It’s the beginning of another year and most of us have a list of resolutions that we fully intend to keep. This is an honorable desire. I would like to recommend adding one to your list – allow the Lord’s joy to become your strength. How does this work? By living in God’s rest. As I minister on this Biblical principle and counsel people to spend time in God’s presence, I often hear, “I appreciate what you’re saying, but I need something more tangible and practical to do.” As believers in Christ, I can assure you there is nothing more tangible or practical than spending time in His presence. It will take discipline, but what better person to include in your daily schedule than Jesus?

It was approximately six months after the devastating loss of my husband and four youngest children when God gave me revelation about His joy becoming our strength. During these first months, I would spend several hours a day sitting quietly with the Lord while playing a worship CD. To be clear, I wasn’t a super Christian who did everything right – I was incredibly heart broken and this was the only way I could function. I was a captive audience. It was in these times of quiet worship that I could feel the presence of God surrounding me like never before bringing extreme comfort, protection, love and healing. It did not happen overnight and it did not happen accidentally – it took time. But with each passing day, my heart was beginning to heal and my tears were subsiding. And I was becoming stronger.

One day while worshiping and interceding in prayer, I could sense that God wanted to speak. When I became quiet, this is what He said: “The joy of the Lord is my strength. (Neh. 8:10) You will never speak this scripture into existence. (He said this for my benefit because most of my Christian teaching had been from the Word of Faith movement with a strong emphasis on the power of your confession.) When you spend time with me, when you have been in my presence, I will pour out my joy and it’s going to make you strong!” I was overwhelmed by the truth of what He spoke. Because my suffering was so great and the pain so deep, I could not function without His presence and this had worked to my advantage. With each passing moment, as He was healing my heart and comforting me, He was pouring out His joy and making me strong!! This is why spending time with God is more valuable than anything else we can accomplish during our day. It’s this time that allows the rest of our day to be successful.

Having said all of this, please understand that my particular circumstance was unique and the amount of time I was spending with the Lord was necessary for the situation. I no longer spend that kind of daily time worshiping because He healed my heart and made me stronger in order to live and be a light in the World. However, I still spend some quiet time each day just talking with God and worshiping – which is necessary for all of us. As we do, He pours out His joy and makes us stronger. What a beautiful concept. He loves us so much and wants to give us strong physical and mental health – but He can only do it if we take the time to be with Him.

While making New Year’s resolutions, add spending time with Jesus to your list. He will begin to heal places you didn’t realize were broken, speak to you and answer questions you’ve had, all the while pouring out His joy and making you stronger in your inner man, thereby allowing you to live your light before others with strength and courage of heart.