“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8

On a crisp December afternoon, I merrily opened the wreath-laden front door heading to the mailbox hoping to find Christmas cards and letters filled with news and pictures from friends. Waiting patiently on the front porch was a sweet, beautifully wrapped Christmas present, adorned with an adorable metal and wooden ornament, left by a close and kind friend. The gift was deliciously sweet – a box of Ghirardelli hot cocoa mix with semi-sweet chocolate chips and a container filled with delicious chocolate peppermint snaps, but the sweetest part was that wooden ornament – one of those cute ones that forces a smile on a face. A curly metal hanger suspended a green and white striped metal bow atop a wooden disk decorated with Christmas colors of red, green, and white and the words “JOY to the World.” The carefully selected size, color, and design of the graphics emphasized the word JOY, as the ornament’s creator obviously intended for JOY to be the centerpiece of the ornament. And that is what is so sweet to me – JOY!

A wise friend once told me, “NEVER let anyone steal your JOY.” Happiness is nice, but happiness depends on happenings, and happenings are fleeting.  Joy is everlasting as it is the confident assurance of God’s love and work in my life and is dependent on my relationship with Christ. Therefore, my relationship with Christ is to be cultivated and steadfast so that JOY abounds in me.  Philippians, a joyful book, emphasizes the real joy of the Christian life.  As the author of Philippians, Paul relates that JOY is found in suffering for Christ, serving Christ, believing in Christ, and giving for Christ.  As I progress from the joy of the Christmas season through the Lenten season to the rejoicing of the Easter season, I will aim for the ultimate joy of Christ dwelling within me and will strive to imitate Christ by filling my mind with thoughts that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  This is thinking from God’s perspective and will create an abounding sprit of JOY – Joy that is to be shielded and defended because JOY should never be stolen.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, may I always have the kind of relationship with You that fills me with joy.  Remind me that my joyful attitude is a display of Your love and that I should always defend the joy I find in You.  I look forward to celebrating Your resurrection, my Lord and Savior, and I will rejoice in You always. Amen.

Julie Ardis