Monday, November 13, 2017

Be Joyful and Be Gentle

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"--Here the command to rejoice is repeated right after the other. Paul wanted to emphasize its importance. Joy is one of the distinct marks of authentic Christians. Joy (not the same as happiness) is independent of circumstances and is a fruit of the Spirit. Joy is not dampened by affliction because it's rooted in our relationship with Christ. We can rejoice even in the midst of our trials and persecutions (Paul was a great example) because we know Whom we trust and Whom we belong to. Joy persists and thrives in difficult times when we discern God's purposes and have deep-down confidence (fully trust) in His love, grace, goodness, faithfulness, sovereignty, power, and promises. We, God's children and heirs, always have reasons to rejoice since we are blessed with every spiritual blessing and are born again into a living hope of eternal life with an imperishable inheritance. And when Jesus is our joy, no one and nothing can take away our joy because Jesus cannot be taken away from us. Joy is constant because Jesus never changes. Rejoice in Jesus always! Joy is not found in circumstances or people but in the Person of Jesus Christ. We find joy in Who Christ is and what He has done. "I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness." (Isaiah 61:10a) We find joy in His presence. "You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand." (Psalm 16:11) Perpetual joy is possible because of our spiritual union with Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. The indwelling Spirit gives us the desire and the power to obey the command; however, we must still make the choice to rejoice. 

Choose joy. 
We cannot control what will happen to us or what trials we will face but we can control our attitudes and reactions. No matter what happens, God is still Who He is and still in control and still loves us and cares about us. Therefore, we can choose to always trust in Him and rejoice in Him. He is our Lord. He is our Savior. He is our Strength. Let's choose joy and commit to walk in joy no matter what's going on around us. Let's look to God who is our Source of joy, instead of fretting over our situations. A heart that always sees God's goodness and praises Him cannot help but being joyful. Rejoice at God's Greatest Gift, Jesus Christ. Rejoice at His redeeming grace. Rejoice that you are forgiven and free. Rejoice that someday Christ will return.

"The secret of Christian joy is to believe what God says in His Word and act upon it. Faith that isn't based on the Word is not faith at all; it is presumption or superstition. Joy that isn't the result of faith is not joy at all; it is only a 'good feeling' that will soon disappear. Faith based on the Word will produce joy that will weather the storms of life." (Warren Wiersbe)

"Every Christian who is controlling his thought life will have a conscious joy; he will have a continual joy; he will have a conspicuous joy; and he will have a contagious joy, if he finds his joy in the Lord." (Adrian Rogers)

"Joy is not gush; joy is not jolliness. Joy is perfect acquiescence in God's will because the soul delights itself in God Himself." (H.W. Webb-Peploe)

Oh the sheer joy of it!
Walking with Thee,
Out on the hilltop,
Down by the sea,
Life is so wonderful,
Life is so free. 
(Ralph Spaulding Cushman)

Another distinct mark of Christians is gentleness (another fruit of the Spirit). "It should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:4) "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." (Ephesians 4:2) Let everyone see that you are gentle in all you do. Being considerate, pleasant, and peace-loving in disposition. Not harsh or violent. Slow to take offense; quick to forgive. Being gentle also includes being humble, kind, gracious, and courteous. It takes strength, maturity, and self-control inside to be gentle on the outside. "Gentleness means staying calm in conflicts and kind in conduct, and when we learn to do that it reduces anxiety, reflects Christ, gets things done, and pleases God." (Rob Morgan) 

"The Lord is near"--The Lord is with us and His return may occur at any moment. Knowing this should motivate us to be joyful and gentle. Paul offered joy and gentleness as a remedy for the dispute between the two women in the church at Philippi (mentioned in verse 2). Joy and gentleness can help strengthen unity among the Body of Christ. In addition, unbelievers are often attracted to Jesus by the joy and gentleness of believers. To Ponder: Are you a joyful person? Are you known for being gentle? How do you react when offended or misunderstood or mistreated?  

PrayerLord, Jesus, thank You for always being with me giving me grace and mercy in all circumstances. I am so grateful for Your presence, goodness, faithfulness, and sovereignty which bring me much comfort, confidence, peace, and joy. Please help me to keep my eyes on You. Please empower me to trust in You totally and choose gratitude & joy through any trials and uncertainties. Please make my life a joy to You & to others everyday. You're my Source of joy & strength! I rejoice and delight in You always. Shine Your light and love through me, Lord, and may my gentleness be evident to all!

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