1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) are my favorite verses in the Bible because they are simple statements to do but will make your life with Christ so much better.
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Our joy, prayers, and thankfulness should not change with the ups and downs of each day. You may agree that these verses are simple, but you might still be asking the question: How do we continually cultivate joy within our lives? To get straight to the point, the answer is being close to Jesus.
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!
John 15:11 (NLT)
Joy is a common theme in Christ’s teachings. I’ve been reading through the book of John where we are shown that Jesus is always leading us to Himself, and because of that, we're able to experience true joy. Being in contact with Christ will bring you joy, but you must constantly keep your eyes fixed on Him. Just like Peter, if you take your eyes off Him, you will sink. You're not going to sink into the water, but into a place of loneliness, depression, and self-pity. God desires for you to live in a spirit of community, joy, and love! However, without Jesus you'll sink into the life opposite of what God desires for you. Turn your attention to John 16:22-24 (NLT):
So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask Me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and He will grant your request because you use My name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using My name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.
John 16:22-24 (NLT)
No one can rob you of this special joy because it is a spiritual joy. You may recognize “joy” as being one of the fruits of the Spirit. Jesus died on the cross for us to have the ability to pray straight to Him, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Through His Spirit, we can experience unrelenting spiritual joy. In the book of John, Jesus prays the following words to the His Father in Heaven:
Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with My joy.
John 17:13 (NLT)
Jesus knew that His life on Earth was coming to an end, but He took the time to recall the joy He had purposefully brought to His disciples. He had a relationship with them, and because of that, He was able to fill them with an everlasting joy. Now, through His Spirit, we’re also able to experience this joy.
In cultivating such joy, it is essential that you remember to:
- Focus your eyes on Jesus
It can be so easy to look away from Jesus and focus on everything else that is going on around us. The news, friends, parents, and other sources are constantly telling us what to believe and how to act. It is important to listen to the advice of experts and those in authority, however, you must make sure that your eyes are locked on Jesus more than anyone or anything else that is fighting for your attention today.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) reminds us we can pray for anything. During a time when we need it the most, we should pray for joy. When we pray, we get closer to God and as we get closer to God, we get closer to cultivating His spiritual joy within our lives.