Our theme for this month: “You Gotta Keep Dancing”
Our Bible verse for today: “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Choose Joy”
There’s a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness depends on circumstances but joy is an attitude. Way too many people look to circumstances as a source of joy, and they put off joy until their circumstances improve. But circumstances are fickle; they shift and often are determined by outside influences that you cannot control. So if circumstances are your source of joy, then your source of joy is largely beyond your control. No, circumstances can produce happiness but not true joy. True joy comes from the Lord. It is a gift from Him.
In Galatians 5:22-23 the Apostle Paul listed for us something he called “The Fruit of the Spirit”. These are character traits of Jesus that become increasingly evident in our own lives as we grow in spiritual maturity. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Please note that the joy of Jesus is the second fruit of the Spirit. It is yours as a gift and you experience it in increasing measure as you grow in your relationship with Him. This is real joy. This is deep joy. This is joy that doesn’t depend on outward circumstances which work into your heart. Instead real joy comes from deep within your heart, wells up, overflows out, and impacts your circumstances rather than the other way around.
The joy of the Lord is a joy that transcends circumstances and it comes only from Jesus. This is what enables us to face trials and struggles with tranquility and confidence. It’s what helps us to remain unruffled and even upbeat. This is not a denial or evasion of circumstances that are real, it’s simply a refusal to be defined by or controlled by the circumstances.
But this is intentional. It requires us to turn to Jesus. And the more difficult the circumstances are, the more fully we need to be embracing Jesus. This is the “choice” part of choosing joy. This is the attitude of joy. “I surrender to Jesus rather than to the pain.”
In his book “You Gotta Keep Dancin”, Tim Hansel said that as he fought through his own pain, and as he observed and learned from others who were also dealing with great difficulties, he realized this: “… some people spend their entire lives practicing being unhappy, diligently pursuing joylessness. They get more mileage from having people feel sorry for them than from choosing to live out their lives in the context of joy.”
Don’t be that person. Don’t let your circumstances determine your attitude. I encourage you to choose joy by embracing Jesus.