Good Morning Ladies (and few gents),
Today’s devotion included below “The Year of Praise” is a reminder from GiG Mary to, “Make this year a time of praise. Choose to focus on the victories and joys you experience during the year, and then find ways to share that victory and joy with others.” Now that sounds like a great prescription for what might be ailing us.
GiG, three of the major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s) are in our rearview mirror, but there is one in front of us that can be a stress builder for some—Valentines’ Day. My physical mailbox and my e-mail inbox have both been bombarded with advertisements for gifts, cards, and date night packages. If I’m feeling the pressure, I can only imagine how the single, divorced, or widowed individuals in our circle of influence are feeling. There seems to be a lot of pressure for us all to not be alone on Valentine’s Day. Why is that?
I recently was sent an excerpt from the book, Think, Act, Be Like Jesus by Randy Frazee that got me to thinking about the pressure that is heaped upon us simply based upon life circumstances whether that be singleness or any other status. Sometimes it is to the point that it becomes a joy robber. Again, why is that?
Randy points out that “The biblical brand of joy is not simply overcoming our inner Eeyore (character from Winnie the Pooh), nor is it strolling through life in ignorant bliss; rather, it is to be found in facing each day’s ups and downs through the contentment Christ offers.”
Here’s a question to ponder. What gives us true happiness and contentment in life? Is it our job, ministry, spouse, children, friendships, or community activism?
Let’s start with first things first. That is identifying the difference between joy and happiness. For many folks being happy is fully dependent on an outside force (person, position, prestige, or power) in essence whether life is “all good.” Happiness is like a scale sliding up and down based on our perception of problems or negative issues going on in our lives at the time. Problems rise; our happiness meter drops. But then our troubles begin to go away and our happiness meter starts to climb. Joy, on the other hand, is not dependent on our circumstances. Often, in fact, our joy meter can become strongest when trouble comes. That’s a God thing!
“You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” Psalm 16:11
David reminds us of the joy and benefits of a life lived in companionship with God. These are benefits we enjoy now and eternally. So, on the real, joy that comes when we rest in God’s presence is unspeakable, irreplaceable joy. True talk—despite our circumstances, we can feel inner contentment and understand our purpose in life when we fix our eyes on Jesus.
If you’re starting to feel the dreaded Valentine blues or the pressure to plan the perfect date night heating up, remember this from Randy;
Happiness is a state of mind, while joy is a mind-set.
Happiness comes and goes, while joy can be constant.
Happiness is dependent, while joy is independent.
Happiness is conditional, while joy is unconditional.
May we be encouraged by the example given to us by the apostle Paul; he learned the secret to the joy found in Jesus and so can we. Joy will replace (or reduce) our stresses, become contagious through us, and draw others to Jesus. Yup, choose to lean on Christ, and we will find His joy, that unspeakable joy that lasts longer than a box of chocolates.
“11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13 HCSB
God’s Got It…so we can GROW—Joy in the kingdom of God has nothing to do with eliminating negative outward circumstances, but rather with embracing them as opportunities to strengthen our faith and gain resolve. Randy Frazee
Have a “Think It Over” Thursday, January 17, 2019—choose an attitude of joy by focusing our mind on the things of heaven – not earth, and by fixing our heart on Jesus Christ above all else.
Called to serve and encouraging others to thrive,
Embracing a Work-Hard, Rest-Well Life and Loving My Priorities, Loving My Life