The Almond Joy candy bar has been around since 1946. For nearly 70 years, when candy lovers “feel like a nut”, they turned to the Almond Joy. Many people struggle with how to live joyful lives with or without an Almond Joy. The Apostle Paul didn’t have this sweet candy bar but he did have great insight to what it takes for joyful living. The book of Philippians is considered the NT letter of joy. Paul was under house arrest in Rome awaiting trial and possible execution when he wrote it. Under his circumstances, how is Paul able to write this letter of joy? What’s his secret?

Scriptures
Psalm 39:4; Romans 8:28, 15:13; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Ephesians 6:10; Philippians 1:12-27; Hebrews 12:2; James 5:16

Thought
Most people don’t experience joyful living—they just endure life. They go through life with no real sense of joy. Life becomes a series of circumstances and obstacles and “if only” dreams fill their minds. If only I could find the right job. If only I could find the right spouse. If only I could win the lottery. Contrary to what most people think, joyful living isn’t a perfect set of circumstances. In fact, there’s no such thing as perfect circumstances in any of our lives. The common misconception about joy, even for believers, is that joy is a set of perfect happy circumstances. That there’s some cosmic joy meter somewhere and when things go well up goes my joy meter or when things don’t go so well in life my joy meter goes down. It’s not wrong to want good situations and circumstances but joyful living should not and cannot be based on those things.

Questions
How did you react when you experienced a life circumstance that you didn’t plan and that totally caught you off guard? How do you set your priorities to line up with God’s priorities? What do you rely on to keep going in the midst of unpleasant circumstances? When’s the last time you prayed for someone, other than a family member, who was facing difficult circumstances? How would it change your life if you truly bought in to the fact that you’re an eternal being? How does our level of confidence in God impact how joyfully we go through the difficulties and trials of life?

Response
For joyful living, take a cue from Paul and do the following: 1) Look at life from God’s perspective. 2) Live life with God’s priorities. 3) Seek God’s power to live on. 4) Live a life of hope in God. 5) Look beyond the temporary to see the eternal. 6) Look beyond the bad news to see the good news.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, I know that you want me to live a joyful life but it’s not always easy to do that. Give me the resolve to make a better effort of acting on Paul’s teaching and seeking your help to live a joyful life before my family, friends and coworkers. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.