Rejoice Well

I know last week I said we’d talk about mourning this week, but I made the executive decision to go from hating well to rejoicing well.  Little more of a better fit.  So without further ado:

What do you rejoice in?  At the end of the day, what allows you to sleep peacefully (that is, if you sleep peacefully)?

If you’re a believer, do you rejoice in Christ, in all that He is for you and all that you are in Him?  Do we rejoice at all?

Rejoicing is commanded in Scripture:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice,” says Paul in Philippians 4:4.  Paul is in prison, persecuted for sharing the gospel, but he is able to remind the church to rejoice!

How?  Because Paul rejoices, not in earthly circumstances, but in Christ.  He knows that he belongs to the Lord of the universe and that he has salvation in Him, therefore, no earthly trouble will kill his love and devotion and joy for God.

Christian, you have, in Christ, an eternal reason to rejoice:  You are His.  Romans 8:1 tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus.  Romans 8:17 tells us that our suffering in Christ proves that we belong to Christ and have a great inheritance in Him.  John 1:12 tells us that if we have received Christ, we are children of God.

So if you don’t have anything to be thankful for this side of heaven, rejoice in what you already have on the other side!  It is not some boyish fantasy, it is a blood-bought promise for everyone who has Christ as Savior and Lord.

While we should certainly thank God for all that we have in this life, God’s common grace should drive us to be thankful for saving grace and that a holy God would choose to call us His and make us new in Christ.

So rejoice well, brothers and sisters, no matter what is going on around you.  We have much, in Christ, to be thankful for.  Even in our continued struggle with sin, we have the promise that we will one day be like Jesus (Phil. 1:6), and the promise that God forgives us as we trust Christ (1 Jn. 1:9).  We have hope in the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).  In the troubles of this life, we know God sanctifies through suffering (James 1:2-4).

May you grant us the grace to rejoice in Christ, Father.  May we not fail to remember all that you have done, are doing and will do in our lives.  May we, in our weakness and sin, run to Christ in faith, believing that He is a sufficient and gracious Savior, and hold fast to Him.  May you finish what you started and allow us to rejoice along the way.

God bless,

Neal E.

Still You Died

Today’s been one of those days.  Earlier this afternoon, I failed in just about every way imaginable.  It was one of those, “Dang…I really am a total wretch apart from Jesus” sort of days.  But, as God heals me, it’s also been one of those, “God’s grace is a real thing” sort of day, too.  The following is an attempt to sum up what’s been running through my mind the last couple of hours, in some sort of poetic/short story form (Honestly there isn’t really a structure–that’s the fun part).  I pray this enriches whoever reads it with a deeper understanding of the cross, an understanding that leads to confident repentance, a confident faith, and a deeper walk with the Lord.

In holy, selfless love you created me, just to know how great your love is, how great are your joys, how perfect are your holy ways.

In sinful, selfish idolatry I rejected your love, rejected your ways, choosing to be my own “god.”

And still you died for me.

In compassion and grace you called me to turn from my sin and my rejection of you and start trusting you.

In arrogant rebellion, I said, “No,” over and over and over and over, content to ask you to “forgive” me while I was still loving my sin.

And still you died for me.

Slowly but surely you showed me how sin not only destroyed my life here, but kept me from life with you, forever.

In joyous acceptance, I said, “Yes,” by your grace, and trusted you to forgive me, and help me follow you.

I’m so glad you died for me.

A few weeks later, I sinned again and wondered if it had all been fake.

I heard you say, “I still died for you.”

In your wisdom, you show me the ways I should go, how I should be, and call me to rest in your love.

In times of temptation, I often believe sin rather than believe you.  Even as a Christian, I continue to make a mess of my life sometimes.

And still you died for me.

You lovingly call me out in my sin, disciplining me in love, calling me back to your love and your ways, which are far greater than the ways of sin.

I come back, eager to follow you, trusting you once again to forgive me.  Then a week later I fall again.

And still you died for me.

You promise that walking with you and like you, Lord, is an abundant life.

But in the span of two hours I manage to wreak havoc, sinning in many different ways, walking back to an old path.

And still you died for me.

2,000 years ago, all my sin, every single time I rejected you, every time I chased after some false lover that only leads to hell, every single word spoken against you, every sinful thought, word and deed–paid for, in full, by the spotless Son of God.

And 2,000 years after that, I dare to call you a liar, I dare to give unbelief a foothold, to think that I’m a better Savior than you, Lord.

And still you died for me.

You died for my unbelief.  You died for my lust, my anger, my laziness, my gluttony, my pride, my idols, my harsh language, my selfishness, even my weak repentance of these sins.  With every drop of your precious blood, you paid for every sin that I would ever commit, leaving no room for the condemning voice of guilt to accuse me before the Father.

Jesus, you are truly worthy of every act of obedience, every song offered in worship, every act of love done in your name.  You are worthy of so much more than we can give.  We can never repay you.  We can never earn grace.  Our best will never be enough, but because your best will always be enough for us, let us give you our best out of love, not out of duty.

And when we stumble again later today, later this week, later this month, let us hear you say

“Still I died for you.”

Lord, may your grace amaze us once again.  May it pardon our sins, make us holy, and equip us for every good work. May your love for us produce love for you in us.

God bless,Neal E.

P.S.–I’m still technically on my social media break, so if you comment via Facebook or Twitter, I will not be responding.  And unless you accuse me of heresy, I probably won’t respond on here, either 😉