An Unusual Command

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

Kept for Jesus Christ

It would be hard to find a lovelier introduction to a letter than Jude 1-2. In it, he described his readers with three phrases that should comfort the most discouraged of souls. Let’s have a look.

First, he said they were the called. He was writing to people Jesus had notified, like a legal summons. One possessing the highest authority in the universe had invited them to be saved and enter His kingdom. Since Jude was undoubtedly the physical brother of Jesus, the thought would have taken on a special significance to his readers. And how are people called? Paul said through the gospel (2 Thess.2:14). There’s our summons.

Second, Jude said they were beloved in God the Father. What a sweet term! We use it only for those close to us, like family members. We depend upon such people, and want to be with them. Out of all the people God could, He says we are His beloved. And how did we manage to fall into that category? Simply by His grace and our faith, not by our accomplishments or goodness. Life goes much better when someone loves us like that.

Third, he said they were kept for Jesus Christ. This time of year we are busy buying gifts to be kept for Christmas day and given to family. God is keeping us for Jesus. This implies protection and care. When Jesus comes on the last day, we will be introduced to Him for all eternity. What a great thought! Never fear you are alone and ignored. God is keeping you for His Son.

Three terms with three perspectives. The first looks back, the second involves the present, and the third looks to the future. God has us covered completely! No wonder Jude was able to say what he did in verse two: “May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.”

– Tim Johnson

Thankfulness, From Beginning to End

The New Testament is full of thankfulness, from start to finish. Each of Paul’s letters seem to begin with gratefulness for the church he was writing to, and they usually end with his thanks for individuals among them. See Phil.1:3-4 or Col.1:3, among many. Most of these churches had serious problems that threatened their undoing, but along with reproof the apostle found things about them for which he was thankful. And how about us? Perhaps there are things about our congregation that one could grumble about, but are we thankful for the many more things that are positive? Continue reading

Doctor Luke

While Luke is only mentioned by name three times in the Bible, his reputation is huge. We would know very little about him if it wasn’t for his authorship of the gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts (in both, he does not name himself). He wrote them about 30 years after the church began (a.d.60-62), but what do we know about him before that? Continue reading

Jesus the Faithful Witness

The Book of Revelation gives us many names for Jesus Christ, all of them designed to teach us something about Him. In the first chapter He’s called “the faithful witness” (v4), and repeated in 3:14. A witness, in a legal setting, is someone who confirms the truth of something they have seen. In the New Testament, a witness is someone involved in preaching what he has seen and knows. The apostles were witnesses of the resurrected Jesus, and as Peter explained in Acts 10:41-42, they were ordered to preach and testify this truth. This was often difficult because apostolic preachers regularly faced violence, opposition, and threats of imprisonment and death if they continued to preach as witnesses. Therefore Jesus urged them to be faithful in their important work as witnesses, despite the dangers. Continue reading