Choose 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


When Everything Falls Apart

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them.
– ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭11:3-4‬‬

The question David asks in verse 3 is one that we have all had at times. When everything good is falling apart and we are looking around at the wreckage that we call life, what can we do? Where can we go? Who can we turn to for help?
The answer in verse 4 is simply that God is sitting on His throne.

He knows. But he is not afraid, he is not stressed out, he is not worrying. Because he is God.

…What? This is not the answer that we want to hear when we are in the midst of our fears, our frustrations, our depression, and our despair. We want the answer to be something that instantly makes everything better at the snap of our fingers. Like, “Whew! Glad THAT’S over! Because that was a disaster!” We want our pain to be gone right now, and our fears to be behind us.
What we really want is peace.
We want to feel peace when we are afraid.
We want to feel peace when our hearts are shattered.
We want to feel peace when the world feels overwhelming.
And David is absolutely right that the answer to that question is that our Lord is sitting on His throne. That is where we will find the peace that we need. Our focus needs to be on Him – not our circumstances. Not on what is tearing us down. Not on what is feeding our fears and anxieties. Turn to Him for peace. Lean into your faith for hope. And do the next right thing.

When I feel that my life is coming apart at the seams, I will pray:

Lord,please calm my fears and bring peace to my soul. My hope is in You, even in my brokenness. Please mend the broken pieces of my life. Amen

Blessings and Burdens

Blessings don’t always come with no strings attached. Occasionally, they have burdens associated with them. Sometimes we have to work very hard to accomplish what God assigns us, according to His purpose.
Sometimes we go through hardship and suffering before we see the blessings that come out of our hard work. We don’t always see the blessings immediately. In fact, we often must wait much longer than we’d like to wait. This doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us, it means that he trusts that we have the faith to see it through. Look at the time and the hard work Noah invested in building the Ark. The time he spent ON the ark, feeding and caring for all those animals. Imagine the fear that Noah and his family felt during the storm, which must have seemed like it would never end. The rough waters, with no land in sight.

If Noah had focused on the burdens of his assignment, he may not have followed through – and none of us would be here today. Sometimes there is more riding on God’s plan for you than you could ever imagine! Think of how different our world would look today if Noah had balked at the size of his burden or had simply not followed God’s plan at all.
“Gee, God…I appreciate the offer, but I don’t think I can build a boat THAT big.
Cypress wood, you say? That’s pretty hard to come by. Could we maybe use some other material?
And do we really need two of EVERY animal? You see, I’m allergic to cats…”

It’s up to us to look past the difficult situations and see that His blessings outweigh the burdens of our lives.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
– ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7 NLT‬‬

When I am feeling overwhelmed, I will pray:
Dear God,
Things are hard right now. I am trying to follow your plan, but I am hurting. Please give me peace and the strength to follow you and fulfill your plan for me, no matter how hard things get.
Amen