Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rejoice in the Lord

by Ken Harvey

Do you find the endless demands of life pressing in on you and robbing you of your joy?  D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, in his book Spiritual Depression, comments, “Christian people too often seem to be perpetually in the doldrums and too often give this appearance of unhappiness and of lack of freedom and absence of joy.”  Herein lies a great test of our faith.  It is one thing to say that we believe proper doctrine; it is another thing to find complete joy, peace, contentment, and victory when life’s circumstances seem to weigh down on us.

In Philippians 4:4-7, God gives an answer. Continually “rejoice in the Lord.”  This is more than happy optimism. It is deep-seated joy that is rooted in the person and work of Christ. Recount what God has done for those who are united with Christ. Remember the cross. Remember that God is our Father and that He loves His own children. Remember the grace in which we stand (Romans 5:1, 10; 8).

While remembering that the Sovereign King reigns and is coming again, put off anxious thoughts. Paul’s charge is not to merely grunt it out and pull yourself together. The solution is not to tell yourself that worrying does not accomplish anything or that “worrying does not change anything.”  Lack of joy and peace is a spiritual issue with a spiritual solution. Through supplication and thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Be practical in your thanksgiving. Make a list of all the things you can be thankful for in your present circumstances. Go back and thank God for each item. Trust that God will be faithful to change your heart. This gracious transformation of heart and mind is a work of God. Through Christ Jesus, God’s peace will keep and guard our hearts and minds, the battleground of anxiety. Peace is a promise from Christ for His own (John 14:27).  The inverse is also true: there is no promise of peace for the wicked (Is. 48:44; 57:21).  Colossians 3:15b-17 provides similar instruction.  Finally, another promise of peace from Is. 26:3-4: You [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

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