“in the Lord.” This simple phrase holds the secret to maintaining a joyful atti- tude at all times. There are times when we experience sorrow, grief, and pain, like when someone we love dies. But at those times we can say with Paul that we are “sorrowful yet always rejoic- ing” (2 Cor. 6:10). Why? Because even though our heart may be breaking, God is still good, faithful, wise, loving and sovereign. In other words, no matter how awful things may be, there is always something wonderful about God to cause us to rejoice in. If nothing else, we can rejoice that He has mer- cifully saved us (1 Sam. 2:1; Ps. 13:5; 35:9; 40:16; Isa. 61:10; Hab. 3:17-18; Lk. 10:20). But beyond our salvation, we should also rejoice in all God has revealed about Himself in His Word. We can rejoice in the Lord’s faithful- ness (Lam. 3:22-23). We can rejoice in the Lord’s love (Rom. 8:38-39). We can rejoice in the Lord’s sovereign control over all things (Ps. 103:19). We can rejoice in the Lord’s wisdom (Rom. 11:33). Those who know a lot about the character and attributes of God find it much easier to rejoice in the midst of hard times; whereas, those with little knowledge of God find it much harder to maintain a joyful attitude. We can’t trust someone we don’t know. This should motivate us to develop a deeper understanding of God by studying who He said He is and what He said He can do. Read books on the character of God (e.g. Knowing God by J.I. Packer, Attributes of God by A.W. Pink, Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer, Trusting God by Jerry Bridges). Spending time in helpful resources like these will enable you to have true joy which can be defined as a perma- nent, deep-down sense of peace and well-being based on your confidence that no matter how bad things may appear, you know God loves you and is in complete control of every detail of your life. He is wisely and providentially working behind the scenes to bring Himself glory and make you more like Christ (Rom. 8:28-29).
Again, take Paul for example. His imprisonment was God’s providen- tial way of getting much of the New Testament written. It was during those long, lonely hours in prison when the Holy Spirit inspired him to write many of his letters, including Philippians, which is categorized as one of the Prison Epistles. Through his letters, Paul impacted more people than he could have ever visited in person, and they continue to impact people’s lives today. WE SHOULD SEE OUR CIRCUMSTANCES AS GOD-ORDAINED OPPORTUNITIES TO FURTHER THE GOSPEL. So instead of complaining about what is or isn’t happening in our lives, we should see our circumstances as God- ordained opportunities to further the Gospel, and in that we can rejoice. Furthermore, if our joy is in the Lord rather than in what happens to us, then our attitude should never change even when our circumstances do, because the Lord never changes. The Psalmist modeled joy in the Lord and demon- strated that the secret to always being joyful is always being in the presence of the Lord (Ps. 16:11; 21:6; 43:4). And if we are joyful all the time, that will set us apart from most people in the
world. Nothing is more needed today than for those of us who call ourselves Christians to live consistently joyful lives in this uncertain, ever-changing age which will make us bright lights and cause people to be drawn to God and the truth of His Word (Phil. 2:14-16). In the foreword to his classic book, Spiritual Depression , Martyn Lloyd- Jones stated, “There can be little doubt but that the exuberant joy of the early Christians was one of the most potent factors in the spread of Christianity. As we face the modern world with all its trouble and turmoil and with all its dif- ficulties and sadness, nothing is more important than that we, who claim the Name of Christ, should be representing our faith in such a way before others as to give them the impression that here is the solution, and here is the answer. In a world where everything has gone so sadly astray, we should be standing out as people characterized by a fun- damental joy and certainty in spite of conditions, and of adversity. That is the picture which is given of God’s people everywhere in the Scriptures. Those men of God stood out in that way, and whatever their circumstances and conditions, they seemed to possess a secret which enabled them to live tri- umphantly and to be more than con- querors.” May that be the testimony of our lives as well, on both the good days and the bad days, and whether the wedding bells are ringing or the funeral bells are tolling.
RAMEY@LAKESIDEBIBLECHURCH.ORG Ken Ramey serves as the pastor-teacher of Lakeside Bible Church in Montgomery, Texas. Ken attended Word of Life Bible Institute and School of Youth Ministries and then transferred to The Master’s College where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Youth Ministry. He received his M. Div. from The Master’s Seminary and later completed his D. Min. in Expository Preaching and authored Expository Listening . Ken and his wife, Kelli, were married in 1990 and have three children: Zachariah, Hannah, and Jacob. Ken Ramey
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