May 26, 2011
If You Want Joy … Real Joy
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV).
Friend to Friend
Jesus lived and died so that we can experience abundant life, a life exuding joy, a life so full that others crave to know the source of that fullness. Jesus did not come so that we can merely survive life. Pagans can survive life. Jesus came to be our joy.
I came across this quote: “Joy is the flag that flies above the castle of our hearts indicating that the King reigns within.” If that is true, then why are so many women living lives with little or no joy? I’m afraid that we have bought the lies of the enemy, allowing him to steal our joy. Discouragement, weariness, disillusionment, shattered dreams and unrealized goals are some of his favorite weapons, but the truth is that the enemy can only use what we allow him to use.
It is time for us to reclaim surrendered ground. Do you sometimes think you are fighting the same old battles you have been fighting for years? I do. Clinging to familiar pain, we find our identity there. Consumed with our own agenda, joy is buried under a mountain of self.
Joy is not the result of outward circumstances. Joy is an inside job, a deeply rooted confidence that God is in control. Every trial or loss, every defeat or victory measured against this confidence can be counted as joy.
The Apostle Paul was a man of great joy. By human terms, he had every right to be angry and even bitter. Persecuted, imprisoned and facing His own death, Paul says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-12, NIV).
The expression, “Have a good day” is a common greeting. I heard about one woman who, when told to have a good day, responded, “Thanks, but I have other plans.” Sound familiar? We rise to face each day with a perspective of pending doom instead of the certain joy that is ours through Jesus Christ. God created the world in a process of one day at a time. At the end of each day, He examined his work and announced: “It is good!” We, too, can learn to see the good in each day. We can learn to be joyful. How?
- Check your heart.
“My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Psalm 84:2, NAS).
In this verse, “heart” literally means “body and soul” or “whole being.” In other words, what’s down in the well comes up in the bucket. Real joy is found in and flows from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God’s very presence in our lives is His eternal reminder that Jesus died on a cross, rose from the grave and is coming again. Have you turned your heart and life over to Jesus?
- Choose to rejoice.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2, NIV).
We cannot avoid pain but we can avoid joy. The pursuit of joy is a matter of choice. Our inward perspective does not have to reflect our outward circumstances. We can choose joy!
A little boy was overheard talking to himself as he strutted through the backyard, a baseball cap on his head, ball and bat in hand. He was muttering, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” Then he tossed the ball in the air, swung at it and missed. “Strike one!” He picked up the ball, threw it into the air and said to himself, “I’m the greatest hitter ever!” He swung at the ball again. “Strike two!” He paused, examined his bat and ball and threw the ball into the air, missing a third time. He cried out, “Wow! I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”
Yes, the pursuit of joy is a matter of choice and perspective. It is also a matter of obedience. As Christians, one of our spiritual priorities should be joy.
“One ship sails east.
One ship sails west.
Regardless of how the winds blow,
It is the set of the sail
And not the gale
That determines the way we go.”
Set your sails for joy, girlfriend! Celebrate! Revel in who God is, in what He has done, is doing and will do in your life when you choose joy.
Father, I come to You with praise in my heart and on my lips. Forgive me when I doubt You and what You are doing in my life. Please help me to walk by faith – not by sight. Teach me to see my daily life through Your eyes and show me how to walk in Your joy.
In Jesus’ name,
Now it’s your turn
How would you define joy? Would the people who know you best describe you as a woman of joy?
Read Psalm 16:11. “Being with You will fill me with joy.” What does this verse say to you about the connection between God’s presence and a life of joy?
What is blocking the flow of God’s joy in your life? Is it a sin you need to confess? A relationship you need to make right? A step of obedience you need to take? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what action you need to take to experience the joy of the Lord.
More from the Girlfriends
You were created for joy. I know that life can be painful but God’s plan for an abundant life takes that pain into account. Need help? Check out Mary’s CD, Laugh More … Live Better. Also available in E-Bible Studyand MP3 download.
Don’t miss Mary’s NEW weekly Online Bible StudyUnder the Influence…of Lovebeginning June 6. Learn five powerful steps you can take to forgive and love your enemies. Enroll now and have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebookor through email.
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