A Reason to Smile
- Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Joy-it makes people wonder at your secret. Yet joy is no secret to the trusting Christian. When we choose to grow closer to God, resting in His character and provision, joy spills over into our lives so that others can't help but notice.
Do you want to be a person of joy? Silly question, isn't it? We would love to live above our circumstances. Or have a great attitude. Or laugh a lot. But joy goes beyond all these things. Let's learn from God's Word the lovely facets of joy:
Joy is the fruit of God's Spirit. More than a great attitude or an indomitable spirit, joy comes from God (Galatians 5:22). Our joy increases in direct proportion to our intimacy with Christ. And when sin keeps us from that relationship, it also robs us of our joy. (Read Psalm 51:8,12).
Joy doesn't depend on circumstances. Paul wrote Philippians-often called "the book of joy,"-from a jail cell. He was criticized, tired, and misunderstood. But instead of allowing his horrible circumstances to choke out God's Word and God's Spirit (as Mark 4:19 describes they often can), Paul chose to concentrate on the joy of knowing Christ (Philippians 2:17). Next time you read Philippians, picture Paul's jail cell . . . and his face.
Joy is a choice. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials" (James 1:2). Here's the reality-read it carefully. Life's painful trials are not joyous in themselves, but when we walk through them, we should be filled with joy. Why? Because of the good God is developing in us and in the situation. We can know real joy while in the scariest storm when we fill our minds and hearts with truth about God.
Joy becomes a transaction between you and God that others can't help but notice. It's God's life spilling over the brim of your life and into others' lives. When you trust Christ with the details of your life, you experience His life in wonderful excess, and it can't help but give you reason to smile.
Seven Ways to Cultivate Joy
Joy springs from a life lived with eternity's values in view. Cultivate exuberant joy in your heart by patterning your life with the following practices.
1. Rehearse with God the reasons you trust Him. Tell Him which of His attributes are your favorite right now. Read the praises of Scripture back to Him-begin with Psalm 103. Join with another believer in prayers of thanksgiving, and delight yourself in His character.
2. Keep a "joy journal." Record the reasons you have to rejoice and the reminders of God's faithfulness that you encounter in your everyday life. In addition, why not press a leaf from your prayer walks into its pages or include a photo of a person that brings you joy each time you remember them. Think big-expand your journal into a "joy box" or a "joy drawer" that brings floods of joy each time you open it.
3. Surround yourself with joyful people. Joy is contagious-so build relationships with friends whose lives exhibit their confidence in God. Pray for each other that your joy in Christ would continue to increase.
4. Approach life's challenges and trials redemptively. God doesn't waste the difficult circumstances of your life but uses them to develop His character in you. Review Romans 5 and James 1 for help in processing pressure productively. Joy will sneak up on you when you view your hardest lessons as gifts from God.
5. Make praise a habit. Has God met a need? Praise Him! Have your challenges given you greater opportunity to see Him work? Praise Him! Joy flows from a grateful and responsive heart.
6. Fill your mind with music. Listen to, sing, and meditate on music that draws your heart nearer to God and His Word.
7. Take the long view. Investors advise their clients not to worry about the daily ups and downs of the stock market-what matters is the long view. Does life present incredible challenges today? Are your reserves at a low, or are you enjoying a content plateau? Regardless of today's events, take the long view. Remember that God remains in charge of your days and will faithfully develop His character in you.
Remember, joy springs from a life lived with eternity's values in view. As you make God's perspective your priority, unmatched joy is sure to follow.
Joy comes out of my decision to trust God's Word when He promises:
• I will never leave you. (Hebrews 13:5)
• You can know real joy in My presence. (Psalm 16:11)
• I hear your every cry. (Psalm 116:1)
• I'm touched by your every hurt. (Hebrews 4:15)
• My joy is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
• I will return for you. (John 14: 6)
• I am in control of your life's details. (Romans 8:28)
• I love you. (1 John 3:1)
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