“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18
The Thessalonian verse above has gotten my attention; it keeps coming up in my readings this past month, and I heard it again over the weekend with Pastor John’s sermon on Worship. I love this verse; it tells me what I need to do to know God’s will. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I struggle with knowing what that is. God’s will or my will?
It’s similar to knowing the difference between happiness and joy. There are a lot of things that make me happy, it can be superficial or very meaningful; anything to owning a new car, getting a raise at work, the sheer happiness that family brings. But I find my happiness is temporary at best. I can go from happy to unhappy very quickly, given the right circumstances. From a recovery standpoint, I spent a longtime trying to capture and live for happiness, it played right into my addictions. Trying to find happiness in a bottle, a drug, in food, unhealthy relationships, or on the internet is right where Satan wants us to be.
Joy on the other hand isn’t an emotional response to external stimuli, it comes from a deep abiding faith in God and it is eternal. I think of Apostle Paul’s writings when imprisoned. I don’t know how much happiness he was having but the joy is obvious. Joy is an attitude of the heart that is found in our personal ongoing relationship with Christ. Joy is found in us, deposited by God through the Holy Spirit. When happiness fades, joy remains. There is joy in pain and suffering, for in the middle of turmoil we realize how great is our God.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
I heard a great analogy about happiness and faith. Happiness is like a thermometer that changes based on the environment. Joy is a thermostat that we can learn to set that will affect the environment around us. My favorite line from this weekend’s sermon at Crossroads comes for Pastor John: “Self isn’t big enough for us to live in this world.” Joy is bigger than you and I and any circumstance we may find ourselves in.
So, how do we know God’s will for us? Be joyful, pray continuously, and be thankful in all circumstances—the good, the bad, the ugly. As we continue to experience Step 11*, we will find the answers to our questions. Those earthly things that once baffled us will no longer be.
Make this week a great God filled week; do your part and let God do his.
A special request for Memorial Day: Please pray for our servicemen/women and families past and present. Remember those who have given their lives for the freedoms we experience today. Thank you to all who have served our country!
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15: 13
*We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and power to carry that out.
FRIDAY: Large Group Night
- 7 pm: We kick the night off with great worship, followed by Dana teaching on Step 11: Gratitude.
- 8 pm: Small groups.
- 9 pm: Solid Rock Café.
TUESDAY Nights: Celebrate Recovery continues to carry the recovery message to the 137 Homeless Connection. Our team of four could use some help as they cook (the group is asking for meat donations), serve a meal, and lead a meeting every Tuesday night. Just respond to this message and we will get you plugged in.
Celebrate Recovery Crossroads has openings for Testimonies on June 8. Contact Dana at [email protected] to schedule your testimony. It is a wonderful opportunity to share your recovery; God will use your experience to help others.