Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rejoice! - April 27th, 2009

Erin and I were listening to the Cardinal game, the other day, when Albert Pujols hit a grand slam. I jumped and yelled in excitement - I rejoiced. In retrospect, I was quite content the rest of the afternoon. I was thinking about this yesterday and it clicked - I don’t think we’re ever commanded to be joyful; joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit working in me (Gal.5:22-23) and I can’t fabricate joy. I can, however, rejoice and rejoicing in Him is the catalyst for a lifestyle of joy. Rejoicing primes the pump of the work the Holy Spirit is already doing in me. Philippians 3:1 and 4:4 tell me to rejoice in the Lord and to rejoice in Him always. Ps.89:16 tells me to rejoice in Him all day long. Rejoicing in God can’t be an issue of passive anticipation (“I’ll probably rejoice in God at some point today”) but must instead be a focus of active application (intentional and thoughtful praise). Rejoicing in Him, and doing so always and continually, is a command and God always empowers me for what He calls me to; in other words, it is possible to live life constantly rejoicing in Him. Rejoicing in God makes me happy and gives me joy (Ps.68:3) and Paul described this ability to be content “in whatever circumstances” (Phil. 4:11) directly after the command to rejoice always. Rejoicing in Him involves being glad and joyful in Him (Ps.5, 9, 32:11, 33:21, 35:9, 64:10, 66:6, 97:12, Hab.3:18, Phil.3:1) and if I’m not glad and joyful, I’m not obeying God. Ultimately, knowing that rejoicing in Him is a command, I realize now for the first time ever that I should confess not rejoicing as sin. Rejoicing in Him causes me to flourish (Is.66:14) and I rejoice that He revives, renews and restores me (Is.35:1-2, Ps.85:6). I rejoice in Him by seeking Him (1 Chr.16:10, Ps.40:16, 70:4, 105:3), spending time in His presence (De.14,16, PS.68:4), reveling in His love (Ps.31:7), meditating on Him (Ps.104:34 and remember Heb.3:1), rejoicing in Him and His goodness (2 Chr.6:41) with all my heart (Zep.3:14), in humility (Is.29:19) and in awe of Him (Ps.2:1), praising Him, declaring His character and acts (Ps.9:2, 63:11, 64:10, 68:4, 97:12) and giving Him glory (Rev.19:7). I rejoice in the hope I have in Him (Rom.5:2), in His promise (Ps.119:62), in my salvation (Ps.9:14, 35:9, Is.25:9, Lk.10:20, 1 Peter 1:6 and remember Ps.51), in all He has done in my life (Jn.16:2) and all He will do (Is.65:18, Joel 2:21), in all He has given me (De.26:11) and all He will give me (Jer.31:12) my inheritance as His child (Is.61:7). I rejoice in the small things (Zec.4:10) and in sufferings (Rom.5:3, Phil.2:17, 1Peter 4:13) knowing God is using each to make me who He wants me to be. I rejoice that He has the victory (Is.13:3), that Christ is being preached and that His Great Commission is being fulfilled (Phil.1:18) and that my reward is in heaven (Mt.5:12, Lk.6:23). I rejoice in obeying Him (Ps.119:14), rejoicing in all that I’ve put my hand to (De.12). This means I have to have good boundaries with the ministry. Ministry can become so overwhelming that at times I forget about the joy I’m promised in Christ, sacrificing it, so to say, for the “greater good” of the ministry, with a 21st century workaholic mentality. I can’t find my joy in fruit in the ministry (although that does bring me joy), but instead I find contentment in having been faithful with what God entrusted to me. I do my part and then trust the results to Him and that brings me joy - my labor in Him is not in vain (1 Cor.15:58). Finally, and very importantly, I am told to rejoice in my wife (Pr.5:18) and taking time to enjoy my wife and family are vitally important if I’m to experience His joy. “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps.118:24). As I rejoice in Him, my joy is made complete in Him (1 Jn.1:4) and no one can take away my joy (Jn.16:22). I rejoice in Him, but He, too, rejoices in me (Is.62:5, Zep.3:17) and that is worth rejoicing in. Phil.4:4 - “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

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