Digging in Deeper: Philippians 4:4

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We talked yesterday morning about people reacting to situations in the wrong way – happy when they should be sad, sad when they should be happy, mad when they should be glad, and so on and so forth. Reacting the wrong way is one thing. Have you ever reacted to a situation in the right way, but you didn’t really mean it? We talked some about gift-giving yesterday. I suspect you’ve been through the experience before of opening a gift on your birthday or Christmas and you either already had it or didn’t even remotely want it. But the other person had really put a lot of thought into it and fully expected you to love it. So, you put on a smile you didn’t feel and thanked them heartily for it. They left feeling good about themselves, and you left feeling…a bit dirty because you weren’t really honest with them. Sometimes we have to react to a situation in a way that doesn’t match our feelings because the circumstances we are in demand it, but that’s not ever something we enjoy doing. So then, what are we supposed to do with Paul’s command here to rejoice in the Lord always? Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Psalm 105:42-43

“For he remembered his holy promise to Abraham his servant. He brought his people out with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What is it that makes you happy? Perhaps many different things fit that particular bill for you. I’m happy when I’m spending time with my family, when my sports teams are winning, when a sermon goes just right, when I’m doing something good for someone else, when I’m out at night to see the stars twinkling, and so on and so forth. Your list may include some things like those, or it may be totally different. What I suspect your list does have in common with mine, though, is that the things on it are all situationally-linked. That is, they depend on the presence of a certain set of circumstances. Happiness is a good thing. But in the Scriptures, we are called to something greater: Joy. This week, as we continue our Advent journey, we are going to dig into the idea of joy and how we can experience this deeper reality in Christ. I hope you’re ready.

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Morning Musing: Malachi 3:2b-4

“For he will be like a refiner’s fire and like launderer’s bleach. He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Do you want your children to be happy or good? Of course, as parents we want both. But the reality is that we very often have to choose one or the other. The reason is fairly simple. Happy is a feeling and good is a character. What makes them happy in the moment may very well come into direct conflict with what will train them to be good in the long term. That is, the two are often mutually exclusive of one another in any given moment because of the tension between what they want and what they should have. God understands this too, and His preference is always for good. The result is just what Malachi describes here.

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The Key to Contentment

In this third part of our series, Simplicity: Finding Contentment in a Busy Life, we land with both feet on the heart of Paul’s secret. What is it that gave Paul the ability to be content in all circumstances? It’s an idea that you’ve probably encountered before. But stay tuned to the end. There just may be more here than you thought there was. Thanks for reading.

The Key to Contentment

Where is your happy place?  Come to mine with me for a minute.  Imagine sitting on the porch of a cabin up in the mountains.  It’s cool, but not too cool.  The kind of cool where you could put a jacket on, but you don’t really need it.  The porch looks out eastward over a majestic valley.  From your post up on the side of the mountain you can see the valley opening up wide below you.  There are a couple of farms down on the floor, carved out among the trees, but everything else is blanketed in deciduous beauty.  It’s mid-fall and the leaves are at their peak color.  And as you look out at the mountain on the opposite side of the valley, the sun is just coming up over its peak.  The air is still and it tickles your nose just a bit, seasoned by the aroma of fall, as you breathe it in.  And you just…sit there as the shadow line slowly recedes across the valley, chased away by the rising sun.  Close by is your favorite person in the world—or, in my case, four favorite people in the world, three of whom are unusually quiet—and together you simply rest in the grandeur of God’s goodness. 

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Morning Musing: Psalm 4:7

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and new wine abound.”  (CSB – Read the chapter)

David was hurt. He had been deeply offended by someone and was bothered so much by it that he couldn’t sleep. Rather than just stewing about angrily, he took all of his angst and cried out to God. And as he cried out to God, He gradually began to gain some perspective on the whole situation. Perspective doesn’t often actually solve a problem, but it does give us peace in the midst of it. For David here near the end of his prayer, he realized that his joy in the Lord was deeper than anything his enemies knew. And when we realize that we have something good our enemies don’t, we usually start to feel better. Read the rest…