- Throughout the Bible, God promises that he will give us incredible and life-changing gifts as we follow and trust him.
- Three particular gifts that God offers us are peace, joy, and love.
- Reading the Bible can help you appreciate the gifts that God has given you.
Have you ever received a gift you didn’t expect?
I think these are some of the best gifts we can receive. The impact of a thoughtful, unprompted, and undeserved present can stick with us for a long time.
God loves to give us gifts and fill our lives with good things. Throughout the Bible, he promises that he will give us incredible and life-changing gifts as we follow and trust him.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Galatians 5:22-23 MSG
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
Living “God’s way” means reading his Word (which we find in the Bible) and then deciding we will match our lives and decisions to it. When we do, we’ll find that the gifts described above naturally appear in our lives; they are the natural overflow of God’s presence within us.
Today, we want to focus on three of these gifts: peace (“serenity”), joy (“exuberance about life”), and love (“affection for others”). Many of us spend our lives chasing these things, not realizing that God wants to shower them on us freely. Let’s learn how to experience the gifts of peace, joy, and love by reading and following God’s Word.
The gift of peace
“I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
John 14:27 NLT
We are living in a time that is far from peaceful. Though we are all more connected than ever through technology, we also have more access to the suffering and injustice happening around the world, and this can cause tremendous stress. On top of that, our world is still recovering from a pandemic, and we are all dealing with its impact both individually and collectively. The ups and downs of an ever-changing economy can cause anxiety, not to mention the daily disruptions of life and our own internal fears that plague us. This is why the Bible says that peace is a gift—we may not naturally have it, but we can seek it out from God regardless of circumstance.
As a mom of young kids, I (Rose) can give way to worry very easily. I constantly worry about my kids’ future, yet there are always things that are out of my control. I need peace that isn’t based on circumstances. I need a peace that the world cannot offer me—a peace that can only be given to me by God.
“Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]”
John 14:27 AMP
There are two specific ways I experience the peace Jesus offers when I read the Bible. First, when I read the Bible I learn more about Jesus; I see his character, patience, strengths, and love for other people. I see how he handled the stressors of his own life and I find the calm confidence I need to face whatever challenge is in front of me. My focus shifts off myself and onto Jesus because I realize that I can trust his ability and desire to help me when I’m stuck in fear or anxiety.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Isaiah 26:3 NLT
Secondly, the Bible is a book that comes to life when we put it into practice. The more I read the Bible and try to follow it and love it, the greater my peace becomes.
Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.
Psalm 119:165 NLT
Even when the world around us is unpredictable, the Bible remains steady and unchanging. It is a source of peace that I can always rely on for comfort, insight, and direction. Rooting our confidence in the Bible gives us a peace that lasts beyond any person, emotion, or circumstance.
Pause and reflect
- In what areas of my life do I need peace?
- Do I believe it’s possible to experience peace and calm despite my circumstances?
- What quality of Jesus’s can I read about and imitate to get my own peace?
The gift of joy
Although joy is something most of us want to experience in our lives, it can be hard to find or sustain. Believe it or not, we can actually get afraid of joy because it makes us feel vulnerable. What if we finally let our guard down enough to enjoy life, and then something goes wrong?
Writer Brené Brown coined the phrase “foreboding joy” as a defense mechanism that we instinctively choose to protect ourselves from being disappointed. That’s why in moments of pure joy, we can suddenly have a thought of disaster and put our walls up.
When we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability—it’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and impermanence all wrapped up in one experience. When we can’t tolerate that level of vulnerability, joy actually becomes foreboding, and we immediately move to self-protection. It’s as if we grab vulnerability by the shoulders and say, “You will not catch me off guard. You will not sucker-punch me with pain. I will be prepared and ready for you.
Brené Brown, Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.
The beautiful thing about the Bible is that it’s greater than our instincts of self protection. Here are a few verses that show how we can truly experience and cultivate joy in our lives.
The Bible brings joy…
… because it teaches us how to have a satisfying relationship with God.
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
Psalm 90:14 NLT
… because it nourishes our soul’s hunger.
When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.
Jeremiah 15:16 NLT
… because the Scriptures bring us the clarity and perspective we need.
The precepts of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Psalm 19:8 AMP
… because it gives us new beginnings in the midst of suffering and hardship.
If I had not found joy in your teachings, my suffering would have destroyed me.  I will never forget your commands, because through them you gave me new life.
Psalm 119:92-93 ERV
… because it helps us find God.
Happy are those who obey his decrees and search for him with all their hearts.
Psalm 119:2 NCV
… because it teaches us to love.
“I have loved you the same way the Father has loved me. So live in my love.  If you obey my commandments, you will live in my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commandments, and in that way I live in his love.  I have told you this so that you will be as joyful as I am, and your joy will be complete.  Love each other as I have loved you. This is what I’m commanding you to do.
John 15:9-12 GW
Pause and reflect
- Are there ways that I avoid joy out of fear of disappointment?
- Which verse above could I hold onto to cultivate joy?
The gift of love
For God has proved his love by giving us his greatest treasure, the gift of his Son. And since God freely offered him up as the sacrifice for us all, he certainly won’t withhold from us anything else he has to give.
Romans 8:32 TPT
One of the most amazing and generous gifts that God gives us is the gift of his love. He showed us this love through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, which gives us the opportunity to be made right with God regardless of what we deserve.
Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us.
1 John 4:19 TPT
The Bible is a book about God’s love. The cost that Jesus was willing to endure and the extent that God is willing to go to have a relationship with us is nothing short of life-changing (Acts 2:36-38). It not only makes us confident in God’s heart toward us, but also inspires us to love others in the same way (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar.
Proverbs 19:22 NIV
Every single one of us wants to be loved. This is a truth that is made clear in the Bible.
I also think it’s a pretty amazing feeling to show up in love when someone else is in need. It makes us feel alive and valuable; it makes us feel like we are living out our purpose. This is why I (Brian) have always wanted to be a loving person to those around me, but the discrepancy between my desires and my ability to carry them out is embarrassingly large.
I want to be there for my friends when they need me. I want to be a loving son who is grateful and appreciative. I want to be a loving husband and father who is exactly what my wife and kids need, exactly when they need it. And yet, despite having these desires to be loving, I struggle to actually do it.
So how do we turn our desire to love into reality? The Bible is our guide. Not just reading it, but applying it helps us to grow into the men and women we all desire to be.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:22-23 NIV
The Bible is powerful and magical when we obey it. At one point in my dating relationship with Rosalind, she was contemplating breaking up with me—and for good reason. I was not being very kind or thoughtful, and I continually responded poorly to truths she would bring up because of bitterness in my life that I was resistant to dealing with. I didn’t understand myself because the way I wanted to treat her was the exact opposite of how I was living. It was humbling. Confronted with this dilemma, I turned to the Bible to change my bitterness.
The Bible opened my eyes to the destructive nature of bitterness. Obeying Scriptures from that Bible study radically changed my life and my dating relationship. In a short span of three months we went from the brink of breaking up to being engaged.
Our ability to love other people will radically change when we read and obey the Bible. Obedience to the Bible not only purifies our hearts, but also allows us to love more deeply than we ever have previously. Learning about and accepting God’s gift of love transforms us into those who can give the gift of love to those who are in need of it.
Pause and reflect
- In what relationships do I long to be more loving, but struggle to do it? If so, what specific verses of the Bible could I obey to help me grow in my love?
The Bible is a life-changing book. As we read God’s Word and apply it to our own lives, we will experience peace, love, and joy that last beyond our circumstances.
In closing, let’s reflect on these two questions:
- Are there signs in my life that show I am in need of peace, joy, or love?
- How can deciding to read and apply the Bible help me in these areas?