Summary: We can choose to rejoice in the Lord, always, by (1) acknowledging His presence, and (2) adopting His perspective in life.
Habakkuk 3:17-19 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.
Paul says in Phil 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Max Lucado wrote an interesting story in The Eye of the Storm:
The bird owner has a small, beautiful bird that sings very well. One day he was cleaning the cage with a vacuum cleaner, and accidently sucked the bird into the cleaner. He quickly shut the vacuum, opened up the trash to find the little bird still alive. He retrieved the shocked and dazed birdie from the bag. She was covered now with dust and dirt.
His instant response was to rush her to the bathroom and gave her a quick rinse. Then seeing that the bird was shivering badly, he reached for the hair dryer and blasted her with warm air until she was dry. Finally, she was back in her cage.
A friend called a few days later and asked about the bird’s recovery. The pet owner reported, “Well, the bird doesn’t sing much any more. She mostly just sits and stares.”
Have you lost your joy because of some ordeals in life? Are you happy today?
• Many will say, “Well, that depends.” That depends, really, on many things – your mood, your situation, the people you’re with, the things that are happening.
• Happiness is elusive. You want it but it’s hard to keep it, because it depends on what happens TO you, and you cannot control that.
• You may be happy now, but in the next minute, if I said something that offends you, I can in an instant, rob you of that happy feeling completely.
• Happiness is entirely circumstantial. If the circumstances is the source of our joy and it is ever-changing, then I have no guarantee that this good feeling can stay.
That’s why the Bible hardly uses the word ‘happy or happiness’ (you can find this word only 26 times).
• God chooses to use the words ‘rejoice or joyful’ over 330 times, because that’s what He has given us – joy and not happiness.
• They each spring from a different source - one comes from the world around me, the other originates directly from the Spirit of the living God.
• It is the Fruit of the Spirit. It is a gift from God.
I think the prophet Habakkuk gave the best definition of JOY here.
• No matter what happens around him, Habakkuk has chosen “rejoice in the Lord, and be joyful in God my Saviour.” (v.18)
• Despite all odds, he said “the Lord is my salvation, so it will be well with my soul.”
• It’s not that we will never be sad or be in sorrow; we will. But deep down in our hearts there is this rested joy that all is well with my soul, because the Lord is there.
Joy is the evidence of the presence of God in our lives.
(1) ACKNOWLEDGE HIS PRESENCE
We can choose to be joyful by acknowledging God’s presence.
• Joy is not dependant on what is happening around him. Joy is the present of God in his life. The psalmist says, “In His presence there is fullness of joy.” (cf. Ps 16:11)
• If God is present, then joy can be present. If He dwells in my heart today, then my joy can be permanent.
Bernard Vaughan: “The happiness of heart cannot be attained without God, just like light and sunshine cannot be there without the sun. On every side, in every part of the world men and women are seeking happiness and cannot find it because they do not seek it from God.”
• There is no lasting joy apart from God, only temporary feelings of happiness.
We need to acknowledge God’s presence especially when we are sad.
• It is not that we do not ‘know’; it is because we are too overwhelmed by our sorrow that we cannot ‘see’. We lost that keen awareness of His presence.
It is like the two disciples on the road back to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). They were weighed down by the tragedy of the past week and the death of Jesus. They were downcast (24:17).
Jesus came up and walked along with them but they could not recognize Him. Jesus had to remind them of what the Scriptures say, and rekindle their hopes in what God is doing.