Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rejoicing In The Jailhouse

In the New Testament, we read these words of Paul:  "Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!"  He wrote this to a group of Jesus followers in the city of Phillipi centuries ago.  And what an important reminder it was!

But there is something vital to know about these words.  Paul did not write them from a sandy beach while on vacation.  And he did not write them from a cozy mountain cottage with a warm blaze in the fireplace.  The truth is, Paul wrote these words while under arrest.  Yes, Paul was imprisoned and he was still able to write about rejoicing.

Paul was much more interested in his Savior than his circumstances.  His relationship with Jesus mattered for more than anything else.  And that is why he could rejoice.

Always remember this:

You may be in perfect health, or you may be in the advanced stages of cancer.  Either way, you can rejoice if Jesus is your Savior.

You may have a ton of close, meaningful relationships, or you may have nobody to talk with at all.  Either way, you can rejoice if Jesus is your Savior.

You may have a big pile of money in the bank, or your checking account may have cobwebs in it.  Either way, you can rejoice if Jesus is your Savior.

You may be free as a bird, or you may be sitting in a jailhouse.  Either way, you can rejoice if Jesus is your Savior.

Joy is not found in surrounding circumstances.  Short-term happiness can be, but we are talking about something deeper and better than that.  Joy is actually found in knowing Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord, and Friend.

Our circumstances are temporary and will inevitably change along the way.  But the goodness and grace of Jesus is eternal.  He is here to stay, and He is filled with love for us that will last forever and ever.

Of course, we will always be aware of our circumstances, and we will want them to be as favorable as possible.  There is nothing wrong at all with trying to be healthy, financially secure, and surrounded with positive relationships.  Those are good things.  But ultimately, we must realize our deepest joy is not found in them.  Why?  Because they can be here today and gone tomorrow.  Our deepest joy is instead found in a connection with Jesus.  Knowing Him and making Him known is really what life is about.  And it is in that "sweet spot" you and I can rejoice day in and day out.

I can picture Paul now.  Chains on his ankle, a smile on his face, and joy in his heart.  All because he focused on what mattered most:  Jesus.

Rejoice today, my friend, if you know the Lord.  No matter what, you're going to come out on top with Him when it's all said and done.  And all will be well.

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