The Christian antidote against sleeping—that is, being spiritually idle and near death, is to watch and be sober at all times. How? It is by rejoicing always in the Lord.
How do we rejoice always in Him? It’s being spiritually minded Rom 8:6. How do we do that? It’s by thinking or looking to Jesus always Heb 12:2.
How can we look to Jesus Christ always?
It’s by meditating on His nature that is in us 2 Pet 1:3. This is the reason, He has given us great and precious promises so that, we might participate in His nature in us 2 Pet 1:5-7, Phil 4:8. The same joy that was set before Christ which helped Him endure all things and pleased His Father is the same joy set before us Rom 8:17.
Now, Christ is glorified and seated at God’s right hand and we, in Christ, are seated in glory–what an unstoppable joy! Joy flowing down from heaven and reaching back to heaven! A supernatural joy!
The Philippine Church was rich in love, prayer and eagerness for the advancement of the gospel. Their love for Jesus went beyond theory to them actually giving from their resources for the gospel of Christ their Saviour. But, it appeared they lacked discernment of the advantage of rejoicing always in the Lord. Their rejoicing was intermittent and as such, they flagged when they faced opposition from those that troubled them.
Therefore, Paul exhorted them thus; “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice”. Phil 4:4.
Of what advantage was “rejoice (or be glad) in the Lord always” to them, in the face of their troubles and for us today? The answer is vital for the Church upon whom the end of time have come. The knowledge that the things which happened to Israel (the people of God of old), are the same things the Church (new creations in Christ) are facing today is crucial.
We have to walk a path (His way) we have not known before just like the Israelites of old.
Many times, they were overwhelmed, deviated from the One leading them in the journey and neglected good friendship with the compass (Torah) given to them by God. This made them carnal minded people rather than God minded people. For these reasons, they had seasonal joy.
Because they didn’t persist in the joy of their God, they were immensely weakened and their lives were threatened individually and corporately. No strength was left in them to face their enemy who instigated other nations against them.
Given the individual and corporate loss of joy and the attacks on them, they could hardly remember one another’s needs (physical and spiritual well being) since each one focused on his or her survival. With their joy gone, physicalism took them over.
But, God in His love for them as always, brought His word through Nehemiah, Ezra the priest and scribe and the Levites—“The joy of the Lord is your strength” Neh 8:10. His word delivered their minds from the bondage of physicalism. As a compass, His word encouraged them to walk the path to their destination (destiny) which far exceeded matter. This flooded them again with light.
Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians, “rejoice in the Lord always” is doubtless, birthed by his experience and knowledge from the Old Testament that, joy or rejoicing in God gives strength to His people. Rejoicing always, always infuses God’s kind of strength to His people. The Philippine Church needed it and, the end time Church needs it even more.
Meditate on this: the joy of the Lord is our strength individually and corporately. While many of us who are in Christ and in different gatherings of His people know that prayer is a source of strength, few are aware of the enormous strength joy generates in us.
Paul, speaking to the Philippine saints said, “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy” Phil 1:4. Earlier, he had exhorted them to “rejoice always in the Lord” and as if to emphasize its importance, he repeated it in the same sentence, “again I will say rejoice”.
To rejoice, we must hold Christ dear in our hearts with all He has done for us.
And of a necessity, we need to grow in grace and obedience to Him while relentlessly wrestling against sin which attempts to make mockery of Christ’s work in us. We should not be like the hypocrites who battle outward sins in others but neglect the sins in their own hearts.
How do we wrestle against sin and glorify Christ in our own hearts? By casting down sinful thoughts that come through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. When we fail to cast-down wrong thoughts, they make us submit to them, enslave us and act as our master rather than Christ our new Master 2 Cor 10:5 KJV, Rom 12:2.
What happens when we fail to arrest sinful thoughts—give in to sin and are enslaved? Well, that brings us back to rejoice in the Lord which leads to repentance.
Even in a bad spiritual state, still rejoice in Him—in His ever abiding presence to deliver and save from the miry clay and to set you and I on Him, the Rock of Holiness, righteousness and salvation!
Remember, the instruction is for us to rejoice always! It is in the failing to rejoice and yielding to guilt, shame, hypocrisy, denial and covering of sin that we completely lose strength. This could lead us to give in to “living in sin“— an abomination that causes desolation in our lives and our gatherings.
Nothing that stands in opposition to God and us His people, can defeat us if we will only rejoice in Him as He is rejoicing over us Isa 62:5.
We are more than conquers through Christ Jesus—the Lord who lives in us Phil 4:13. Therefore, rejoice then in Him and again I will say, rejoice always! For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
In conclusion, be reminded you are to rejoice in the Lord always as an individual.
This is the patterned order—find your rejoicing in the Lord not in Christian communities. Then, take your joy in Him and join with others who’re rejoicing in Him. The result will be fellowship with God, His Christ and one another in the power of the Holy Spirit 1 John 1:3. This is real Church—the bride of Christ Jesus.
May His grace and peace lead you to abound in joy in the Holy Spirit. Amen