Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice!
I have always felt that Spring and Summer were great times to rejoice. The new life in plants and animals that comes forth, along with the warmer weather, have always been an uplift to me. These months are also times of school graduations, weddings and other celebrations of life that just seem to make the seasons very appealing. I also find the warmer weather to be like an invitation to spend time outside enjoying the beauty of creation with other people. With the pandemic seeming to wind down here in the USA, and the restrictions being dropped in Illinois, I sure hope everyone can get out and enjoy the things they love. Now in contrast to the change of seasons on our calendar, our walk with the Lord should be a continual time of rejoicing, intimacy and fellowship. While there are “seasons of life” in our circumstances, with good times and difficult times, what will take us through them all in victory is our choosing to rejoice in the Lord always! Nehemiah 8:10 tells us “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” Our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health are greatly dependent on us choosing to focus on God’s love for us as revealed by Jesus in the Word of God. Our Lord has told us that He will never leave us or forsake us and that He uses all things for our good (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5 and Romans 8:28). How do we rejoice in God even when we feel “down” and unmotivated to do so? First of all, we need to realize this is a choice of will that is not dependent on our emotions. It is an act of faith to simply choose to speak and dwell on God’s goodness and love and to not “give in” to our feelings and thoughts that contradict God’s Word to us. It can be a battle at times for sure, but if we have put our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, we have the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to guide us in this effort. We also need to put our faith into motion and actually do what the Spirit of God may be telling us to do. Many a Christian is caught in the quagmire of despair simply because they will not do what God has told them to and thus they suffer an absence of relief. A third help is to find faithful friends who we know will pray for us and can help us in our time of need. We are the body of Christ if we are believers, and we are to encourage each other in word, deed and prayer. We all need people in our life by God’s design and we need to also be a friend to others. I have found many times relief from discouragement simply be being a blessing to someone else; by helping them, I have found myself rejoicing in God and feeling His joy. Yes, some days are harder than others for all of us and emotions are powerful things; still, we are called to live by faith and not by just our emotions. We will find joy when we activate our faith by focusing on God, obedience to His Word, and ministry to others. May you rejoice in Jesus and celebrate Him today and every day!
Love in Christ,
Pastor Gary Houdek