“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” – Philippians 4:4-5 (NASB)
On the matter of rejoicing, Paul the Apostle was unable to say it just once – or even twice. Four times his use of ‘rejoice’ comes in imperative statements – even twice in one which is part of our verse today. Four other times in declarative clauses, Paul testifies to his own rejoicing. But in verse 4 of the 4 chapter in Philippians, Paul is driving home the importance of expressing our joy. But Paul didn’t tell his readers to be happy. He encouraged them to rejoice in the Lord. There are circumstances in which we Christians are not happy. But we can always rejoice in the Lord and delight in Him. Such action is not an emotion but more a state of mind created by our will when we choose to rejoice. Perhaps some will disagree yet it is Paul himself who exemplified inner joy when external circumstances—such as persecution, imprisonment, the threat of death—were against him. Nurturing gentleness means contentment and generosity toward others. It is having mercy or clemency toward the faults and failures of others. Being patient with someone, even submitting to injustice or mistreatment without retaliating. As always, The Lord is near – it’s a promise.
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” – Psalm 145:18 (ESV)
Perhaps there are times when you feel distant from your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is not uncommon for those who believe to go through trials and testing of their faith. Sometimes it seems that what is before us is insurmountable and like a huge tidal wave it is about to wash over us and take us under. That is the time to remember this promise and call on God. If you have repented and believed on Jesus Christ, you have been saved from the wages of sin and are safe in Christ. Being in Christ is why we can believe that the LORD is near when we call on Him. He is not distant and He is not out of reach of our voice. In fact if we are truly in Christ, then He is in us with His Holy Spirit. This is not hocus-pocus as many who reject Jesus would claim. Our Almighty God is a spirit yet a true person who loves and cares for us enough to offer His only begotten Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sin. He promised this long ago and what God promises, He fulfills.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” – Isaiah 55:6 (NASB)
Our promise today is one that brings thankfulness to our hearts and without fail, we can trust the promise. But, more than a promise, it is an invitation from our Lord God. God is near and being near means he is ‘findable.’ This appeal is for all people, believers, but especially those who have not yet chosen to believe in the only God, our Savior Jesus Christ. What can we believe when we seek the Lord? We can believe that we will receive mercy and pardon. From the beginning of time the Lord has required the same thing for salvation and that is that we trust in Him. Salvation by grace and mercy has always been available to the all who are willing to seek the Lord and call on Him. There is a warning, God can be found only while He is near, which means while His offer is still available. There are also promises of a time of His judgment when it will be too late to receive the mercy and pardon God offers it to us now. Be thankful today if you in faith have believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.