LOOK BACK TO MOVE FORWARD

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LOOK BACK TO MOVE FORWARD

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

I’ll be honest. This is sometimes the most difficult thing to do. If you are on a high, you’ll be wondering if God gave you the world just so He could painfully wrench it away from you with the next downturn. If you are in a low, you’ll be wondering just why, if God is all powerful, has He not sorted out the devil’s evil schemes yet. I mean, it’s been months, and in some cases, years. Surely the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth should have had enough time to help me learn my lesson and sort out the devil, right? So at our highs, we worry; in our lows, we murmur and complain. When exactly will the rejoicing ever come in?

And it gets worse. Other translations tell us that we should

“Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times.” Philippians 4:4 [PHILLIPS]

I heard a politician say, the other day, “It’s fine and well to tell the people that unemployment is at an all-time low of 2.3%, but to each and every one who makes up that 2.3%, unemployment is 100% till he gets a job.”

And it’s true, isn’t it? Fine and well to tell me that life really isn’t that bad; but until my business picks up, or I get that next deal, or I get that job, or I get that income stream, or I recover from this condition, or my kids graduate from school; then I’ll start finding a reason to rejoice.

But there’s the rub. When your business picks up, you’ll be wondering how long it’ll last. When you get that next deal, you’ll be wondering how long that income stream is going to sustain you. When you recover from that condition, you’ll be wondering when you will suffer a relapse.

Not only that. We all agree that the definition of ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ change as our standard of living improves. When a single-income family becomes a dual-income family, real wages have increased, they can afford more, their lives get better. But at the same time, what used to be ‘wants’; like the domestic help to clean house and look after the kids; becomes a ‘need’, and in the end, there’s no real gain, is there?

So just when will the rejoicing start?

“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!” Philippians 4:4 [MSG]

Well, beloved, in a word, the rejoicing starts now. At least it ought to, because you see, being able to rejoice is a state of mind. If we are ever to be able to celebrate God all day, every day; if we are ever to be able to rejoice in the Lord; we must stop looking forward and start looking back. Yes, odd thing to say, since it is tantamount to saying that regression is better than progress. But bear with me.

When are you able to celebrate something or someone? When you look back and consider what has happened or what he has done. When are you able to rejoice in someone? When you realize that what he has done has had a profound impact and improved your life. And where is your gaze in both instances? That’s right, back.

When we look back and count our blessings, when we look back and identify each and every act of deliverance, each and every instance of provision, each and every time we were protected from harm; it cannot but strike us just how mighty, faithful and loving our Father is. Quite honestly, I would have been a bankrupt, locked up in the psych ward, making occasional visits to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, if not for our Father’s grace and mercy; instead of being happily married and reaching out to you. And no, my problems are not over, but compared to where I was, they pale.

What about you? Where would you have been if not for the grace and mercy of our Father? Sure, your problems are as real as the noon-day sun. But compare yourself now to where you were?

That’s what I mean. Our problems will never be over, regardless of whatever station of life we are in. But compared to where we came from, our Father has surely never let us down. And that is why we should celebrate our Father’s love all day, every day; for when you do that, you take your eyes off the thorn that Satan has put in your side to distract you and rob you of the joy that you should rightly have.

Beloved, rejoicing in our Father is not an act of ignoring our pain and sacrificing our comforts just so we can worship Him. Rejoicing in our Father is a reminder of just how loving our Father is, and how needless our worry is. For indeed, Jesus put it so succinctly when He said,

“Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Matthew 6:27

“And who of you by worrying can add one hour to [the length of] his life?” Matthew 6:27 [AMP]

Instead, when we constantly celebrate His love for us, when we constantly remember His deliverance and count His provision, we realize that whenever we have troubles, to the troubles that lie ahead, we can say,

“Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.” Philippians 4:6 [AMP]

We can refuse to be anxious or worried, but in every trying and challenging circumstance, even when the world screams at us to stop, we can, by prayer and petition, continue to make our specific needs known to our Father; because our hearts are filled with thanksgiving for all that He had already given us.

You see, when you know that there’s plenty more where that came from, you don’t need to have it in hand, and you’ll still be secure. Let me illustrate. How many of you have 3000 gallons of cooking oil or 1000 pounds of salt stocked up in your garage? You don’t because you know that when you need it, you can just pop out to the corner store and get some. Will you run out? Yes. But will you worry about running out? No.

So in the same way, when you know that you have a loving Father who is almighty and who loves you, you can run out of cash, you can run out of health, you can run out of patience with your teenager, but you can also never worry about running out because just like our Father had supplied all that you needed, you just need to shoot Him a requisition form via prayer and you will get it when you need it. There’s no need to worry.

And when you do, when you realize that there is plenty more where that came from,

“And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” Philippians 4:7 [AMP]

His peace will fill you and envelop you; and you will be at rest.

Beloved, indeed, as Jesus told Paul when He was having His troubles,

“...My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 [AMP]

His grace is sufficient for any situation. It is, because even for us, it has been. As Paul said,

“I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:12-13 [MSG]

Or simply put,

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Don’t look forward to move forward. Forward is depressing. Forward is worrying. And all that is unnecessary when we know that the one who has been carrying us all the days of our life, is the one who will be carrying us through the ‘depressing’ and ‘worrying’. Indeed, beloved, remember, our Father says,

“I’ve been carrying you on my back
from the day you were born,
And I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old.
I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray.
I’ve done it and will keep on doing it,
carrying you on my back, saving you.” Isaiah 46:3-4 [MSG]

Look back and rejoice at all that our Father has blessed you with. Celebrate His goodness all day, every day, and know that you can move forward with confidence because He will be carrying you on His back all the way.

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