Thursday, December 4, 2014

Joy and Rejoicing

 In First Thessalonians chapter 5 the Apostle Paul writes, "Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing." It's easy to rejoice when the answer to our prayer is "yes."  However, the next verse says, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you." Joy and rejoicing  is not the result of the circumstances of this world.  Rather, joy is the result of deliberately setting our affection on “things above and not on the things of this world”. The joy of living is being in the presence of God and remaining in proximity of the intimate influence of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God.  If we allow our minds to drift, the devil will steal our joy. As children of God, we need the fellowship of our band of brothers and sisters in order to stand strong in The Lord.  We must ‘hang together’ or the devil will hang us separately.  God has called us to fellowship, to communion in Christ Jesus. For surely our fellowship is with our Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and one with another in the household of faith.

Another key to standing in the midst of adversity is to keep a strong conviction of the sovereignty of God. We must affiliate and keep our hearts in close proximity with Jesus Christ. We must put everything on the alter before God in order for us to understand that all He's given is not for our own vain glory, rather it's all for His glory. That which I lay on the altar as a sacrifice to God, I cannot reclaim for myself ... all my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it some day for a crown. He has already accepted our fellowship and our living the gospel out as an offering, a sweet smelling savor, wholly acceptable unto him. We're not righteousness because of our righteous actions, rather we're righteous because of what our Lord Jesus completed as the sin offering on our behalf. When we realize that we're righteous because of Him, we cannot help but be thankful unto Him and bless His name.

There is much pain in this world. Even this is part of God's sovereign plan. The pain of life and the tribulation of this world works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts – Romans 5:5. The ultimate prayer of a man of God is "God help yourself to my life ... Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee."  As Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane prayed, "not my will, but thine be done." Christianity is to come to God, not on my terms but on God's terms, through the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ.  To stand as men and women of God in such a time of this, we must be strong, not in our own power, but in the power of His might, trusting in the sovereignty of His will. As we delight ourselves in the Lord, making his desire, our desire...  when we align our will with God's will, our heart with God's heart, then it is our God which worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure.

In the pain and tribulation of life, God will teach us in everything to give thanks. My life in this world will soon be passed, only that which is done in Christ will last.  Therefore, Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice – Philippians 4:4.  Pray without ceasing.  In everything give thanks with joy and rejoicing.

May God richly bless you in this season of Thanksgiving,
Your brother in Christ, Michael

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