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

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

A Future and a Hope

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
– ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬‬ NLT

No matter where we are or what we are going through, it is important to realize that God has a beautiful plan for our future. He promises that His plans will enrich our lives. That we will flourish. Through our faith in Him, we have hope.

But how do I know what  this big plan for my life is? How do I know if I’m doing what God has planned for me?

– Start by praying. Ask God to reveal his plan for your life.
– Open your eyes to what is going on around you. God has placed you there for a reason.
– Continue praying. You may not be immediately enlightened after one prayer. Keep praying, and ask God to help you follow His plan.
– Spend time with God every day. Go to church. Join a Bible study group. Read the Bible. Follow a reading plan. Pray. Make it a habit to bring him into your day.
– Try to live your life like Christ every minute of every day. Look for opportunities to share His love with every step you take. Even if you can’t see the “Big Picture” of His plan for you, you know that you are on the right path if you think this way.
– Hope. It’s a part of His plan. Wherever you find yourself, let this hope anchor you and keep you holding onto Him.

Lord, I know that you created me for a purpose. Please help me discover your plan for me.
Amen

Rivers of Living Water

I “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”
– ‭‭John‬ ‭7:38‬‬ NLT

Jesus says that if we believe in Him, trust in Him, and rely on Him, we should come to Him. We should seek Him out and drink of His living water – the Holy Spirit. And that rivers of living water will flow from our hearts. We will be so filled with His spirit and His love that it will pour out of us!

Don’t allow anything to block that flow. Your pride, your pain from the past, your fears and anxieties, your mistakes, your shame… These are some of the things that can slow the stream down to a trickle.
Tear down these dams.
Clear away these obstructions.
Open up the floodgates and let His Holy Spirit flow from you freely, for others to see so that they, too, may come to Him and drink.

Dear God, I come to You to receive Your living water. I want to let it flow from my heart each and every day so that everyone who knows me will know Your love through me. Amen

Apart from Him I can do nothing

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
– ‭‭John‬ ‭15:5‬‬ NIV

God wants us to remain in relationship with Him, not just call out to him when we have a problem and then go back to living life, as usual. At times, we think it’s enough to say a quick prayer in the morning, and then run off to get busy with a full day of the “stuff” that life throws at us. But we have to keep His word in our mind continually, His love in our heart consistently, and His spirit in our soul constantly. Our relationship with God must be ongoing – just as our relationships with people require thoughts, conversation, and action. Without Him, our days will feel empty, our time will feel wasted, and we will feel like we are accomplishing nothing.

Lord, draw me closer to you. I want every day to be a significant step in my journey, as I walk the path you have set for me. Amen

Don’t Forget to Do Good

“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”
– ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:16‬‬ NLT

Such a simple message. And it’s so easy to overlook the two most important words.
Don’t forget.
How often do we start our day with the best intentions in our heart and then allow our own feelings, circumstances, or motives to steer things in a whole different direction?
How often do we want to help others, but get too caught up in the aspects of our lives that make us constantly “too busy” to slow down and share our time and our resources with the people who need them?
God wants us to see past our own troubles so that we can be prepared to help others with theirs. He wants us to put the needs of others before our own wants and desires.

When I feel myself being sidetracked and find that I am too focused on myself, I will pray:

Dear Lord, please help me to remember Your love in every situation that I face today. Whether my circumstances are good or bad, I want Your love and kindness to flow through me to every person that I come in contact with. Amen

Charging Forward

Lot was thriving in Sodom. No longer living in a tent on the outskirts of town, he was now living in the city and prospering. But all of the wealth and possessions he had accumulated couldn’t assure him a life free from worries. Lot found himself in a bad situation and was soon captured when four kings from the East banded together to conquer Sodom and its allies.

Abram didn’t hesitate to rise to the occasion. Going back to Genesis chapter 4 when Cain sarcastically asked God – “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
YES!
When your brother is in distress, then yes, you do have a responsibility to defend him. When your brother, your neighbor, or your friend is facing an unfair situation, you should come to his rescue – even if his own decisions and actions have led him into these circumstances.
Advice, service, emotional support.
A hug, a helping hand, a bible verse that will bring him comfort or hope.
God wants us to care for one another.
Unconditionally.
He wants us to care enough to get involved. No matter how many times they ignored our advice. No matter how bad their choices may have been in the past. We must set aside our fear and our judgment, and have faith that God will arm us for the battle that lies ahead.

“Carry each otherʼs burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Abram instinctively steps into this duty that we have to come to the aid of another. Abram, who once feared for his life as he entered a foreign country where he only wanted to live peacefully in a land that could sustain him, was now boldly charging forward to conquer. He took 318 men from his own household to attack the armies of four kingdoms. These mighty kingdoms had just conquered the armies of 5 other kingdoms. How could Abram and his servants hope to defeat such a strong force?

Abram went into battle using what he had available to him at the time – his men, strategy, and an undaunted and triumphant faith that God would bring victory to his small army.

When we exercise our faith in God by stepping up to do His will, He will equip us for that task. And sometimes we won’t feel equipped until we take that first step. We may feel unprepared, inexperienced, or unqualified, or think that maybe there is someone better for the job. Don’t let those fears render you helpless. Trust in HIS abilities when you can’t depend on yours.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭NLT‬

His mighty power is at work within us!

With God’s help, Abram and his servants were able to conquer the warriors of those four armies after the armies of five kingdoms combined had failed! But more significantly, he was able to free Lot from his captors.

Some battles are worth fighting. If you MUST go to battle, let it be with the right purpose and a strong faith. Pray to God that He will equip you. And have the integrity to give the glory to God.
And not only do we need to go to battle for others, but it is important to develop relationships with people who will come to our defense when we are under attack.
How can you step into this responsibility that we have towards each other today?

Dear God, I pray that I will always have the courage to charge forward when I see someone in need. Please help me to remember that whatever I feel I am lacking at the crucial moment, You will equip me with what I need when I am doing Your will. I know that when I feel I can’t – You can.
Amen


Today’s Scripture:

Genesis 14:1-16
1 At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, 2 these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). 4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim 6 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. 7 Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar.
8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
13 A man who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.