Thursday, July 5, 2018
Philippians 4:4 4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Psalms 34:1 – 3 1I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. 3Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
I want to follow up on what was said on Monday about rejoicing in the Lord. I wish I could say that it was always easy to look beyond our human experiences which bring us distress and discouragement and to rejoice in the nature and character of God – but it isn’t. Let’s face it – we let the things of life really get to us, don’t we? But let’s also be honest about the reason for that; we have allowed ourselves to be captured by the world. Here’s what I mean.
According to Jesus in Mark 12:30, there are four parts to human existence. Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 when He said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The four parts are: the heart, the soul, the mind, and the strength. The heart is the center of our emotions, affections and desires. The soul is the life force that animates the physical being and gives it personality. The mind is the intellect which makes decisions, otherwise called the will. The strength is representative of the physical body we possess.
Take a close look at all four of those aspects of your life right now. Which of them is being dominated by the world’s philosophies and objectives? Maybe your heart has been captured by the world so that you are attempting to satisfy all your emotional needs according to the desires of the flesh. It could be that your soul, in seeking to be recognized and valued, is looking for a level of acceptance from the world. It’s possible that your mind has been captured by the goals of the world so that all your decisions are designed to produce a worldly benefit. Maybe the pleasure-seeking flesh has become the dominant motivator of your life and is dictating behavior to the heart, soul, and mind.
So long as the circumstances of this life continue to provide you with the temporary satisfactions you seek, you will claim to be happy. You will even rejoice, but it will not be rejoicing in the Lord. You will rejoice about God because you think He has given you what you want, but that is a far cry from rejoicing in the Lord because He is God, even when you don’t get what you want.
Test yourself in this: what happens to your desire and ability to rejoice in the Lord when things start to go drastically wrong and your desires are no longer being realized? How would you respond to these verses of Scripture about rejoicing in the Lord?
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad… Matthew 5:11 – 12
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Acts 5:41
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:22 – 25
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings… Romans 5:2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.. James 1:2
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 4:12 – 13
OK, for those of you who just skimmed those verses and skipped to this paragraph to see what else I had to say – STOP! Go back and really read them, and ask yourself if you have such a great and trusting view of God that you can rejoice in His nature and character no matter what your circumstances. Don’t read on until you do.
Now, which part of your life needs work? Have you let the world gain access to the value system of your existence? Does discouragement based on unfulfilled worldly goals overtake you at times and keep you from rejoicing in the Lord? King David said, It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. (Psalms 118:8) But listen especially to these words of God through the prophet Jeremiah:
This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. “But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5 – 8
God alone is sufficient to meet the needs of your heart, soul, mind, and flesh. Rejoice in the Lord no matter what! Let His praise be continually in your mouth.