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Today’s Truth

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

John 10:10

Friend to Friend

Jesus lived and died so that we can experience abundant life, a life exuding joy, and 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 so many 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. Instead, he chose joy. 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 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 choose joy.

James 1:2 (NIV) “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

We cannot avoid pain but we can avoid joy. Our inward perspective does not have to reflect our outward circumstances. The pursuit of joy is a matter of choice.

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. 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

I am so excited to announce the launch of Friends for the Journey, a dream I have had for some time that is now a reality and part of my ministry. If you are a pastor’s wife, a women’s ministry director, a woman in need of encouragement, or someone who battles depression, I am now available to encourage and coach you via Skype sessions. You can find all of the information on my website or you can email me for details.

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on my website and connect with Mary through email or on Facebook.

7 Responses to “Choose Joy!”

  1. Debbie says:

    I have seen firsthand real joy in circumstances first world people do not not u Der stand. I am on a trip with Compassion and am seeing 1 room homes with 5 people, no running water. A church that works 7 days a week with the community because they are bringing people to the Lord and that is all that matters. The joy these people have is amazing in the circumstances they go through, in sicknesses and troubled times. Going home I am going to do my best to appreciate every circumstance and see God’s hand in each one.

  2. Annette says:

    Your devotions are a blessing to me. I’ve been reading them for quite some time now. It’s how I start my day!

  3. Beth Andrews says:

    Our pastor’s wife struggles with a severe handicap, and she exudes such a joyful spirit in spite of her pain and challenges. She is an inspiration to us as we see her every day with a smile on her face. I have no doubt that she has down times, but she chooses to face them with joy.
    Yet many of us struggle with pain and challenges that are not visible, things that no one sees, whether physical, mental or emotional, that we cannot share as openly. Those secret struggles, deep, painful memories, spouses who abuse mentally and physically, kids who look good on the outside but are tearing the family apart, the financial house of cards that will collapse at the next breeze, these things that happen behind the closed doors of our homes and hearts make it so hard to live with a joyful spirit. I really believe that many women who are trudging through life without joy do so because they carry burdens they cannot divulge, making them feel alone in their pain. I know that is true for me. Somehow we have to open up safe places in our relationships to share those hidden things. Paul reminded us that we are to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). And the law of Christ is Love.

  4. Deby Barreca says:

    What is your launch date for Friends for the Journey?

  5. Joy says:

    Just to let you know the quote you mentioned is actually a song I used to sing in Sunday School in Barbados .
    “Joy is a flag flown high above the castle of my heart
    Above the castle of my heart
    Above the castle of my heart
    Joy is the flag flown high above the castle of my heart
    Because the king is in residence there.
    So let let it fly, let it fly,
    Let the whole world know that the king is in residence there.”
    There are also actions to the song.
    Yes I have lost my joy. Thanks for reminding me. I have allowed past and present issues to steal all my joy.

    • Thank you so much for letting me know where this quote came from! I had no idea it was actually a song, but I love it! I am going to do some research and see if I can find it. And I pray that you once again find the joy you lost … it is in Him alone, friend! Blessings!

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8