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Choose JOY!

Choose JOY!

Let’s take a minute and think about what gives you joy? For some of us, it could be a spectacular sunset, for others it could be the exhilaration of extreme sport or being physically active, yet others find joy in travelling and exploring new places or creating a piece of art! I find joy in listening to beautiful music, seeing the magnificence of nature or even enjoying great food. Most of us feel joy when we are appreciated and loved, even if it is just the dog wagging his tail when he sees us!
Have you ever been in a situation where everything seems perfect – when someone close to you makes a comment which, in an instant, deflates you or irritates you and the moment is completely ruined? We sometimes lose our joy at the slightest sign that we are not respected, appreciated or cared for, especially by those closest to us!

Do you know people who play the blame game, feeling offended when they don’t get enough attention, enough love, enough money, enough praise or recognition? Could one of those people possible be you?

Blaming is laming!

It’s so easy to blame others for our own emotions, for “making” us feel unhappy, or angry or inferior. It’s a step towards maturity to realize that nobody makes us feel anything, we decide to feel inferior or angry! We permit ourselves to feel offended, sometimes even getting support from others by embroidering the offence in much detail.
Granted, there are situations that require deep discipline and even forgiveness to not let it pull you down. Yet, blaming others will never lead you to a place of power, instead, you will remain a victim.

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In Psalms 100:4-5 we are encouraged to “4 enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” We’re not to look at our circumstances or our resources and then be thankful and praise God – no, we are to look at God first, and respond to his greatness and faithfulness with praise and thanksgiving. Yet, so often we rewrite this psalm in our lives by saying: “I will look for someone to make me happy or I will find joy in my job or my travels or my sport and then I will be thankful and have joy!

How do I choose JOY?

God’s word teaches us to focus our attention on what is good and to live a life of gratitude. When we discipline ourselves to focus on God, to respond to His Holy Spirit, and not to be led by our own emotions or by the actions or opinions of others, we develop the fruit of the Spirit called JOY!
8 Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.” Philippians 4:8 (The Passion Translation)

Ultimate joy in God’s presence

Although the things we discussed above can bring us moments of joy, lasting joy is found only in the presence of God. 1 Chronicles 16:27 says that “strength and joy fill his dwelling.” Psalm 16:11 says: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (NIV)
Peter talks in 1 Peter 1: 8-9 about the fact that we experience “inexpressible joy” when we put our faith in Jesus.
28 The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.” Proverbs 10:28

At the start of each day, let us connect with God, let’s thank Him for what we have and not dwell on what we don’t! Love the people who are around you and don’t fret about the ones who aren’t. Life on earth is simply full of challenges and even Jesus taught that in this life we will have trouble. How we respond to it tests the essence of our Christianity. Anger or love, revenge or grace, hate or forgiveness, dishonesty or transparency?

Easier said than done, in fact, only possible once you’ve experienced the transforming power of God’s forgiveness, the healing of His love towards you and the regeneration of His grace. Joy is attainable but not when you seek it as an end in itself. Joy is a by-product of spending time in God’s presence, of a life lived in humility and gratitude before God, and a natural outflow of serving God by serving others.

Today, choose joy!

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