Obedience, When it Happens, is a Gift

That is the mystery: We must obey the command to rejoice in the Lord, and we cannot, because of our willful and culpable corruption.  Therefore obedience, when it happens, is a gift.  The heretic Pelagius in the fourth century rejected this truth and was shocked and angered when he saw St. Augustine prayed in his Confessions.  Augustine prayed, “Give me the grace [O Lord] to do as you command, and command me to do what you will!…O holy God…when your commands are obeyed, it is from you that we receive the power to obey them.”

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 53

Rejoice in the Lord Alwyas, and Again I Say Rejoice

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say Rejoice (Philippians 4:4).  All our joy must terminate in God, and our thoughts of God must be delightful thoughts.  Delight Thyself in the Lord (Psalm 37:4)…Observe, it is our duty and privilege to rejoice in God, and to rejoice in him always; at all times, in all conditions, even when we suffer for him, or are afflicted by him.  We must not think the worse of him or of his ways for the hardships we meet with in his service.  There is enough in God to furnish with matter of joy in the worst circumstances on earth…Joy in God is a duty of great consequences in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it.

– Matthew Henry

as quoted by Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 48

God, Our All-Satisfying Portion

One of the most remarkable expressions of delighting or rejoicing in God is found in Habakkuk 3:17-18.  My wife Noel and I used this in our wedding ceremony to express our expectation that life would be hard, but that God would be our all-satisfying portion.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 25

Unfortunately, This is Not a Description of Today’s Church

The church is intended to be a beautiful place of community.  A place where wealth is shared and when one suffers, everyone suffers.  A place where when one rejoices, everyone rejoices.  A place where everyone experiences real love and acceptance in the midst of great honesty about our brokenness.  Yet most of the time this is not even close to how we would describe our churches.

– Chan, Francis; Forgotten God: Reversing the Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit; David C. Cook Publishers; Colorado Springs, CO; copyright 2009; p. 152

Here is Love for Us

Christ gives himself to his people to be all things to them that they need, and all things that make for their happiness (Colossians 3:11).  And that he might be so, he has refused nothing that is needful to prepare him to be so.  When it was needful that he should be incarnate, he refused it not, but became man, and appeared in the form of a servant.  When it was needful that he should be slain, he refused it not, but gave himself for us, and gave himself to us upon the cross.

Here is love for us to admire, for us to praise and for us to rejoice in, with joy  that is full of glory for ever.

– Jonathan Edwards, On Knowing Christ, The Banner of Truth Trust, copyright 1990, page 182

Consumption by Our Problems is Disobedience Towards God

When I am consumed by my problems – stressed out about my life, my family, and my job – I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice.  In other words, that I have a “right” to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.

Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.

Stress says that the things we are involved in are  important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.

– Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, copyright 2008, page 41-42