March 9, 2004

Encouragement for Today

 

Joy vs. Happiness

Melissa Taylor, Certified Speaker

 

Key Verse:

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

 

 

Devotion:

 

I remember my wedding day.  It was one of the happiest days of my life, the day I said “I do” to the man of my dreams.  Jeff and I had planned that day for years.  As we gazed into each other’s eyes, standing at the front of the church, surrounded by family and friends, we made promises to each other and to God.  Promises to love, honor, and cherish each other for better or worse for as long as we both would live.  After nine years of dating, we were finally married.  We were so happy! 

 

I have now been married fourteen years and I love my husband more than ever.  However, that newlywed bliss has faded just a bit.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a marriage made in heaven, full of good times and happiness, but each day has not been as “happy” as the first.  Some days we have argued.  We have gone through financial difficulties and job issues.  We have had a battle of the schedules and a few power struggles.  Add four kids to that, consider our different personalities and well, it’s been crazy at times to say the least.  We have cried together and worried about each other.  Many emotions have flowed through our marriage as we strive to make it work.  With God’s help, His unconditional and unfailing love, we have been able to obtain the strength, endurance, and love for each other to get through it all……joyfully.

 

I remember the day I gave birth to my first child, August 10, 1993.  It was also one of the happiest days of my life.   As we gazed into those new baby blue eyes still blinking from the bright light of his new world, Jeff and I were filled with gratitude to our Father in heaven for blessing us with His bundle of love.  It was a happy day.

 

Since that happy day in August of 1993, God has blessed us with three more babies.  Just like the marriage, some days with children are happy and some are just plain trying - and tiring.  Mentally and physically exhausting!  We have gone through nine surgeries, two emergency room visits, numerous urgent care and doctor visits.  We also have had other concerns, socially and academically.  Our home may at times be considered hectic and chaotic.  How four different personalities came from the same two people is amazing to me.  Life is definitely interesting at the Taylor house!  Through it all, with God’s help and amazing love, we get through it……joyfully. 

 

We never know what each day will bring or what our circumstances will be, but one thing we can ALWAYS count on is the Lord and His provisions for us.  He is our Source for every need.  We are told in Galatians 5:22 that joy is one of the fruits the Holy Spirit produces in us.  It is available to all of us who accept Christ as our Lord and Savior.  And it is available despite our circumstances!

 

Many people consider happiness and joy to be the same thing, but they are actually very different.  You see, happiness is based on feelings – which are temporary.  Joy is chosen despite life’s conditions and comes from deep within.  Only Jesus can give joy. Because joy is rooted in Christ, when times get tough, we are still able to “be full of joy”. (James 1:2)

 

Jesus told his disciples just before His trial what was going to happen to him, that he would be going back to his Heavenly Father.  At that moment, they were confused and didn’t understand.  It appeared to them that “happy days” were not ahead.  In John 16:22, Jesus told them, “Now you are sad, but I will see you again and you will be happy, and no one will take away your joy.” 

 

Don’t allow anyone or anything to take away your joy.  God has a plan and a purpose for every part of every day in your life.  Trust Him.  Happiness will come and go, but joy in the Lord is forever.

 

 

My prayer for today:

 

Lord, I confess that joy does not always come easy in the midst of life’s circumstances.  Thank you that Your joy is available to me at all times and that it is not dependent on my feelings.  Please pour Your joy into my life today.  I praise You for Your unfailing and unconditional love for me.  Amen.

 

 

Application Steps:

 

  How can we “be full of joy” in unhappy times?  It is not easy, but God is available at all times.  He is the Source of joy and will pour it into us whenever we need it.  Here are a few ways to remain joyful (despite your circumstances):

 

1-Spend time with the Lord.  When the storms of life hit go to Him for joy.

 

2-Praise God and thank Him - even when you don’t feel like it.  God has a perfect plan in all that is going on.

 

3-Look up!  Keep your eyes focused on God’s promises and His unconditional and unfailing love, not your suffering.

 

4- Look at the big picture.  Life here is temporary.  God is preparing you for greater things and an eternity of happiness with Him.

 

 

Reflection points:

 

Am I going to God’s Word and turning to Him in prayer during my hard times?

 

Do I know I can find joy in the Lord?

 

 

Power Verses:

 

Psalm 16:11, You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.  NIV

 

Psalm 43:4, There I will go to the altar of God, to God---the source of all my joy.  I will praise You with my harp, O God, my God!  NLT

 

James 1:2, Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.  For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.  NLT

 

Philippians 4:4, Always be full of joy in the Lord.  I say it again---rejoice!  NLT

 

John 16:22, So with you:  Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.  NIV

 

 

Additional Resources:

 

Coming Out Of the Dark by Mary Southerland

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/outofdark.html

 

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart?  by Lysa TerKeurst

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/key.html

 

The Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/makeover.html

 

P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/p31woman.html