Friday, September 10, 2021
I want to look at a passage of scripture from the book of Philippians. Philippians is the letter of joy, and I want to read a blunt statement in Philippians 4:4 and unpack it because it seems like it's impossible. It says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Why does he say it again? Because I don't think we believe him. Sometimes we don't believe what God says. Even though we know it's intellectually true, sometimes it needs to soak into our total being so that we live it out. So, I think he repeats it, "I say it again: rejoice," so that we remember it. But the key word, the word that we struggle with in that verse is "always." It's not rejoice in the Lord when you're at church on Sunday morning, or when you read the Bible, or when you pray, but rejoice in the Lord always. It doesn't mean you rejoice in your problems, but you rejoice in the Lord always.
You say, "Vince, that's impossible. I can't always be happy." I would agree, you can't always be happy... but you can always be joyful. Joy is a choice. Happiness is conditioned upon your emotions. Whatever your emotions are feeling like, that's usually what will dictate your level of happiness. But when you have joy, it's unshakable and impossible to take away. But how do you have joy always? Well, joy isn't based on circumstances. Happiness is. well okay, But then, how do you find joy? Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord." You have to be in the Lord. Not necessarily in church, though that's helpful. Not necessarily in Bible reading. That's very helpful. Not necessarily in prayer. That's also very helpful. All three of those are very helpful. But you have to be in the Lord. You could be in the Lord at work, you can be in the Lord in your car, you could be in the Lord in your golf game - although if you've seen my golf game, I'm not in the Lord in terms of performance all the time. The point is, it's focusing on the Lord and saying, "I don't like this situation., but I'm in the Lord. God, you're in control of it. I don't like what's happening in my family, but I'm in the Lord, I'm going to do my best to contribute to making it right. I can't stand what's happening at work, but I'm in the Lord and I'm going to continue to focus on God, and, and work hard as unto the Lord, not of the people."
Here's the point. You can always be joyful, but you have to do it in the Lord. If you try to find your joy in circumstances, they'll come and go. If you try to find your joy in other people, that'll be great, but they can't always deliver. You can always find your joy in the Lord, in the Lord's goodness, in the Lord's grace, in the Lord's control of all the events that you're experiencing, in the Lord's love for you, in the Lord's promises during your tough, difficult trials. You can rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice, always. You can't always be happy, but you can always be joyful. You must make the choice to rejoice. And how do you make the choice to rejoice? You must rejoice in the Lord. Find something about the Lord to give you the joy you need. If nothing else, the joy that you're forgiven, the joy that you're going to heaven.
Father, this life will rob our joy. People can rob our joy, circumstances can rob our joy if we let them. But they never have to, because if we rejoice in you always, we can have joy no matter what. We may not be happy, but we can be joyful. Inspire somebody today who needs a pick-me-up, who needs joy in their life, who needs to see life from a different perspective, from your perspective, to find this joy that Paul encourages us to pursue. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.