151213 Philippians 4:4

Last Updated on Monday, 14 December 2015 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Philippians 4:4

Theme: Rejoice in the Lord!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

The general theme of our service this morning encourages you and me to rejoice. But do you and I really need to be told to be joyful? After all, it is Christmas time. For most, this is a joyful time of year. We hear our favorite Christmas songs on the radio. We see friends and relatives whom we haven't seen for quite some time. We come here, and see the Church beautifully decorated. So why the reminder to be joyful at such a happy time of year? Listen again to this one verse from Paul's letter to the Philippians. He writes, "Rejoice IN THE LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" And maybe that is something we need to be reminded of on an ongoing basis; yes, even at Christmas time. So, let us take a moment to look at this one verse from Scripture which is before us where we are encouraged two times to, "Rejoice in the Lord."

The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians while a prisoner in Rome. Throughout his ministry, Paul was beaten, stoned and placed into prison for his proclamation of the Gospel. Despite all this, he writes, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice." All of us have certain habits; maybe we crack our knuckles, or play with our glasses, or move around a lot when we are nervous. These are things which we do often, and don't even think about doing them, they just come naturally to us. God's Word before us encourages you and me that our rejoicing in the Lord is to be a habit for us. It is to be something we do again and again and again. However, it is not something we are to do just as simple repetition, without thinking about. Rather, rejoicing is something which comes naturally to us. Believers desire to rejoice not just one day out of the year, not just one season in the church year, but each and every day.

Rejoice! Why? What is our motivation for rejoicing at this time of year, and throughout any year? Paul writes, "Rejoice in the Lord!" Due to our sins, our just God had every right to turn his back on you and me; to make our lives anything but joyful. However, the Good News we have to share with people at this time of year is that we have a Savior. Jesus Christ, God's one and only Son, willingly left his throne in the glory of heaven to be born and placed in a manager. Because of the great gift of our Savior's love to us we have forgiveness of all our sins. Through Jesus Christ we rejoice.

This rejoicing on our part is all a response to what Christ has done for us. Through his perfect life, his innocent suffering and death, and his glorious resurrection we are now one with the one and only true God. We are dear children of our heavenly Father. Our gracious God's Christmas gift to us - the wonderful gift of full and free forgiveness of all sins through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal life at his side in heaven - for this we rejoice, at this time of year and beyond.

As God's Word tells us, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" But, to do what God's Word encourages us to do, to rejoice always, is difficult at times. There are times when we just don't feel much like rejoicing. We live in a sin-filled world. Because of that fact, we face many troubles in our daily life. You may have to deal with the fact that tomorrow you may be laid off from your job, or you may have financial troubles. It is difficult for us to feel like rejoicing when we have just had a fight with a close friend or loved one. It is difficult to feel like rejoicing when we or someone we love are sick or near death. We may not feel much like rejoicing soon after a loved one has died, or when we are overwhelmed by our sins.

But, during these times you and I rejoice that our loving, Savior God has made us the promise found in Romans 8:28, "In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." During this Advent season we are reminded to rejoice knowing that Jesus Christ came once to pay in full the price demanded for our sins. And one day he will return in all his glory to take us to be with himself forever in heaven.

Some people find this time of year very difficult. Perhaps changes have happened in their lives which make the Christmas season different than the way it used to be for them. Each one of us here today may be tempted to get caught up in what the sinful world views as important at this time of year, and to forget the real reasons for rejoicing. As we look ahead to our celebration of our Savior's birth, we do so with words of thanks and praise on our lips as we remember these words from our God, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Amen.

 

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Oconomowoc, WI 53066
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