Rejoice Later, Too

The command to rejoice is one we are to apply to ourselves today, but let us not forget about the future.

“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ,
that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.”

Heaven is our hope and our anticipation of it brings us joy. But there’s another future time that is to be on our minds–the Day of Christ, the day we stand before our Savior. Think about that day.

You.

Christ.

That’s it.

Awkward silence.

Crickets aren’t even there.

How is that day looking for you?

Our desire to eliminate guilt over works has gone way too far. We have convinced people that they can have joy with disobedience. You can’t. You might like to think so, but it’s not possible.

Paul had rejoicing because he had a testimony of laboring for the Word of God. When we do what God says there is joy. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.”

Our exuberance to make much of grace has succeeded in making little of everything else. Heresy happens when one thing is pressed out of measure. There are many who deny the requirement to do good works and most of them have a hard time sleeping at night.

On the other side, there are those who think works save, and they also have a hard time sleeping at night. Rejoicing is not possible for either group.

But a group who knows we are in Christ, we are saved by His grace through the shedding of His blood and have been created unto good works and have been redeemed to be a peculiar people zealous of good works, a people who desire to make much of Christ in word and deed, oh, these people have joy!

Be one of them! Think about the Day of Christ regularly, and labor so that day will be joyful.

Rejoice in Hope

Heaven is the realm of our rejoicing. If we are earthly minded our rejoicing will be temporal at best, non-existent at worst.

The problem with heaven is that it is THERE and we are HERE. How can we who are HERE rejoice in what is THERE?

I think this is tough and is why heaven gets so little air-time in our theology. We know we are to set our affections on things above, but things above are not seen, so soon our affections are drawn to what we can see.

“Hey, that guy Moses who brought us out of the wilderness, he’s been gone for a couple weeks, let’s go worship some golden cows.”

“Dude, sweet idea.” and off we go.

We laugh at goofy Aaron and the Israelites, yet we do this all the time, just not with golden cows, but with plastic Apples (this is a reference to the various iProducts produced by the Apple corporation that everyone has their face in and is intended to be a joke with some truth and applied much further than merely Apple products). (Jokes that need to be explained are not funny.)

Heaven is like Christmas for a kid. I remember many a Christmas Eve having a hard time sleeping. Looking at presents under the tree for weeks beforehand, even popping some tape off to see if I could get a glimpse at the package inside without mom and dad finding out.

“Anticipation is better than gratification” my parents always told me. They also told me lima beans taste like candy.

But in many cases anticipation is what makes the gratification worth it. Heaven is our anticipation, it is our hope, our hope of God’s glory fully revealed and reveled in that causes us rejoicing now.

Don’t even try to give me this, “Oh, but we can have heaven on earth” business, because we can’t. If we could, then all the promises of heaven and its hope are meaningless. As we convince ourselves heaven can be on earth, we talk less about heaven and fixate on materialism (see American Christianity).

We rejoice in hope and hope maketh not ashamed. Whatever junk life throws at us, our eyes are on heaven, and since heaven is our real expectation, we are filled with rejoicing.

Heaven is Our Realm of Joy

Our rejoicing is to be in the Lord and in all that the Lord brings to us.

It is easy to make rejoicing dependent upon our circumstances, but problems arise when our circumstances are a bummer. Ignoring pain to only see happy things can be insensitive to others. We are to weep with those who weep, not ignore their problems so we can maintain our happiness.

One of the best sentences in the Bible on the subject of rejoicing comes after a victory, but is actually a rebuke on the celebration of the victory. Not some stupid victory either, but a spiritual, ministry victory.

The disciples have just gotten back from exercising their newly given disciple powers and are thrilled with themselves that they can cast out demons. You can almost hear them tripping over each other to share the news with Jesus, “Hey! We’re awesome! Look at how awesome we are!”

Then Jesus says to them, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

Perhaps one of the worst things that can happen to you is success. I really don’t know if this is true for me or not, seeing as how I’ve never had any, but apparently success can be misleading. Jesus tells them not to rejoice in the success of their ministry!

This is contrary to most ministerial advice. We constantly write our newsletters about how many were saved at our VBS and reports on our missions trips about how we saved these people and got running water for those people and whatnot. You can’t make any money if you can’t show people what great things you do with their money.

Yet Jesus tells His disciples to cool it; if you want to rejoice, rejoice that you’re going to heaven.

Heaven is a forgotten truth. Oh sure, we bring it up on occasion, like funerals, but heaven has very little to do with our doctrine or teaching. Our lives reflect this lack of aim.

Heaven is the source of our rejoicing, not anything that happens on this earth. Heaven is our source and hope of joy, it is for the joy set before us that we endure the pain, just like Jesus did for us.

Heaven is our rejoicing; there is no other place of joy.

Clay Matthews, God and Rejoicing

We’ve established that the rejoicing we are commanded to do is in the Lord. No other source of rejoicing fulfills the demands of God’s command to rejoice. God is not calling you to rejoice in the awesomeness of Clay Matthews, but to rejoice in Him.

OK, great, super-duper, what does that mean? How do I rejoice in the Lord?

If we look at more verses about rejoicing, we’ll see that these verses point us to aspects of who God is and what He’s done for us that should, in all honesty, make us rejoice. Seriously. There is an outside chance He has done more for us than Clay Matthews if we go ahead and look.

“Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.”

First thing is that you have to seek the Lord, which means to have a desire to know more about Him. It’s awful hard to rejoice in something if you don’t know what it is.

Those of you who read my blog in other countries who don’t follow American Football have no idea who Clay Matthews is or what a “sack” is, or the deep-seated emotions residing in the Packers/Bears rivalry, therefore, it makes it difficult for you to rejoice in Clay Matthews as I do.

However, if you were to seek the face of Clay Matthews, as it were, you would find out more about him and how dominant he is, especially against a fat, lumbering Bears’ offensive line. But as you learn of his awesomeness, you too will be brought to a point of rejoicing in him.

The same holds true for God, well, on a slightly larger scale anyway. If God does not fill your heart with rejoicing, perhaps it’s because you don’t know much about Him. Set yourself to find out more. Read the Bible. Read great books on God. Talk to those who know Him. Pray. Find out who He is.

Perhaps the reason why rejoicing is missing in your life is because you don’t know the only true source. There is a way to remedy this! God rewards those who diligently seek Him, one of the rewards is rejoicing.

Rejoice in the Lord

The Greek word for “rejoice” means, “to be glad.” “Glad” means “to be merry, to be delighted in a thing.”

When we stick this together we see that we pretty much know what the word means without having to use a dictionary.

Rejoice means to be happy, to have found a source of merry-making. Perhaps you noticed that my quotation of the verse “Rejoice and again I say rejoice” was not a complete quotation. Here’s the full quote:

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”

Our rejoicing is to be in the Lord. God has to command us, not merely to rejoice, but to rejoice in the Lord. People rejoice over dumb stuff all the time. Clay Matthews sacked Jay Cutler 4 times last Thursday. This is great reason to rejoice in my life!

Yet how dumb is it that I can be happy about one steroidal freak knocking down one whiny guy who can occasionally throw a football? It doesn’t even make sense, I don’t even know these guys.

People have an easy time rejoicing in stuff. Modern career advice usually goes like this–find what makes you happy and then go do that.

That’s one reason why we have such high unemployment–there are jobs available, just not doing anything that makes anyone happy–I know a resort owner willing to pay $12 an hour for people to clean cabins. I turned em down. Cleaning cabins does not make me happy.

But the true source of rejoicing is not in things, but in the Lord. This we need to be commanded to do. God commands things that are possible; just not things that are natural.

Romans 1 says the great downfall of man is to worship the creation more than the Creator who is blessed forever.

Being happy is not the point, being happy in the Lord is. The Lord is to be the source of our rejoicing. That is the Bible’s command.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Again I Say Rejoice! Another Annoying Verse

Rejoicing is not as easy for some as it is for others. There is a class of people who seem to be happy all the time. They have the enviable ability to ignore reality and carry on in simple happiness. These people amaze me, if not for their ability to be happy as much as for their ability to live a lie!

Rejoicing is a tough thing. When the Bible gives us the command “Rejoice and again I say rejoice,” there must be a reason God thought it necessary to command people to rejoice. In other words, this must not be natural for us.

Rejoice also carries with it connotations and assumptions with it that further make rejoicing tough. Rejoicing is often characterized as being like David, dancing to the music and embarrassing his wife. Do I really have to dance and act goofy?

Others say that rejoicing is just a heart thing, it may not be seen on the outside. There maybe truth here, but if it’s truly in the heart, I think it has to be seen on the outside at some point–as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. The mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart.

Others get the idea that we rejoice when things are good, so pretend things are good. These folks try to find silver linings everywhere to give them reason to rejoice. They may be on to something, but I don’t think biblical rejoicing is based on circumstances.

I want to take a look at rejoicing the next couple days. I want to talk at ya about biblical rejoicing, what it is, how to get it and what it truly looks like as God describes it.