I have a story that will hopefully help us begin this message. I did not write this story.
BLIND AGAINST THE BLIND
One of the most celebrated sports heroes in our state was Charley Boswell. Charley was blinded in World War II while rescuing a buddy from a burning tank. He had always been a great athlete so after the war, he took up golf. While in college I saw him play an exhibition match. Of course, he had a friend line him up and give him a distance, but I can testify that it’s hard to hit that little white ball when you’re looking at it. Boswell won the National Blind Golf Championship 16 times, once shooting a score of 81. In 1958 Charley came to Ft. Worth to receive the coveted Ben Hogan Award.
Mr. Hogan agreed to play a round of golf with Charley. Charley said, “Would you like to play for money?” Hogan said, “That wouldn’t be fair!” Charley said, “C’mon, Mr. Hogan, are you afraid to play a blind golfer?” Hogan was really pretty competitive so he said, “Okay, I’ll play for money. How much?” Boswell said, “$1,000 per hole.” Hogan said, “That’s a lot. How many strokes do you want me to give you?” Boswell said, “No strokes. I’ll play you heads up.” Hogan said, “Charley, I can’t do it. What would people think of me taking advantage of a blind man?” Boswell smiled and said, “Don’t worry, Mr. Hogan, our tee time is tonight at midnight!”
Do you ever feel like you are living in a dark world? Do you ever feel blind? Lately, I am sure that many of us have felt that way. I am sure that many of us have felt like we are truly going through strange times. Maybe you feel like you are golfing in the dark. Maybe you feel like there is no light outside. Because of everything still going on I decided to change my sermon plans. I had planned to talk about sharing the Gospel for the next few weeks. Instead, I have decided to talk about Phil 4:4-8 for five sermons. Here is the plan:
Today, we will talk about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4)
August 30, 2020: Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)
September 6, 2020: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)
September 13, 2020: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)
September 20, 2020: Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)
Today, my theme is that we have reason to rejoice in the Lord.
Read with me Philippians 4:4:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
- Rejoice in the Lord.
- Paul gives a simple statement, doesn’t he? Paul says to rejoice in the Lord.
- How often are we to rejoice in the Lord? Always. We are to rejoice in the Lord at all times. Paul tells us just that.
- He says to rejoice in some NO! He says to rejoice in all things.
- I understand, and I think that Paul would also understand, that sometimes it is hard to rejoice. Have you had times in your life when you felt there was nothing to rejoice about?
- Maybe that is right now; maybe right now it is difficult to rejoice. It is, isn’t it?
- When Paul was writing this letter, he was under house arrest. There were guards around him. We know there were guards because he says so in chapter 1:13 and following.
- Paul is writing this to the Philippians who were persecuted for their faith in Christ.
- The city of Philippi was a Roman colony. They were very Roman in culture; they probably even spoke Latin which was a little rarer at this point.
- By this point in Paul’s life he had already been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and so much more (Acts 14; 2 Cor 11).
- Yet Paul says to rejoice. Paul even repeats it twice. He might have repeated it twice thinking that they were going to wonder how he could ask them to rejoice in the midst of their troubles.
- They must have thought, “how can you tell me to rejoice? Look at the persecution we are going through. Look what you have gone through!”
- It is interesting that Philippians is a different type of Paul’s letters. There are no rebukes, or anything like that. Joy in its various forms occurs 16 times in this letter. It is said that Philippians is all about joy. Dr. Rydelnic of Moody Bible Institute says that it is about joy in unity.
- In Philippians 1:29, Paul even says that they have suffered for Christ, yet Paul exhorts them to rejoice in the Lord always.
- The question is, do we have reason to rejoice?
- The question is, did they have reason to rejoice? Apparently, they did have reason to rejoice. Paul tells them to rejoice.
- Could it be that rejoicing in the Lord is the ultimate help when we are emotionally burdened? Could it be that when we don’t feel like rejoicing is when we really need to rejoice? Is that possible?
- Paul tells them to rejoice, even when he is in prison and they have suffered for Christ, wow!
- Paul could have told them to complain to the Lord, but he did not do that. Actually, in Philippians 2:14 Paul tells them not to complain.
- Again, do we have reasons to rejoice? I will come back to that.
- Of course, Paul modeled this. One person writes: “When his enemies preached Christ out of envy and rivalry, wanting to wound Paul and undermine his ministry (Philippians 1:15–17), he welled up not with anger, bitterness, or resentment, but with joy. ‘What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice’ (Philippians 1:18). It takes more than human courage to rejoice when you’re mistreated, especially when you’re in prison where you can’t defend yourself.”
- John Piper says about these verses,
- “When we have little and have lost much, Christ comes and reveals himself as more valuable than what we have lost. And when we have much and are overflowing in abundance, Christ comes and he shows that he is far superior to everything we have.”
- Actually, in Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas were in prison after being beaten and they are singing hymns. Wow!
- Do we have reasons to rejoice? Is Christ everything to us?
- Let’s look at another passage.
- How do we rejoice?
- 3:16-17 helps us with that.
- Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
- This passage and really, all of the verses we are going to be talking about for the next month, deal with sanctifying our thinking. That means that we set apart our thinking for Jesus.
- Instead of focusing on the negative we do this.
- Look at that verse: Let the word of Christ RICHLY dwell within you. Teach and ADMONISH one another…
- Notice the focus on thankfulness.
- Look at verse 17. Give thanks to God the Father in all that you do.
- Do you see what Phil. 4:4 and Col. 3:16-17 are having us to do? This is reframing the events of our lives. This is giving us a different perspective. We do everything for King Jesus and we worship Him in all things.
- That takes practice but that is our encouragement for today.
- Think with me about how great God is and rejoice.
- We know that God created the Heavens and the earth. Think about God’s awesome creation and let that reflect back on our awesome God.
John MacArthur shares:
Do you know that birds navigate by the stars? Now, how did that ever happen? Do you know that birds raised from eggs inside a building, where they’ve never seen the sky, can instantly orient themselves toward home when shown an artificial sky representing a place their species have never been? How does that work? I don’t have any idea.
There’s a fish called archer fish. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about archer fish. They shoot drops of water with great accuracy at insects. Because its water, it doesn’t kill the insect. Scientists think they just do it for fun. Now how did they ever develop that?
Mites, little microscopic bugs, live in the ear of a moth. And a moth can fly fine if only one ear is occupied. If two ears are occupied, it can’t fly. And strangely enough, mites don’t get in both ears. How do they know that, those little guys? That if one of their buddies is over there, they shouldn’t be on this side.
There is a thing called the bombardier beetle, it produces chemicals in its body in two separate sacks. And when the enemy comes along, that little beetle has the capability to mix those two little chemical fluids and they come out of the mouth and explode in the face of the enemy. But the explosion never occurs prematurely. Now, you can’t evolve two explosive liquids in a beetle and never blow the beetle up.
Well I think you’re getting the picture in ways you probably have never thought about it before. Do you know codfish lay nine million eggs? You probably know that.
Do you know the earth is twenty-five thousand miles in circumference, weighs six septillion, 588 sextillion tons, and hangs in empty space? And spins at a thousand miles an hour with perfect precision so that we’re not going like this all the time. Time is kept to the split second. And at the same time it’s spinning at a thousand miles an hour, it’s careening through space, around the sun, in an orbit of 586 million miles, at the speed of a thousand miles a minute.
Do you know that the comets can have tails a million miles long? And travel 350 miles per second? I mean it’s just astonishing stuff. And then these people come along and say, “Well, it just happened.” If you follow the God-given reason of cause and effect, you’re going to have to come back to a great cause, aren’t you? And then you follow conscience, and you’re going to find out that whoever the Great Cause is, He is moral. And He has a law that can’t be violated without consequences. Now that’s not redemptive truth, as Stephen Olford said, but that’s getting you back to the God who can redeem. The redemptive truth then unfolds on the pages of Scripture, doesn’t it?
Listen to what Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse wrote, “God gave man brains to see things, these things, and the sorrowful answer is that God gave man brains, for example, to smelt iron and make a hammerhead and nails. And God grows a tree and gives man strength to cut it down. And brains to fashion a hammer handle from its wood. And when man has the hammer and the nails, God will put out His hand and let man drive those nails through it, place Him on a cross, in the supreme demonstration that men reject God.” Rejection. God gives the truth and men turn from the truth. And then they become futile, empty in their speculations. Empty, useless, nothingness and they get sucked into darkness where they can’t know God. And the law of God no longer speaks. And conscience no longer reacts. And reason is warped and twisted. And the light goes out.
That reminds me of the guy in the mental institution. He’s lying in bed and he’s saying, “I’m Napoleon. I’m Napoleon.” All day. All day. All week. The guy in the next bed is really getting weary. Finally he says to him, “Shut up. Who told you you’re Napoleon?” He says, “God did.” The guy replies, “Oh, no I didn’t.” Or the lady who went into the psychologist’s office with a duck on a string, said, “You need to help my husband. He thinks he’s a duck.” I mean nobody knows what reality is. Perception is so skewed that they give each other PhDs, and they became fools.
- Our God is awesome, amen!
- He created this awesome creation and then He became part of His creation to save us.
- We have reason to rejoice in the Lord.
- Do you know in the previous verse Paul writes about people whose names are written in the book of life.
- When we commit to Jesus as Lord and Savior we have a relationship with God, Almighty. The Holy Spirit resides in us.
- We are called His children (1 John 3:1).
Remember what I shared about the blind golfer? What did he do? He said he would golf at midnight. He changed things. Do you know what we need to do? We must change the perspective. We must focus on rejoicing in the Lord, and in rejoicing, we will light up the darkness.
So, this week, here is my encouragement, this week rejoice in the Lord always. No matter what happens make it your aim to rejoice in the Lord. Then at the end of each day reflect to see how you have done and pray about it.
 (From a sermon by David Dykes, Has Jesus Touched Your Eyes? 8/20/2012)