Saturday, March 9, 2013

Choosing Joy

Choose Joy!
“Count it all joy, my brethren. . . “ James 1:2  What is joy? How is it different from happiness? Why does it, sometimes, seem so elusive? And here’s the big question: aren't we as believers supposed to be joy-filled always? A similar question was posed by a friend of mine on Facebook the other day—

“I am curious. . . how do you define true happiness?”

Wow! I couldn't let that opportunity slip by. Here was my answer-- “Happiness is temporary, fleeting, and dependent on our circumstances. But true joy is found—separate from life’s trials and frustrations—in a personal relationship with Christ. I’m happy sometimes, but I am joy-filled always.”

It’s taken many years of God’s teaching, my failing, and prayers upon prayers to not only learn that truth but to live and to walk in it on a daily basis. I've had times when I was neither happy nor joy-filled. I’m not proud to say that. I've run way down the road of self-pity and doubt about God’s purpose for me. And always, along that road, I snatched at the things I thought I wanted; things that I thought would make me happy—nice clothes, a lovely home, beauty, attention, education, and so much more. Was I happy momentarily? Probably. But that is the agonizing thing about happiness—poof! It’s gone. The world would truly have us believe that we can achieve a constant state of happiness and contentment. Just get the perfect body. Just get the big enough paycheck. Just get the big enough house and the well-behaved children. There. There you will find a constant state of happiness. That is the lie Satan would have us believe. And the world does a great job of dangling Satan’s carrot in front of our noses. So what are we to do now that we realize that happiness is the ever-moving pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Sit and lick our wounds? Be one of those Eyore Christians? No, instead of chasing after happiness, we choose joy! Yeah, I know. Doesn't that sound sweet and really Christian-y? But joy really is a daily choice, and the Bible has so much to say about choosing joy.

Psalm 105:3 says, “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.”
Seek God every day with praise and thanksgiving, and you will find joy.

Psalm 16:11 states, “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” God’s presence is God’s Word; it is prayer; it is thinking on His truth throughout the day—there you will find joy.

In the fellowship and encouragement of other believers, there you will find joy. John makes this point here in 2 John 1:12 ”Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that our joy may be made full.”

But the deepest rooted joy can only be found at the foot of the cross in the humility of what Christ has done for us. That is the staying joy, the joy that lights the dark places of life, the joy that comforts our heart when we agonize on our knees. Romans 5:2 proclaims “through whom [Jesus Christ] we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

I would choose joy any day over happiness. 

Speaking of choosing joy and fellowship, here’s some info on upcoming women’s events that will offer amazing opportunities to get to know other women from Lakeside and from the other churches of the Engage Network.

Wed., April 10: Ladies Bowling Night (rescheduled), 6:30 at the Tiger Bowl in Madrid. Watch the email announcements and the church bulletin for more details later.

Friday-Saturday, April 19-20: Engage Women's Conference at Saylorville Church, Des Moines

"Choosing Joy"  Teske Drake will be speaking to us from the book of Philippians. This conference will use the Word to encourage, equip, and empower women at every stage of life to choose joy in the midst of all of life’s circumstances.  Sharing her experiences of the loss of her newborn daughter in 2006 and two miscarriages, Teske draws from her personal story to share God’s redeeming love and the promised hope in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Sharing truths from the book of Philippians, Teske will encourage women to live joyfully in light of Jesus’ love, letting go of the past, embracing the present, and pressing on for eternity.

Details and sign up will be coming in April!

June: Beginning in June, we will be offering a six-week Bible study entitled Prodigal God by Timothy Keller.

If you have any questions about women’s ministries at Lakeside Fellowship, please contact me:

Jen Subra or call 210-2007

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