Choose Joy

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

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Sometimes circumstances arise because we have made certain choices that have led us there. Sometimes circumstances are imposed on us because of the choices others have made. These circumstances may be joyful or they can be unpleasant. Sometimes we had a hand in our unpleasant circumstances, but sometimes we didn’t. Either way, we are in control of how we respond to the things we are facing.

There are many times when I simply don’t want to respond joyfully to a particular situation. I’m just not there yet. I’m being stubborn, unforgiving, or just downright unkind. Oh, how I have let the thief come to steal my joy.

I’ve gotten really good at digging my heels in when I want to. I get in this mood. It’s very weird. It’s usually for no real good reason. I’m just grumpy. Nothing makes me happy. Everything is wrong. I just feel down and out.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I have plenty, in my very comfortable American life, to be happy about. Not much is wrong. I have nothing to be down about and the only thing I’m out of at times is joy. I’ve come to realize that more often than not, that lack of joy is my own choice.

I choose to focus on what I perceive as wrong, not enough, and unpleasant. The mind is a powerful thing. It’s so powerful that the Bible has much to say about it. We are told to set our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2), be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), and to think about the things that are true, right, and lovely (Philippians 4:8).

When I get in my “mood” I have to choose joy.

When I’m focusing on earthly things, the things that don’t really matter for the Kingdom, I have to take my thoughts captive and surrender them to Christ.

When my mind has been tarnished by this world that we’re living in, I have to renew it by spending time in the Word and in prayer.

When I’m focusing on the lies, the ugliness, and all that’s wrong, I have to seek God’s truth and goodness.

God has abundant joy available. He wants nothing more than to let that joy overflow in our lives. Will you trust Him to do that for you? Will you choose joy today?

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