Uncertainty and difficulty are everywhere, all the time. In this election season, there are many self-proclaimed angry people looking for hope and joy. It’s very easy for all of us to get caught up in looking for a circumstantial change that we think will bring hope. If my candidate gets elected, my sports team wins, a relationship shifts, my schedule slows down, or I see financial increase in my life, THEN I’ll find joy and relief. We all have a tendency of putting our hope in a circumstantial shift that will bring true, lasting joy.

True Joy

Where do we find joy, and what does true joy look like? Is it an emotion to seek out? In the midst of the difficulty of this life, how do we live “always joyful” (1 Thess. 5:16)? The Lord desires that all His children would live in joy, but how do we get there?

  • Joy is more about perspective than circumstances.

November is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving, our annual reminder of how to live with a heart of gratitude the other 364 days of the year. It’s a reminder that meditating on Jesus is the only way to elicit a thankful heart. Because of Jesus, we have:

    1. Peace between man and God (Col. 1:20).
    2. Forgiveness of sins and eternal life for all who put their faith in the Lord Jesus (Col. 1:14).
    3. Victory over Satan (Rev. 12:11).
    4. Continual cleansing from all sin (1 John 1:7).
    5. Freedom from the tyranny of an evil conscience to serve the living God (Heb. 9:14).
    6. Liberty to enter the Holy of Holies of God’s presence and live there all day (Heb. 10:19).
  • ALIVE | Always Live In View of Eternity

The great revivalist Jonathan Edwards once wrote, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” He understood that when we live in light of eternity, we live differently. We live with a different world view, knowing that this life is but a mist (James 4:14). When we live in view of eternity we are thankful for each day, which leads to joy.

  • Make your theology your reality.

If we begin to make our theology our reality, we will start to naturally manifest the fruit of the spirit instead of having to force it with self-will, good intentions, and human effort. Being leads to doing. Essence begets action. John 15:5 tells us if we attach to the vine and remain in God’s Word, the fruit will flow naturally out of us. Our “being” in the vine will result in a natural outflow of what we are “doing” with our time, talent, treasure, temples, and relationships. This is a daily renewal of our relationship with Christ and a daily obedience stewarding the gifts and relationships God has given us. Why did Jesus hammer home this point over and over again in verses 6-10? So that our joy will be complete.

This holiday season, I encourage you to build margin into your life. Build time to grow in spirit and truth. As you lean into your spiritual development, you will find true joy.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (NLT)