Summary: In spite of difficulties, God has given us reasons to rejoice.

November 9, 2002

I. Introduction

A. Theme for this month of November is Praise and Thanksgiving

B. Fitting theme

1. In the month of October, we celebrated thanksgiving here in Canada

2. In the month of November, our neighbor south of the border is celebrating thanksgiving.

3. As we approach the last few days of the year 2003, it is fitting to pause for a moment and reflect on how God has brought us this far.

C. Today’s topic—Reasons to Rejoice

II. Body

A. Do we have reasons to rejoice?

1. Rebecca’s death

a) Yesterday, we had a funeral for a young Filipino lady who passed away due to a massive cardiac arrest.

b) For the last few days before she died, she complained about minor chest pain.

c) She took off few days from work, hoping that the pain would go away.

d) Finally, on Thursday afternoon, she could no longer bear the pain, she called 911.

e) When the paramedics arrived, they found the door to her apartment locked.

f) They forced the door open. They found her lying on the floor, already unconscious and no pulse.

g) They rushed her to the Montreal General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

h) She was only 46 year old.

i) No relatives around to claim her body. We had to wait for a niece from Chicago to be able to finally claim her body.

2. Man stabbed for breaking a fight

a) Few weeks ago we had a benefit concert for a young woman who had lost a husband.

b) As her husband was going to work one morning, he saw two men fighting.

c) He tried to break the fight.

d) In the process, he got stabbed. He died later in the hospital.

3. Jen’s sickness

a) In the last three years, I had seen my wife struggle with her condition.

b) I have heard hundreds of her complain about pain in several places of her body.

c) We had consulted different specialists. Their conclusion is unanimous—there’s nothing that they can do. You have to live with the pain.

4. Many problems; few solutions

a) Financial struggle

b) Problems within the family

c) Challenges within the workplace

d) Physical sickness

B. Why rejoice

1. It is a command from God

a) Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”

b) Psalm 5:11, “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.”

c) Psalm 96:11-12, “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice…”

d) Psalm 98:8, “Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together.”

2. We are to rejoice in all circumstances, at all time

a) When Paul wrote Philippians 4:4, he was in prison.

b) 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

c) Habakkuk 3:17-18, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

1) Our rejoicing must not depend on external circumstances

i. Presence of our friends and loved ones

ii. Comfortable shelter

iii. Delicious food

iv. Expensive clothes

v. Luxurious car

vi. Prestigious job

vii. Billy Sunday said, "If your have no joy in your religion, there is a leak in your Christianity.”

2) Our rejoicing must not depend on seemingly answered prayers

3) Our rejoicing must be permanent

i. Our rejoicing is not just a one time event; it must be ongoing.

ii. Illustration—The Hiding Place

1) Corrie Ten Boom relates an incident which taught her this principle.

2) She and her sister, Betsy, had just been transferred to the worst German prison camp they had seen yet, Ravensbruck.

3) Upon entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and flea-infested.

4) Their Scripture reading that morning in 1 Thessalonians had reminded them to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances.

5) Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters.

6) Corrie at first flatly refused to give thanks for the fleas, but Betsy persisted.

7) She finally succumbed. During the months spent at that camp, they were surprised to find how openly they could hold Bible study and prayer meetings without guard interference.

8) It was several months later when they learned that the guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas.

4) Our rejoicing must be manifested

i. Daniel 12:3, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”

ii. Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

iii. Our rejoicing must be manifested in bad times and good times.

iv. Inside the church and outside the church.

v. Harry Beecher said, "Christians, it is your duty not only to be good, but to shine; and, of all the lights which you kindle on the face, joy will reach farthest out to sea, where troubled mariners are seeking the shore. Even in your deepest grieves, rejoice in God."

5) Our rejoicing must be genuine/authentic

i. It must be heartfelt

ii. It must follow the principle in Luke 6:45—“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

iii. We laugh because we are happy. We cry because we are pained. We celebrate because there is a reason to celebrate.

6) Our rejoicing must be complete

i. Our rejoicing must not be partial, but full.

ii. We celebrate with all our faculties

iii. In our rejoicing, not only our words reveal our happiness, but also our body language.

iv. We can only have a complete celebration in Christ.

v. John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

3. It is for our benefit

a) Biblical examples

1) Joshua and the wall of Jericho—God’s people rejoiced and wall of Jericho fell down.

2) Paul and Silas--Acts 16:25, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

i. I don’t know what text they read

ii. I don’t know what song they sung

Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go, anywhere he leads me in the world below; anywhere without Him, dearest joys would fade, anywhere with Jesus I am not afraid.

Under His wings I am safely abiding; though the night deepens and tempests are wild, still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me; He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

My faith has found a resting place, not in a manmade creed; I trust the ever living One, that he for me will plead.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helped He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great; armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.

3) Other examples

b) For healing and long life

1) Healing

i. Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

2) Long life

i. Death

ii. Sadistic life—Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2002

iii. Pessimistic—Thursday, Oct. 2, 2025

iv. Normal—Sunday, Nov. 25, 2040

v. Optimistic—Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2052

3) Number one cause of death—STRESS

4) Number one solution to stress—learn to develop a merry heart.

5) We develop this merry heart only when we receive Christ in our heart.

c) It is the best witness that we can give to people

1) When we live longer, people asks question what is our secret.

2) When we are happy, people get attracted to us.

3) When we are united praising the Lord, people become more interested to know who we believe.

d) It is the best defense against the wiles of the Devil

1) If the Devil can bring discouragement in our Christian life, he had already gained the victory.

2) Many Christians leave the church simply because they felt discouraged.

3) But an optimistic, happy person is hard to beat.

4) The Devil not only trembles when we pray, he trembles when we sing.

D. Reasons for our rejoicing

1. God’s salvation--Isaiah 61:10

2. God’s sufficiency--Luke 11:93.

3. Rejoice because of Jesus--1 Peter 1:8

4. Christ is coming--John 14:1-3