How to 'Rejoice Always' (Part 1)
God desires that His children be joyful--always. In fact, He commands it. "Rejoice always" (I Thess. 5:16). "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4). Adequately putting the concept of "joy" into words is a challenge, but consider the following definition: Joy is a positive attitude of contentment that results from understanding and remembering the fundamental spiritual truth, namely, that God loves us. The fact that God loves us is the most elementary divine truth (John 3:16). In fact, (1) God loves us so much that He created and sustains us. (2) He loves us so much that He gave us free will. (3) God loves us so much that He implemented a plan of salvation which centers upon His Son's sacrificial death at Calvary. (4) He loves us so much that He is longsuffering and merciful toward us. (5) God loves us so much that He desires our eternal salvation, and (6) He loves us so much that He saves us "in Christ." These six points are basic truths pertaining to divine love. When one strives to understand just how much God loves him, and continually reminds himself of that marvelous love, he ought to be able to permanently (i.e., "always" ) maintain a joyful disposition, even when the physical circumstances of his life are not pleasant. Let us now talk about...

Ideally, all Christians would like every moment of their life to be filled with joy and happiness, but such is only a fantasy. Happiness is a temporary feeling that results from pleasant physical circumstances; joy is independent of such. A faithful disciple should always have joy, though he will not always be happy. This is the case because one's physical circumstances will not always be pleasant. It should be noted that God never instructed His followers to be happy continually, but He did command them to "rejoice always." Let us now consider...

There is only one type of individual who possesses happiness without joy--that is, one who has been deceived into emphasizing the physical over the spiritual. Many with a worldly mindset, though they have no concept of true joy, will experience happiness just as a faithful child of God does (truly, God "makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good" - Matt. 5:45). When one indulges his fleshly desires, he will be happy as long as he is in the midst of pleasure, but such is only temporary. It is impossible to be immersed in pleasant physical circumstances indefinitely (every "mountaintop" has a "valley" ). Followers of Christ should be happy when their physical circumstances are pleasant, but they should not expect to be happy always. They should focus their efforts on being spiritually content no matter what may befall them physically.

Tomorrow, we will continue this study by contemplating joy and sorrow. In the meantime, start making a diligent effort to "rejoice in the Lord always"--no matter what!