We just finished the study of Philippians and I can’t get away from it!!
Hold onto your joy!!
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)
You and I have a need for joy in our lives. Life without joy is overwhelming, overburdened, and oppressive. Studies have actually shown that the more joy we have in our lives, the more productive we are. Joy is not a feeling–it’s a sense of peace, contentment and hope that activates more energy, creativity and productivity. I have personally experienced this.
In the short book of Philippians — only four chapters long — Paul uses the word “joy” 16 times. The amazing thing is, Paul didn’t write this book when he was on vacation or a cruise. He was in prison in Rome, waiting to be executed. In the darkest days of his life, he wrote the most positive book in the Bible.
In Philippians, Paul gives us six joy-builders that will help diffuse our discouragement and lift our depression. To make them easy to remember, I’ve made them into an acrostic — JOYFUL. Today, we’ll look at the first three.
1. Choose to get past the regrets about our past.
We must recognize the past as a springboard to the future! If we don’t do this we will find ourselves battling to be positive. Gods word says we are set free! Freedom means we can discard, to eliminate, to get rid of the bondage of the past. Paul says if you want to enjoy life, there are some things you’ve got to get rid of because they are wearing you down and overburdening your life. The Bible says to forget your regrets, because that’s what God does — he chooses to forgive your mistakes once they’re confessed. The starting point of joy is letting go of the past. Philippians 3:13 says, “One thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead” (GN).
2.Worry must be put under control.
If you’re going to enjoy the present, you must work to get all worries about your future under control. The things we worry about we cannot control but it consumes our mind energies and even paralyzes our hope. Worry, hands-down, is the greatest threat of them all. You cannot be joyful and worried at the same time. Paul’s prescriptions are these verses: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT). You can either worry or you can pray. This is easier said than done but we either trust God’s capabilities and creativity or we don’t. God has proven HE knows more than me. What I have had to practice is be still and let His power settle my spirit and move forward in confidence.
3.Trust God’s purpose.
If you’re just drifting, if you don’t know where you are or where you’re going, of course you’re not going to have any joy in your life. We all need a cause greater than ourselves for which we live. That is what brings us joy. Living for yourself does not bring joy.
Even when Paul had literally lost everything, there was one thing that could not be taken away from him — his purpose in life. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (NIV).
If you want to have a joy-filled life, we need to get in line with God’s purpose for your lives. What does this look like? For me it’s a journey of hope I believe HE has a plan for me, I believe HE has the resources for my needs, I believe HE has the authority over my weakness, I believe He is God above all things and HE is my God!! Recognize when we begin to live with the purpose for which we were made, life makes sense and joy easily found.
My prayer is that the journey you are on can be understood to be joy filled!