Monday, December 14, 2009

Scripture On Sundays - Rejoice!

In the Old Testament, the prophet Zephaniah predicts to Israel (Zion) that they will be told (by John the Baptist) that the time is near for the coming of their Savior. He tells them that He will take great delight in them, He will quiet them with His love, and He will rejoice over all with singing. This was true for them and for everyone, now and always.  For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all that He does."  Psalm 33:4

On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!  The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty Savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in His love; He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.
Zephaniah 3:16,17

The second reading from a letter of St. Paul to the Philippians also speaks of rejoicing and how we should turn to Jesus for help and guidance.  This is what gives Christians such peace in times of trouble....knowing they can put their trust in the Lord.  This is one of my personal favorites.

Brothers and sisters:  Rejoice in the Lord always.  I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.  The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7   

I'd also like to add these additional verses from the same letter of St. Paul's where he states how he deals with the good and bad circumstances in his life.  We can all use this advice, even in this day and age.

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:10-13

Besides rejoicing, John the Baptist also warned the people they should be preparing and repenting for the coming of the Lord.  As in many Bible stories, the use of descriptive language is used.  In this case, we are the trees and the judgement of the Lord will be the ax....unless we repent, and make ourselves worthy of the salvation that He's offered to all of us.

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him,"The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

"What should we do then?" the crowd asked.
John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."
Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"
"Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?"  He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely—be content with your pay."
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But One more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn (heaven), but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (hell)." And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a Voice came from heaven saying: "You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased."
Luke 3:9-18;21,22  

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