Summary: In this sermon Dr. Tow outlines 5 reasons to rejoice. This sermon will compel you to nurture an attitude of gratefulness and encourage you to view life's events through an eternal perspective.
Five Reasons to Rejoice
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” At least four different Psalms begin with those words. Of course, the command for thankfulness runs all through the Scripture. Probably the most familiar verse is Phil 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” That is our theme this morning.
I had planned to speak on a different subject; but when I woke up Saturday morning God gave me this word. That produced a struggle in me; I did not feel like rejoicing and I couldn’t image preaching this subject with the right emotions to go with it. Saturday morning, I woke up grumpy. I felt discouraged. The crazy part is there was no particular reason for feeling that way. Nothing bad had happened. Have you ever woke up that way? I’m thinking, “God, how can I tell them to rejoice when I’m not rejoicing myself?” Of course, God had a pretty direct answer for that! So here I am this morning reminding you and me of the importance of gratitude.
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Neither passage asks how I feel. Like all biblical commands, we don’t just do it if we feel like it. We do it and then we let our feelings catch up with our obedience.
In John 15 Jesus was teaching His followers about the importance of abiding in the vine, staying connected with Him. In verse 11 He says, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” The joy Jesus gives is different from the joy the world experiences. Worldly joy is about getting what I want . It’s excitement about things and experiences. But the joy Christ gives flows out of our relationship with Him. It is not dependent upon externals. We thank God for His provisions in our lives; but our joy is found in our relationship with Him. That’s why Phil. 4 tells us to rejoice “in the Lord”—in our relationship with Him. And He is the eternal God who does not change.
The prophet, Habakkuk, live during a difficult time in Israel. Because of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God, Babylon was able to attack and plunder Israel. Habakkuk is baffled that God’s chosen people would be defeated by such an ungodly, wicked nation (Hab. 1:12-2:1). God teaches Habakkuk to trust Him regardless of the circumstances (Hab. 2:4) . So listen to Habakkuk’s declaration of faith in Hab. 3:17-18. “Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls -- 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Nothing will steal my joy. I will (I choose) joy in the God of my salvation.
I want to share with you five good reasons to rejoice. This list is by no means exhaustive; but it’s a good start in cultivating joy in our hearts.
1. Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.
In Luke 10 Jesus sent 70 of His followers out into ministry. The results were fantastic. They came back to the Lord full of joy, talking about the healings and deliverances that had occurred: all the wonderful manifestations of God’s power that had happened. And Jesus affirmed them in all that; but, He brought them back to the most foundational reason of all for rejoicing. Luke 10:19-20 “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
I don’t know what is going on in your life; but, if you’re a Christian you have cause for rejoicing. And that may be the best place to begin expressing your gratitude to the Lord. Before Jesus came into our lives we were without God and without hope. We were dead men walking. It was just a matter of time when we would step off into the abyss and be lost forever. We had no power to save ourselves. We were headed in the wrong direction and didn’t even know it. Without the cross and without God’s divine intervention in our lives, we would be lost forever. But His mercy endures forever! But God did intervene. But God did convict you of your sin. But God did call you out of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son. He did save you and that is the bedrock of your gratitude. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”