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If You Want Joy… Real Joy!

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Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

“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.”

(Author unknown)

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.

Let’s Pray

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,

Amen.

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 Study and MP3 download.

Don’t miss Mary’s weekly Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey, to learn how to understand and apply God’s truth in your daily life. Enroll now and have access to all 2012 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

Are you ready to begin a new faith adventure? Get a copy of our new book, Trusting God

12 Responses

  1. Tanya Clark says:

    Thank you for this……this devotion was right on time!!! Hallelujah!!

  2. Ugochi says:

    wonderful words. Thank you, Mary.

  3. Joyce says:

    Much needed word for today. I often find myself in a mental battle between the beliefs I’m certain of and what I feel. Though justifiable to feel, I should not let that determine my walk. I needed to remember I was created to reJOYCE!!! I will print this, highlight it and post it where I can see it daily. On this Happy Friday, May The Fourth Be With You! ;)

  4. Sue says:

    This was a refreshing devotional. I woke up this morning dragging my feet to head out the door for morning service. Missing a joyful heart to attend service, I decided to stay home and look up a daily devotional instead. Mary Southerland hit my issue on the head. Joy has been a problem area in my life. Others do not see me as a woman of joy. I don’t think it’s ever too late to develop joy in my life.
    Thanks!

    • mary mary says:

      You are absolutely right, Sue. God created you to be a vessel that contains His joy. Don’t settle for anything less. Blessings, girlfriend.

  5. Paula West says:

    I have read this devotionals several times; it spoke to my heart from the first time I read it. I went into your webpage and also some of your teaching videos on youtube about the family. They have spoken to me about just developing that attitude of being joyful in God at all times. I want to translate this devotional into spanish for the women in my church if that is ok.

  6. Libbie says:

    Mary, I wish I could pin this website to my board on pinterest. So many of the women I know would be encouraged by this website and even the strangers that visit my boards may possibly be introduced to Christ. If this could be possible please let me know. Each try only offers the photos on your site.
    Thank you for your sharing of Christ’s love. Thank you Jesus for maturing Mary into a woman who can help me to grow! You are a blessing Mary!
    Libbie

    • gwen gwen says:

      Great idea, Libbie! We will surely look into this! Thanks!

    • mary mary says:

      Libbie, thank you for your email and for your encouragement! It came on a great day for me. I am not really up on Pinterest but would love for you to post some of the GIG devotions content. Any way to share God’s great news of hope and healing!

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