November 30, 2014

By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor

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

God’s people are to rejoice…..Always. 

Paul uses the adverb “always” and repeats the command again for emphasis. This command is also found elsewhere in Scripture, e.g.:  I Thes. 5:16, John 16, Luke 6:23.

Paul (in prison), writing here to the Philippians (a persecuted church) is telling us to rejoice at all times (even in difficult circumstances).  Both Paul (in Galatians) and Jesus (angry at the money changers and weeping for Lazareth) had authentic negative/painful feelings, but there are three truths about Christian joy which will help us understand how to rejoice in the midst of the real hardships of life.

Three truths about Christian Joy.  

 1.  Christian joy is more of an action and less of a feeling.

In fact, most of the time, what Scripture commands us to do is not to feel joyful (passive response) but rather to rejoice (the decisive act of rejoicing).

 2. Christian joy is not dependent on circumstances.

There is always the choice to rejoice. In a few verses further in Philippians, Paul says, “I’ve learned no matter what circumstances I am in… be content.”  The longer you live as a Christian, the less circumstances affect your joy.

 3. Christians can rejoice at all times, because we rejoice in the Lord (Phil.4:4). 

Unlike our circumstances, which can fluctuate wildly, Jesus never changes. Heb. 13: “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Jesus’ love, patience, forgiveness, promises, etc. do not change. He has confirmed our eternal inheritance by dying on the cross for our forgiveness, and he offers us here on earth : meaning, hope, love, and the basis for real joy.