Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always…
OK, I’m going to give you a reason to rejoice – there are only two more devotionals about rejoicing! I know we have spent a long time on this, but it has been very important and significant to me, and I hope it has been helpful to you as well. A good friend told me that the reason I have spent so much time on the subject of rejoicing is because of the personal circumstances of my own life, and it is what God has needed to teach me. God has equipped me to persevere through the present trials of ministry and He has prepared me for the future pain I know is coming. The most important lesson I have learned from this study is this: I am not able to rejoice because I know more about rejoicing – I rejoice because I know more about God.
How much more about God do you know today than you did yesterday? If you studied the verses you were given in yesterday’s devotional about the reasons for suffering, you could have learned these things about the nature and character of God.
- God is merciful. (See 1 Peter 1:3 – 9) Mercy is the quality that allows God to not give sinners the punishment they deserve, so that His grace may give us new birth that we do not deserve. We must never move too quickly to present people the gift of salvation before laying a proper foundation of personal responsibility for sin. We cannot fully understand the grace of God if we do not fully understand our guilt and the mercy He has to punish Christ for it rather than us. The cross of Christ loses its power when it becomes simply the place where Jesus died for sin, rather than the place where Jesus died for my sin. When we admit to God that we are sinners, responsible for our sin and deserving of the wrath of God, we become recipients of His mercy which opens the door for us to receive His grace. Rejoice! God is merciful!
- God is present. (See 1 Peter 4:12 – 14) This may sound like a very simple truth, but the fact that God is present with us is deeply profound. It is the reason we are able to rejoice in the present age. Our ability to rejoice while enduring the pain and persecution of the world is directly connected to the dependence we have on the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. The times of discouragement and despair that we experience are the times when we have depended upon self for strength and solutions. Every time we choose to handle any situation according to our own wisdom and strength, we become fools, denying the presence of God. (See Psalm 14:1) Instead, here’s how God intends us to live – God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3) Rejoice! God is present!
- God is faithful. (See Matthew 5:10 – 12) Your reward for persevering through the trials of life is waiting for you. We have an inheritance reserved for us in heaven that cannot perish, spoil or fade away. And Jesus said it is a great reward. Every work you do based on your trust in God is being recorded so it can be rewarded. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58) So stand up and rejoice! God is faithful to get you through today and He is faithful to fulfill His promises for tomorrow. Rejoice! God is faithful!