Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rejoice In the Lord!

The word happiness evokes visions of unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, strolling hand in hand with the one you love, being surprised on your birthday, responding with unbridled laugher to a comedian, or vacationing in an exotic locale.  Everyone wants to be happy; we make chasing this elusive ideal a lifelong pursuit: spending money, collecting things, and searching for new experiences.  But if happiness depends on our circumstances, what happens when the toys rust, loved ones die, health deteriorates, money is stolen, and the party’s over?  Running deeper and stronger, joy is the quiet, confident assurance of God’s love and work in our lives – that He will be there no matter what!  Happiness depends on happenings, but joy depends on Christ.

Philippians is Paul’s joy letter.  The church in that Macedonian city had been a great encouragement to Paul.  The Philippian believers had enjoyed a very special relationship with Paul, so he wrote them a personal expression of his love and affection.  They had brought him great joy (Philippians 4:1).  Philippians is also a joyful book because it emphasizes the real joy of the Christian life.  The concept of rejoicing or joy appears sixteen times in four chapters, and the pages radiate this positive message, culminating in the exhortation to “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

In a life dedicated to serving Christ, Paul had faced excruciating poverty, abundant wealth, and everything in between.  He even wrote this joyful letter from prison.  Whatever the circumstances, Paul had learned to be content (Philippians 4:11, 12), finding real joy as he focused all of his attention and energy on knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8) and obeying Him (Philippians 3:12, 13).

Paul’s desire to know Christ above all else is wonderfully expressed in the following words: “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him… I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:8-10).  May we share Paul’s aspiration and seek to know Jesus Christ more and more.  Rejoice with Paul in Philippians, and rededicate yourself to finding joy in Christ.

The book of Philippians can be summed up as a quest for all Christians too SEEK:

1)     Christ above all (Philippians 1:21; 3:7, 8) and FIND righteousness in Christ and the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:9–11).

2)    Christ like humility (Philippians 2:5–7) and FIND God’s will in the believer (Philippians 2:12, 13).

3)    A divinely appointed goal (Philippians 3:14) and FIND the prize of eternal salvation (3:14)

4)    All things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8) and FIND the presence of the God of peace (Philippians 4:9).

Father God it is my prayer this morning that those who are hurting and suffering in this world will seek the joy, peace and happiness that only You can give.  I continue to thank You for all of the blessings that You have given to me.  I thank you for being there with me in my darkest hours of my life.  I pray this all in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), the Nelson Study Bible.


Alyssia said...

Most people do not understand that there is a difference between Joy and Happiness. I didn't a year ago, of course I was told there was, but I did not get the revelation of it until recently.

Great Post!

mushroom said...

Thank you, Lloyd. I personally appreciate your good and timely word this morning. We are not always comfortable, but we can always be content. I join you in your prayer and agree. Amen.

Clint said...

I feel the JOY. And thankfully, I feel the happiness, too. But, I always try to focus on Jesus, because I need to be built on ROCK for my life to count.

dfish said...

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 goes right along with your post. "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." When we learn to be thankful for what we have rejoicing is a lot easier.

Great article.

T-Childs said...

I sometimes think that happiness and joy often both get overlooked in the business of religion. Who wants to be miserable anyway?

I have come to believe that Jesus wants the very best for us, not just when we die but also whilst we live! It doesn't guarantee of course that everyday will be perfect, but with Jesus in our lives we can face anything knowing that He will make all good, and bring us through even the worst of times. When we have a good day, we should simply praise the Lord; when we have a bad day, we should strap on our crash helmet, and simply praise the Lord!

Cynthia Maciulewicz said...

I really enjoy your blog, finally got around to reading it! So glad I did I am going to put a link from Faith and Hope for the Hurting Blog to you! I like your content, it is inspiring, thank you for doing this!