The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
(Thanks to my wife Frances for inspiration on this one. Hey, thank to her for inspiration on all of them!)
Written from prison, the Apostle Paul's epistle to the Philippians contains one of the most challenging commands of Scripture, and one fulfilled by Paul himself amid the dire circumstances he faced.
"Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).
"Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all" (Philippians 2:17).
Is it really possible to "rejoice in the Lord always?" Simple Biblical reason tells us it it. Indeed, if one command of the New Testament is impossible for born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to fulfill, then everything we believe crashes upon the rocks of sad futility. Moreover, the Lord Jesus is risen from the dead, having conquered our greatest enemies, sin, hell, and the grave. All other foes, including the sorrow of the world that tempts us to embrace misery rather than joy, pale in comparison to those who would damper our joy. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:3). Thus, as a matter of doctrine and conviction, we must believe it is possible to "rejoice in the Lord always," to the degree that Paul repeats the mandate, "and again I say, rejoice."
The key to fulfilling this command lies in a truth illuminated by James in his epistle.
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:2-4).
Note that which James does not write in his command to rejoice. He does not call us to "Feel it all joy." No, James rather commands that we rejoice as a matter of consideration and conviction in God's working through challenge, difficulty, pain, and sorrow. "Count it all joy." This we can always do through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit as we choose to rejoice, regardless of how we feel emotionally or physically. Joy is, in essence, a Person, the joyful God of Scripture Himself. "Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy" (Psalm 43:4). Presently, we most certainly do not always feel the presence of our Lord, and actually, in most times, we do not. Always, however, we can affirm the conviction of God's joy by faith, be it in times of happiness or sorrow. "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (II Corinthians 6:10).
The Lord Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. He came to dwell within our hearts when we believed. He is not going anywhere. He is is exactly who Scripture declares Him to be, and He can do exactly what Scripture affirms of His power. Thus, "God my exceeding joy" can lead and enable us to fulfill a command of the Bible that, upon first consideration, may seem impossible. It is not, however, so long as we view joy in the terms of faith rather than feeling, conviction rather than sensation, and the risen Christ rather than our fleshly weakness. "Rejoice in the Lord always" declares Paul. "Count it all joy" echoes James. The Apostle John chimes in as we close, as through our brothers we choose to believe the Holy Spirit's clear calling to rejoice that joy is always possible…
"And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full."
(I John 1:4)
"The joy of the Lord is your strength."
Weekly Memory Verse
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
(II Corinthians 9:8)