Rejoice in the Lord Always
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
What’s the difference between the word happiness and joy? To some the meaning may seem to be synonymous for to them a happy man is a joyful man. But, there is a big difference. Happiness is largely dependent upon events or circumstances. Joy is the fruit of the Spirit of God and can be experienced even in times of difficulties. The word “rejoice” is very familiar to Christians for it is mentioned 192 times in the Bible. In the NT alone “rejoice” is mentioned 45 times in 41 verses, ten times in the Book of Philippians. Our Baptist Hymns are full of rejoicing for the Lord. In fact, one of my favourite hymn is entitled Rejoice in the Lord.
I. Definition : To rejoice is to be joyful, to exult in God (Lev. 23:40; Mt. 5:12).
A. Rejoicing, in the Bible, most frequently has to do with rejoicing in God, in His power and glory, in His protection, in His graciousness, in His provision (De 12:12; 26:11; 1Sa 2:1; Ps 9:2; 31:7; 32:11; Isa 41:16; Ph. 4:4).
II. Review of instances where Paul rejoiced in the Book of Philippians
A. In his prayers for the Philippians he prays with joy (Phil. 1:4).
B. In preaching of Christ, whether the motives are good or bad (Phil. 1:18).
C. In the spreading of the gospel whether it was for the sacrifice of his own life (Phil. 2:17).
D. He rejoices to see the Philippian’s commitment to Christ and their faith, as well as their attitude towards unity and harmony. (Phil. 1:25 and 2:2).
E. For the church to receive or welcome Epaphroditus with joy. (Phil. 2:29).
F. The Philippians were his joy and crown. (Phil. 4:1).
G. In our text here Phil. 4:4. He commands them to rejoice twice.
H. His rejoicing for their gift to him (Phi. 4:10).
I. For these reason alone, Paul the man in prison finds a cause for rejoicing. In contrast to happiness which depends on the circumstances, joy is the quiet confidence and assurance of God’s love, protection, and work in our lives no matter what happens.
III. Instances where we Christians can rejoice
A. We rejoice when souls are saved – Lk. 15:10, Ps. 126:5-6
B. There is joy in serving the Lord – Neh. 12:43
C. In fellowshipping with other Christians – Acts 2:40-47
D. In Prosperity – Ps. 63:5
E. We can rejoice while suffering for Christ – Acts 5:40
Illustration: Many Lovers, Few Cross-Bearers
Jesus hath now many lovers of His kingdom, but few bearers of His cross.
He hath many desirous of consolation, but few of tribulation.
He finds many companions of His table, but few of His abstinence.
All desire to rejoice with Him; few are willing to endure anything for Him or with Him.
Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of His passion.
—A. Kempis (Encyclopaedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.)
IV. The “what if’s”, and the Bible’s answer
1. What if one of your love ones passed away? What did Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote?
Bible’s Answer – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. Indeed the death of a love one will cause sorrow and a broken heart that may not be mended anymore. But there is hope in Christ; we will be with them again. David says in Psalms 30:5 weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. The reality is we will be with our saved loved ones in the future. Death is not the end of everything.
2. What if you face failure, persecution, physical abuse, disappointments, poverty, loss of job, and other experiences which will cause you to be discouraged?
Bible’s Answer – Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Paul endured extreme situation like what we can see in 2 Cor. 11:24 – 28.
3. What about if our friends forsake us?
Bible’s Answer – 2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
The Lord Jesus Christ was forsaken by his disciples on the night of His arrest. When He was hanging on the cross, He was asking the Father why he was forsaken yet He endured the cross because there is joy that is set before Him (Heb. 12:2).
4. What if people misjudged you and hurt you badly?
Bible’s Answer – Acts 16:22-25 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
V. Suffering comes first.
1. The contrast between suffering and rejoicing is presented in the Word of God. Most of the time suffering comes first, a classic example is in the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
2. Christian life is no a walk in the park. Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
3. A time will come when all the sufferings of God’s children will be over, when the Lord Jesus Christ finally reigns. In Rev. 21:4, God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Indeed we have a very good reason to rejoice.
Illustration: Way To Crown Is By The Cross
Every one that gets to the throne must put their foot upon the thorn. The way to the crown is by the cross. We must taste the fall, if we are to taste the glory. When justified by faith, God brought Israel through the Red Sea, He led them into the wilderness.
So when God saves a soul, he tries it. He never gives faith without trying it. The way to Zion is through the valley of Baca (valley of suffering Ps. 86:4). You must go through the wilderness of Jordan, if you are to come to the Land of Promise. Some believers are much surprised when they are called to suffer. They thought they would do some great thing for God, but all that God permits them to do is to suffer.
—Robert Murray McCheyne
Can we really rejoice always? The answer is yes if you are in Christ. Times may be difficult now but the Lord has promised us that in the future, there will be no more sorrow or crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Rev. 21:4). Trust in the Jesus Christ, his promises are true and He will fulfil it