3. Year 2019 REJOICE, JOY (verb) in the times
This is a year in which we are to rejoice. Sometimes, if not most of the time, rejoicing is not easy, and sometimes seems nigh to impossible. How can we REJOICE?
The third letter in the acrostic of REJOICE is J, and stands for JOY IN THE TIMES. Yet, our times are truly not conducive of JOY.
Take a look at what Paul spoke of joy, even in his day:
I Thessalonians 2::13-20
13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.
18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again;
but Satan hindered us.
19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
20 For ye are our glory and joy.
Can you imagine what it would have been like to listen to Paul preach and teach? Paul was known for his long teaching, (one fell out of the window, due to falling asleep during a dusk to sunrise sermon). Still, his sermons must have been so wonderful, so full of truths to ‘chew on’. Paul, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, declares he lived too in a time of persecution, and the ungodly of his day, hated Christianity.
We know that Paul spent much time teaching about the rapture and the second coming of Jesus. These facts enthused the hearers, and made it possible for them to suffer the trials that came to them, and still JOY. The hope of a heavenly reunion, despite the suffering of the times, gave reason still to JOY.
When the Word is preached, people must choose to receive it, or reject it. Even though we may face suffering or even death, we know Jesus will soon appear.
Whenever mankind rejects God’s Word, it opens him up to false and depressing lies of the devils. Many reject basic truths, like “Jesus Christ, crucified, resurrected, and coming again’ truth, which, when rejected opens them up to cultic like heresies. These false ideas rob Christians of the JOY of our faith.
“That we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning and craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
“Who changed the truth of God into a lie... even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.”
It does make a difference how we listen. Ministers today, as Paul then, appreciate it if people listen carefully to their words. Too often, there are not many ‘ears to hear’.... and though the room may be crowded, few are mentally hearing, considering, searching, and accepting what proves to be truth.
Does it make any difference how we listen to a sermon? Yes... of course it does. The Lord not only listens to the sermon of a preacher, He reads the hearts of the hearers, seeing what has found soft, fertile soil, or what has fallen on the thorny, hard, ground.
There is an old saying, that when a preacher preaches, there are three sermons,
the sermon he preaches,
the sermon he thought he had preached,
the sermon the people heard.
Unless we come with open hearts, minds ready to test all we hear with the Word of God, and wills ready to change to what we find not compatible with our present condition, then we are failing God and our JOY evaporates.
First, to be able to JOY, the Word must be heard. We do this through Bible reading, hearing sermons, listening to the testimonies of others, or memorizing Scriptures to be recalled as needed.
Secondly, we need to have regular exposure to the Bible, often recalling passages, quoting verses, or hearing them read to us or sang in vocal expression to us. This constant washing by the Word of God, will cleanse us from the polluted sayings and teachings of the world.
Thirdly, we will then find that the JOY of the soon reunion with Jesus will begin to transform our lives, bringing truth to mind, as we need.
Surely, the truth of the Lord’s return will be opposed. Belief in such brings opposition from family, friends, religious, non-religious, and even the demonic will find ways to oppose. Paul was opposed, and even we will suffer persecution if we “walk the walk, and talk the talk” of the return of the Lord.
We have a ‘hope’ and this gives us JOY no matter the political situation, no matter our financial situation, no matter our health situation. Hope for the joy at the reunion time in heaven when rewards will be given, as we rejoice in our brothers and sisters who are there with us.
We have a glorious reunion, soon to take place. The Bible tells us much about it. It was in this time of reunion, that Paul encouraged the persecuted and tried, to rejoice in. God is reminding us in 2019 to REJOICE, and to JOY IN THE TIMES.
"AFTER THIS, I LOOKED AND BEHOLD, A DOOR WAS OPENED IN HEAVEN AND THE FIRST VOICE WHICH I HEARD WAS AS IT WERE A TRUMPET TALKING WITH ME, WHICH SAID, 'COME UP HITHER !'"
I Thessalonians 4:15-17
"WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN UNTO THE COMING OF THE LORD SHALL NOT PRECEDE THEM THAT ARE ASLEEP (dead)--FOR THE LORD HIMSELF SHALL DESCEND WITH A SHOUT, WITH THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL, AND THE TRUMP OF GOD, AND THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST, AND THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN SHALL BE CAUGHT UP (Greek = harpadzo, to catch away out of harm's way) TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR, AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD."
"WATCH YE THEREFORE AND PRAY ALWAYS THAT YE MAY BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS THAT SHALL COME TO PASS AND TO STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN."
I Corinthians 15:51-52
"BEHOLD, I SHOW YOU A MYSTERY, WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP (die), BUT WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED. IN A MOMENT, IN A TWINKLING OF AN EYE, AT THE LAST TRUMP--FOR THE TRUMP SHALL SOUND (Rev. 4:1, I Thess. 4:15-17) AND THE DEAD SHALL BE RAISED INCORRUPTIBLE, AND WE SHALL BE CHANGED..."
II Thessalonians 2:1
"NOW WE BESEECH YOU BRETHREN, BY THE COMING OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND BY OUR GATHERING TOGETHER UNTO HIM..."
I Thessalonians 5:9
“FOR GOD HATH NOT APPOINTED US TO WRATH..."
Who will go in the rapture of the church? The world has wondered, and much debate has evolved. Some have said all, and some have tried to say -only the righteous, and some have tried to limit it to those baptized in a certain way, or those who speak in tongues, or those who belong to a certain denomination. The Word of God is very specific to the who shall go in the rapture. We need to pay attention to the Word of God, and not to the dogmas of various bodies of believers.
The Bible does give certain qualifications for those to be raptured.
1. BE "IN CHRIST"
I Thessalonians 4:14-16
"EVEN SO THEM ALSO WHICH SLEEP IN JESUS WILL GOD BRING WITH HIM... DEAD IN CHRIST WILL RISE FIRST.
II Corinthians 5:17
"IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATURE."
Thus, if we are saved, and thereby are "in Christ" we are going to go in the rapture. If we do not backslide from our salvation, we will soon hear His call to "Come up hither."
2. BE PURE (by Christ's righteousness)
I John 3:2-3
"WHEN HE SHALL APPEAR, WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM FOR WE WILL SEE HIM AS HE IS AND EVERY MAN THAT HATH THIS HOPE IN HIM, PURIFIES HIMSELF."
"THAT HE MIGHT PRESENT IT TO HIMSELF A GLORIOUS CHURCH, NOT HAVING SPOT OR WRINKLE, OR ANY SUCH THING--BUT THAT IT SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH."
We are not made pure by acts of righteousness. We are not saved by our good works. There is no baptismal formula that if pronounced over us that saves. There is no church roll to be signed to make sure we go. No, it is the righteousness of Christ, that is given by grace at salvation, that will make us to be pure and thereby able to go in the rapture. His righteousness alone qualified us for salvation. His righteousness alone will pay our way on that great excursion ride to our heavenly mansions.
We should be anxious for the rapture, we should long for this reunion in heaven, we should be excited to be invited to the greatest day of history. We should be REJOICING.
I Corinthians 16:22
"MARANATHA (the Lord cometh)."
In these last days preceding the return of Jesus, we are to put on a garment of praise, speaking our JOY in even these times of turmoil.
Isaiah 61:2-3 (KJV)
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.
Here, we are told that for the ‘spirit of heaviness’ we are to put on the ‘garment of praise’. We do this for a purpose, so that we will be called the ‘trees of righteousness, that planting of the Lord’. The spirit of heaviness is relieved, by the JOY we speak and feel.
There are many with the ‘spirit of heaviness’ in the congregations of today. They show it on their faces, they sit near the back, they watch their watches to try to hurry the service, they complain and murmur. The pain of their troubles continues and continues. They are avoiding the answer the Lord revealed in His word and is reminding us now to JOY so we can feel wonderful instead of being under the ‘spirit of heaviness’.
Some go home and watch a comedy program on television, but the pain still remains, and when the short time of laughter is over, their misery remains. There is a cure for ‘heaviness’ of the toil and wounds of life upon our souls. It is REJOICING with praise and singing.
Isaiah 61:10 (KJV)
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
The garment of praise is one of the ‘garments of salvation’ (Isa 61:10). It is put on us when we praise, rejoice, and sing with joy.
Isaiah 51:11 (KJV)
Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
Do we want ‘sorrow and mourning’ from the wounds of life to ‘flee away’? Of course we do. We want to relieve the pain of life, to cure the sorrows of the soul, to salve the wounds of attack from the devils, and be healed. The ‘come with singing unto Zion’ will bring us ‘everlasting joy’, not just a few minutes of relief. The joyful singing of our person to the One sitting on the throne in Zion will be an ‘everlasting joy.’
Psalm 45:7 (KJV)
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
The oil of gladness is received as we praise and sing unto God. This ‘oil’ is a healing balm, healing the wounds of life. The sheep in that day, were tended by a shepherd. As they entered the fold, going through the one gate to it, the shepherd would have anointing oil with which to anoint the sheep who had been grazing with their head down to the grass. Their heads had bumped into many rocks as they grazed. Their wounded heads needs ‘anointed with oil’ and the oil would salve, cleanse, and help heal the wounds of the day. We too have had our ‘heads’ wounded in life and the wounds of life need the healing oil of the joy and gladness of singing.
Psalm 100:1-2 (KJV)
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
God has commanded the ‘joyful noise’ and the entering of His presence is only allowed when we are in worship and singing.
Isaiah 49:13 (KJV)
Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.
Singing was a basic part of worship in the Old Testament. David had a troupe of ‘singing men and singing women’ in Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 19:35 (KJV)
...can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women?...
In the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, there was a choir of several hundred men and women who were to lead worship. The worship at the Temple was encouraged to be made with singing, an orchestra of instruments, men and women singing praises. David was not allowed to build the Temple, and it was to be made after his death, so he spent much time making instruments for the priests to play as they sang and worshiped. Levites with a good voice were chosen for the choir of singers.
The early church continued to worship in song. Paul and Silas in prison, with the prospect of being killed the next day, led the jailer and his family to God, via a song service. The song service was so good, that though the chains fell off, the door opened, the jailer slept, none of the prisoners wanted to leave. When the jailer was upset at the door being opened, he was told by Paul, that they were ‘all’ still there in the midst of the song service. We need more song services, corporately and privately, that we don’t want to leave. The healing process of catharsis operates best in the midst of singing praises to the Lord.
The book of Psalms is a collection of songs sang by the Old Testament believers. When they needed water, they ‘sang to the well, the praises of God, and water sprang up in the ground.
Numbers 21:16-18 (KJV)
And from thence they went to Beer: that is the well whereof the LORD spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water. Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it: The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves. And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah:
Ephesians 5:18-20 (KJV)
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
The ‘spiritual songs’ refers to the psalms, and worship hymns. It was lyric poetry, inspired by the Spirit, employed in the praising of God. They are wonderful in congregations, but were never intended to be only done corporately. They should be a part of our prayers, and private worship. In family worship, in church worship, riding alone in your car, in your private prayer closet, etc. these songs are to be sung joyfully to God.
This year, REJOICE, and JOY even in these difficult times, for our REDEEMER is coming.