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Choose Joy

By Scott, Delve Christian Ministries
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"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Examine your life for a moment. How much joy do you see? I'm not saying just mere happiness, but real, deep joy? The kind of joy that gives you peace in the midst of a storm; that brings you through the hardest seasons of your life. The kind of joy that can have you praising God for His goodness, even when things seem to be falling apart. Do you see that in your life? If not, then perhaps you need to choose to have it.

Let's look at what the absence of joy can do in one's life. First, it becomes difficult to even do the day-to-day things of life that must be done. Everything feels like a burden, as if you are pushing hard against a rock that isn't moving. Life feels like it isn't going anywhere. Stress can mount, and you'll find yourself burning out very easily. Anger, bitterness, anxiety, depression will easily follow from this. Perhaps you're reading this now, and just checking things off. Where has this joy gone, then?

In many ways, the enemy is a thief. Jesus himself tells us that "the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy" (John 10:10a). The enemy often tries to steal away our joy, in order to replace it with all of the sorts of things I listed above. We may not even realize that this is what is going on. Then, because we are so unaware, the enemy can use this as an opportunity to tempt us into all sorts of sin, in a futile attempt to rediscover the joy that we're missing. Many things we do are in the pursuit of this false joy, and we imagine that when we get the thing we're going after that we'll finally have joy again. Of course, this will never really work. False gods have a habit of disappointing their followers, and setting up a false god to find joy will only leave you worse than before. Money, lust, fame, reality TV; none of it saves, and none of it can bring you lasting joy. So where then should we look?

Jesus! (The Sunday School answers are often the best). It is He who brings us joy. If we look towards Him, there we will find our joy. He tells us that he has come that we "may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10b). He brings life, and ultimately without Jesus we will not live to the fullest. Everything else in this world will fail us, and we will find ourselves continually searching and striving to find joy, always ending up empty-handed and burned out.

So, this then means that we have to make a choice. If the source of our joy is found in Jesus, and not in the circumstance in which we are found, then we must actively choose to look to Him to find that joy. We must seek after Jesus, choose Jesus, and then find joy. Otherwise we will never succeed. With our eyes turned downwards on the troubles and difficulties of our lives, we will easily get upset and depressed. It's only natural. If we look upwards to Jesus, there we find our true joy and life, and there we find rest from the pain of this world. Put the focus on Jesus, and not the problems that surround you. Bring everything to Him, and give it to Him, and be filled with joy. And trust that He will do that! God loves to see us filled with joy. He takes no pleasure in seeing us stressed out and worried about everything. As Paul writes,

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7).

So choose joy. Choose Jesus. Make a conscious decision to look at him, and not worry about the things you are facing. He's strong enough to get you through - guaranteed. Lean on him and trust Him in everything, and let Him take care of things. Go to God and simply just ask Him to fill you with joy. Ask that his Holy Spirit would fill your heart and enable you to live with joy, not pain and despair. And He'll answer that with a "yes!"

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).

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WELL ALRIGHT! I needed to hear this so very badly. I choose to look up at Jesus and not the storm that surrounds me. Your words are so very true.
1/14/2013 8:39:07 AM - Psalm91, Member of Delve into Jesus since 9/12/2012

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