Unwrapping the Gifts of Peace and Joy
Sometimes joy and peace seem like unattainable, elusive qualities – abstract concepts that are hard to quantify in our daily lives. I don’t know a lot of people (although I have known a few) who are brimming with unshakable peace and overflowing with the joy of Christ. I admit that I struggle to be one of these people, which is frustrating to me since they are promised to us as fruits of the Spirit. There must be a way to know this as truth and not just a lofty ideal. What is the key to unwrapping the gifts of peace and joy?
Practical ways to unwrap peace.
What does the Bible teach us about finding peace?
“Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” Isaiah 26:3
The first thing we see in this verse is that God keeps our peace. His peace is not lacking in any way. He provides it, protects it, and preserves it. So it is a gift that He gives to His children. But how do we receive it?
We receive His peace by remaining in His presence; keeping our minds focused on Christ and living in real fellowship and relationship with Him. This requires communion, communication, and confession. We live in unity with the Spirit, walking, talking, and confessing as we go.
How do we keep our thoughts fixed on Him?
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
Philippians 4:8 says to THINK on things that are good, right, just, lovely, and of good report. When we are thinking on worthy things, we are less prone to wander and fill our minds with junk. What we take into our eyes and ears forms thoughts in our minds which in turn leads to heart decisions and ultimately action. If we desire to act right, we must think right.
God’s word is the best source of goodness and truth. We must make every effort (2 Peter 1:5) to read truth, sing and listen to worthy music, talk about lovely things (not coarse language, rude jokes, corrupt television), pray for others, do our assigned work with excellence, and think of ways to serve others using our unique gifting.
Practical ways to unwrap joy.
Want overflowing joy? Read John 15:9-17.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:9-11
Jesus lived as an example of how to please the Father and abide in His love through His obedience to fulfill the Father’s redemptive plan. We, as disciples, are to remain in Christ and obey His commands. The two greatest commands are to love God and love others. When we obey and love others in the same way He loves us (pretty loving, don’t you think?) then we will be filled with His joy to overflowing!!
Did you catch that last part? Through abiding in God’s love for us and others and following His example, we can have full joy.
Those who follow Christ can have peace and joy unlike the world knows (John 14:27). But, it won’t magically fill us up. God’s presence in our lives through our salvation gives us the possibility to know and live in this abundant place of peace and joy. We have to seek it and have our focus and attentions in the right place.
If we sit around hating our brothers and sisters, we won’t experience the fullness of His peace and joy.
If we never read Scripture, the peace of God won’t fill us. It’s like receiving a valuable gift that we never open and appreciate. As believers, we must unwrap the gift through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. We need God’s wisdom in written form, and have to crack it open and ask for understanding.
Peace of mind and heart and overflowing joy sound pretty good, don’t they? In a world of chaos, apathy, and bitter cynicism, the effort needed to keep our minds stayed on Him is worth ordering our affections to attain it!
Unwrapping Truth: Personal Application
Have you experienced God’s peace and joy through hardship that can only be explained by His faithful presence in your life? How do you make every effort to receive the gifts of peace and joy?