Peace and Joy, Part 1: The Fountain of Joy

Do you need more peace and joy? My answer to that question is a resounding "Yes." I believe I have discovered a key to experiencing more peace and joy. Often the answer to a problem is right under my nose, which is why I may miss it.


Sometimes it is shocking to look back at attitudes I have had in the past on a subject, in this case peace and joy. I remember my constant irritation with a grade-school classmate who skipped onto the bus every morning, overflowing with exuberance, wearing an enormous smile. How could she be so joyful at 7:00 am? What was wrong with her? To me, she was weird. No one else on the bus was like her.   

Searching for the Fountain of Joy  

Now I am on a mission to figure out how to be that fountain of joy, not just at 7:00 am but 24/7. There are books, tapes, seminars, and webinars available to help me live in constant peace and joy. To date, it doesn't appear these products have produced long-lasting positive results. Looking at the history of the early Church, as recorded in the New Testament, I see they demonstrated a level of joy in the midst of difficult times that is worth investigating. What was their secret?

It may be that part of their secret was their focus on just one thing—the Kingdom. Jesus told them to seek first the Kingdom and everything else would be taken care of. (Matthew 6:35) Their steadfast obedience to this command kept them from distractions. 

Another aspect of the power of their focus was they understood the Kingdom was not in the future or somewhere "out there" but was actually within. The enemy tries to put our attention on the external circumstances because he knows the Kingdom is already within us. If he can convince us to focus on the outside, it will hinder us partnering with the power of the Kingdom on the inside. It is a game changer when I realize I already have what I need and want. Selah!

Thankful for His Presence

This week, I am so thankful for God's presence pervading my life. Embarking on a new year, he is already very knowledgeable about everything that will happen! The best thing is, all his plans are to prosper me, body and soul; and to help me look more like him!

Meditate with me on this song, Psalm 139. Written nearly three thousand years ago, it still speaks clearly to the core of who I am: a child of God, created in His image. When I understand how involved He is in my life, fear, anxiety and temptation to ignore His voice melt away. Father God, 'Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?' ...I didn't think so.

God, investigate my life;
get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead you're there, too -
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful -
I can't take it all in!
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute -
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God - you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration - what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted form nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.

Psalm 139:1-16, The Message Translation

Emmanuel, God With Us

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who have lived in a land of deep shadows - light! Sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded it's joy. Oh, they're so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.

The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants - all their whips and cudgels and curses - is gone, done away with, a deliverance surprising and sudden as Gideon's old victory over Midian. The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days!

For a child has been born - for us! The gift of a son - for us! He'll take over the running of the world. His names willl be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.

- From Isaiah 9, The Message Translation

Heavenly Papa, what an honor to be alive at a time like this. A time when your Son is present with us; when His ruling authority is increasing; a time where there is no limit to the wholeness experienced by us and by those who encounter your presence.

Thank you for the extravagant, loving, brave choice you made to become a man, empowered by the Holy Spirit and living among mankind, tempted in every way but never sinning, in order to be our perfect sacrifice. Thank you that you continue to be present among us, more so now than ever before.

As we enjoy your presence, let our spirits be strengthened with faith. Let our hearts be filled to overflowing with your love. Let our lives express the fullness of who you are. Thank you for being Emmanuel, God With Us.