I found these notes (from a sermon I heard at some point, I’m assuming) on my phone this weekend. Good thoughts here, folks.
Are you a rejoicing disciple?
Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
First look: “That’s not going to help.”
1. The context: (v.1) Stand firm in The Lord – remain loyal and faithful while under fire; a person who will never quit; an intense loyalty and devotion to Christ. (v. 2-9) The directions on how to stand firm in The Lord.
2. The significance: This is a command. It is repeated for emphasis. It is the only command that is repeated in this section. This is a vital piece of information that is essential to spiritual well being.
3. The questions:
I. What does it mean to rejoice in The Lord?
A. The command: To be glad, to be full of joy, happiness. Inner celebration of the soul. (John Piper – God asks us to have indescribably joy in the face of extreme sorrow and suffering.) Always.
“The same Paul who wrote ‘rejoice always’ is the Paul who wrote ‘I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.'” – John Piper
Piper: “Its no accident the greatest ch in the Bible (Rom 8) ends with Paul doing everything to help our joy be indomitable in suffering.”
Piper: “What the world needs from the church, from you, is your invincible joy in the midst of suffering and sorrow.”
B. The clarification: God is not asking you to say that nothing hurts.
2 Corinthians 6:3-10 – We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed;as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
Joy that you can have in the midst of pain. Delighting in God. Rejoicing in who God is and what He has done for us. No matter what is going on in our lives, there are always plenty of things that we can be joyful about. Rejoicing in The Lord is allowing the truth of who God is, and what He says, and what He’s doing to interpret our lives. Joy is a worldview. Put God in the picture. Let truth impact and shape the way you view your life. In the midst of great sorrow, you can still have great joy. When you want to hide under a rock, you can find the strength and courage to keep on keeping on.
C. The illustration: Lamentations 3:19-26 – Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
Jeremiah chose to call to mind the person and presence of God. Did he still have sorrow? Yes. Did he have hope? Yes. If you look at everything that is broken in your life and remember that God is alive and well, and that he is faithful, and that his mercies are new every morning, then you will have joy. My joy is not dependent on being the best, or having everything I want. My joy is in The Lord.
II. How do you rejoice in The Lord?
A. The elements:
1. Knowledge – there is always a reason for joy. It is a response to something. If we are going to rejoice in The Lord, we have to have knowledge. We have to bring to mind the things that will produce joy in our hearts. Thinking on the things that are good and just and true will bring joy.
2. Understanding – you need to have understanding of spiritual truths so that you can apply them to your life.
3. Faith – unless you believe the truth, you cannot respond in joy. You need to trust that what God says is true.
4. Focus – we hear incredible, amazing truths, but they don’t become real in our soul because we don’t focus on them.
5. Choice – you are the only one who can look at the truth of God and choose to rejoice.
B. The example:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – the truth of God’s word can change the way we view sorrow.
Psalm 73:26 – My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Focusing on who God is and His character will bring you joy.
When you walk around with a warped view of God, you will be angry, disillusioned, and bitter.
Philippians 1:12 – I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel…
Paul does not complain; he rejoices. He does not give details to bring attention to his own suffering: he views life through the lens of Biblical truth and has his focus on The Lord. The goal is always in mind: the Gospel is being preached.
III. Why is it important to rejoice in The Lord?
A. Discouragement takes a tremendous toll.
You will not thrive in your spiritual life if you walk around in discouragement. If you are going to stand firm, you need to know how to rejoice in The Lord because the joy of The Lord is your strength. That’s where life and vitality and enthusiasm come from (not a good volleyball spike).
B. Rejoicing reminds us to draw near to God.
Focusing on the fact that God is alive and well and at work in our lives keeps our relationship with Christ vital and strong.