I am sure that many of you are worried, doing everything you can to be healthy, praying for your loved ones, for our governmental leaders, for our pastors, and for our country. Some of you may even be grieving the loss of life on earth of a loved one. I am also sure that many of you are wondering how much is enough? Many of the precautions and trampling of individual freedoms seemed to make sense 42 days ago, but do they make sense now? I am sure that we are all wondering what the next steps are. And wondering whether we are doing enough. Do I follow the government’s edicts properly? Do I pray enough? Am I praying correctly? Do I have the right kind of faith? What is God saying to our country and to each of us individually?
I’m sorry to say that I don’t know the answers to any of these weighty questions. But today, my mind was drawn to Philippians 4:4- Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. And I will. And I pray that you will also. In fact, even though it’s not in the text, I want to add some exclamation points and capital letters! REJOICE in the Lord always!
Consider also who was writing this to the Philippians.
The apostle Paul had been shipwrecked: Rejoice in the Lord always.
The apostle Paul had been thrown in Roman prison even though he was a Roman citizen: Rejoice in the Lord always.
Paul knew what was important and more importantly, Paul knew Who made the important things. Paul knew that because Jesus Christ died and rose again death has lost its sting. Paul knew that because Jesus Christ died and rose again, there is nothing left to fear. Rejoice in the Lord always.
On our MOST mission trips, we make it a point to rejoice in the Lord several times a day. Morning and evening devotions, prayers not just at meal times but throughout the day! When fatigue is building and tensions are rising we step back and rejoice. Because the Lord led us to that country, to that mission, to that spot at that moment, and we remember to take a breath and rejoice.
We rejoice as we clean and repair and refurbish old eyeglasses. We rejoice that we’re able to help someone see more clearly. We rejoice that we’re able to help someone have clean drinking water, or better health through a medical clinic. But most of all we rejoice in the Lord that He uses us to talk to the world one person at a time about what Jesus Christ did for all men, for all time, in all times. We rejoice in the Lord always.
Does Paul’s statement apply to us today? The Philippians were getting discouraged. False prophets were telling them false gospels. Salvation by works was being pushed in some corners. I think Paul’s message to the Philippians applies to us today. Ever watch different news channels or listen to different politicians? They all seem to have statistics to back up their points, so who is telling the truth? Is anyone? Does it matter? Rejoice in the Lord always - that matters.
And Paul goes on to say in verse 6: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” God knows where you are right now and He knows your struggles. He knows whether you’re having a “good” day or a “bad” day. The Holy Spirit knows the moanings and groanings of our hearts, some of which we cannot articulate, and takes them to the Father. Rejoice in the Lord always.
And then in verse 7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Because we cannot see what God sees and cannot know what God knows, we rejoice. We rejoice that God cares for all people and removes the sting of death from those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
We continue to pray and meet (virtually!) at MOST Ministries about what the future will hold. We are confident that our mission will continue and are listening intently for answers and directions He is providing. Even though our current circumstances are shifting, and it is a bit nerve-wracking, we are excited to see what He has in store for all of us. We crave your prayers for MOST and for the people we all serve.
Everyday, I wear the MOST bracelet with the beads which we give to people that attend our clinics. The one that we use to tell the people who the Father is, who Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are, and what God has done because He loves them so much. I hope you have your own bracelet. It’s a fantastic reminder to me to rejoice in the Lord always. REJOICE!