrowful experiences? Romans 8:28 provides perhaps the most definitive Biblical answer:
"For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, and who are the called according to His purpose.''
We may not feel happy as we remember and affirm this truth. Note that Moses chided Israel because they did not serve with "gladness of heart" (as opposed to gladness of emotion - Deuteronomy 28:47). We fulfill the Biblical definition of joy as we think in terms of God and His truth, choosing to consider His Lordship of our lives. Joy, as defined by God, journeys with both happiness and sadness in our present lives. This references a chosen perspective more than a felt emotion, that is, rejoicing involves "the obedience of faith" (Romans 8:26).
In any moment, if we could find the born again believer experiencing the greatest measure of the Lord's joy, it would likely be the one who is also experiencing the deepest sorrow. "My strength is made perfect in weakness" declared the Lord to Paul during a time of bearing a painful thorn (II Corinthians 1:9). That brother or sister may weep tears even in this moment, as did the Lord Jesus Christ in sorrowful Gethsemane when performing the greatest act of obedience to God in history: "Not My will, but Thine be done" (Matthew 26:38; Luke 22:42). However, deep in the heart, the Holy Spirit moves upon the face of troubled waters to lead our brother or sister to confess, "Father, I rejoice in You, and I rejoice in Your working in my life." Happy feelings may not accompany the affirmation. Holy faithfulness nevertheless flows upon the current of God's grace received by faith, and expressed in faithfulness. This is joy, the joy of Christ known on bright summits, in dark valleys, and wherever a trusting heart opens its eyes to see and to make the choice of Bible and Spirit-empowered conviction, that is, the choice to rejoice….
"The light shineth in darkness."
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."
Tomorrow: Gladness of Heart
Weekly Memory Verse
"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
(II Peter 3:18)