You’ve probably had the experience of teaching your children how to do something. Maybe it was using the toaster oven, riding a bike, or starting a load of laundry. No matter what the subject is, we usually begin by breaking the process down into basic parts.
Let’s take, for example, teaching them how to drive a car. Both of our girls have been driving for a while now, but teaching them took time and lots of practice (and patience!!) You start by pointing out which is the brake pedal and which one’s the gas pedal. Talk about basic, but important – one makes you go and the other makes you stop. Then you check out the dashboard, explain how to turn on the headlights, and so on. Hopefully, one day it all comes together and they become great drivers!
This month I’ve been reading through what are often called “the prison epistles” – Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Those books are loaded with a lot of basic Bible principles. And many of the themes are the same.
One of those basic themes is the instruction to rejoice in the Lord. Philippians 3:1 and 4:4 are two of the places where Paul writes about this. So today, let’s look at some basics behind what it means to rejoice in the Lord.
Look past our circumstances.
We all know that Paul wrote the book of Philippians from prison (and a first-century prison at that!) Yes, his admonition to “rejoice in the Lord” along with his statement of personal contentment (also found in Philippians 4) were written from jail. I daresay he’s an authority on looking past his circumstances. His joy wasn’t based on his current situation.
I like this quote from Mark Ballenger. “We can rejoice in the Lord always because God always changes our hearts, not our circumstances.” Rejoicing in the Lord can seem easier when times are good. But when we’re struggling, we can still rejoice because we know God is with us and has a purpose in our trials.
Consciously choose to obey the command to rejoice.
“Rejoice in the Lord” is a fairly straight forward command. Our part is to obey it. Left up to our own devices, rejoicing probably won’t be our default. That means we have to make the choice to rejoice.
It’s easier to obey and rejoice when we’re walking in faith. If we’re trusting God’s goodness and providence, we can rejoice because we know He is faithful to take care of us.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any sin that’s blocking your rejoicing.
It’s hard to rejoice if we know we have sin in our lives. And sometimes we need the Holy Spirit to show us sin that we’re not aware of.
Even as I write this post, I’m struggling with what I would call righteous indignation (ha) over an unfair (in my opinion) situation. I think there’s a reason I’ve been reading about the fruit of the Spirit over and over in these epistles…I especially need that “long-suffering” and “self-control” today!
Focus on Jesus.
“…let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;” ~Hebrews 12:1-2
As we look past our circumstances, the best place to focus is on Jesus. The more we get to know Him, the more our hearts will naturally gravitate to joy.
Take pleasure in God.
What a neat idea that we would delight in God! Isn’t that what heaven will be, us enjoying God forever? Right now we can do that by being grateful, by noticing all His blessings, by being satisfied in Him. Maybe taking pleasure in Him looks like singing or serving or meditating on Scripture.
Choosing to rejoice in the Lord changes our perspective. There’s certainly more we could dive into, but let me know what else you think helps us to rejoice in the Lord!
- 7 Truths About Finding Joy in God’s Word
- 10 Bible Passages of Praise for Worshipping God
- 6 Ways to Find Hope When Times Are Tough