As we get ready to come together for Third Thursday, to lift our voices and prayers to the Lord, I’d love for us to slow down again and take some time to prepare our hearts with the Lord. This month at Third Thursday, we’re going to spend time reminding our souls that God calls us to Rejoice Always. In the highs and lows of life, God is inviting us to rejoice in Him.
Rejoice Always (1 Thessalonians 5:16 ESV)
Now there's a verse I can memorize!
Rejoice Always! This seems straight forward and sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s really, really hard. When things are good, my kids are healthy, my wife is happy, I’m reading my Bible, I’m getting a paycheck, sleeping well, exercising, eating well, my relationships are healthy. I rejoice and am excited about life and I thank God for it. Oh if this were a conditional encouragement from Paul I would feel much better. Rejoice always, only if you feel like it. But it’s not. We are to rejoice always.
This is a command to rejoice whether or not your current circumstances call for it. But that feels almost wrong. My good friend and mentor was killed in a car crash years ago. I was not rejoicing. I was mourning. I was mad, I was sad, I was confused, and who could blame me? But nevertheless, Paul says, “rejoice always.” How in the world could I do that? I know I’m not the only one that has faced great loss. I know many others out there that have experienced far greater pain, sickness, and tribulation.
What I realized was that my ability to rejoice was dependent on my current situation. It was rooted in my circumstances. If your joy is dependent on your current season, we have a wild roller coaster ride ahead of us, because we live in a fallen world where bad things will happen.
This invitation and call to rejoice is not rooted in your circumstance, it’s rooted in God himself.
Our ability to rejoice rests on who God is. The fact that He is Good, Gracious, Glorious and Great. It’s rooted in what He has done through Jesus. He has made a way for us to be in right relationship with Him, where we are forgiven, given a new identity, adopted into a family, gifted the Holy Spirit as guarantee of eternal life, and empowerment to live this life following Jesus.
This call to rejoice does not mean we stop feeling and start pretending, it’s quite the opposite. It’s an invitation to live in the truth. If you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are a child of God, and you belong to His family, the Church. You are in relationship with the Creator of the universe. You are on the winning team and guaranteed eternal life. You have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you and even if you do die, you will live eternally with Him.
When tragedy strikes, sickness, pain, busyness, exhaustion, messy relationships, or heartache comes to your door, don’t throw on a fake face and quote this verse. Be sad, be mad, be hurt, be tired, but rejoice in Jesus, because this is not the end.
This is the day that the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it! Psalm 118:24
Rejoice in greek is chairo - be glad, rejoice exceedingly, be well, thrive.
- What things in your life keep you from rejoicing always?
- What would help you rejoice in the Lord more?
- What does it look like to rejoice exceedingly? What keeps you from this?
Further reading: Psalm 43, Psalm 98, Philippians 4:4-7
Third Thursday is one day, specifically set apart each month, to slow down from our daily routine to seek God more intentionally. This posture of prayer, fasting, and worship is something that we want to grow in as a church, as a family. Together, we strive to set aside our busy-ness and passionately seek Him for our lives, our church, our friends, families and our communities.
As part of our rhythm, you are invited into a day of preparation. There are a few things you are invited into:
- Take the day to fast from food (or, if there are dietary restrictions, something else in your normal rhythm of life)
- Come prepared to worship, pray, and minister to and with the body at 7PM at our Thousand Oaks campus.