Joyful in the Lord this Christmas

Joyful in the Lord this Christmas

Here is a message that brings great joy: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. . . .” We have inherited a great legacy from Christian men and women who have gone before us.  They trusted that the Child was born and that the Son was given. They trusted that He gave Himself for them, and we believe the same. The hope of the ages arrived, and peace has come on earth to those on whom His favor rests. That is a message worth rejoicing over!!!

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

What does it mean to rejoicein the Lord? How are we to do rejoice always?
Have you ever felt less than joyful? Have you ever gone to church services on Sunday and just really didn’t feel like singing or shaking hands? This is the human condition. We are weak and vulnerable, and yet we are told to rejoice at all times. I have two questions for us to answer:

1. What does it mean to REJOICE in the Lord?
To rejoice in the Lord is to have a healthy relationship with Him in the first place. David said in a Psalm “He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God.” Secondly, to rejoice is to adoringly respond to the knowledge that we are at peace with God through the blood of Christ. 

2. How are we to rejoice ALWAYS?
In all of the flux of the Christian life, whether in attacks from those who have strayed, personality clashes with fellow believers, hatred from the world, or even the threat physical suffering and death, we are to rejoice. Joy is something that is known and experienced in the Christian’s soul. So, whether or not there is a smile on our face or a song on our lips does not matter. We can rejoice in the deepest, darkest circumstances.

For example, each and every time we gather together for a church service, we should fill the room with joy. From classroom to sanctuary, handshake to hug, greetings and goodbyes—We need to allow our joy to show forth. What if every single one of us came to the assembly with excitement? What if we made it our goal each and ever week to be as joyful as possible? Can you visualize how lively our church would be? Can you imagine the people we would attract who would be interested in the source of our joy? Can you dream of the impact we could have in our community for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ?

A people who truly exhibit the joy that they claim to have . . . that would be awesome. . . .

And if this was to happen and you were experiencing one of those downdays, you could not help but be built up by your brothers and sisters! This is actually what God wants for His people. Jesus said, “If the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed!” We are free to love, free to worship, free to laugh, free to be rejoice!!!

This statement found in Philippians 4:4 is not just good advice; it is a command to be obeyed. So, I challenge you—As Christmas is around the corner and 2019 is just over the hill—Make it your life’s mission to be a Christian that is full of joy—So full that it floods out of you when we are together!  No matter the past, which is fixed, or the future, which is held in God’s hands, the Rural Hall Christian Church should be a people of pure, inescapable JOY always!!!

After Thanksgivings


How easy it is to dwell on the negative, the difficult, and what we have lost rather than setting our minds on the blessings and good that we have been given from above. Let me encourage you this Thanksgiving week to approach your prayers with gratefulness and begin your prayers with your thanksgivings. When we focus on what we have been given, when we recount the blessings of God FIRST, then everything else is viewed from a more appropriate perspective. Philippians 4:6-7 directs us, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." The phrase "with thanksgiving" may be more clearly translated "after thanksgivings." Only after we have given thanks to God should we state our various supplications. God is merciful and gracious. For this reason and so many others, He is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. Do not neglect this important discipline!

Praying for the Church

Praying for the Church (Philippians 1:9-11)

I have made it my practice in recent years to pray for people when they come to mind.  There is no better time to pray than when you are thinking of someone.  I also receive many text messages, emails, and phone calls with prayer requests.  It is too easy to say that you will pray and then forget about the person or issue.  I have made it my practice to stop what I am doing and pray for that person as soon as I hear the request.  Not only do I pray for individuals when I think of them or receive a prayer request, but I also pray for our church as often as I think to pray.  I cannot give you all of the content of my prayers for the church, but I can say that I thank the Lord for all of you; I thank Him for our leadership; I thank Him for those who serve here; I thank Him for your generosity; I also pray that He would continue to bless us; I ask that He would make us to grow in our knowledge of Him; I ask that He would give us a fruitful ministry, loving hearts, unity, and a continued willingness to minister to the nations with the Good News of Christ.  These are just some of the things that I continually pray for our church.  Let me ask you: Do you pray for us?  What is the content of your prayers for the church here in Rural Hall? 

After stating the context of his prayers for the Philippians and the reasons for thanksgiving, Paul gives us the content of his prayers for the Philippian church. Maybe we can be encouraged by this prayer, and we can take it as a model for how we can pray for our own congregation today:

"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."

An Exhortation from the Sermon on Matthew 26:47-56

An Exhortation from Last Sunday's Sermon 
(Matthew 26:47-56)

Jesus’ prediction that one of the twelve would be His betrayer, which was also foretold in Scripture, now comes true as Judas approaches. Matthew reminds us that he was “one of the twelve,” that is, he was a one-time disciple, a friend, a trusted associate. This reminder serves to emphasize the treachery of that night and “the enormity of his offense” (Morris). One commentator remarks that the phrase, “one of the twelve” was, “Repeated not for information, but as the literary reflection of the chronic horror of the apostolic church that such a thing should be possible” (Bruce).

Calvin saw here an encouragement for genuine believers to pursue God that much more. He wrote, “We who are His disciples ought to worship God with sincerity; for the apostasies, which we see every day, excite us to fear, and to the cultivation of true godliness.” When we look at Judas, we ought to fear for our own souls. If one of the twelve can be the great betrayer of our Lord, we should all watch ourselves lest we fall into the same temptation to leave the Lord and ultimately lose our souls forever.

While it is easy for us to quickly pass judgment on the selfishness, pettiness, cowardice, and betrayal of Judas and leave it at that, let us instead see his testimony as an admonition. The path of apostasy is close for those who continue to flirt with self-trust. Judas jumped ship when things were looking bleak for Jesus, and he ended up miserable and hopeless because, after all, there is no hope outside of Christ. Let us not follow the same path.