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Archive for September 16th, 2009

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”  Philippians 4:4 (NKJV)

First of all, we must make the distinction between joy and happiness.  They are NOT the same thing!  Happiness depends on what’s happening around us.  Joy depends on what God is doing inside of us.  Think about it, Paul would have been much happier if he wasn’t in jail, but he knew he was in God’s will, and he had joy. (Romans 5:3)  John probably didn’t plan on being exiled to the island of Patmos, but because of God, he was able to have joy. 

Here is the definition that my pastor gave of Biblical joy: “A deep sense of personal satisfaction that all is well because God is in control.”  This has nothing to do with our present circumstances, and everything to do with our relationship with God.

“Rejoice” occurs 10 times in the book of Philippians, and “joy” is found 6 times.  This is one of the letters Paul wrote from prison in Rome, and he commanded them to be joyful!  Also, “mind” can be found 7 times in this epistle.  Your mind goes a long way in determining your joy (or lack of it).  What do we think of our circumstances?  James says to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” (James 1:2 NKJV)  Have you ever found yourself extremely annoyed when you have to wait a mere 5 minutes longer than you planned on in a grocery line, or at a railroad crossing, or on someone else in your family to get ready to leave?  I regret to say I have.  Perhaps God sends those little irritants to make us think about whether we are thinking of heavenly things or earthly things, the Creator or the creation.  In the whole scheme of life is it really going to matter if I was 5 minutes late to whatever it was?  I think what matters more is the example you show your other siblings, parents, friends, the other people at the grocery store, the other drivers on the highway…  Do they see Christ living through you in those situations?

So what’s required for this joy?  If we want to experience joy, we must look to a supernatural source.  Joy only comes when we are filled with the Spirit, seeking to walk and abide in the Spirit.  Our hearts and minds must be fixed on our Lord.  We must read His word, and meditate on it.  (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2)  If we are not abiding in Christ, we can’t do anything of spiritual value.

If you’re having trouble being joyful, look to the Lord instead of what is happening around you.  Know that He is in control of everything, and whatever it is that is keeping you from being joyful, He’ll work it out for our good and His glory.  (Romans 8:28)

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