Rejoice in the Lord Always

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Rejoice in the Lord Always

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Philippians 4:4




Having encouraged the brethren at Philippi to strive for true unity, Paul begins to give some final admonitions. With quick summation, Paul mentions several important qualities – rejoicing, gentleness, not being anxious and the types of things we ought to meditate about.   The next few lessons, we want to consider these in some detail.   Tonight, we want to notice the first one – rejoicing in the Lord.

Be reminded of Paul’s circumstance and the situation of these brethren.   Times were difficult and they faced persecutions and other troubles for their faith. Yet, Paul has challenged them to keep enduring, in spite of their circumstance, just as he himself has done.

  1.   Rejoice in the Lord –
    1. Rejoicing – a continual theme in this letter. The word rejoice is found some 12 times including 1:18 – that Christ is preached (whether in truth or pretense), 2:2 – hearing of unity among brethren, 2:17-18 – Paul’s willingness to be “poured out as a drink offering” for them, 2:28-29 – he sent Epaphroditus back to them so that they would rejoice (comfort in friends), 3:1 – like our text.
    2. It is something we must continually remind ourselves of.   We live in times where it is very easy to become discouraged and sad.   There are many contributions to this including:
      1. For some, it seems like a natural disposition. We hear of those who are melancholy in their temperament.   Remember Eeyore, the grey donkey in the Winnie the Pooh series.   Always down and pessimistic.   It is who he is.
        Perhaps because of environment, genetic or other reasons, they are just more likely to not find joy.
      2. Our personal failures, and perhaps the consequences of such.
      3. Reminders of our weaknesses or faults – do you ever get mad at yourself because of some disposition you wish was not there – such as forgetfulness, overemphasizing the negative, physical weakness, e.g. maybe one who is not “mechanically inclined”, etc.
      4. Depressing circumstances – as we noted quite often, we live in a very negative and critical world. These times are NOT godly in so many ways.
        You may be dealing with family or physical circumstances that are not good.
      5. Empathy – because of our compassion we realize what others are going through, both personally and as a society, and it pains us as well.
  2.   BUT we are to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS
    1. God wants us to be joyful. That is a continued theme of scripture.
      It is not based primarily on our circumstances.   Sometimes it is in spite of our circumstances – such as Paul and Silas in prison in Philippi and singing praises to God having been beaten for doing a good work in the name of the Lord.
    2. What does it mean to rejoice?   The Greek word is defined as to feel happiness and well-being.   To be joyful. It is acting in a happy or celebratory way. Spiritually, it means to have a disposition of contentment, gratitude and seeing the best in a given situation.   It is a determination that you are not going to let troubles defeat you.
      In the Bible there are so many words that are associated with rejoicing – joy, gladness, glorying, blessed, happy, etc. Even praise is associated with rejoicing.
    3. It is not about being happy all the time – there are times to be sorrowful and tearful.
      Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2)
      Paul to the Corinthians he would gladly spend and be spent – 2 Corinthians 12:15
      Paul even noted this in Romans 12:15 – there is a time for weeping.
      James 5:13 speaks of praying when you are suffering.     When there is sin – there ought to be mourning – personally – James 4:9 – lament, let your laughter be turned to mourning, etc.; and publicly – 1 Corinthians 5:2.   When we withdraw from someone, there ought to be no joy in that.
      But as earlier noted, what is your default disposition?   WHY are you not joyful?   Is it temporary? Etc.
    4. Rejoice – present tense. Ongoing action. Paul is saying, you need to continually be rejoicing.
  3.   In the Lord
    1. There is no better reason to rejoice than to consider our standing with God.
      1 Peter 1:8-9 speaks of rejoicing “with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.”
      Luke 10:20, Jesus even said, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
    2. There are also other things that ought to cause us to rejoice –
      1. Romans 12:12 speaks of rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulations…”
      2. Romans 12:15 rejoicing along with others (instead of being jealous)
      3. 1 Corinthians 13:6 – we rejoice in truth – that truth is prevailing in a given circumstance
      4. 2 John 4, 3 John 4 – Rejoice when brethren are walking in truth
      5. Romans 5:3-5 – we “glory” as our trials make us stronger.
      6. 2 Corinthians 7:9 – when one repents
      7. 1 Peter 4:13 – that you partake in Christ’s sufferings
      8. It is such things that contrasts the Christian’s joy with that of the world.
    3. When you think about the things in this life that bring sorrow and rob us of our joy, how many of them are the product of the world RATHER than God?
      Consider the world’s search for joy

      1. In all the wrong places – sensual pleasures, possessions and power
      2. Drugs and substances – including alcohol. Seeking escape
      3. Such was Solomon’s quest that we have been studying is seeking pleasure (and meaning) through worldly pursuits. Solomon’s conclusion – all is vanity and grasping for wind (Eccl. 1:2, 2:14, etc.).
        1 John 2:15-17 – tells us the world is passing away and its lusts.
        Hebrews 11:25 speaks of Moses choosing God’s people rather than “the passing pleasures of sin”.
  4.   Always – regardless of the circumstances.  1 Thessalonians 5:16.
    That means we can deal with whatever our circumstances are with a joyful attitude. In this we must understand that God has given us what we need to be joyful.   Consider the above list:
    1. A melancholy disposition – we can make up our minds, I am not going to be that way.   We should remember that it is likely a learned disposition.   CHOOSE to rejoice.  Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
    2. Reflecting on past failures, I can determine that the past is that – history.   I cannot change it, but I can move on.   Isn’t that the point Paul was making in Philippians 3:8, 13.   MOVE ON!
    3. Present faults – is there something I can do to help me conquer or deal with my faults?   IF it involves sin, will I repent?
    4. Depressing circumstances – remind yourself of the light at the end of the tunnel.
      James 1:2-4 – again, we are reminded of the good that can come from such, IF you let it.
      1 Peter 4:12-13 – rejoice to the extent you partake in Christ’s sufferings (cf. Matthew 5:10-12)
    5. Empathy for others – be an encouragement to others. 1 Thessalonians 5:14. Help them in whatever way you can.   Try to cheer them up for their good and for yours.
    6. THE POINT: If we are not joyful, what are we doing about it. It is an attitude. We need to determine we are NOT going to let these types of things keep us from rejoicing.
  1.   AGAIN, I will say rejoice. Why Paul repeated himself here is unknown.   Perhaps he anticipated some complaints or excuses (such as the above). Regardless, we know this EMPHASIZES it. And it is an imperative – meaning a COMMAND!   This isn’t a suggestion. Friends, we need to be joyful! If not, we will be miserable!