Today's Lectionary Text
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds
The following devotional is a reflection on the themes expressed and celebrated in the praise and worship song “I Rejoice” written by United Methodist pastor Chris Aytes. You can listen to “I Rejoice” here: https://youtu.be/RkHPGvmIJic
Philippians 4:4-7 (CSB) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
As a worship leader and songwriter, Philippians 4:4-7 has become a central part of my theology and my practice of ministry. I believe that Paul is telling us something profound here, something very much rooted in the Psalms; the presence of God, and thus the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, is available to us at all times; we only need to “enter in,” or rather, become aware of it. THE way, according to the scriptures, to come into the awareness of God’s presence is through praise and thanksgiving, with a joyful heart.
We do not need to ask God to be with us. He is. We do not need to ask the Spirit to fall upon us. He has. Paul doesn’t tell us to request a visit from God, Paul tells us to REJOICE in the LORD, ALWAYS and in doing so, we will realize the the LORD is near, and his peace will guard our hearts and minds from all of our concerns.
Stressed out? Rejoice!
At peace? Rejoice!
Too often our worship, be it on our own or when we’re gathered together, is sorely lacking in joy. Too often our worship is not focused on simply giving God thanks and praise.
Need more of God’s presence? Try saying “Thanks” and “You are truly holy” or “faithful” or “loving” or “forgiving.” Give God thanks and praise honestly, authentically, and with joy and you will know his presence. Give yourself to him in praise and he will make himself known to you. Abide in him, and he will abide in you.
Prayer for Reflection
“And I thank you that your love is everlasting, O God. Yes, I thank you for your love, and for your love ... I rejoice! And whether I’m in times of need or times of relief, in all things, LORD, I rejoice! And whether hungry or whether filled, you give me your strength, and in all things, LORD, I rejoice!”
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