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


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

Get Up, Child…

But Jesus took her by the hand and called out, “Get up, child!” – Luke‬ ‭8‬:‭54‬ GNT

Although this verse is just one verse in the story of one of Jesus’ many beautiful miracles, this verse stands out to me in a powerful way. The image that comes to mind is me at my lowest, huddled on the ground with my head down, thinking there is no way out, when I hear him call out to me…
“Tania…”
I look up to see His hand reaching out to me.
“Get up, child!”
He pursues us. Even when we are too lost in our circumstances to reach for Him, He is reaching out to us. To lift us up from our lowest places. It isn’t over. This isn’t the end. He has blessings in store, even when we think we can’t go on.
In our day-to-day lives, this may not look like the image in my mind. But it is just as real. He reaches out through those around us.

Through that verse of the day that grabbed your attention.

Through that Facebook post that touched your heart.

Through that friend who took the time to listen.

Through that stranger’s act of kindness.

Through that loved one’s hug.

Through that co-worker’s kind words, that soothed your soul.

His love can reach out to others through us, as well. We can be His hands that lift others to their feet again. We can be His voice when someone needs the encouragement to get up and go on.

When you feel like you are not in a season of joy, remember – you are in a season of hope.

Lord, thank You so much for taking me by the hand and pulling me out of the pain of my circumstances so many times. I want to stay on my feet no matter what I’m facing, and remember that I’m never alone and that there is always hope. Please open my eyes so that I may see every opportunity for You to reach out to others through me when they need help getting up again. Amen

All My Troubles

“In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles.”
– ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭34:6‬‬

God doesn’t promise us that we won’t have problems, but when we turn to him and lay those problems at his feet, he will be there every time. This verse says, “He saved me from ALL my troubles.“
No matter how many times we cry out to him, God doesn’t give up on us.
No matter how tight of a spot we get ourselves into this time, he doesn’t turn his back on us.

When you are desperate,
When you are in too deep,
When you feel hopeless, anxious, and overwhelmed…
Pray.
He is listening.

Oh Lord, hear my cry! I am hopeless and defeated, and I need You! Please save me from my troubles! I will find hope in You, Lord. I know that even in this, You are working to bring good into my life. Amen

The Light of the World

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
– ‭‭John‬ ‭8:12‬‬ NIV

Sometimes during a bad storm, the power goes out. There’s a storm going on, and we’re surrounded by the darkness. What is the first thing we do?

We want to find our way to a source of light! A cell phone, a flashlight, a candle…
And even though a storm is raging all around us, we feel a little bit of relief when we have that source of light in our hand. Eventually the storm will pass, and the sun will shine again.

Jesus is that source of light for all the storms we face in the world. When we feel surrounded by the darkness of our problems, our worries, and our mistakes, He can bring us back into the light and restore peace where there was turmoil. If we continue to follow Him, we never have to feel alone in the dark again.

When I feel the darkness closing in, I will pray…

Dear God, thank You for bringing hope when I am in despair. You light up the darkness in my life. You turn my pain into contentment, peace, and even joy! Please shine your light on the choices that I make today. I want to reflect Your light for others to see, so that You may also chase their darkness away. Amen

Be Still.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
– ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:10‬‬ NIV

Be still.
Wait.
Listen.
Stop the frenzy.
Calm the chaos inside of you.
Breathe.
Be still.
And know that He is God.
And He is bigger than all of your problems.

Lord, when I feel the weight of all my problems and I’m feeling overwhelmed, please remind me to slow down. Please remove my fears and fill my heart with Your peace. Amen