January 7, 2017

Phil 4:4, 13 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

This whole passage is dearly loved by many, and for good reason. The only problem is, much of it runs counter to our human nature. If we try to do all the things it tells us to do in our own strength, we quickly give up in despair, which is highly ironic when the first command is to rejoice! However, the key comes in verse 13, that is, it is God in us who enables us to do all these things. Some people take verse 13 as blanket enabling for anything that crosses their minds to do, but that is taking it out of context. What Paul is talking about is living as an obedient child of God. If that is our choice, then He will enable us to follow through in every detail. We won’t get it all right all the time by any means, but if He is our choice, then He will keep growing us to make us like Jesus. I keep coming back to the truth that what God asks for is our will, our choice. That’s why Jesus so famously told us to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) That doesn’t apply just to the material provision He was talking about at the time, but to everything else in life as well.

I am in a practicum on this very point right now. I feel overwhelmed by all the different demands on me, while at the same time having various things I would like to do on my own. That generates resentment, and that’s poisonous. This is training in releasing both my circumstances and my desires to God and choosing to rejoice in Him. I can’t do it naturally, but I can do it in Christ. My flesh says, “But this is supposed to be my off season to do as I like!” The Holy Spirit within me says, “This is a time to grow and bear fruit.” That’s far the better option! I like to joke that the reason I stay so youthful (or so people tell me) is that I never mature. That had better be just a joke! Genuine maturity is hardly antithetical to cutting up and having fun, but it does tear down selfishness and resentment. Since selfishness never brings true happiness and resentment is poisonous, then I should submit myself fully to the Holy Spirit’s maturing work in me!

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all that You are doing in and through me in these days. Help me indeed set aside my own agenda so that I may operate on Your schedule, doing Your will in Your way so as to produce Your results for Your glory. I know that is the way of greatest peace, joy, and satisfaction for me. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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