Rejoice in the Lord
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. — Philippians 4:4-9
What does it mean to rejoice in the Lord? I mean really be at peace and rejoice in the Lord. Now some of you may be thinking, “Pastor, you don’t know how bad my life is or how bad my life has been. It would be pretty hard for me to rejoice right now.” Well, we all have a starting point, and you won’t understand how to “rejoice in the Lord” if you start in the middle.
In the verses above, Paul is not saying “don’t worry, be happy.” He’s talking about a supernatural joy that comes not from circumstances, but from a deep contentment in Christ. We so often want to try to get peace and joy from our circumstances, and we keep asking God to change them. But what God wants to do is show us that the path to joy starts by trusting in the sovereign, living God through the person of Jesus Christ. He wants to show us that we can have unbelievable, supernatural joy in the middle of any circumstance. Really. It can happen.
We place such false confidence in our circumstances bringing us joy. You know, the “If I just had fill-in-the-blank, I could finally rejoice. “And just how long would that last if you got it? The reality is that our circumstances are always changing. Think about it; if you found the most wonderful circumstances—your spouse, your baby, a new car, a boyfriend or girlfriend—pick whatever you want. Will it stay the same? Well, will it? The spouse will change, the baby will need changing, the car will soon lose that new car smell, that boyfriend or girlfriend will be disappointing—it all changes. Circumstances are shifting sand and you can’t stand on them—or find deep joy in them alone.
The starting point is finding joy in the person of Jesus Christ; not success, not people, not money, not status, not drugs and alcohol, not therapy, but in a deep, abiding relationship with the Lord. You may ask, “So, exactly how do I do that?” Cultivate a relationship with Him through prayer where you both talk to Him and listen to Him. You know you are having a good relationship with someone when you are actively trying to hear what they have to say. Abide in Him. Spend so much time with Him reading His Word and praying that talking to Him becomes natural. Joy will now come, and over time, you will see that no matter what the circumstance, your joy and peace, as long as it is found in Christ first, will remain. –Buddy Riddle
- What is my first reaction when I hear that God wants me to rejoice in all circumstances? Am I inclined to work at obeying this direction?
- How might my response to daily routines change as I consider the depth of my relationship with God?
Prayer - Father, what a joy it is to know that You want me to abide with You at all times. Forgive me when I get caught up in the busyness of my day and don’t spend the time I need to be able to rejoice in all circumstances. Help me to remember that you love me and watch out for me. Help me to carve out time in my schedule for You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.