“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
When I first read this verse, it felt like a command. Rejoice! Sometimes I got there, usually when things were going well. But I couldn’t stay in that place. I wanted to imitate the Apostle Paul, but often fell short.
I finally realized I was trying to manufacture joy out of thin air, and that was not Paul’s message at all. In fact, in the following verses he lays out a kind of process to follow. First, we need to know that the true source of our joy is the Lord, not any other person or place.
When we understand that, then we’ll want to stay close to that source. How? Paul gives us 3 great examples: lifting up prayers, thinking on God’s Words and Ways, and living out what we’ve learned. If we become more faithful to do these practices, God will make sure our well of joy will never run dry.
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