Choosing to live joyfully…even when you don’t want to.

Choosing to live joyfully…even when you don’t want to.

living a life of joy

In the English Standard Bible, the word “joy,” or other variations such as “joyful” and “rejoice” appear in the Bible some 430 times. You might say joy is important to God. But did you know he wants it to be important to us, too?

In James 1:2-3, God tells us to have joy even when we face trials.

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If you’re like me, then you’d agree that it is easier to be joyful when things are going great, but it is hardest to be joyful when things are going badly. Joy doesn’t just happen though; it is a choice that we must make.

I recently stumbled upon this article by J. I. Packer. In it, he talks about how the book of Ecclesiastes, a book that I am not very familiar with, teaches us how to live, and how to do so joyfully. I found his article to be interesting, with a lot of valid points I’d never considered before.

So, how do you live a life of joy?

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  1. Practice gratitude.

I know it sounds silly to use the word practice here, but think about it. When you pray, or even when you’re just quietly reflecting and thinking, think about what you’re grateful for in your life. It could be the major things, like your home, family and your church, but it could be something small, like the rain, or the fact that your day was good. Being thankful and thanking God gives me great joy, because I remember how much he’s blessed me.

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2. Live in His word

Reading the Bible, praying, and listening to praise and worship music gives me great joy. It’s like refueling an empty gas tank- listening to His music leaves me more fulfilled than anything else I might listen to. Reading His word or about his word makes me feel closer to God. It also keeps me feeling encouraged instead of bogged down and defeated.

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3. Share how God has blessed you with others

When I have been greatly blessed by a sermon at church, an answered prayer, or a song I’ve heard, I love being able to tell someone else about it. When we have something that may bless someone else, I believe it is our duty to share it with them.

How do you experience joy in your life?

Scripture Sunday: Romans 12:2

Scripture Sunday: Romans 12:2

Spring is stirring here in North Carolina. I’ve always loved spring as it is a time of renewal. The world is renewed and everything is green again after the grey of winter has gone.

But did you know we can go through a time of renewal as well? Romans 12:2 is about renewing your walk with God by ensuring you’re not “conforming to this world.” As Christians, we are called to be different and stand out from the world. We are to be a light for God and radiate His love. When we walk with the Lord, we are to put aside worldly things and fill our minds with things that are pleasing to Him.

I have found when I am spending more time in God’s word and listening to Christian music, I feel renewed. This spring, I want to focus on renewing my mind so that I may be closer to Him.

In what ways will you be renewed this spring?

Sunday Musings: I don’t have it all together…and that’s OK

Sunday Musings: I don’t have it all together…and that’s OK

I don’t have it all together. Not even close.

If most of us are honest, we will admit that we don’t have it all together. In today’s Pinterest-perfect society, we are expected to be perfectly dressed with perfect makeup, not a hair out of place, with perfectly clean, magazine worthy homes. We are expected to have a home-cooked dinner on the table every night, with perfectly dressed and perfectly behaved children.

I don’t have that; at least, not all the time. And never all at once. So, who holds us to this impossibly high standard? We do. We hold ourselves to these impossibly high standards we can never meet, but luckily, God does not.

God chose us, even though we are a long way from perfect. We don’t have it all together and God chose us anyway.

Ephesians 1:4 says “For he chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before Him.” We don’t need to be perfect; we just need Jesus. There are no perfect humans, and there don’t need to be. Jesus already fulfilled the role of the perfect human.

It’s tempting to spend all of our time trying to be perfect and live up to those impossible standards, but instead, let’s put that energy into trying to be like Jesus. He already knows we aren’t perfect and he loves us anyway.

Have a blessed week.

Scripture Sunday: Isaiah 40:31

This post is going to be a bit transparent…but tomorrow is the first day of school with students. Not for my children- they’ve already gone back to school a few weeks ago. This is my districts’ first day. If I didn’t admit that I am a bit nervous, (lots of positive covid cases here), I’d be lying.

So this verse is as much of a reminder to me as to you all…maybe even more so. This month, I’ve been focusing on verses concerning fear/anxiety/hope/trust, as we have a lot of things to fear in these times.

31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

There are many things that offer us false hope; as easy as it is to focus that hope in the wrong area, we must remember to pray. We must remember to look toward our God to quiet our fears. I worry about the safety of my children this school year. I worry about my students. I worry about my self. I’m not only talking about health concerns- we live in a highly volatile society now and I fear what may happen.

I try to remember that God already is aware of all of my fears. He is simply waiting for me to call out to Him.

I’m praying today and tonight for my students and myself as we adjust to a school year that is both more normal than the past two years and also far from normal at the same time. I pray for my own children to make wise choices and keep their primary focus on God. I pray that I will continue to pray and focus on God to keep us safe.

As hard as it is not to worry and be anxious, we can do it with God’s help. This school year, I hope I can inspire and comfort others who fear the same things I fear.

What does the Bible say about “anxiety?”

Anxiety is a much greater issue than in the past. Considering some of our current events, it’s easy to see why. Some people may take this to mean that anxiety is a new problem- it isn’t. In fact, the Bible has a lot to say about being anxious.

Recently, my oldest daughter and I began reading Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado. There is both an adult version and a young adult version. Both are amazing.

In the book, Lucado defines fear as the belief that something bad might happen and he defines anxiety as the constant thought something bad will happen. Like being in a constant cycle of “what if.”

There is One verse outlined in the first chapter of Anxious for Nothing that I want to share today. Philippians 4 is a small chapter, but it’s filled to the brim with wisdom. Some of my favorite verses are found here.

In Philippians 4:6, God says “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

That verse doesn’t mean we should never be anxious or feel anxious. That’s far easier said than done. What it does mean, is when we feel anxious, we need to find the positives in the situation and be thankful for them….and then ask God to help us through the situation that is causing us anxiety.

Just like last week, when we read that we should cast all our cares upon God because he cares for us. This verse is saying a lot of the same things- when we are anxious, let’s lay that anxiety at God’s feet. After all, he made us and he knows all of our worries, our fears and our feelings. He just wants us to request His help with them.

God knows us, he loves us, and he sees us. He simply wants us to Know, See and Love Him more.

What Scripture blessed your heart today?