Are You Thriving? Peace, Joy, and Happiness are God’s Gifts

Are you Thriving? Peace, Joy, and Happiness are God’s Gifts Devotional Reading and Podcast

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” –3 John 1:2

With the escalation of sinful worldviews and the decline of morals and values, the life of a follower of Christ may portray one that consists of only a few friends or even isolation. Many believers are living a life without any close friends. Even those who routinely attend church may feel lonely. Yes, good friends are a rare find.

Still, we have options! Do not trade in your gifts of peace, joy, and happiness for discouragement and depression. There are positive changes we can make to ensure that we grow spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.

Best Philosophies– Be content with what you have. Be willing to learn, and frequently ask yourself, What if I’m wrong? Get involved in church outreach ministries.

Best Character Traits–Love God, Love others, Laughter, Humility, Kindness, Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Help those in need.

Best Relationship–Jesus Christ is our Savior, but He also desires to be our Best Friend. Get to know Jesus by reading the Gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. A heart full of Love and forming the habit of frequent Communication is the foundation for building a forever bond with Christ.

Pray several times [whether you choose short or long prayers] throughout the day and evening bringing the power and presence of the Holy Spirit into your life. Prayer is simply talking to God. No one has to teach us how to pray! Strive to become a Man or Woman of God!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law.” –Galatians 5:22-23

Fruitful Habits

Pray—The Holy Spirit provides guidance, discernment, wisdom, and strength. Every day study the Bible and pray to receive restoration from the Holy Spirit.

Purpose—Utilize your Spiritual Gifts and Creativity to witness the love of Jesus. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, food pantry, community center, or church. Offer to teach others creative skills. You are called to reach out to desperate people living in desperate times.

Patience—Develop an Intentional Mindset to stop a spirit of annoyance or impatience. Practice Self-Control to change your inherited or learned behaviors that are not in sync with the Fruit of the Spirit. Present your dreams and goals to God and wait for His answer. If you need help with patience, God has a proven method of teaching us how to wait.

Perseverance—Build your Spiritual Strength and Endurance by learning how to apply the lessons learned from Biblical characters. God’s promises are still valid today. The righteous are the recipients of those many promises of blessings and protection. Spiritual Transformation can only occur when there is a union of Human Effort and Divine Intervention

Increasing Physical Strength–Move your muscles by exercising at least 3-4 times a week. Walking is not only excellent for muscle tone, but it also improves cardiac-respiratory function and produces hormones that combat discouragement and depression.

Going Solo is a way of life that many choose to embrace. Incorporate some fun into your life. Take day trips, travel, nature outings, boat rides, craft classes, and many other options are available. Get out of the house! Explore the beauty of our earth.

The well-kept secret? God created us to live happy, healthy lives despite the condition of our world. The good wishes in the letter to the Elder regarding prospering are not referencing financial wealth. Do not let your desires or emotions prevent you from prospering in the peace, joy, and happiness that is part of God’s original plan for humanity. The righteous have a Father who has promised to be with us even until the end of the world.

“For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.” –1 Corinthians 15:53, NLT

We are sojourners living in a temporary earthly home. Our character is the only thing we will take to heaven. Joy, peace, and happiness are gifts from God. Do not live a miserable life on this earth! It will be a hindrance to receiving your heavenly reward. Remember you are the only person who can keep you from living your best [earthly and heavenly] life!

Prayer: Lord, we pray for the restoration of our peace, joy, and happiness. Help us to have a heart filled with gratitude. Because of Your great sacrifice, we can live with You eternally, if we so choose. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

© 2023 Steps2successwithspiritualsolutions

The Earth is the Lord’s–Happy Sabbath!

In a world with constant changes and challenges, we can be confident in knowing that ” Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Our Heavenly Father

The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God. 1 John 3:1

We demonstrate our perception of God by the way we think, act, and live. Most of us express our gratitude for the mercies of a new day through prayer. But did we ask for God’s approval of our pending plans for today or the near future? We believe in God’s omnipotence, yet we exclude His divine Fatherly intervention by not praying for His will to be done in our lives. The exclusion may or may not be an oversight. When we fear that our desires will not receive His blessing then the exclusion is intentional.

Because of the desire for independence, our relationship with God becomes stagnant and unhealthy. Obedience is a requirement when serving God. Our status in the Father-child relationship with God was predetermined by God when He created humanity. We are not God’s equal. Just as children obey their earthly fathers, God also has the expectation that we honor and reverence Him through faith, trust, and obedience.

We know God is loving and desires the best for us. What is the underlying factor that prevents us from bonding with our Father-God?  The Father-child relationship is weakened by our lack of knowledge. Who are you, God? Moses tells us, “He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!” Deuteronomy 32:4 NLT. This one verse gives a complete description of God’s character. Have you ever wondered why many believers can smile and praise God, although their lives are turned upside down? They have a strong bond with God based on love, faith, trust, and obedience. Truly, He is their Father-God.

God speaks for himself by the many promises to His children, which are  unequaled. Who else can promise never-failing comfort and protection?

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says, Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3

Despite our disobedience, God continually reaches out to us, always reassuring His wayward children. “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10. Our mindset changes from having worries and burdens to one of inner joy and peace when we give up our independence. Let the storms of hardship and the seasons of darkness come. Dependency on God provides us with His guidance and strength through adversity. Yes, Peace is knowing that God has you in His righteous right hand.

Bible reading: Psalm 91

Prayer: God, we confess our disobedience of possessing an independent mindset and excluding you from our spiritual journey. We acknowledge our sin and ask for forgiveness. We ask you to direct our steps on the path of righteousness that we may be prepared for the soon coming of your Son, Jesus. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy name of Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Muted and Silenced

Modern technology: It is has become a universal language that people from all over the world have become fluent in. Technology is a major part of our everyday lives, and it is often how we form opinions, communicate with others, and even explore new ideas.

Cell phones, laptops, and televisions have permeated our lives and are the most common methods for passing the time or relaxing and relieving stress. We can change channels according to our preferences. download or delete apps that provide pertinent data or enjoy “just having fun” activities. Communication is global. Our options provide texting, face-timing, etc., to people in places we will never physically visit. Yes, our techy options are unlimited.

Two of my favorites are the ability to mute and silence. Mute is a feature that allows you to remove or prevent further posts or tweets from that person without unfollowing or blocking that account [and without the other person knowing they are muted]. Silence is simply the “no-sound” feature. Although we utilize these options according to our moods, to-do responsibilities for a particular day, or to take a break from over stimuli, the “mute and silence ” options are limited to inanimate objects.

We are powerless to mute the responsibilities and busyness that modern life demands from us. Nor can we mute or silence the negative thoughts, insecurities, fears, phobias, the inability to cope with life’s stressors, and the inability to move forward from the residual of past trauma. Fear, anxiety, and depression have gripped our minds pushing us further down into the abyss of of darkness.

The global prevalence of mental health issues is invasive and relentless. Over 47 million American adults suffer from a diagnosis of mental illness. In 2017, around 10.7% of the world population suffered from impaired mental health. We must realize that the statistics are based on individuals who have been diagnosed. Health care professionals admit that we have an unknown number of indigent individuals or those who can function and complete the robotic tasks of daily living with undiagnosed mental health conditions.

The Pursuit of Peace

“Just make it go away” is the desire of every individual who has to live with unpleasant memories or the increasing stressors of unknown life events. Our challenges are overwhelming and in desperation we have reached our limits. A google search for apps that promote growth of inner peace, calming fears, alleviating depression, and de-escalating anxiety are popular because we just can’t take it anymore.

But wait! We have another option: To leave it all behind–the pressures of mainstream and join the migration to a peaceful setting. We begin to research our options: Live on or off the grid, buy land, build a tiny home, grow organic veggies, renovate an RV and travel, and live where we control the pace of life.

For two years, I researched my options to leave it all behind. Surprisingly, I discovered that the nomadic lifestyle requires hard physical work, strong determination, and a stash of disposable income. Another factor is dealing with the hungry animals on the land who smell your aromatic food. In 2001, I was a camp nurse for 90 days in the Catskill mountains of New York. At sunset, we had to leave a big pot of various foods at the camp entrance to distract and feed the bears, which prevented them from entering our campsite with over 300 girls.

Muted and Silenced gone wrong

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Genesis 1:26. The problem is that we have forgotten that God created us with a spiritual umbilical cord–our soul. We may not understand that being made in the image of God comes with some intrinsic factors. Our genetic makeup was given to us by God, our Father. Just as a child is the reproduction of their parents, we have the physical, mental, emotional, and most importantly, the spiritual composition of God, Elohim, our Creator. We cannot break that connection. Even if we fail to serve God, the emptiness in our souls exists as we search for other options for completion.

Jesus, God incarnate, the Messiah, demonstrates that He was human and was not above the suffering caused by the vicissitudes of life. Yet, He surrendered by acknowledging “not my will but your will be done.” Jesus is our matchless role-model. He lived obediently by placing God was first and foremost in His short life of 33 years. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

Human, yet, Divine

  • Jesus wept. John 11:35
  • And He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, where He knelt down and prayed, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.…Luke 22:41-43
  • When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:15-16
  • And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46

It is presumptuous for us to attempt to analyze the emotions that Jesus manifested. We believe the historical facts from the Holy scriptures that Jesus was a human being when He lived on this earth. Do we ever think about the tremendous responsibility that Mary and Joseph had? They had to provide and raise Jesus–God’s Son from a baby until He grew into His purpose [Luke 2:41-52].  Yes, human arms held Jesus, Mary’s hands fed Jesus, she taught him the scriptures, and His Mother loved him.

Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51 NLT. At that point, Jesus was fully aware that He was the Son of God and the divine purpose of his life. Still, He was obedient to His earthly parents. We have a long earthly journey of surrender and obedience ahead of us if we want to possess peace from Jesus.

The Only Way to Possess Peace

We have muted and silenced Jesus! Many of us fail to study the Bible. We say we love Jesus, yet, we do not know who He is. How can we love or have a relationship with a stranger? The Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John provide us with four different perspectives of Jesus’ life. The conclusion: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

We can stop frantically searching, purchasing, listening to musical apps, spoken words with an instrumental background, taking pills to go to sleep, pills to wake up…to gain the peace that only Jesus can provide. There are no levels or options of spiritual peace that can be achieved outside of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

Surrender by giving your heart to Jesus, Unmute spiritual ears and turn on the sound [to hear the voice of God]. It is the decision to enjoy the never-ending peace and contentment that remains even in the seasons of turmoil and darkness. 

The puzzle of my life was incomplete until I added the peace that comes from Jesus. Truly, our only option: Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Amen.

Bible Reading: John 14

Prayer: God, we admit that we are weary from living according to our own mindset. We desire a relationship with you and pray for the peace that only comes from you. Forgive us of our sins and strengthen us while we wait for your divine intervention. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry