Scripture for the Day
(December 22, 2020)
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
This is a day of rejoicing!!! When we are Christians, we should rejoice every day but most of us don’t. We get all caught up in our family dramas, our challenges at work, our perspective on politics, and on and on. We forget to slow down and just be thankful to the Lord for how far He has brought us and all the things He has blessed us with.
Our scripture for the day was written by the Apostle Paul and he instructs us to rejoice in the Lord “always”. It is important to realize here that Paul wrote the Book of Philippians from a Roman prison. Now, he could have written a “woe is me” type book but he did not do that. He wrote a love letter to the Philippian church and encouraged them to rejoice in prayer; to rejoice in the gospel; to rejoice in Christian fellowship; to rejoice in sacrifices for the cause; and most of all to rejoice in the Lord. I want you to put yourself in the place of Paul so you can get a glimpse of how he could rejoice in the Lord while in a Roman prison. Paul was once a persecutor of Christians. He stood by and watched while they stoned Stephen to death. Jesus changed his life forever on the Damascus road. He was the one that Jesus used to take the Gospel to the Gentiles and in that process experienced many challenges but also saw many miracles.
The Apostle Paul is trying to show us a secret here! We all go through periods of hard times and discouragement. We question why we are where we are. We question what our ultimate purpose and calling is. I am sure even Paul had those type thoughts at times. However, he would never let those type thoughts gain supremacy over his love of Jesus and his faith in his calling to follow Jesus wherever that led.
My wife and I knew 36 years ago that the vast majority of our ministry would be outside the organized church, such as serving as Chaplains to the business marketplace. That has not always been met with acceptance from the organized church and that has hurt our hearts at times. But, do you know what makes us rejoice? It is the fact that we know who we are in Christ and what we are called to do and we can always rejoice in that. Paul knew what he was called to do and he could rejoice even from a Roman prison because he knew who he was in Christ and he knew what the Lord had called him to do. I am sitting here this morning and I am so thankful for the small group of people God has given us to support us, pray for us, and challenge us over many years. Regardless of what we have gone through, they have never abandoned us. They understand that Jesus told us to go into all the “world” (not just the church world) to preach the Gospel. They understand that we are called to “Feed the sheep” and the vast majority of those sheep are lost sheep and they are not in the church. They are in the world, so we go!!!
I am reminded of a statement written by John Wesley in his personal journal shortly after being kicked out of his organized religion in England for being too on-fire for God. He looked at it as a promotion because he was no longer restricted to a particular parish. The “world” was now his parish. “I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.” –Journal, June 11, 1739.