1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
"Rejoice always..." Easier to do when things are going good. In prosperity itis easy to rejoice. When we loose a job... When we loose a relationship... When we loose something, anything... How do we rejoice in those times?
The great missionary explorer, David Livingstone, served in Africa from 1840 until his death in 1873. Pastors Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro tell of an incident from Livingstone's life that illustrates why we need to be thankful in all things.
David Livingstone was eager to travel into the uncharted lands of Central Africa to preach the gospel. On one occasion, the famous nineteenth-century missionary and explorer arrived at the edge of a large territory that was ruled by a tribal chieftain. According to tradition, the chief would come out to meet him there; Livingstone could go forward only after an exchange was made. The chief would choose any item of Livingstone's personal property that caught his fancy and keep it for himself, while giving the missionary something of his own in return.
Livingstone had few possessions with him, but at their encounter he obediently spread them all out on the ground—his clothes, his books, his watch, and even the goat that provided him with milk (since chronic stomach problems kept him from drinking the local water). To his dismay, the chief took this goat. In return, the chief gave him a carved stick, shaped like a walking stick.
Livingstone was most disappointed. He began to gripe to God about what he viewed as a stupid walking cane. What could it do for him compared to the goat that kept him well? Then one of the local men explained, "That's not a walking cane. It's the king's very own scepter, and with it you will find entrance to every village in our country. The king has honored you greatly."
The man was right. God opened Central Africa to Livingstone, and as successive evangelists followed him wave after wave of conversions occurred.
Sometimes, in our disappointment over what we don't have, we fail to appreciate the significance of what God has given us.
We can rejoice always when we realize we have given up this world, and the things in it, for that which is greater, better, eternal. As Jesus says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). God makes our earthly losses heavenly gain. Therefore, we can rejoice always.
Prayer: Father, forgive us when we put too much emphasis on these temporary things and forget the riches You have given us through Jesus. We rejoice and are glad because we know you take earthly losses and make them heavenly gain. Open our eyes today to see the blessings truly worthy of rejoicing in. We can rejoice always then because those blessings are everywhere around us. In Jesus name, amen.
(NOT adapted from last Sunday's sermon, Rock Solid: Part 5: The Enemy of Our Faith. But listen at www.arvadachristian.org/sermons anyway!)