DAY 3: “A Secret to Keeping Peace”

“Jesus is our Peace, and He is our Joy”

Our house has always been Grand Central Station.  From extra people living with us, (we just had a new person come last week), to juggling kids, work, and ministry it has always been a constant balancing act.  People have often asked me “How do you do it? How do you keep peace in your house?  You always seem to have it together. How can I do that?  What is your secret?”

One of my secrets to keeping peace during the holidays is “keep your joy and you’ll keep your peace.”  Whether it’s with family, work, friends, kids, or the crazy world we now live in, if you can keep your joy you will keep your peace.  Think about it, if you have joy, you feel better, you have more energy, you get more things accomplished, and you are more fun to be around.  Joy is contagious! It can change the atmosphere around you.  When my husband laughs, the entire room (or restaurant) turns and looks and wonders what is going on? It usually puts a smile on people’s faces, sometimes a look of what in the heck is going on, but in those cases it hopefully moves the scrooges a little bit more toward the joy factor.

So, then the big question is: if joy is one of the secrets, then how do we keep our joy? Let’s see what the WORD says about it.

In Nehemiah 8:10 –he says, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord.  Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength”.  Wow sounds like the holidays to me! Yes, God cares about the holidays, and He is giving us ways to make them the “Most Wonderful Times of the Year”.

I love that Nehemiah first says, “Go and enjoy choice food (like the feast we prepare at Thanksgiving and Christmas) sweet drinks (like Wassail, or hot apple cider) and give to those who are less fortunate.”

The holidays are all about gathering to enjoy good food, family, and celebrating the reason for the season. He says relax, eat, drink, be merry.  Help those who can’t help themselves.  Invite someone over if they are all alone.

Then he gives the master key: “Do not grieve, For the Joy of the LORD is your strength.”  You mean, the joy of the Lord is the key to keeping it all together during the holidays?  If I keep my joy, it can make me stronger? That strength will help me navigate all the stuff that goes on during the holidays?  Yes, it will help keep the peace not only in the house, but for us physically, emotionally, and mentally.  I once heard someone say, “The WORD works if we work it”.  That means that if we apply the WORD to our life and situation the WORD works every time.  God is not a man that He should lie.  (Numbers 23:19).  So, if He said it then it is true.  It is for our benefit. We can take the WORD, apply it to our particular situation and be strengthened and encouraged and know that God is working on our behalf. Keeping our joy will keep us strong.

The application of this rings so true for me as in 1996 I lost a sister and a child both in that same year.  Our child would have been born at Thanksgiving and my sister passed away at Thanksgiving. That was a lot in a few months’ time.   I clung to this verse and believed that God’s WORD concerning joy (which I felt none) was true. I was grieving.  I needed strength and I needed lots of joy.  I had to be a wife, a mother, a friend.  I had to lead a worship team, make deadlines, go to meetings, and take time to heal.  Did I do everything perfectly?  No, but every step I took toward God, he met me at the place of my need.  Every baby step became a little victory and then a bigger victory and before I knew it my joy began to return.  I was being strengthened and in the process of restoration.  As I continued to rely on God’s promises for me, I saw him at work in my life.  He will do the same for you.

These are unprecedented times.  We all need strength in the times we are living in. The holidays can produce extra stress thrown on top of everything else.  The key to keeping our strength is to not lose our joy.  It is also a choice.  Do not let anyone take it from you.  Do not freely give it away.  Guard it, keep it close and recognize when you need to be strengthened.  When we keep our joy, we have peace as well.  Jesus is our Peace, and He is our Joy. When we spend time with Him, confide in Him, dump all our cares, worry and stress we stay strong in Him.  He strengthens us for the journey.  I took this verse, declared it out loud over and over again even when I didn’t feel like it.  After a while I could feel my spirit start to rise back up again. I could feel joy return and I could feel myself getting stronger.  God is faithful!  His WORD does not return void.

1 Chronicles 16:27 says, “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.”  There it is strength and joy are in his dwelling place!  That is confirmation of the promise from God that as we talk to him, confide in him, give him all our “stuff” that we can readily access strength and joy!   As we seek Him, we will find Him and be able to access everything He has already provided for us!

So, who do you need Jesus to be to you today?  Do you need Him to be strength? If you are feeling like a 1 then Jesus is a 99.   Do you need boldness?  I encourage you to read the book of Joshua. It says to be bold and VERY courageous.   Do you need peace? Jesus is our Prince of Peace.  He will give you a big hug if you need it.  All these things are available to us because we are His kids and the Bible says that He wants to give good gifts to his children.  All we have to do is ask, seek, knock, and believe that we receive. (Matthew 6:7-11)

Psalm 90:14 says, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”  I want to be satisfied in the morning and glad all my days, don’t you?  I want to be strengthened and carry joy wherever I go so the world will know that if He did it for me, He will do it for anyone else who asks.  Like the song says, “God’s love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on us.”  If it is unfailing love, then it never runs out. That means there is an unmeasurable supply for each person who comes boldly to the throne to receive mercy in his or her time of need.  (Jer 33:3). What is your need today? Who do you need Jesus to be for you?   No matter what the circumstance, God’s love will never fail, and He will never give up on us. We will be filled with His love, and that love will cause us to sing for joy and be glad all our days!

Say this with me:  Father, in the Name of Jesus, I thank you that the joy of the Lord is my strength. I am strong in You, and I choose joy today even if I don’t feel like it.  I make a conscious effort to keep my joy and recognize when I may be letting it go.  I thank you that your love never fails, and that it never gives up on me.  I receive your unfailing love that my joy may be complete.  I choose to trust you and take a step of faith toward the promises you have given me in your WORD.  Help me to be bold and very courageous, and may my joy be contagious to those around me.

Shalom,

Mama Swan