I look forward every year to exciting new adventures in the upcoming year. I began 2014 with a Facebook friend who invited each one of us to submit one word that would be our focus in this new year. I thought and thought of what my one word would be and then, with no doubt, it came as simply: "Joy!"
So often I can go day after day with worries and concerns that can steal my joy. I sure don't want that to be my 2014, so joy is a priority goal in every day of this new year.
Joy is a simple word that says so much about life. Joy is our determination to rise above the daily circumstances of life and trust in our loving Heavenly Father. No matter what is happening in our life, when God is there, we can have the resource of his joy. II Corinthians 6:10 says, "Our hearts ache, but we always have joy." Joy like this is possible even in the midst of sorrow.
I love the words of Philippians in my Bible that tells much about living the joy-filled life. I try to read every word remembering it was written by the Apostle Paul when he was in prison. Amazingly, even though Paul is in chains for doing good, he is not discouraged be-cause of his trust and assurance in God.
Paul records the concept of God's joy about 19 times in Philippians. Here Paul teaches much about our joy not being based on life's circumstances, but instead it's right there and available through our loving Heavenly Father.
Too many times I can go through my day thinking I would have a joyful life, "If I had this. If I could do this. If I looked like this. If! If! If!" From God's Word I have discovered that "if" is not a good way to go through life.
My goal is to remember every day of 2014 -- and the rest of my life -- that true joy comes not from the circumstances of that day, but it comes from depending on Jesus' strength rather than my own. And yes, I must focus daily that this kind of sincere joy comes from the simplest thoughts, words or actions we've done his way.
I love the sign that said "JOY = Jesus! Others! Yourself!" I want to make Jesus my first priority in all I think, all I say and all I do. And from there be able to reach out to others -- and even myself -- with his sincere joy.
As I put into practice "Jesus Joy" consistently for 365 days of this year, it can become a powerful tool that will be with me in some way every day for the rest of my life.
Any good New Year's resolution should carry on all the rest of our lives, so that's my prayer for you -- and me -- that joy will not be just a 2014 resolution but a forever lifetime resolution.
-- Rev. Marty Armstrong is a former pastor of Cathedral of Joy in Richland now actively assisting senior adults in transition. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.