September 01, 2008

Rejoicing Always

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! … The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:4-5


Philippians is known as the New Testament book of joy. This letter of Paul to Christians in the first century A.D. invites the sintired and evil-wearied soul to feast on the unquenchable joy that is the fruit of being held in Jesus’ gracious embrace.

I know a person who, like so many, hungered for joy in his darkest hours. His name had been slandered, his character maligned, and his actions maliciously judged. Lies were told, and a deceived audience digested every juicy morsel.

Philippians was his rainbow of hope in the tsunami of uncertainty. Words like “the Lord is near” provided comfort in the midst of fear; they brought peace in the midst of attacks of self-doubt. In his darkest moments those words set him free to “rejoice in the Lord always.”

Paul, too, lived in moments of deep darkness, chained and in prison. He too had been slandered and threatened. His letter reveals a tried and tested heart that discovered true joy in a living relationship with Jesus. Paul teaches that even in the face of difficult circumstances, life is all right when one is held by the One whose hands show the depths of eternal love and grace!

Though a myriad of circumstances may make life seem dark and unbearable, will you joyfully draw near to him who delights to draw near to you?

Dear Lord, thank you for who you are and what you do. You are strength for the weary and a companion to the lonely. Fill me with the joy of your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Calvin Hoogendoorn

Rev. Calvin Hoogendoorn serves as senior pastor of First Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Previously he served two churches in Illinois. He and his wife, Carla, have three daughters.

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