Light Shines

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

— John 1:5

Sometimes it takes a little bit of darkness to make us appreciate the light.

Driving through your neighborhood to see Christmas lights isn’t quite as dazzling in the morning, and it’s not nearly as breathtaking to gaze at a beautiful, star-filled sky during your lunch break.

God shines His light in so many beautiful ways throughout our lives, but sometimes we miss it. We can overlook it when we are completely surrounded and constantly stimulated by bright, sunny days. 

So when we are suddenly plunged into a time of darkness, this is the time to look to that light.

Appreciate the light. 

Embrace the light. 

Focus on the light. 

It’s there. It’s always there. 

Take the time to pause and take in the magnificence and glory of the Light of the World. 

That darkness that is trying to overwhelm you is no match for His Light. 

Thank You, Lord, for shining Your light into the darkness around me. When I turn to You, You chase the shadows away. Amen

Choosing Joy

“Everything seems to go wrong when you feel weak and depressed. But when you choose to be cheerful, every day will bring you more and more joy and fullness.”

Proverbs 15:15 TPT

Some of the things that steal our joy are the circumstances we face in everyday life. But what about when all is calm and we are just WORRYING about the next disaster? These worries, doubts, and negative thoughts steal our joy one little nugget at a time. Before we know it, a beautiful day can turn into an imaginary catastrophe.  

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?”

Psalms 27:1 NLT

Why SHOULD I worry? I have The Lord on MY SIDE!  If we take comfort in knowing that He is beside us in every battle, then why spend our time worrying when we are in between battles?

God wants us to be FILLED with joy!

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

John 15:11 NLT

Through His love for us, He wants us to experience so much joy that it overflows us and spreads to others as we show God’s love to them. 

If we are too busy living in the negatives of our lives, we are not living the joy-filled life that He intended for us. 

We may not be able to share His message effectively.  

We may miss an opportunity to help those that He wants us to help. 

We might not be there to encourage our friends when they need our support. 

We may be failing to serve our purpose. 

We don’t have to pretend that our lives are perfect. We don’t have to hide our struggles. But we should be reflecting His light and revealing His joy in the midst of these struggles. 

We can’t dwell on the bad things that have happened to us in the past. We can’t let our worries linger. 

Choosing to live with the stress and the worry weighing us down is the SELF-focused choice. 

If we find ourselves focused on OURselves and OUR problems, we can be certain of one thing – we are not focused on Him. 

If experiencing joy is limited to times when everything that you’d hoped for is going exactly as YOU planned, then you have got to adjust your definition of what joy is and where it comes from. 

We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can control our attitude. We CAN choose joy. 

We start by:

– Choosing HOPE over worry

– Choosing FAITH over fear

– Choosing GRATITUDE for what He has blessed us with over grief for what we have lost 

– Choosing SURRENDER over control 

Dear Heavenly Father, I just want to start my day by praising Your name and thanking You for all of the blessings that You have brought to my life. I want to embrace the joy that You provide. Let it flow through me to everyone I encounter today. Amen

Strength From Joy

“…so don’t be sad. The joy that the Lord gives you will make you strong.”

Nehemiah 8:10b GNT

Sometimes our bad days turn into bad weeks or bad months. Many times we ask God to take our problems away or to give us strength to endure. But we can still suffer while we endure. Having the strength to get through our struggles doesn’t remove the distress we sometimes experience. And God doesn’t want us to spend our lives engulfed in sadness. He wants us to enjoy life! He gives us joy to make us strong enough for any troubles we face. The strength that comes from the joy that we find in The Lord is not just a strength that allows us to endure bad day after bad day. It’s more than a strength that allows us to just survive problem after problem. This strength allows us to take pleasure in every day despite any circumstances we encounter.

So how do we turn a bad day into a joyful day? Where do we find joy when we feel like we have run out of it? 

1. CHOOSE  When we are sad, we feel helpless and weak. But the joy that comes from knowing Him gives us strength.

Everything seems to go wrong when you feel weak and depressed. But when you choose to be cheerful, every day will bring you more and more joy and fullness.“ – Proverbs 15:15 TPT

2. SEEK

“All who seek The Lord will praise Him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.” – Psalms 22:26b NLT

3. SPEND TIME Joy is not found in the absence of problems. Joy is found in His presence.

“You lead me in the path of life; I experience absolute joy in Your presence; You always give me sheer delight.” Psalms 16:11 NET

4. PRAY Ask God to give us the joy to love our lives while we endure the trials we face.

5. OBEY

“So rejoice in The Lord and be glad, all you who obey Him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!“ – Psalms 32:11

6. BEAR FRUIT

“22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23a NLT

7. SERVE We serve The Lord by serving others. 

“As you serve him, be glad and worship him. Sing your way into his presence with joy.“ – Psalms 100:2 TPT

8. CONTINUE Practice. Continue to choose. Make a conscious effort to repeat these sources of joy until it comes naturally. 

Thank You, Lord, for the joy You bring and the blessings You have given me. Please help me to remember to continue choosing joy, no matter what I face. Amen


Joy in His Presence

“You lead me in the path of life; I experience absolute joy in your presence; you always give me sheer delight.”

Psalms 16:11 NET

The Lord leads us to a life full of joy. If we choose to follow His path of life, we find ourselves closer and closer to His presence. In His presence, we are filled with joy. Not just a little bit of joy – FILLED with a complete and boundless joy! He wants to guide our steps, so that as we draw near, we find our source of joy through relationship with Him. 

It’s pretty simple to feel this joy every Sunday at church, or during what I like to call “Coffee and Jesus Time“ each morning. But there are times when it is more difficult to experience this joy. We all have bad days. So when our hearts are heavy, our minds are weary, and we are physically exhausted, we need to pull Him into those areas of our life where we need Him most. Remember that the same God who is there with us at church and in our Bible study time is still right there beside us when we struggle, too. When we bring Him into these situations, and allow Him to wrap us up in His love, we can experience that joy even in our troubled times! Our faith in Him brings us hope, and this hope can fill us with joy and the strength to endure all things. 

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the joy you bring! I pray that today I follow where You lead me on this path of life. I pray that this joy that fills me in Your presence will stay with me throughout the day. I want to share this joy with everyone I see today. Thank You, Lord, for blessing me with your ceaseless presence. You never leave my side. Amen

When I Am Weak, He Is Strong

“But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 GNT

We have all felt, at some time in our lives, that we are not enough. That we don’t have enough. We feel weak and helpless in some of the situations that we face. 

“I’m not smart enough to figure this out.“

“I’m not strong enough to get through this.“

“If only I had more time.“

“If only I had more money.“

“I’m not qualified for that promotion at work.“

“I don’t have what it takes…“

As hard as we try, not one of us is perfect. And we don’t have to be perfect, because our God is! God gave us our abilities, and He gave us our flaws, because His power works best in our lives when we admit our own weakness and turn to Him. Once we realize this, we can look at it like Paul does in the Message version of this verse: 

“I quit focusing on the handicap and begin focusing on the gift.“ 2 Corinthians 12: 9b MSG

Giving our attention to His wonderful gift allows us to be content, and even cheerful, rather than feeling like a failure. It allows us to feel blessed instead of feeling like we are lacking. When I feel I’ve reached my limit I will pray: 

Dear Lord, I’ve done all I can do, and it’s not enough. I need to feel the protection of Your power working in my life. I am laying this at Your feet and I know that however it turns out, You are working it for my good. It brings me so much joy to know that when I am weak, You are strong. Thank You so much, Lord, for Your amazing gift of grace. 

Amen

Take Care of Each Other

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

— 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

We are meant to take care of others when they struggle, the same way God gives us the hope and encouragement to get through our own troubles. 

Lord, I thank You for giving me strength every time I felt like giving up. I am so blessed to be able to find hope in You when my life feels hopeless. Please help me to reach out to others who are troubled. Lord, I don’t want anyone to suffer in pain, alone and hopeless. Please give me the courage to comfort those who need encouragement, the way you comfort me when I am in need. 

Amen

You Are Now Free in The Lord

“And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord.  God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.”

— 1 Corinthians 7:22a, 23

Because of God’s sacrifice, we are no longer imprisoned by our past mistakes. We are no longer held back by the chains of our addictions and depression, the weight of our stress, worry, and fear, or our thirst for money and power. We have been set free so that we may dedicate our lives to following Him. 

This doesn’t mean that our struggles are over. It doesn’t mean that we will never have a battle to face. It means that we turn to the power of God to help us deal with these battles, rather than allow these areas of our lives to hold us in bondage. It means we change our mindset so that we can stop living our lives as a slave to the things of this world. 

No more defining ourselves by our greatest weaknesses. 

No more being content to go through life living as though those labels are our truth. 

If we continue to give these things our attention and all of our focus, they will still have a hold on us. It is only when we let go of these worldly things that they lose their importance. The more committed we become to focus on following God, the weaker the grasp of the world becomes. 

The more driven we are to pursue him and serve him, the more liberated we become. 

God paid such a high price for our freedom. But we have to CHOOSE to live free. 

When I feel like something in the world is holding me down, I will pray: 

Dear Lord, thank You for setting me free from the areas of my life that have had a hold on me for so long, and from the things of this world that I have pursued and sought after. Lord, I have placed too much importance in these things for so long that they sometimes find a way back into the spotlight and start pulling me down again. Please, Lord, help me stay focused on You and Your path. I want to be bound only to You. I choose to be confined to the path You have set for me. I wish to be compelled to serve You in every way I can. Please Lord, help me choose to live free. Amen