Rejoice – In What?

Rejoice - In What?

“Pastor Rick, I find I been coming to crusade every night, but I still missing one thing. I still not saved. Tomorrow night I will give my life to Jesus.”

When someone tells me that they are ‘going to get saved tomorrow,’ I tremble. We have no promise of tomorrow. The Bible says, “Today is the day of salvation”. Every time someone has told me that they will ‘get saved tomorrow,’ tomorrow comes and they never actually repent. Thankfully, there was one exception. An elderly woman once made the above statement to me, and then the next evening when she came to our crusade and the invitation was given, she stood and gave her heart to the Lord! Wow – how exciting! All of a sudden, the effort and time that had been invested in visiting her and her husband over the years was rewarded in the greatest way possible – the salvation of her soul! I went to bed that night rejoicing.

On another day, I was out sharing the Gospel in our community. I stopped by a small shop to visit with some guys. The results of that afternoon were not at all productive! I went home like a whipped pup with his tail between his legs. The drug dealer knew Scripture better than I did, kept interrupting me when I tried to talk, and then restricted me to only using Scripture verses. I lost my patience with this arrogant man and told him to shut up. I knew as soon as the words left my mouth that I had made a big mistake. I apologized, but he was offended and was not willing to listen to me after that. I was definitely not rejoicing that night.

One day ministry is great. Souls are getting saved, the church is growing, and I’m rejoicing. Another day, ministry is not great. People are not receptive to the Gospel, I make mistakes in my witnessing and go home discouraged. I am definitely not rejoicing on those days. But then I open my Bible and read Philippians 4:4 where is says, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” This is a good verse for when things are going well – I can easily apply that truth then. But on bad days, I’m looking for something different. How can I rejoice when I have failed in witnessing, people have mocked me, I’ve made mistakes, hurt people, and failed to represent Christ as I am called to do? But the verse is still there, “Rejoice in the Lord alway”. And you and I both know that it is not only there for the good days in ministry. So how do we get to the place where we can really rejoice on both the good and bad days of ministry?

Our answer is found in Luke 10. Jesus had appointed seventy men, given them some instructions for ministering, and then sent them out.

Later in the chapter we read that those seventy men returned to Jesus all excited. They came back with the report that even the devils were subject to them. They had just had a great “ministry trip”, so of course they were rejoicing! But Jesus knew that not all times of ministry were going to go this well for them. And if they continued to base their rejoicing on the results of their ministry, they would have many seasons with no rejoicing.

Jesus’ response to the seventy was this: “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” There it is – our reason for rejoicing. A reason that you and I have every day; our names are written in heaven.

At the end of a good or bad day of ministering, my response will be the same – rejoicing. Why? Because I know that my name is written in heaven. Maybe Philippians 4:4 isn’t so unthinkable after all.

Placing the basis of my rejoicing on the truth that my name is written in heaven does three things for me: 1. It gives me a reason to rejoice every day, 2. It places my focus on the eternal, not the temporal – which is where I usually place my joy, and 3. It motivates me to invest my life in the two things that last forever – people and the Word of God.

Brothers and Sisters, if your name is written in heaven, you have a reason to rejoice every day. You have a reason to invest your life in the Word of God and in people, so that they too can rejoice in something that lasts.

By Rick Rhodes (I Witness News/Winter 2011)

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