It is interesting that a person who suffered imprisonment, flogging, shipwreck, danger, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and exposure to death should say to Christians, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” (Phil.4:4)
The fact of the matter is that the command to rejoice is given to all God’s children. It is one of the characteristics of the true believer’s life. Those who belong to Jesus are marked with joy. It is one of the Christian trademarks.
However, not once does the scripture tell us to give thanks FOR all circumstances. Rather, we are to rejoice or give thanks IN all circumstances. For instance, we don’t rejoice for death or pain or divorce or cancer. In what way then are we to rejoice?
Our rejoicing is to be “in the Lord.” What does that mean? A glance at the Book of Philippians says we are to rejoice in the work of redemption accomplished on our behalf. Jesus humbled himself and became a servant and was obedient unto death, thereby assuring our salvation.
Paul’s conclusion in the book is that the circumstances of one’s life do not take away the joy that the child of God experiences in Christ Jesus. Come what may, the Christian’s reason to rejoice is not altered. “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.”
– David Johnson
The citizens of the Island of Crete didn’t have a very good reputation. Paul quoted one of their writers, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). Not very complimentary. Yet there were congregations of the Lord’s church present comprised of people struggling to reflect Jesus in their lives. So Titus was instructed to teach “things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (2:1). He was to help them live sound, moral, sensible lives. Like well-fitting clothes, life needs to fit who we say we are. Continue reading
Jesus went to Nazareth, his hometown. He did some teaching there. The residents marveled at his knowledge but they rejected him – “They took offence at Him.” Jesus’ observation was, “Only in his hometown and his own house is a prophet without honor.” Matt.13:27
In Nazareth He was just one of the local boys that had grown up there. They knew his parents and they knew him, but they didn’t know Him. It seems it was familiarity that lay behind their unbelief. Complacency was involved. Continue reading
Half the books in the library seem to be about tough people who solve crimes. They’re always good-looking, muscular, and have interesting personalities; but most of the time they don’t care about people. Jesus taught us to do something that’s even tougher to do: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36).
Why is it tough to be merciful? Because it goes against everything we normally want to do. The easy thing is to take revenge, gossip about somebody, or refuse to forgive. It’s much harder to show some mercy to someone you don’t like, or who has done something against you. We want to react in kind. Jesus commands us not to. That’s the tough part. Continue reading
People look to the future with longing. Our hopes aim for better times, nicer homes, easier finances, better health – all in the future. Sometimes we feel disappointed when we realize what we have now is probably as good as it’s going to get. Nevertheless, we still hope the future will be better. Continue reading