WHY DOES GOD EXHORT US TO “REJOICE ALWAYS"?
(By: Norm Rasmussen)
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
Here is WHY God exhorts Christians to rejoice always: Rejoicing is a spiritual weapon to fight off attacks on our mind. Rejoicing is a spiritual weapon given to us from God. It's like anti-venom from a poisonous snake bite. Truly - It can be a spiritual life-saver, especially when you're being strongly tempted to tell God at a subconscious level, "Go take a hike, God. You could have prevented this pain I'm experiencing, but you didn't!"
Rejoicing is not about trying to pretend you're not in pain. It's believing that through the focused discipline of rejoicing ... the peace of God which surpasses all understanding may visit you when it might not otherwise. (See: Phil. 4:7).
Rejoicing may also impart to you the supernatural ability to deal EASIER with your pain ... as the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul declared:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)
Rejoicing may also impart trust (faith) in God (which includes His promises in the Bible) that you may not receive otherwise.
Rejoicing may also motivate God to shower you with greater blessing - or withhold blessing from you - if you choose not to engage in rejoicing.
Bottom line: To the wise Christian, purposing to rejoice always is not an option. No soldier refuses to use a weapon if odds increase it will help him/her stay alive, and increase one's well-being. Once you realize "rejoicing" is the powerful spiritual weapon that it IS ... you'll want to use it on a daily basis.
And this needs to be said before anything else is said. If you are in a difficult place in life where there is nothing in you that you can think of to rejoice about, you may want to do yourself a huge favor and employ the weapon of fasting.
For certain, to be able to do any degree of rejoicing when you're saturated with mental and/or physical pain, or both, you need to remind yourself frequently your position in Christ.
Fear, uncertainty, frustration and anger is growing across the land. Financial stress from loss of jobs and reductions in wages and benefits is on the increase, not to mention that many are having to work harder under more pressure to pick up the slack for those who have been let go, just to keep business running. Terrorism, war and rumors of war, and the awful effects it leaves on families and loved ones, visits the innocent. Retirement statements aren’t even being opened by many anymore as of this writing, due to the pain it brings from those whose futures have been altered by the “cancer” that seemingly has invaded the stock market since 2000. Corporate greed and lies have siphoned confidence out from underneath the feet of investors unlike anything America has ever experienced in modern history. Politicians seem to have run out of believable promises to get our vote, because we know most of them are promises that are incapable of being fulfilled due to insurmountable roadblocks that stand in the way. Children are being abused, various diseases are on the increase, and marriage is getting harder and harder to keep together. The list could go on and on, but I’m sure you’ve read enough.
Goodness … what is a Christian to do to cope will all this doom and gloom, stress, fear and emotional pain? Get your doctor to prescribe you Prozac, if you’re not already on it? Pay big bucks to have a physicist listen to how bad life is for you? Well … as the Lord leads you, but first consider doing something much more radical. Radical? Absolutely! God’s secret to overcoming the problems of this world is so radical that it’s mind boggling … to those who are not in Jesus Christ, or to young Christians who have yet to hear of God’s remedy for helping overcome the problems and pain this life likes to hand each of us.
Surely Christians during the Bible times didn’t have to deal with all this pain and stress and doom and gloom like we are, did they? Let’s take a brief look at some of the “challenges” early-day Christians faced. Here’s some quotations from the Apostle Paul: “…In stripes (whippings) above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness – (2 Corinthians 11:23-27 NKJV)
Then we have another portion of God’s Word that records: And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11: 35-38 NKJV).
I don’t know about you, but I don’t envy those first century Christians. Seems to me they were treated rather unfairly and harshly. They must have been a disobedient bunch, to have all that “bad” inflicted on them, right? HARDLY! That has been normal Christianity since Christ ascended back to heaven right up to the present. Everything that happened to first century Christians is happening right now in certain parts of the world. Christians living in America have pretty much been exempted from the severest persecution for the last 200 years, but we all know that can change at the drop of a hat.
Let’s say things do start changing for the worse in America and other parts of the world for Christians sooner than what any of us care to imagine. Let’s say the rapture doesn’t happen as soon as many of us would like or expect, and persecution breaks out in unimaginable proportions. What are we going to do to cope? How can we possibly hold up under such pain? God has given us a potent weapon, brothers and sisters. God has given us a weapon this world laughs at. God has given us such a powerful weapon for overcoming the pain (trials) of life, even Satan himself cannot find a means to render it useless once we make up our minds to use it on a regular basis. Granted - starting out - it's not an easy weapon to use, but the more diligent you seek God to teach you how to use it, the easier it becomes to use when you need it the most.
That weapon is the discipline of REJOICING - always - no exceptions.
Jesus Himself used this weapon frequently to handle the stress He faced. You just have to see through the eyes of the Holy Spirit to pick up on it. Nevertheless, it’s there recorded in the Bible, just in a disguised way. Jesus got alone frequently to pray to the Father. That’s where He got His marching orders. That’s where He got His strength. But it’s also where He got healed from the stress and emotional pain that he experienced from living life as a mere human. When Jesus got alone to pray … He took time to praise. It wasn’t just dialogue alone to the Father as we might assume it was. How did He praise then, you might ask? He gave thanks often to the Father. Jesus was an absolute “fanatic” when it came to giving thanks to The Father. Ever notice what the first thing that came out of the mouth of Jesus when He prayed publicly to the Father? “Father, I thank you …” That was the highest expression of praise that the Son of God could give to His Father as onlookers watched. He didn’t do it for show, however. He meant it with every fiber of His being. He knew it was spiritual power to counter the cares of this world. He knew it was healing to a bruised soul and spirit. He knew it was what sent demons fleeing in the spirit realm, and He knew it was what attracted the angels of God to do bidding on His behalf.
What we can’t prove from the Bible is whether Jesus actually sang songs of praise and adoration to the Father during his times of solitude alone praying, but I’ll make you a bet: I’ll bet my mansion waiting for me in heaven that He sang some of the most precious songs of praise and adoration unto His Father ever heard in all creation. I can only surmise that hell got hotter when He praised and tormented demons screeched louder with howls of pain unlike anything hell had ever handed them before.
Here is a nugget of insight that is worth more than all the money in this world: If your heart is fixed on an attitude of rejoicing, no storm of adversity will ever keep you down.
Did one storm ever take the Apostle Paul down for very long? No, not one. What was the secret to Paul holding up through all the suffering he had to endure? He knew how to rejoice. Rejoicing is praise. Rejoicing is thanking God that He IS in control of the affairs of man and the devil, though it may “appear” that He’s not at times, even to the point of one’s death through persecution.
God made the stars in the sky and keeps them there in their proper place. Rejoicing is thanking God that, one day, Satan and his demon hosts will be forever locked up into everlasting torment. Rejoicing is realizing that God can stop our heart from beating in the flick of an eye, and our suffering will immediately stop forever henceforth. Rejoicing is realizing that God didn’t have to save me, but He did, free of charge, no matter how much I fail Him. In fact, rejoicing is reminding ourselves that God doesn’t care so much where I’ve come from: only how determined I am to become more of a rejoicer when adversity strikes me. Rejoicing is reminding ourselves that the Bible says that you and I deserve hell, not heaven, yet heaven is to be our home if we don’t quit on Him. Rejoicing is knowing that “all things work together for our good, who are called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28). Rejoicing means that for those in hell, there is no possible way to rejoice ever again … through all eternity.
Job made a profound statement we Christians today need to constantly remind ourselves of. “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). Certainly we need to have confidence that God’s protection is around us at all times. Certainly we need to believe that God delights in prospering His people. Yet here is what we have to wonder might play out as we move closer to end times: Adversity striking most Christians of an unimaginable magnitude. The Apostle Paul had revelation that just prior to the antichrist being revealed, it would be preceded “by a great falling away.” The revelation we can get on this portion of scripture is that a large number of Christians will grow cold in their daily relationship with Jesus Christ because of feeling - then ultimately believing - that God has failed them -- has let them down and could care less of their pain. What would cause such a thing to happen? Adversity. God allowing Satan to sift the Body of Christ like wheat like he sifted Job and Peter, and many other heroes of the faith recorded in scripture. What will be the key to staying close to the Lord in mind, body, and spirit and not “fall away from Him” when adversity visits you and I? Be a disciplined … daily disciplined rejoicer. Be a disciplined … daily disciplined praiser of God. Be a disciplined … daily disciplined thanks giver of God. Being persuaded beyond all doubt that God knows what is needed for each of us in this lifetime to build Godly character that will last for all eternity -- which is TOPS on God's priority list for His people who are going to co-reign with Him. This life just happens to be our testing grounds -- our proving grounds. Being on the tranquil mountain top is always wonderful ... but you never know what you're truly made of until the freezing wind up there penetrates every fiber of your being and the snow is coming down so hard that you can't see five inches in front of you at high noon.
God knows what we're made of ... and what we are lacking. Anyone can rejoice when times are good. It's when God allows adversity to strike do we come to grips with just how "tight knit" our relationship with God really IS. The one who pushes beyond their human limits and purposes to rejoice no matter if it kills them ... are the type of disciples God is shaping to be those who will be qualified to co-reign with Jesus Christ for at least 1,000 years. (See: Revelation 20:6)
Does it make a little more sense to you why God told us through the person of the Apostle Paul to: “Rejoice always, and again I say, “Rejoice!”? (Philippians 4:4). And NOW do you have a clearer insight into HOW Paul could say in Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me? The strength Christ gave Him came from His never-ending discipline of WISE rejoicing -- especially when he was being tempted to get angry at God and do just about anything but rejoice. Rejoicing is where you and I will find sufficient strength and determination to weather every storm and still remain standing … rather than growing spiritually cold and succumbing to Satan’s lie of feeling like God has let us down.
Rejoicing is an attitude. It is a statement of our innermost being that nothing God allows Satan to do to me is going to cause me to grow disillusioned with my Savior. It is a statement to self: ‘Though the Lord slay me (allows Satan to sift me like wheat), yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15, paraphrased). Wisdom would include this belief in Job’s statement: ‘Though the Lord slay me (allows Satan to sift me like wheat), yet will I rejoice in Him … always.”
Though it is difficult to prove from scripture to make an ironclad case, I believe a time in the future (and we may be closer to it than what we realize) is coming when God is going to allow “the financial and blessing carpet to be pulled out from underneath a lot of Christians.” Some have so focused on prosperity teachings that they’ve failed to balance out their relationship with God by seeking wisdom and insight on adversity teachings as well. God warned us in His Word that we need to weigh the cost of becoming His disciple. What cost would there be to weight if all God did was prosper followers of Jesus Christ with 100% financial wealth, and 100% physical and emotional health? The whole world would convert to Christianity in no time if that were what people could get out of becoming a Christian. Praise God for financial prosperity and favor. Praise God for perfect health. But praise God if we are cold, naked and hungry and favor and blessing seems to have slipped away from us for unknown reasons other than: “Shall we not accept adversity with God along with our eternal Salvation?” (Job 2:10).
When one is facing painful adversity, it is easy to forget that God is building Godly character in us through that suffering that will equip us to rule and reign with Him in the future. Suffering is working an eternal weight of glory in us (See: 2 Corinthians 4:17-18), not prosperity, as we would like. Nowhere in scripture does God tell us that prosperity works an eternal weight of glory in us. But there are numerous passages that tell us that suffering works good in us.
God knew His refining fire for His people was not going to be easy for them. That’s why He has told us to be rejoicers. Being a rejoicer is the best medicine God has prescribed for us when we are ill from our storms of adversity. No storm will keep us down for very long if we take our daily dose of rejoicing. And … Jesus will help you rejoice through His strength, the strength the Holy Spirit provides, when you’ve ran out of your own, if you’re wise (desperate?) enough to tap into it. Be wise, always.
HOWEVER: It is impossible to be a rejoicer without being thanker. Here's a writing on thanksgiving that is so important to grasp: The Weapons Of Thanksgiving.
God speaks of the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. (See: Hebrews 13:15). That means praising with thanksgiving when we don’t feel like praising with thanksgiving. Substitute “rejoicing” in the place of “praise and thanksgiving.” The sacrifice of rejoicing is perhaps the most difficult spiritual discipline a follower of Jesus Christ can grasp hold of, yet the most powerful and the most useful during times of adversity.
Realizing that rejoicing is a spiritual weapon is vital in using this powerful weapon. However, if one just places this weapon in “the gun cabinet” and does nothing but look at it … and never uses it, what good is it? Our heavenly Father has not given followers of Jesus Christ weapons just to look at. Followers began a spiritual war the moment they got serious with their Creator. Their adversary made sure of it! This battle is going to continue until they leave this planet. Who wins more skirmishes than they lose, will be those who use … who apply … the weapons the Captain of our Salvation has provided us with.
The weapon of rejoicing is not optional -- not to the Christian who wants to experience joy and peace and faith with God in these last days leading up to the return of our Lord and Savior.
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
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Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)