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Written by Keith Haney for “THE LIGHT BREAKS THROUGH” @ https://alightbreaksthrough.org
Original post @ https://alightbreaksthrough.org/the-formula-for-rejoicing/
The Formula for Rejoicing
DEC 13, 2021
A Brahman of distinction in Western India embraced the Gospel and was baptized. By this act, he lost possession of his houses, his fields, his wells, his wife, and his children. Such was the inexorable law of caste. On being asked how he bore his sorrows, he replied, “Ay, I am often asked that, but I am never asked how I bear my joys, for I have joys within with which a stranger intermeddles not. The Lord Jesus sought me and found me, a poor strayed sheep in the jungles, and He brought me to His fold, and He will never leave me.’’—Journal of Missions.
As we read the apostle Paul’s encouragement in Philippians 4, it invokes a similar puzzling dilemma for the world. How can you be joyful when there is so much broken around you? You have lost so much, so many people. Yet Paul calls us to — “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice!” — may sound like the empty words from a Christmas card, especially today given the times. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! It’s a great time! Everything is fine!
To understand Paul’s words, you need to understand the mess he was speaking to. Because everything is not fine with the Philippian house churches. Outsiders condemn them for their cultural practices. Insiders are bickering. Nor does it help when a verse later Paul adds, “Do not worry about anything ….” Are you nuts? How dare you lecture me, “Do not worry.” When I hear that, I go into worry overload. Maybe there is something I should be worried about I didn’t realize. So, now I have more on my worry plate. The kids are coming. The house is nowhere from being clean. Will the Christmas gifts I ordered arrive on time? Amazon has just moved the delivery date back to after Christmas. I can’t afford a big enough ham. Will the weather cooperate? The cookies aren’t baked, the beds aren’t made. Have I helped add to your anxiousness?
But Paul’s words will make a lot more sense when we realize he wrote this letter from death row.
Paul’s letter was written in Rome around the year A.D. 64, during the time Nero persecuted Christians following a great fire that destroyed much of that city. Tradition holds that Paul was eventually beheaded.
Paul saw his fate coming that is clear by the language of the text. The Greek word translated “Rejoice!” is also the same verb that ends most letters in that era: “Farewell!” Paul’s call for rejoicing in trials with a fatal farewell gives him the street cred to encourage us also to rejoice even amid trials. Paul, in this final farewell, gives instructions to all the members and to use.
Rejoice in the Lord (v. 4)
This joy-intoxicated man could not stress enough the need for and importance of believers to rejoice. But we need to be clear this is not some churchy happy talk. The foundation of the Christian’s rejoicing is in the Lord. There are no reasons for rejoicing without the Lord. Let me say that again, we have no reason to rejoice apart from Jesus. With Him, there is no end to rejoicing.
A Bible commentator shares Paul’s formula for joy. It is summarized by saying we must have:
- THE CAUSE OF CHRISTas our priority. That cause, of course, includes the fellowship, the furtherance, and the faith of the gospel (1:5, 12, 27).
Because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. (Phil. 1:5)
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, (Phil. 1:12)
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, (Phil. 1:27)
- THE CHARACTER OF CHRISTas our pattern. This is the character of sacrificially giving oneself up in the interest of others (2:5–8).
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phi. 2:5-8)
- THE CARE OF CHRISTas our peace, which the apostle is about to express (4:6–7).
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. (Phil. 4:6-7)
When we lay all our agenda items at the feet of Jesus, we can walk away. Paul has indeed given a foolproof formula for joy. This is a reminder to all of us that our lives as Christians should not be filled with anxiety. Even though the world is filled with fear and anxiety. We have something they seek. We can bring our problems and needs to the Lord with the confidence that he cares for them. And His care like His grace is sufficient.
P.S. (from bruce) When there is no other place to turn…turn to God !! If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ?? Here is the truth about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ… https://godsmanforever.com
To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…
You say you are a “born again” believer…BUT is your soul “ON FIRE” for the Lord ?? If not, open this link – https://godsmanforever.com/2020/08/01/are-you-a-christian-in-gods-eyes-and-on-fire-for-the-lord-or-not/
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