This year’s focus for me has been on maintaining JOY. By putting forth efforts to stay full of the joy of the Lord, I have been able to worry less and experience less frustration. It ain’t been easy, but it has been rewarding (yes, I know that was poor grammar). This process has caused me to reflectively learn and lean more upon the grace of God. Oh, what marvelous grace!
In many ways, 2016 has been no different than its predecessors. It’s been a year filled with devotions, workouts, office hours, administrative details, ministry travels, and a lot of spoken ministry. Like every other year I have lived, it has been filled with twelve months. However, these months have been more JOYful than the previous few years of my life.
How did I accomplish this JOYful focus for 2016?
- Intentionally, I began the year with a sign to keep me reminded of my focus. The lighted Christmas JOY sign that was hanging from my front porch was left up all year. I had to purchase a couple more for backups as they do not have many hours of life in them. Seeing this visual reminder each time I pulled into the driveway was a great way to keep my mind on God’s JOYful will.
- If you’ve been a regular blog reader, then you know that I have written about JOY a few times. Again, this has been an on purpose way of holding myself accountable by chronicling my thoughts along this journey. Writing is my way of explaining this JOYful life to myself.
- Also, in lessons and sermons, I shared about God’s JOYful desire for His Children. Because of the testimonies I’ve heard, I’m assured that these were a blessing to others. However, the primary principle of faith comes by hearing has benefited me greatly. My ears have been a gateway for God’s will on this topic to be reinforced.
- Since I also serve as Editor for The Gospel Messenger, I tied in this theme with Christmas for the winter edition. I’m not sure how most editors function, but my responsibility for this publication is way more than simply editing the content. Four times a year, it’s an opportunity to exercise my JOYful findings.
- My family has caught on too. Christmas gifts from my wife and daughters will help me to maintain this focus. There will now be visual reminders for my office area. For the kitchen, Lisa has picked up some JOYful plates. That’s kind of neat since one of my passages of focus has been Romans 14. It’s where Paul addresses their disputes about church members judging one another’s eating habits, instead of leaving it up to God. He proceeded to tell them that, “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men” (17-18).
I’ll be meditating more on this and how it relates to my continued JOYful focus: “acceptable to God and approved by men.” For now, though, let me remind you that joy and happiness are not identical concepts. Happiness is dependent upon happenings and is always a temporary emotion, but the JOY of the Lord is meant to be a permanent disposition. The JOY of the Lord is my deep down settled contentment that tells me everything’s gonna be alright in Christ.
How did I do? Using the old school alphabet system, I’ll give myself a B- (that’s grading based on a grace-filled curve; ) or maybe an E for effort. I’m not disappointed with my grade since only God knows how I would have done had I not kept this JOYful focus.
What about you? How was 2016 for you? Did you join me in this year’s JOYful journey? Or did you have another focus that you have grown in? Comment below and encourage me with your findings.