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Rejoice!

Philip. 3:1

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.” (KJV)

 It is natural for most people to rejoice when good things happen to them, but the book of Philippians is full of other occasions for praise. For instance, intercessory prayer. Philip. 1:4 says, “I always pray for you, and I make my requests with a heart full of joy” (NLT) Most people are usually too wrapped up in their own problems to remember to pray for others and when they do, it is usually a time of distress, not praise.

 Instead of being bitter at ill treatment, Paul chose to praise God for His Sovereignty.  Philippians 1:18 says, “But whether or not their motives are pure, the fact remains that the message about Christ is being preached, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.” (NLT) Apparently, some people were preaching the gospel from wrong motives. Now that the popular preacher was in jail, others tried to take advantage of the tragedy to advance their own influence and enrich themselves. The Apostle Paul showed extreme maturity in his response to the news. Paul's response was not automatic. He intentionally chose to rejoice.  And so can we. Most people harbor resentment when people wrong them, they don’t rejoice.

 Paul found room for praise as he considered the spiritual immaturity of the people.  In Philippians 1:25 he says, “I am convinced of this, so I will continue with you so that you will grow and experience the joy of your faith.” (NLT)

 Many people have a streak of independence that makes cooperation difficult, yet, Philippians 2:2 says, “Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose.” (NLT) There is joy in work, because of the privilege of working together.

 Most people would prefer a life of comfort instead of choosing to suffer for Christ’s sake.  Philippians 2:17 says, “But even if my life is to be poured out like a drink offering to complete the sacrifice of your faithful service (that is, if I am to die for you), I will rejoice, and I want to share my joy with all of you.” (NLT) 

 It is more common for people to “look out for number 1” than to live sacrificial lives.  Philippians 2:28 says, “So I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to see him, and that will lighten all my cares.” (NLT) 

 Instead of begrudging the work of hospitality, Paul encourages his readers to rejoice in the work. Philippians 2:29 says, “Welcome him with Christian love and with great joy, and be sure to honor people like him.” (NLT)

 These things aren’t natural, they are supernatural; they can only become the norm for people who are spirit-filled. In our text today, Paul simply asks us to rejoice in the Lord.  Isn't praise natural to the believer?  Is Paul breaking his pattern here?  I don't think so, especially when life resembles the Jerry Springer show than a Norman Rockwell painting.

 In Oregon, Douglas Hildreth was studying to be a teacher until he got hooked on methamphetamines and went on a crime spree that included burglary.  

 In the Capital Hill district in SeattleWashington a gunman killed six people before turning the gun on himself.

 At a Springfield Mall, members of the Asian Young and Dangerous gang jumped and beat up two members of the Asian Dragon Family gang.  For retaliation, a member of the ADF gang shot and killed a member of the rival gang and fled to Canada.

 How can we rejoice in the Lord in this depraved world?

 Last November, shoppers brawled at a Florida Wal Mart store over promotional pricing of Computers.

 According to the center for bio ethical reform the lifetime average of abortions per woman is 1. 

 How can we rejoice in the Lord in this depraved world?

 How can we rejoice in the Lord when we are standing in this sewage?

 All our cultural problems prove is the scripture is accurate when it teaches the depravity of man.  Society may tout that man is good, and left to his own devices will improve his lot in life, but the bible clearly teaches that man is totally depraved--and so does experience.

 Psalm 7:14 says, “The wicked conceive evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies.” (NLT)

 Proverbs 20:9 says, “Who can say, "I have cleansed my heart; I am pure and free from sin"? (NLT)

 Eccles. 7:20 says, “There is not a single person in all the earth who is always good and never sins.” (NLT)

 Did any of you have to teach your children to disobey or do wrong?  Of course not, depravity is built into everyone.

 Sometimes, it isn’t the sad state of our society that breaks our heart; instead it is our own problems:

 When personal crisis comes, it can be difficult to rejoice in the Lord. When we are having financial problems and don’t know where the rent money will come from, it is difficult to rejoice in the Lord.  When our children run away or make poor choices, it is difficult to rejoice in the Lord. When we face serious health issues it is difficult to rejoice in the Lord. When our parents won’t listen to our side of the story or when we feel like they don’t understand us, it is difficult to rejoice in the Lord. Though the natural thing to do is to become discouraged, Paul tells us to Rejoice in the Lord.  So does James.

 James 1:2-4 says “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. [3] You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. [4] So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (MSG) 

 Consider it all joy? You may be thinking, "Give me a break. Does James really think trials are joyful?" Yes, that is exactly what he wrote. Now he didn't say, "Consider yourself lucky, or hey, don't trials make you happy?" He wrote, "Consider it all joy." There is a difference. Joy is a calmness that runs beneath life's storms, it is a delight that stills the heart and anchors the soul. Why can you have "calm delight" when trials come? 

 Ultimately we rejoice because we know that Christ is our great conqueror. 1 Corinthians 15:52 says, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (KJV) 

 Our reason for praise is ultimate, but it is also immediate.  Today, we rejoice because he is our shelter and deliverer.  That’s why the Psalmist David cried out, “Then I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be glad because he rescues me.” (Psalm 35:9 NLT) and “The godly will rejoice in the Lord and find shelter in him. And those who do what is right will praise him.”  (Psalm 64:10 NLT) And that’s why the barren Hannah could pray: "My heart rejoices in the Lord!  Oh, how the Lord has blessed me!  Now I  have an answer for my enemies, as I delight in your deliverance.” (1 Samuel 2:1 NLT) And why Isaiah could pronounce: “I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10 NLT) 

 By His grace, Paul declares that Christ has elevated us to the heavenly places.  “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:6 KJV) 

 Paul writes “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.”  Easy for him to say, right?  When he wrote the book, the Apostle Paul sat under house arrest. His chains restricted his public ministry. 

 Yes, our feet are in the world, with all its problems and depravity, but our spirit soars into the heavenly places when we Praise the Lord!

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