I’ve been reading and hearing about this word for quite a while now in different Christian blogs and communities. There must be something to it, since it is discussed so often. Yet, why do we seem to forget that joy is a choice and a personal decision we make every day of our lives? It seems like we(and I’m totally including myself) want to use the excuse that circumstances and suffering in our lives are the reason we are so unhappy. Yet the Bible clearly directs us differently.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I wrote down a few tidbits from an article I found on the internet that I felt was written very well on the subject of joy.
Our source of joy is God, not our circumstances. Where are we to rejoice? “In the Lord.” (Phil. 4:4) There is always cause for rejoicing in who God is!
“We can make a distinction between joy and happiness: happiness being dependent on external circumstances, while joy is internal, a result of being controlled by the Spirit. Some people consider happiness to be a feeling dependent on circumstances and usually restricted to moments when life is going well. Joy is an inner serenity of the soul, rooted not in circumstances but in a choice to trust God’s faithfulness, regardless of what is happening externally.”
Some will immediately respond, “How can I possibly be always joyful with the hurts, the pains and the difficulties that God has allowed to enter my life? Jesus greets us with surprising resources to cope when our own reservoirs are empty – when we face problems for which there seem to be no solutions. We can do anything God wants us to do through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13).”
Joy is a choice! Trusting that, with God, there are no impossible circumstances, enables us to live as victors rather than victims. It’s when our future looks the bleakest that our Lord provides the biggest surprises. Tim Hansel reminds us from his own life of pain: “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.”
- To have joy you have to abide in God’s love; to abide in God’s love you have to obey God’s commands.
- Joy is a choice but it is an indirect choice and a byproduct of something else – our experience of God’s love.
- Joy is the result (fruit) of being controlled by the Holy Spirit
Psalm 16:11: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” When things get tough, pray like a child firmly hanging on to the hand of a loving parent.We can’t abide in Christ’s love without having a strong, vital personal relationship with Him
· People who please God by obeying God are joyful (John 15:9).
· People who please God by loving God/others are joyful (John 15:10, 14).
· People who please God by being grateful are joyful (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
One of the great barriers to gratitude ... and thus to joy ... is comparison. Do you know the favorite expression of those addicted to comparison is? “It isn’t fair!” (Oh, boy, I'm guilty of saying that sometimes!) It is so easy to compare ourselves with those who:
1) Have families when we feel alone.
2) Have money when our bank account is empty.
3) Are in good health when we suffer from poor health, etc.
Ten Biblical Resources for Choosing Joy:
1. Make a list of God’s blessings. We need to daily count our blessings!
2. Develop the attitude of gratitude. Thankfulness is an attitude, but it is also a godly habit that can and should be regularly cultivated. By intentionally thanking God and others, bitterness and entitlement are replaced with joy and the humble realization of just how undeserving we really are.
3. Learn to love what God loves. The only way to be full of joy is to look for it in God and not in our circumstances. Learning how to please God can become a great sense of joy!
4. Give away what you need. Giving(helping/encouraging others) takes our eyes off ourselves (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
5. Shift your focus. As we learn to focus our faith on Christ we learn to find our joy in knowing, loving and serving Him.
6. Create a comprehensive growth plan. If you do not have a plan and an intention to grow spiritually, you will be floundering your way through life!
7. Focus on knowing, believing, meditating and obeying God’s word. Obeying the truth is a powerful source of joy as well as the means by which we express love for God (John 14:21).
8. Realize joy is a fruit (result) of being controlled by the Spirit. The injunction of being controlled by the Holy Spirit is not a mere suggestion but a divine imperative – a command! (Eph. 5:18)
9. Learn how to experience the greatest joy on earth. Disciple making! We need to pass the baton of godliness on to the next generation to experience the greatest joy on earth.
10. Choose joy. We choose it by:1) learning, loving and living God’s Word, and by
2) submitting ourselves moment by moment to the Spirit’s control. We choose joy by
3) cultivating an attitude of gratitude and learning the practice the presence of God in prayer.
To read the article, go to Joy is a Decision by Dr. Steven C. Riser
Here are a few books on joy that looked like good reads:
- challenges and equips the reader to live a life of intention.
Lots of verses and quotes about joy.
Christians view suffering in a different way, with the expectation—in the face of all evidence to the contrary—that we are created to experience joy.
I know I have been writing down a gratitude list for over a year, now, and my outlook on life and daily circumstances have changed drastically! Having JOY does a heart good!
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