Advent and the call to rejoice

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

Philippians has been aptly called a letter of joy. This is not the only place in that letter where we’re told to rejoice in the Lord (see Philippians 3:1). Another place in scripture which repeatedly tells us to rejoice in the Lord is the psalms. We are told there to praise God with everything that we have, one could aptly say, with every breath, with our entire life. And we’re to do so in view of God’s goodness displayed in his works of righteousness, his saving works.

We do this by faith apart from feelings or circumstances. That is clear from the passage quoted above. Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord apart from circumstances. And it is good to read the full letter to get and appreciate the context in which it is said. One might say that the letter has to do with Christ being our example and our life, described in a rich, nuanced way.

If there’s anyone in the world who needs to hear and imbibe this message, it’s me. I think I tend to be a naturally born skeptic, who tends to focus on the problems. It is good to know the problems, but we can’t stop there. That’s why it’s important for me to stay in the word daily. And to learn to rejoice much more in the Lord, and in God’s great salvation in him.

Advent and Christmas time affords us this opportunity to rejoice in the Lord, in his coming and great salvation, as we look back to King Jesus’ initial coming, and look forward to his promised return. We need to do so in the promise of who he is, and what he brings to us and to the world beginning even now in the present, and to be fully realized in the future.

And so by faith, today, I want to be repeatedly rejoicing in the Lord, as I go about my work, reflecting on God’s goodness in his righteous, saving works for us and for the world in and through King Jesus.

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