This week, I like to share with you about Rejoicing in a study of Philippians 3 and 4. To rejoice according to the Meriam Webster dictionary simply means to give joy to or gladden or to feel joy or great delight. To have joy is to experience great pleasure or delight. As much as it is so nice to see all this definitions it is even sweeter to experience Joy. Even if you can’t define it in grammar, you know it when you feel it or experience it. The scripture encourages us to Rejoice always. Paul writing to the Philippians wrote;
…and Rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3
Later again, he writes
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice. Philippians 4:4
I believe when there are close repetitions in scriptures like this, then there is something for us to take note of. They are very important. A lot of times, we want to rejoice always but it seems the circumstances of life keeps our heads bowed and sad. The scriptures says
…In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Notice that Paul writes to us in Philippians 3:3 and 4:4 as though, Rejoicing lies completely within our hands and our rejoicing never depends on the happenings around us. I believe this is true. You know despite the roughness and pain in the world, as Christians we can still rejoice. The secret is clearly stated in Philippians 3:3 and Philippians 4:4. It says Rejoice in the Lord, Rejoicing in Christ Jesus. That’s the Secret of Rejoicing always. Yes, continuous Joy forever is in the Lord. Rejoicing is only in the Lord.
Paul gave a thorough explanation of this in Philippians chapter 3 up until chapter 4. Rejoicing in the Lord, is Rejoicing in knowing the things he has done for me and He is doing in me. Joy is in focusing on the change of life, person and character he has given us. Looking at who we used to be and who we are now in Christ Jesus and even the hope of who we would become in Him. Joy is in focusing on His plans, His thoughts and will for us. See what Paul says here
Circumcised the eight day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ, Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord… (Phil. 3:5 – 8).
Paul, despite being in chains while writing this could rejoice and even implore others to rejoice because he was focusing his attention on what Christ was doing in Him. He could see the kind of Paul he was before, the kind of Paul he was now, and then could acknowledge Christ’s work in him. Paul wasn’t putting his attention on himself, the light was on Christ in him. So he could rejoice always. Rejoicing always is in Christ. Joy is in counting those things that makes us puffed up and proud and make us want to boast as dung and irrelevant. Rejoicing always is in pushing aside those things we always like to rely on outside of Christ, so that we can enjoy the true riches of rejoicing in Christ.
Joy is in giving up the things of this world that don’t matter and pursuing the spiritual matters that would bring life and peace to our souls and be beneficial till eternity. Joy is in the pursuit of Him. The knowledge of Him. See what Paul says later in that same chapter,
That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3: 10 -11)
Rejoicing always is in seeking him. Joy is in worshiping in spirit and truth and not putting our confidence in the flesh. Rejoicing always can never depend on us. It’s about Him. And as our hearts yearn and pants for Him, the more His peace fills our hearts and minds. Paul must have experienced this, despite all the problems and challenges he said this,
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; (2 Cor. 4: 8-9)”
You know the source of sorrows and sadness, is when we fill our minds with what we expect to happen to us or not happen to us. When our focus is outward and not in inward on Christ Jesus in us. Only Men of true joy can do what he said 2 Cor. 4:8 – 9 above, men who don’t bother about what is happening around them, their focus and pursuit is on Christ. Joy is keeping our gaze on Him. Joy is about Him and what he does, not what is happening to me. Rejoicing always is in Christ and in Christ alone. Philippians 4: 8 – 9 tells us the things we should focus our minds on that brings Joy.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
Another source of Joy, Paul mentions is helping other believers, and especially those who labour in the work of Christ.
Brethren, Jesus came to give us the spirit of joy. That spirit dwells in every believer. We only have to tune our focus on him. Isaiah prophesying about Jesus, said Jesus came to do this:
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness: that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. That he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)”
He commands us to rejoice. He gave us the spirit. We only have to keep our gaze on him. Pursue the knowledge of Him. Focus our attention on what He is doing in us, who He is making us to be like. Know that Rejoicing always is only possible in Him. Rejoice always IN CHRIST and once again I say Rejoice.
I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi
Today, identity questions are big issues. People identify themselves as strange things according to the many lies the devil is publishing in our world. But thankfully the Bible clearly explains who the believer is. Among several descriptions he says we are a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people 1 Pet. 2:9, citizens of Heaven and the one I love most, SAINTS! 1 Cor. 1:2 and many more. It is also interesting that God through the holy-spirit at work in us helps us in being this descriptions. Amen!
While we may be described by the world according to where we work, what we do etc. we must ensure that our biblical identity is retained and comes first. There is a big difference between a student and a Christian student. A civil servant and a Christian civil-servants. A teacher and a teacher that is a believer. A chauffeur and a Christian chauffeur. A doctor and a Christian doctor etc. In all the cases cited above there is a big difference between the former and the later.
While a student can decide to cheat in exams, a Christian CAN not. While a doctor may decide to do abortions, a Christian is Pro-life! He doesn’t believe in it and would never do it. Same goes for a Christian civil-servant, he would never take bribes. As believers we belong to a kingdom, whose ways, beliefs are completely different from those of this world. The ways of the world are not our ways. Our Identity presented in scriptures must swallow whatever identity the world gives us.
Truth is, as Christians our views/beliefs/ideologies are completely dictated by the Bible as such often times we would find ourselves going against the general views of the world. For-example, scriptures says “…male and female he created them Gen. 1:27”, if you identify yourself as anything outside of this two, to me you are wrong and probably must have believed a lie from the devil. Yes! I am biased and I do not support or believe what people call transgender or gay etc. because the scriptures doesn’t support it. That’s a believer. His life is dictated by scriptures. Who he/she is, what he/she holds in high esteem is dictated by the scriptures. And Yes, scriptures! Scriptures! And scriptures!
The bible says when the believer reads the bible, it’s like someone looking into the Mirror. And we know when we look into the mirror, we see ourselves. We see who we truly are.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Cor. 3:18 NKJV
For if anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror: for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. James 1: 23 – 24. NKJV
We are what the word says we are. It’s our code of conduct. We are being empowered to live like this by the Holy-Spirit living in us.
We are loving, caring, respectful husbands and house-wives. Yes, because that’s who the bible says we are. We are respectful and obedient sons and daughters. We are law-abiding citizens not because we are scared of the Police nor because of the fear of going to jail but because that’s how scriptures admonishes us to live. We are givers, we love unconditionally and we love the fellowship of the brethren. Why? That’s how the bible identifies us.
By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35
The Believer has an identity. We are defined by scriptures. If it says we are men and women of grace, yes we are. No matter the challenge we pass through, we are more than conquerors. We do not become new persons by changing behaviour. We discover the person we are already are in Christ as described through scriptures and behave accordingly.
The Believer is one with Christ because of what Jesus did at the cross. He is described out of that union. He is not described by his circumstances, or environment, or by the world thinks of him or what even he thinks of himself. His true self is in Christ. Christ defines the believer. We are who He called us. And that identity cannot be undone as long as Christ redemptive work cannot be undone. He called us Rich, healed, saved, rulers etc. all this are established in the spiritual, we only have to believe them and expect them to manifest in the physical.
Identity is the echo of belief. It is our identity in Christ that is always being challenged. But we have a choice. We will either believe who Satan says we are, depraved, guilty, hopeless, sinners etc. or who Christ says we are, righteous, honourable, and holy. We have the right to declare God’s identity over our lives as sons and daughters of God. It is the revelation of our identity in Christ that gives us the victory over sin. Christ is our Life. Col. 3:4.
Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life – even though invisible to spectators – is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember)… Col. 3: 3 – 4
I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi
For Christians, sin is not a way of life. Rather, it’s a mistake. An Accident. It’s something that should never happen. But Oops – sometimes it does! So what do we do when we feel the guilt that follows sin?
Oftentimes when Christians sin, the after-problem is not forgiveness, but guilt. I personally believe, that feeling guilty when we sin, is still a sign that we love God, a sign that we didn’t like the fact that we sinned. However, prolonged guilt is what must be corrected. In our state of innocence, we feel sorry that we wronged God. We wish we never did what we did. Sometimes we even punish ourselves compensate for what we have done wrong. Seems fair enough, from our human eyes. But have you ever taken a moment to stop and ask: How does God view it? How does God judge my sense of guilt when I sin?
It is my prayer that as you read this article, the Holy-spirit may open your eyes and speak the message you need to hear from him today.
While as Christians, we should never comfortable with sin, it is healthy to feel guilt when we do sin. In-fact, if you are a Christian and you do not feel guilt after sin, then it’s very unhealthy. . The problem begins when we stay in the position of guilt for too long.
There are two main causes prolonged guilt: (1) Self-Righteousness: Not understanding fully God’s Redemption plan (2) Ego: focusing on ourselves and not on Christ. We lose our boldness to pray, it’s a sense of condemnation, it draws us even farther away from God and this is what the devil enjoys. The devil knows that as long as we remain in this state, we won’t get help. We begin to think ‘‘can we ever be forgiven’’? We begin to think “God must be mad at me!’’
But No He isn’t. He knew you could mess up so he made enough provision for it. He made enough propitiation of your past, present and future sins. If God only forgave our past sins and not our present and future sins then we were never saved or redeemed. Because we are humans, we are frail but He knows our frame (Psalms 103:14)
It is one thing to know we are forgiven, but another thing to accept and believe the forgiveness. A lot of people are living continuously in guilt not because God hasn’t forgiven them, but because they haven’t accepted the forgiveness which they need to forgive themselves.
Looking back to my childhood, it would be impossible to count how many times I offended my parents, they would correct me by giving assignments and often times I was flogged, but guess what It didn’t reduce their love for me. Well, I didn’t earn the love by my acts, so I can’t lose it by my actions. As usual, whenever I did something bad, I felt guilty. I would ask for my parent’s forgiveness, receive forgiveness and didn’t choose to remain at the state of guilt. And I continued to enjoy the love showered on me by my parents. So are we supposed to be with our heavenly father. When we sin, we ask for forgiveness, and he is faithful and just to forgive us, then we must receive the forgiveness and embrace the freedom from shame and guilt.
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, it is finished; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30)
Jesus said that ‘it is finished’. And yes it is indeed finished. He forgave us and made us righteous. It’s a finished work. Completed. Done. we can’t add to it by our self-righteousness and we can’t subtract from it by our acts. It’s done. He made us righteous and told us to walk in this righteousness, not try to attain righteousness by ourselves. To overcome prolonged guilt, we have to know we have been forgiven.
Below are some few points I believe can be helpful for overcoming continuous guilt. This has helped me over the years, and I believe they will be of great help to anyone.
- Speak with Someone (Believer)
“Therefore Confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray one for another, that ye may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent Prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much”
(James 5:16 AMP)
Every believer should have their own company. As a Christian, there must be someone in your life that can confront you when you are wrong, no matter the level or position you have attained. When faced with guilt, it is recommended you speak with another believer you know has good understanding. Someone you know you can be vulnerable with (your pastor, mentor, spiritual-friend etc.). I would also be available if anyone wants to speak with me. (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Guilt lasts longer because people try to cover up their sins, nurture the wounds of guilt by themselves, but oftentimes this doesn’t work. Do what the above scripture says. Open up to someone. Seek counsel. Let prayers be made for and with you, this may also help in breaking sin addictions.
I believe someone who is matured spiritually will be able to handle your secrets.
- Worship in Songs
Worshipping God when we face guilt, causes our focus to shift from ourselves and to God. We behold his majesty, meditate on His love for us, and think about his Righteousness. I personally love to sing songs by Hillsong and House-fires. I also recommend many other spirit-filled songs that bring our focus on God’s love for us. As we meditate on this, we gain strength to come boldly once again into our father’s presence.
- Dare to Call Him Father
Over the years, I have discovered that the times I have struggled with sin were the times I have not had a good fellowship with the Holy-Spirit in the past days. When we fall into sin, we lose our boldness to pray or worship, we lose our sense of righteousness. We can’t come boldly into His presence any longer as we do. But the point is, we can’t continue that way and hope that the wounds guilt brings will be healed. We have to dear to call him father again, then the author condemnation and guilt, the devil will stop accusing us.
The story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11 – 32), is a good example of this. The boy realised what he was done, he was sorry for what he did wrong, but he didn’t stay there, he took a step, he went back to his father.
“I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee” (Luke 15:18)
“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him (Luke 15:20)
The boy decided to arise and go back to his father and interestingly despite his sins, his father still loved him and while he was on his way, his father who had always been waiting for him, ran out to him, showed him love and restored him back as His son.
Today, we also need to take such steps. Today, I say despite the prolonged guilt you might be facing, dare to pray, worship and sing. Call him Father. God’s love again his demonstrated to us just like this prodigal son in Luke 15: 11 – 32 stated above.
He loves us even when we mess up. At the point of death, Peter made a lot of promises to stay with Jesus till death (Luke 22:33) but he couldn’t. He denied Jesus three times. Peter went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:62). I am sure at this point he must have felt guilty, he must have felt unworthy but yet when Jesus rose from the dead this was an angel’s instruction,
“But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee: there shall you see him as he said to you” (Mark 16:7)
The angel was careful to mention Peter’s name specifically, knowing that Peter would doubt his worthiness to be called a disciple. God was still saying ‘Peter, you are forgiven and you can stop feeling guilty. Thank God, Peter was still greatly used by God to do awesome things to advance the gospel. This was only possible because he did not allow his guilt to hold him back. .
My dear friend, God loves you and He says “You are free”. You do not have to feel guilty. He is inviting you to come up to him and leave the place of your continuous guilt.
I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi