The Many Ways to Rejoice, Philippians 4:4-10

Rejoicing in the Lord, v4 & v10. Was it possible that Paul sang his “thanksgiving”? v6. For certain, he saw a way to joyfully express his gratitude for other Christians, v1. Can you count the ways and/or opportunities you have in rejoicing? Jesus did this in the Spirit, Luke 10:21-23. Is it possible that he sang these words? There are many different ways people can express “rejoice always”, it must be very varied, since Jesus rejoiced, and Paul wrote this instruction to a church full of different kinds of people, not to an individual. How do you rejoice? Surely you sing on more than just Sunday?

The book,  “Anatomy of an Illness”, describes the author being diagnosed with arthritis that had essentially crippled him. He was told it was not curable. But the doctors were wrong. He found a therapy that, coupled with nutrition and vitamins, all but ended his debilitation. What was it? Watching old slapstick comedy movies like Laurel and Hardy. His objective: laughter. Maybe, just maybe the author had Philippians 4:8 in mind? There are still some decent comedians that maintain a sense of morality. There is even a couple of “G” rated comedy movies still on sale. Not everything the world produces is sinful, some of it is very helpful, see Php. 4:8.

A joyful heart is good medicine. ~ King Solomon (Proverbs 17:22)  Whether you giggle, chuckle, or just laugh out loud, you laugh! Laughter, or simply smiling, releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness. Researchers in Japan have discovered that laughter actually lowers red blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Laughter has been shown to have positive effects on the immune system, and reducing platelet aggregation and vascular inflammation. Many health professionals allow this theory in documented journals, suggesting that laughter may also help the overall healing process in cancer therapies. Who knew? That’s easy—God did, and He told you! When you don’t’ feel joyful, when the cares of the daily grind are getting you down, try laughing. Why did our Sunday School teacher, lead us in the song, “If you’re happy and you know it”? Because the Lord’s brother James wrote, “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. (James 5:13) By the way, have you ever recorded yourself singing, and then listened to the play-back? It makes me laugh every time!

There are three abilities God gave humanity, and NOT any other animal in creation. Firstly, the ability to pray, secondly, the ability to laugh, and lastly that ability to sing. That’s right, birds & whales do not sing, they communicate. Scripturally, singing is described in the Bible as pertaining only to stars, God (Zeph 3:17) human beings. Not even angels are described as singing, but they are “chanting”. Many people question the uniqueness of humanity’s ability to sing. It may seem strange to ask if angels sing, people often allude to the Christmas story: “The angels sang to the shepherds when Jesus was born, didn’t they?” The problem is that singing by angels is not mentioned in the biblical Christmas story. In fact, there is very little scriptural evidence that angels do sing.

Probably the clearest passage on this issue is Job 38:7, which says that, at the creation of the world, “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” In the parallelism of the Hebrew poetry, the “morning stars” are equated with the “angels,” and the singing is paralleled by the joyful shouts. It seems fairly straightforward: the angels could sing. However, the Hebrew word translated “sang” doesn’t always denote music. It can also be translated as “resoundingly cried,” or “rejoiced.”  Revelation 5 is another passage that may indicate that angels sing. Verse 9 speaks of beings that “sang a new song” in heaven. These beings that sing are the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures—possibly angelic beings, but they are not specifically called such. Then in verse 11 “the voice of many angels” is heard. But now the words are “said,” not specifically “sung.” The words of the angelic host in verse 12 are quite similar to the words of the song in verse 9, but the words of the angels are not explicitly called a song. What about the Christmas story? (Luke 2:13-14) “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God . . . .’” Note, again, that the words of the angels are “said,” not specifically “sung.” Since singing is a type of speaking, the passage does not rule out the idea that the angels sang—but neither does the passage put the question to rest. Perhaps it was more of a “chant” than a melodic song? God has created humanity with an innate connection to music and singing, especially in regard to worship. How do you rejoice?

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