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July 23, 2008

To Rejoice No Matter What

by Dave Malnes

More often than not, we have great difficulty getting out of bed each morning with a spirit of rejoicing over the new day. Problems confront us. Unpaid bills pile up. Conflicts in relationships. A right spirit and good intentions can easily deflate when circumstances that remind us of hurts, pain and disappointment arise and dominate our thoughts.

What is the solution?

For the Apostle Paul, he maintained a right spirit by keeping an eternal perspective on life and relied not on his own strength, but the strength of the Holy Spirit freely given by God. As a result, Paul freely rejoices.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4)

This verse serves as the overall theme of the book of Philippians – to rejoice no matter what.

All believers have the opportunity and the choice to take full advantage of God’s power through His Word and the Lord’s Supper. Through God’s means of grace our hearts are filled with the right spirit. With the Holy Spirit, we are able to rejoice at all times. Not just some of the time, or most of the time, but ALL THE TIME. This also includes difficult circumstances.

The Bible says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13)

Because of suffering, we will be even more joyful when God’s glory is finally revealed. You have to admit this sounds pretty unreasonable, perhaps even impossible. Yet, when we consider the author, Paul, and the fact that he is in prison and has suffered for the cause of Christ, we can take notice of what he is trying to say.

The circumstances of life should not infect a believer’s heart. The spirit of Christ is our shield, our fortress, and our guard.

The Holy Spirit can serve as our medicine, either as a remedy or a preventative. The healing and protective balm of knowing that our sins are forgiven, that God has our good in mind, and that our inheritance in heaven is secure allows us to rejoice always. Like the Israelites in the desert, our forgetful minds tend to focus more readily on present circumstances and its challenges rather than the solution that has already been determined. As a result, we need to be in God’s Word to daily remind us of God’s promises. By taking advantage daily of filling our spiritual tanks with God’s grace, we can always rejoice.

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