Summary: Why is it that Paul repeats over and over again the word, "Rejoice?" It is found 10 times just in this one little book. One thing we can determine is that we can never be the Christian God wants us to be without obeying that command to rejoice in the Lor
Why is it that Paul repeats over and over again the word, "Rejoice?" It is found 10 times just in this one little book. One thing we can determine is that we can never be the Christian God wants us to be without obeying that command to rejoice in the Lord.
The position of the believer is a position of faith...and faith incorporates optimism. And the reason for that is simple..."God is." Now, how many believe that? Okay, God is...but what God? There are many so called "gods" spoken of today. Which one do you believe in?
The God that is the cosmic killjoy who keeps us from having any fun or any enjoyment in life?...the God who is so far removed from us that we are left down here to fend for ourselves?...or the God who is some angelic Santa Klaus who gives us gifts if we’re good...but punishes us when we fail to reach perfection?
The God I’m talking about is the God who is all powerful, all knowing, the God who is everywhere. The God who loved me so much that he sent His Son to die for MY sins...the God who said He would never leave me nor forsake me..the God who gave me power to go out into the world and do great and mighty things in His name...
The God who gave us power to tear down strongholds...and fight the good fight of faith that will give us the victory that overcomes the world...HE’S THE HOLY ONE...THE GOD OF THE BIBLE...AND HE LIVES!! And because He lives I can not only face tomorrow, as the song says, but I can rejoice...and live a life of victory. Glory to God!
And isn’t that what its supposed to be like for all Christians? That is certainly the only way we can help a lost and dying world. Who in their right mind would want to follow after a cold, dead, miserable looking religion? Especially when the world offers something that claims to have everything that will make us happy.
But in spite of all the world supposedly has to offer, people out there are hurting and empty, and they need to see a ray of hope...not a black cloud of doubt about the ability of God to be relevant.
People need some brightness sent their way...not a wet blanket of dry formalism that saps their strength and removes the last shred of faith they may have been clinging to. People need to find a God with whom they can have an intimate personal relationship...and the only way they can find that is through those of us who claim to have that very same thing.
But the sad fact is, that we are generally so caught up in our own problems and difficulties...we are so bogged down with problems and doubts and fears that we can’t offer them a God who will help them rejoice always....because we ourselves haven’t found that either.
What is the opposite side of the rejoicing Paul is talking about? WORRY! ... And I want to show you this morning that worry will make you a coward and a cheat...but it doesn’t have to be that way at all. The possibility of victory is just as real as God Himself...and just as available for each of us this morning.
Why is worry so bad. Because worry is a faith killer. Verse 6 says, "Don’t be anxious about anything." And that is God’s way...it is an absolute...there are no exceptions.
Worry is the way of the world...and if I was a sinner separated from God...unforgiven and headed for hell, then I should be worried. But the believer doesn’t have these problems. He is a "new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things become new." (2 Cor. 5:17)
Worry was not included in the plan of God for Adam. It only came as the result of sin. It was part of the guilt package that came after Adam sinned. And it continues to be part of the package that Satan delivers to us.
Worry is an abrasive that burrows down inside us and undermines our confidence...it undermines our relationships...it can even affect our health. And God hates it...every bit as much as He does stealing...
And worry is something that is noticeable. Artaxerxes, the Persian king, noticed it in Nehemiah. If you want to turn there...in chapter 2 of the book of Nehemiah the king said to him, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart." And Nehemiah said, "I was very much afraid."
Pessimism, gloom, doubt, and that downcast appearance are the worst possible witness. Is God dead? Has the church been foreclosed? Has heaven been evacuated? Have prayers been returned unopened...stamped "address unknown?"