Day 3: May 6, 2017: Rejoice in the Lord
Philippians 3:1: Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
The Christian life is a life of holy joy. Because God is love (1 Jn. 4:8), and because God has shown us his love in Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 4:9-10), and because God has poured his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5), we have come to taste, see, and know that the God is good (1 Peter 2:1-3). Therefore, we delight in God. Our hearts are drawn toward Him. His goodness, truth, beauty, and love bring infinite satisfaction to our souls.
Paul wrote the letter to the church in Philippi from a prison cell (1:12-14). Yet his imprisonment did not hinder his joy in the Lord (1:4, 1:18, 2:2, and 2:17). How could prison bars possibly affect his delight in God’s goodness? How could chains possibly break the satisfaction and confidence of being united with Christ (1:21)?
Christian joy is not something we muster up. Rather, it is something we receive. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn. 15:11); and “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn. 16:22). When we are united to the Crucified and Risen Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit we receive the gift of holy joy – which is our knowledge of, as well as our delight and satisfaction in, God’s unchanging goodness.
While we cannot create our joy, we can exercise it. Paul exhorted the Philippians Christians: “Rejoice in the Lord!” (3:1, 4:4). He was instructing them to celebrate God’s greatness and all that God had done for them through Christ Jesus.
We too can exercise the joy we have received from Christ. We too can rejoice in the Lord. We can spend time each day thanking God for the gift of salvation and for his many blessings to us. We can think about who God is – the infinite Triune Creator of the Universe – and delight in the fact that he is also our loving Heavenly Father. We can recognize that God’s glory is all around us – in the sunrise, in the cool spring air, in singing birds, and in the love of our family and friends – and we can allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with holy happiness at these things.
Even in the midst of hardship and suffering, we can rejoice in the Lord. When the world seems to be against us, we can remember that God is for us – and we can rejoice! (Rom. 8:31-32). When loss and disappointment come crashing in, we can know that absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love – and we can rejoice! (Rom. 8:35-39). When we are rejected or persecuted because we follow Jesus, we can remember that the prophets were treated in this way and that with them we share in the blessings of God’s eternal kingdom – and we can rejoice! (Matt. 5:10-12). When our enemies or our problems are too big for us, we can remember that our God reigns over them all – and we can rejoice! (Psalms 97-98).
Take time now to rejoice in the Lord. This prayer can help you get started: “Merciful God, I rejoice in you. I rejoice in your perfect love. I rejoice in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I rejoice in the Holy Spirit who lives in me. I rejoice in being your child. Thank you, O God, for being who you are, and for loving me as you do. May your joy always be my strength and shield. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”