Philippians 4: 4 reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice.” Not a bad verse to reflect upon at the beginning of each day! There is reason for believers to REJOICE regardless of the circumstances that prevail in our lives. We have REASON to rejoice in and through Christ Jesus, and – under His light, it is INDEED, “all good!”
When I recall these words, I am always reminded of the verses before it where Paul urges people in the church to help some women that are not living in harmony. He admonishes the church members to “help these women” see the error of their ways and live/work/serve in harmony. THEN he says, REJOICE in the LORD always. There is an imperative in his words!
There’s a familiar hymn we sing, "Count Your Blessings.” In part, it reads:
When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
There's wisdom for all of us in that old hymn! Sometimes life becomes so hectic. Trials and troubles push their way into our lives and we become overwhelmed with the “stuff of life.” Our focus becomes the circumstance and not the God who has promised to walk with us and sustain us in and through EVERY circumstance. When we focus on our problems, we lose sight of the good things in our lives. We “miss” God’s hand at work in the midst of our circumstance.
It is as though we are under a gigantic cloud that blocks out the sun. We get irritable, depressed, and worst of all, we lose all perspective. At times like this, we need to MAKE time to “count our blessings,” review all the reasons God has given us for rejoicing.
For me, I have discovered I start playing my “poor, pitiful me” collection at times when I should NOT be discouraged at all – right after a “spiritual high.” That’s why my life needs the spiritual constant of time alone with God DAILY!
If you are under the cloud today and about ready to pull out your “poor, pitiful me” collection, instead make the deliberate choice to COUNT your blessings! It WILL surprise (astonish, amaze, astound, blow you away) what the LORD has done! Try not to grumble and complain. Count your blessings instead. Below is a list to get you started – just reflect upon these truths and allow them to spark other reasons to praise Him this day:
God has indeed blessed us! It IS ALL good, because Jesus IS LORD!
"For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently." 1 Corinthians 10: 13 - Amplified Bible
Believers need to UNDERSTAND that we , in effect, have the assurance of an "escape clause." I chose the Amplified Bible rendition because it so vividly declares the truths of this scripture. The lessons we need to learn include:
1. Temptation has and always will be a struggle for Christians. We sometimes act as if no other person has endured the trials, tribulations, temptations, etc. that we have. There is some peace in simply knowing that we are NOT alone.
2. God won’t allow you to face more than you can bear. To understand that God's "hedge of protection" around His children filters trials/temptations is reassurance to us as believers. NOTHING overcomes us that, with His help, can not be overcome!
3. He will ALWAYS provide a way out - a "means of escape to a landing place." As we look back to those times we have yielded (and we do every day), we can often times see where God had vividly displayed the escape hatch to our failures. We need to learn from those past failures to see through spiritual eyes more quickly and NOT yield to the temptation that lures us. As we grow in Him, that can take place!
We need to recognize Satan wants us to fail, but God wants us to live victoriously over sin. God has provided the way for that to take place every day! That "sure escape clause" is not JUST a "way out" of a mess when we recognize it. Understanding it fully/trusting God as a result, is a means to not yield to the lure/the temptation that is before us. As we abide in Him, we will see with spiritual eyes and trust God more, going His way.
In a recent devotion using this verse the author wrote, "I complain when the fire drill sounds. Whether it’s cold outside or I’m just busy, I don’t want to exit a building that’s not on fire. However, the first time I experienced a real fire emergency, I was thankful for the drills that prompted me to find the safest escape route." That's a good analogy for a lot of things we encounter day-to-day. Spend time with God. Learn from Him. Trust His Word. Learn from past experience. You'll know better how to react in times of real crisis/temptation.
Unfortunately, like the people of Corinth, many people are not looking for an escape route from temptation. The city was synonymous with rampant immorality. The culture of today is much the same! Paul tried to teach believers in Corinth how to live for Christ in corrupt, ungodly surroundings. His lessons can still be taught today, and we need to learn how to live for Him, despite the rampant temptations to forsake His ways and follow the ways of the world.
Take some time today to "look around you" and see how God has prepared the way for EVERYTHING you will encounter. The scripture teaches that He goes before us; He goes with us; we can trust Him in every circumstance. Take the time and you will grow as a result of the knowledge that He has not left you alone or forsaken you. He is with you right now!
Associational Missions Strategist at Tar River Baptist Association since November, 2000. Called of God to work with member churches to strengthen the local church in its efforts to impact lostness in THIS generation! I will ATTEMPT to add to this blog almost daily. People are free to use the ideas shared in any way they wish. The purpose of the posts are merely to help us in our search to BE the people God is calling us to BE in Him!