Today we end our series on Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord. I pray that this six-part series has touched your heart in some way and has indeed brought you closer to finding JOY in the Lord.
We talked a little bit about practical ways to find that lasting Joy last time. Today we continue with talking about the importance of finding joy through Worship, Trials, Friendship, Attitude, Gratitude and having a Servant’s heart.
Worship Unleashes Joy.
Worship has a special relationship to Joy. It is both a key to joy and an expression of joy. (1 Thess. 5:16-18). If you want to be joyful always, you must also worship God and give Him thanks always. When you worship, it gets your mind off of yourself and your focus is directed towards God where it should be.
(When I was too sick to come to church, basically I could barely get out of bed, the worship team came to me. I have pictures of the team sitting in my living room, playing guitar and singing hymns and choruses of praise. I could hardly sing myself; I sat in my P-J’s with my little knitted cap on my head to hide my baldness and they sang for me. It really lifted my spirits, as well as take the focus off my circumstances and focus on God!)
Worship doesn’t mean just going to a Worship Service once a week. Worship is praising God continually. Do you praise the Lord when you are comfortably enjoying the light, cool rains of blessing or do you praise Him even in the dry, difficult times? Your answer to these questions will determine whether you live in joy most of the time, sometimes, or hardly ever. It’s a choice you make to worship.
Trials Build Joy.
“While pain is unavoidable, misery is optional.” God may not remove your problems, but when you are focused on Him, the problems are less ominous as compared to His greatness. Joy doesn’t come from easy circumstances, but from a deep, settled confidence in our loving Heavenly Father who controls life’s details.
Here are some steps to help you find joy in your trials:
Focus your eyes on God, rather than on your problems or circumstances. (Heb. 12:2) When our minds mull over our situations, we can become depressed, angry or full of self-pity. Look to God and He will fill you with JOY. Pray about your situation and prayerfully sort out your feelings. (Phil.4:6-7) Trust God to handle your situation and wait for Him to work. (Psalm 33:21) Choose to rejoice in the Lord…ALWAYS. (Phil. 4:4) Joy is not a feeling, it’s an attitude that requires a constant choice. Find a friend so you can talk, share your feelings and pray. (2 Cor. 7:4-13).
There came a point in my recovery where I just needed to talk to someone else who had “been there, done that”. Sometimes we just need someone we can talk to for mutual support and God knew I needed a confidante who empathized with what I was going through but would also point me towards God through the experience. God connected me with a strong and courageous woman at my church who had battled breast cancer several years before me. We became dear, dear friends as she shared her experiences with me and could relate to what I was going through. Years later, she developed cancer again and this time I was able to be HER support. Unfortunately, cancer finally claimed her life but she was praising God even until her last breath. When I wrote my second book, Heal the Wounded, I dedicated the book to my mother, Ellen, my mother-in-law, Laura, and to my friend, Victoria – all courageous women who had “fought the good fight” with breast cancer.
Friendships Increase Joy.
Someone said, “When you share pain with someone you divide it, but when you share joy, you multiply it.” God designed us to receive joy through our relationships. Friends should never replace our total dependency on God. (Ps. 73:25, 1 Thess. 2:20). Remember that if you hold resentment against someone that will pulverize joy…you need to ask forgiveness and give forgiveness.
How do you give and receive joy in relationships with friends and family?
Share deeply from your heart with one another. Really listen to one another with your heart. Pray together often. Discover creative ways to encourage each other. Have fun together.
Joy is like good food. It tastes better when shared around a table that overflows with love.
An Attitude Check Unbinds Joy.
Do insecurities rob you of some joy? These insecurities may have built up over many years even since childhood. There may be things in your past that have caused you to be in bondage and you need to break those chains in order to be joyful. Becoming a joyful person involves looking inside and understanding oneself. It means dealing with destructive attitudes which rob us of joy, and then building healthy attitudes.
How do we change our attitudes and get rid of our insecurities?
Accept yourself and others as God’s unique creations, perfectly and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14). Recognize that no one bubbles over with joy every minute of every day. Allow yourself some “down” time without any guilt, but present your “downs” to God so He can deal with them and not allow yourself to be overwhelmed by them. (Remember the Devil’s D’s). Many things can temporarily hinder us from choosing joy: physical problems, stress, disappointment, depression, anxiety or overwhelming grief. Choosing to rejoice can keep our feelings from taking control. Paul experienced great emotional pain in his life. 2 Corinthians describes some of his struggles. Paul found the strength to rejoice because he fixed his eyes on what was unseen – Jesus and His work. (2 Cor. 4:18).
If you are struggling with a lack of joy, it may be because you are carrying burdens that God wants you to discard. Heb. 12:1 states: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Have personal freedom to rejoice. Do you need permission to be joyful?
Christ died to give us joy! Do not hold on to past sins etc. that you have repented from. Also watch the company you keep…are you surrounded by joyless people…you know the “Eeyores” in life?…joyless people rob us of joy too. If you are overwhelmed by world circumstances or worry, take a “worry retreat”. Go for a walk, listen to uplifting praise hymns, play a game, read a book, take a bubble bath, turn off the news….etc. Hug on your grandbaby … just had to throw that one in there
Gratitude Encourages Joy.
Like worship, gratitude has a special connection with joy. (Zeph. 3:17). A godly response when we’re joyful is to express gratitude to the Lord for His goodness. Joy often creates gratitude. But the opposite is also true, gratitude creates joy. When we give God thanks, He gives us joy. When situations snatch away our joy, we feel like doing anything except thanking God, but that’s exactly what we need to do. Our thanks must come out of a heart of genuine gratitude to Him, regardless of our immediate feelings. God then responds by filling our hearts with His joy.
The Key to Lasting Joy is choosing to be a Servant of Jesus Christ.
The child of God who has committed to being the Lord’s servant will hear a CLEAR call, lead a CLEAN life, proclaim a COURAGEOUS message and have a CHALLENGING purpose. This is the heart of what it means to be a servant of God.
The life of a servant is the willingness to be God’s person right where you are in the tasks and relationships that are already the substance of your life: soccer Mom, Sunday School Teacher, Volunteer in your child’s classroom, Grandmother, Wife, Corporate Executive….
Servanthood is more a matter of attitude than action, that God wants our availability more than our talent, and that for most of us servanthood means faithfulness in the ordinary affairs of everyday living.
Servanthood will be demonstrated in the way a person lives, different ways for different people. Just as God’s call to salvation is unique and personal, so is His call to service. Paul addresses this issue in 1 Cor. 12:14-31. You should not expect everyone, including other believers, to be like you in every way, nor should they demand that you be like them. Each servant of God has a clear call, but that call is different for each of us. One way we can see the difference in calls to service is in the different gifts that He has given to us by His Spirit for the proper functioning of the church. Different people have different gifts and as a servant it is important to discern what spiritual gifts you may have and develop them in His service. Remember though that God may give you an assignment that is way out of your comfort zone or not any where near your realm of giftedness and He will equip you for the task. The idea is that we must be willing to say “Yes” to God no matter what He may ask of us. You must have settled in your mind that you will say, “Yes, Lord” before He even asks.
Being a Godly Servant means:
Clear Call: He calls us all to serve and He calls us uniquely as individuals. We minister in His strength (not on our own), so we can rely on His strength to overcome obstacles and give Him the glory He deserves. Clean Life: As His servants we are to live clean, Holy lives. We must look at the importance of what we allow into our minds and what we dwell on. Remember: garbage in – garbage out. Courageous Message: God calls His servants to proclaim a courageous message. He wants us to speak boldly on His behalf. Challenging Purpose: God gives us a challenging purpose – that of being involved in reaching out to people everywhere with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are rewards in heaven if we are His faithful servants (1 Cor.9:24-25) but that should not be our motivation. We are servants because we love God and we long to hear at the end of our life time these words:“Well done, good and faithful servant…now enter into the JOY of your Lord.” (Matt. 25:21) That’s lasting JOY!
(*This blog series was first published by Lynn Dove in April/May 2012.)