Advent Devotionals - December 12th

"Rejoice ye in the Lord, and again I say, rejoice ye; let your moderation be known unto all men, the Lord is at hand: be careful for nothing, nor troubled; but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving; let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding: shall keep your hearts and minds."

About four years ago, I began working out with resistance bands.  At first, the workouts were pretty easy.  As I progressed things got tougher.  One of the most difficult exercises I had to learn to do is called a lateral inflection.  The idea is to hold onto the band with your arms extended away from your body for forty-five seconds.  At first I thought, “This is easy.”  But as the seconds ticked away, I found my arms beginning to shake and quiver.  What was an easy load to handle at first, soon became a painful experience.

Paul writes, “be careful for nothing.”  The ESV uses the term anxious.  Anxiety can steal your joy faster than anything else I know of.  Anxiety causes us to take our eyes off Jesus and put them squarely on ourselves.  Anxiety can also cause physical illness.  This puts us in a place where we become paralyzed, unable to act.  Like a lateral inflection, the longer we hold on to our anxiety, the worse things seem.

The early Christians until the Edict of Milan - 313 AD, had gone through a series of persecutions by the Roman Empire.  If there were any group of people who had a reason to be anxious, this would have been those people.  So, how could Paul say to these believers, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice?”

In spite of their current situation, Paul tells the Philippians not to be anxious. Paul gives them this one simple reason.  “The Lord is at hand.”  We await for the coming of Christ.”  We know it will happen.  Whether in our life-time or not doesn’t matter.  It will happen.

Paul doesn’t merely tell them not to be anxious, he then tells them how they are to conduct themselves. How not to be anxious.  

Prayer and Supplication:  When was the last time you got alone with God and poured out your heart to Him?  I mean tell Him how you are really doing?  I’ll let you in on a secret.  He already knows. He knows everything about you.  Even so, He wants you to come to Him and “Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.

With thanksgiving:  When we pray, giving thanks to God, even in our darkest hours, it makes our anxieties vanish.  When we focus on what God has already done in our lives, it reminds us that we have a Savior who walks with us through those trials.  It doesn’t mean that we will no longer have those difficult times, but when we live lives of prayer and thanksgiving, with the knowledge of the imminent return of Jesus, our hearts are free to rejoice.

This is why Paul can say to these believers and to the Church today, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.”

Dcn. Ron Christolear
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