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

Bad Attitude

Have you ever found evidence that your child has disobeyed? As soon as you see what they’ve done, you call out to them. When they timidly approach, you ask them… “What happened to my antique lamp?”
They know they broke it.
You know they broke it.
They know that you know that they broke it.
So you are hoping, wishing, and praying that they tell you the truth.
Because you want them to be honest.
You want them to be sorry.
You want to forgive them.
But if they are tempted to lie, or act like they don’t know what you’re talking about, they must suffer the wrath of Mom! “Go to your room! You are GROUNDED! No TV or phone for a week!!”

In Genesis 4:9, God knew that Cain had killed Abel, but he wants to hear what Cain has to say.

“I donʼt know,” he replied. “Am I my brotherʼs keeper?”

Cain’s response to God was rebellious and disrespectful. God gave him a chance to confess, and Cain defied him. God had had enough. Cain was cursed and banished, destined to be a homeless wanderer. Did Cain beg for mercy or forgiveness? Did he apologize or express remorse? No. He considered the punishment too much to bear, and he was afraid he would be killed because of it.

Sooooo…let me get this straight.
– Cain caused the original conflict by being selfish.
– Cain became jealous of his brother because Abel was accepted, while Cain was not.
– Cain ignored God’s warning.
– Cain lashed out at his own brother.
– Cain lied to God and became defiant when confronted.
– Cain complained that his punishment was too harsh.
Cain sounds like a teenager with a bad attitude.
And just like a mother dealing with an insolent teen, who has the power to make you angry and break your heart at the same time, God sent Cain away. Even though he followed through on his punishment, he also showed his unending love and forgiving grace by protecting him from being harmed by others.

It hurts God to see us sin. He loves us and He forgives, but He wants us to be humble. He wants us to come to Him and confess. And he wants us to ask for that forgiveness.

How many times has your bad attitude pulled you farther away from God? Emotions are one thing, but how you choose to deal with those emotions are up to you. Whatever the circumstance, don’t let your bad attitude escalate the situation. Things will not improve and you won’t be satisfied with the outcome. Turn to God for help in resolving the situation. Remember Psalm 51:10 –

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

When I am in the middle of a bad day, and I don’t like the direction my attitude is taking, I will pray:
Dear God, I am feeling overwhelmed by my emotions in the situations I am facing right now! Please help me to control my attitude so that I don’t lash out at those around me. Please help me find a way to deal with what is happening in a calm and loving way.

Amen