The Recipe for Lasting Joy
The month of November holds one of my favorite holidays, THANKSGIVING. I’m a huge family person, so I love the family atmosphere of Thanksgiving, along with the sounds and the savory tastes of Thanksgiving. Sometimes, however, in an attempt to enjoy a favorite dish beyond the day, I’ll take a to-go box of that dish. If it’s really hittin’ though, I might ask for the recipe. Recipe swaps are one of the essential connections between the generations of our families, as younger generations attempt to prepare dishes in the way that mama and "grandmama" would do it. Recipes are essential because they give us the required ingredients for a dish, along with the proper measurement of those ingredients that produce the dish. In the same way, I have thought long and hard about the need not only for good dishes during the holidays, but for help with making joy. Philippians is called the book of joy because of the amount of times Paul mentions the word JOY in the short epistle (16x in only 104 verses). Christ is mentioned 26 times in the epistle. The meaning is clear… Christ Jesus is the secret to our lasting J.O.Y. (Jesus Over You).
I believe that Paul in Philippians 4 gives us a recipe for making JOY. He says:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness[b] be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Here’s a quick list for Making Joy.
1. Choose to rejoice in the Lord – Happiness is circumstantial, but joy is enduring and lasting. Happiness depends on life’s happenings (keyword: HAP), while joy is a product of complete confidence in the character of our God. Joy knows that God is working for me even when life seems to work against me. Paul invites us find joy in our God. David pleads with God in Psalm 51:12, “restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” If you have misplaced your joy, God can restore it.
2. Consider how you respond to Others – Paul encourages us to choose “moderation” or reasonableness in our responses with others rather than being ruled by emotions or demonstrating unruly behavior. God’s joy and peace in our lives should be visibly displayed and evident to all who encounter us. How often are we acting out of character ultimately missing opportunities to demonstrate Christ’s love to others because of our lack of self-control? We are encouraged to gently and lovingly live with others because the Lord is near. In short, treat others well because God sees and knows!
3. Cast away worry and replace it with prayers of thanksgiving – How often do worry and anxiety rob us of joy and peace. Instead of carrying worry and anxiety, we are instructed to cast it away from us. You cannot carry it and cast it at the same time. Make the determination to give it to God and to confidently trust in God. If you are ever confused about what you should pray about, consider this. You should pray about whatever causes you to be worried and anxious. Instead of worrying, we are invited to involve God in our circumstances through petition, and after placing our needs before Him, to speak prayers of thanksgiving knowing that we are heard when we pray.
Recipes are only good if we use them. What part of this recipe are you missing? Do you need to CHOOSE joy today? Are you praying for a broken relationship to be restored? Do you need to exchange earth’s worries for God’s peace? The choice is yours! I Choose Joy!
Peace & Grace!