Sunday, December 23, 2007

Joy at all Times?

"Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holiday" are the standard greeting at this time of the year. What will make you happy or merry this Christmas?...chocolate?...presents?...everything you wanted under the tree?...warm, fussy feelings as you gather around the table with your family? all your favourite traditional Christmas dishes?...decorations?...getting the best, most beautiful tree?...and on and on.

What about the homeless people?...all the less fortunate people, starving, or living in war-torn countries? What about people that are in the hospital with a life threatening disease and can't get out for Christmas?...or those for whom Christmas brings back painful memories of a family member who is no longer with them? Can people make themselves happy in such circumstances?

Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice." He says here that to rejoice is a command.

Joy at all times?

We must recognize that there is all the difference in the world between rejoicing and feeling happy. Happiness is in ourselves, rejoicing is in the Lord. How important is it then to draw the distinction between rejoicing and feeling happy. In 2 Cor.4 Paul puts it all very clearly and plainly in that series of extraordinary contrasts which he makes. "We are troubled on every side (I don't think he felt very happy at the moment) yet not distressed. We are perplexed (He wasn't feeling happy at ALL at this point!) but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed" and so on. In other words the Apostle does not suggest a kind of happy person in a carnal sense, but he was still rejoicing. That is the difference between the two conditions.

Joel2:21, 22 "Be glad now and rejoice because the Lord has done great things....Rejoice in the Lord your God!"

Micah 7:18 "Where is another God like you, who pardons the sins...of the people?...Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!"

Now that is enough reason to rejoice!

Habakuk 3:16-19 "I trembled inside when I heard all this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror...yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains."

We cannot see all that God is doing, and we cannot see all that he will do. But we can be assured that he is God and will do what is right. Knowing this can give us confidence and hope in a confusing world.

So let's wish each other joy and peace, hope and love during this time of celebration and throughout the NEW YEAR!

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