Rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, ‘Rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4)rejoice

Ever wake up and feel like not rejoicing?  Ever have a week where you would rather not speak to anyone or utter a sound, let a lone rejoice?  Let me comfort you with these words, “You are not alone.” There have been days, maybe even a season, that I did not feel like rejoicing because I felt the world around me was against me. This thing called life was hard and I just didn’t have the get up and go at ’em attitude.  I would rather have sung the glums and ate chopped liver than to let myself rejoice.  My attitude stunk and I left that odor expel from my pores affecting other’s personal spaces.  So, again, let me comfort you and say, “If you are feeling that way – you are not alone.  Chances are your very own pastor (yes, go ahead and gasp- he or she isn’t perfect), mom, dad, sister, brother, cousin, friend, neighbor, teacher, principal, employer and fellow employees and anyone else that has breath to breathe has felt this same way. Tough stuff happens, enough said.” 

But, God… oh, yes, there are those infamous words, but God!  Two precious words that remind me and help me to push through and find it in me to rejoice!  I may not feel like it and I might not want to – I can even in a thirty something year old body find the inner two year old who wants to stamp her feet, whine, cry and even wail.  That child who can point fingers, blame others and can throw a full fledge tantrum –  I think that child is somewhere in all of us- the Word calls it our flesh.  But the Word never fails, just like God never fails, he is always gently leading us as the good Shepherd.  Yes, us sheep, that seem to stray off the path, he lovingly nudges us to follow.  That desire is in us to follow, we just have to stop and listen to the voice then choose to follow.

But God in his Word tells us to Rejoice!  And then it is repeated in the same sentence, “…I will say it again, ‘Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).   I am not a theologian and I do not pretend to be, I am just a chick that is in love with a God who loves me more.  I am enthralled by his Words and they light up my life.. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love to hear, “You are the apple of my eye,” (Zechariah 2:8).   In my fascination and delight of knowing that God loves me despite me, that  his love is neverending – how can I not find it in me to rejoice?  I must rejoice despite trials, hard times, sad times, lonely times, desperate times and even depressed times.  Even when I do all right and everything goes wrong, I must find it in me to rejoice!  I will say it again…. REJOICE!

Paul in the Book of Philippians is giving his final exhortation, he begins by saying: “Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends,” (Philippians 4:1).  What are we standing firm in?  Paul is telling us to stand firm despite our present struggles.  Stand firm and hold on, set your minds on heavenly things.   And there in the black and white text of my NIV Bible I get it – as though the letters dance along the page and leap only to swirl through my brain and waltz in my heart – the connection that I and maybe you need, is an answer.  How do I rejoice in my present struggle when I don’t feel like, when my world seems like it is falling apart and the days seem long and the time seems slow and I feel like I’m the only one?

 I set my mind on heavenly things…..   (Philppians 3:20-21)

When I set my mind on things that are temporary, a sense of defeat, deflate and discouragement creep in sucking life, energy and joy.  But when I turn upward and look past the clouds and search into the heavenly realms, my heart and mind tango with this beautiful song that there is more and I can rejoice.

If I am to rejoice, how does it come about?  The answer comes from Philippians 4:5-7.  I am going to list them in order which they appear in the Bible.

  • Let your gentleness be evident to all.   

Show those around you, whomever they are, your gentleness.  May people think, “I cannot believe her gentleness despite her heartache or cicrumstance (or whatever has you chained to be downcast).”

  • The Lord is near.

 Remember you are not alone.  The Lord is with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you, you are the apple of his eye!

  • Do not be anxious  about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.

Let the worries flow from you up to heaven in the form of prayer and petitions – asking God for help.  When we can stop and let go of our natural tendency to control the unknowns, we make room for peace to flood our hearts and take up the vacancy.  When we can stop and be thankful we can let joy return to the void places that held brokenness and rejuvenate the heart.  We can rest assured that when we present our prayers and petitions, our requests, to God they do not go unheard.  He hears every one of them and has seen every tear.  He feels your heartache and the weight of your disappointments.  Yet, he says, “Rejoice!”  and the Holy Spirit echoes, “Rejoice!” and our inner spiritual man says, “Rejoice!”  

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, ‘Rejoice!”  Philippians 4:4

Rejoicing keeps my mind focus on heaven, my eternal future, not on things that are temporal and that one day will pass away with this Earth.  It keeps me moving forward, pressing forward and I keep in the forefront of my mind that all that I have  gives me reason to rejoice and I let God move in those areas where I hurt, I let go of what keeps me back from seeing Him wholeheartedly.

Paul gives us a filter to help us do exactly what he is preaching to those he loves, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things….. And the peace of God will be with you.”  (Philippians 4:8-9)  What is Paul telling me?  That if I filter my thoughts, emotions, words, attitudes through this purifier of a scripture and stand firm focusing on what is yet to come I will receive peace.  

To rejoice welcomes peace.   The connection of one to the other, the dots connecting from one to two leads us somewhere a final picture of finding peace through the process of rejoicing.

May the God of peace be with you, in you and expel from you as your rejoice in him despite your present struggles.

Blessings.

Michelle Blog info

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Key#1: Right Thinking

“Be careful what you think, because thoughts run your life!”  Proverbs 4:23

Your attitude determines your altitude.  I have heard that saying throughout my life.  We are either an Eeyore and hanging our head low, looking down to the ground and just are “ho hum” about stuff in life or we are soaring like an eagle.  We are looking ahead towards the prize (the goal) and maintaining our strength, telling ourselves, “I can do this! I can do this!”

“For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”  Proverbs 23:7

How we think, affects how we speak.  It affects our “self-talk.”  We either will convince ourselves we can do something or we will tell ourselves we can’t do something because we are not good enough, inadequate or ill-equipped.  What you speak aloud is either life or death.  You will either slaughter yourself before you try and won’t try or convince yourself to give up before you ever push through.  Speaking life means you say things in your mind and out loud that encourages you throughout life.  One of my key verses for right thinking is, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  

Let me define a key word for us, consume.  Consume means to eat, ingest, take in, or buy into.  When you are consuming negative thoughts, it will affect your life, because that is what you are ingesting, taking in and buying into.  Your negative thoughts will convince you that you are not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, clever enough, strong enough and so forth.  What we are consuming can convince us to not even try let alone give up.  We may even say, “Someone else can do it better.”

I can remember a time in high school when I was extremely discouraged while playing softball my junior year.  I was a second basemen.  I was going through a serious bout of “discouragement.”  The conversations in my mind were low.  I convinced myself I was the worst second basemen ever.  That I did not deserve to play, let alone be on the team.  As a result, I made errors and did not play my best.  Matter of fact, I moved to right field just to get out of the infield.  But then something happened, I made a few plays that were good and my confidence began to grow.  I realized that I was not “bad” that I was good.  That reality flipped the flop of my thinking and changed the way that I played the game.  That can be true for you too!  If you are struggling and feeling down in the dumps, take inventory of what you are thinking and speaking because that is a direct reflection of what is happening in your life.

There is life and death in the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)

Our thinking dictates or we could say “directs” our moods, our reactions and even our maturity in our walk with Jesus.  The reality is our ultimate purpose according to James 1:4 is to become a mature Christian.  One way to do that is by pressing on towards what is ahead.  If we are not moving forward and progressing, we need to stop and ask ourselves a tough question:  Are we maturing?

Selah.

When we have “Stinking Thinking” if will affect our maturity (our growth).  As a matter of fact, I would go out on a limb and say that negative thinking stunts our growth.

Beloved, take a minute and remember that God knitted you together and formed you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), God has plans to prosper us not to harm us to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11); he engraved us on the palm of his hand (Isaiah 43:6).

One of the keys to a blessed life, a healthy life (Proverbs 4:22) is to carry the key of right thinking! Exchange the “stinking thinking” key and pick up the one with positive thinking, biblical direction and begin cruising on the path that God has laid out before you.  Using the key of right thinking will help you to guard your heart and spur your maturity as a child of God.