August 11, 2011
Thriving or Surviving?
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
God will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy (Job 8:21, NCV).

Friend To Friend
One Saturday morning a little boy and his father took a long awaited trip to the local pet store in search of a new puppy. The dad had been promising the trip for weeks and finally, the day had come.  For weeks, the little boy had been reading books about dogs, surveying the pets of his friends, asking countless questions and waiting for this day, ready to make his choice.

When father and son walked into the pet store the dad immediately realized that this task was going to be much harder than he had thought it would be. There were so many adorable puppies from which to choose. But with determination in his heart and confidence in his step, the little boy began his search. Suddenly, he stopped in his tracks, eyes and heart locked on the perfect dog. Staring at the little boy from the wired confines of a small crate was an undersized and fairly unimpressive but hopeful black puppy. Following his son’s gaze, the dad cringed as he realized that the first puppy he had eliminated as a possibility was the very one his son was watching. 

The father attempted to re-direct the interest of his son toward a more suitable dog. It was not to be. Each time the little boy returned to his first choice, the black puppy who was grinning at the boy, eagerly pawing at the cage door and wagging his tail with great enthusiasm. The dad finally asked, “Son, which one do you want?” The little boy immediately pointed at the dog with the furiously wiggling tail and announced with great certainty, “I want that one, Daddy! I want the one with the happy ending.”

We all want a life filled with happy endings, but we seem to be living lives that could well be described as “joy-less.” Every day is lived at the mercy of the world. We are like Charlie Brown who admits, “I have a new philosophy. I’m only going to dread one day at a time.” 

God promises that if you know Him you will know true joy. Joy is not merely happiness but rather an unshakable confidence that God is in control. Therefore, He is our one and only source of joy and stands ready and waiting to saturate every circumstance with His presence. As His children, joy is ours to claim. If so, then where is it and why do we not experience a sense of confident celebration as we go through each day?

Maybe it is because of the Joy Stealers who lurk in the shadows, waiting to crush joy wherever they find it. I have great news for you, my friend. Nothing and no one can take your joy without your permission. So, don’t give it!  Choose joy instead. 

Choosing joy requires us to identify and eliminate the “joy stealers” in life. You may be allowing a person to take your joy. Maybe some painful experience from a shadowed yesterday is an obstacle of joy in your life today. Perhaps a fearful circumstance or a broken dream is the culprit. I know life can be painful. I know it is often hard and unfair. I also know that God is in control. So if God really is God (and He definitely is) then we should be people of joy. I have read the final chapter of the Book and we win!  Now that, my friend, is what I call the happiest ending of all. 

Let’s Pray
Lord, remind me to live each day against the backdrop of eternity. I pray that, in every circumstance, I would choose joy, knowing that You are in control. 
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Recognize that real joy is found only in God. Make a list of the people or circumstances that you would classify as “joy stealers.” Pray for wisdom in dealing with each person and circumstance. Choose now what your response will be when someone tries to steal your joy.

  • What has been my personal definition of “joy” up until now?
  • What have I been counting on in my life to produce joy?
  • How does a personal relationship with God change my perspective of joy?
  • What are the steps to take in order to eliminate the “joy stealers” in my life?
  • How do my feelings influence my joy level?
  • In what way do trials and problems affect my joy level?

More From The Girlfriends
I can still remember the words of the song I often sang as a child:

“If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy 
Let Jesus come into your heart.”

Life seemed so simple back then. Today, I have traveled quite a few miles and been through some very tough times. And God’s truth remains the same. If we want to experience joy, we must experience God. We look in a lot of wrong places for joy but the only right place is in a personal relationship with God. How about you? Are you thriving or just surviving? 

For a good dose of laughter, I encourage to check out my CD, Laugh More … Live Better. Looking for a Bible Study that is both practical and powerful? Check out Mary’s E-Book Bible Studies. Each one includes a study guide that you can download for your personal use or for a small group study. 

Be sure to check out Mary’s weekly Online Bible Study: Stress Management 101. Enroll now and have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebookor through email.

Seeking God?
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Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106
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