Monday Morning Devotion-March 27, 2023
Always be full of joy in the Lord...rejoice, let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do... Don't worry about anything., instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
*reprint from July 2021
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart (where?)
Down in my heart (where?)
Down in my heart to stay.
That's a song I still remember from my childhood (and that's a long time ago). We used to sing it in Sunday School. It is a song that little kids boom out. You can't sing it while you are frowning. You must have a smile on your face while singing it loudly---which is not a problem for kids---it is a must.
So, what else is down in your heart (besides two stents in my case). Well, there is the love of Jesus down in your heart. There is the peace that passes understanding in your heart. Just to name a couple of the important things going on in your heart,
With those things present if we let our heart be our guide in decision making and the way we live there is no reason not to be happy. Paul was happy when he wrote the words in today's scripture to the church at Philippi.
Maybe you have some real difficulties going on in your life right now. Some worries. Big problems that can be joy-squelchers if you let them.
Consider this: Paul wrote these words about being happy and letting the joy shine through your heart while he was in prison. Here's what the Life Application Bible (LAB) says about that:
"It seems strange that a man in prison would be telling a church to rejoice. But Paul's attitude teaches an important lesson. Our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances. Paul was full of joy because he knew that no matter what happened to him, Jesus Christ was with him. Several times in this letter Paul urged the Philippians to be joyful, probably because they needed to hear this. It's easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously. If you haven't been joyful lately, you may not be looking at life from the right perspective."
There's no doubt that we all want to be happy. What about this joy thing that we have down in our hearts? Aren't they pretty much the same thing? No, but they are close. Both are good attributes to have in your life.
While joy and happiness are not exactly the same, they are feel-good emotions that can occur simultaneously. Happiness can bring bursts of intense pleasure or excitement while joyfulness is a stronger, longer-term state that can give you inner peace. (www.prevention.com "How to Find Joy in our Everyday Life (Even When Life Feels Awful).
California Clinical Psychologist Forrest Talley says: "Happiness can be brought about by a good cup of coffee in the morning or a funny movie. Joy on the other hand, is more difficult to cultivate."
But these two can be considered a dynamic-duo because of the health benefits that can be attributed to them. Studies suggest that happiness and joy predict lower heart rate and blood pressure and even stronger immune systems. Research even indicates that happier individuals tend to live longer.
As you pray for the Lord's help in having more joy in your life some of the ways you could be open to include:
1) Look for meaning in life's circumstances especially the tough ones. Find something meaningful that can help you in other ways.
2) Think about the small things that happen daily in your life and feel thankful for them and allow them to bring you joy.
3) Don't let the things that upset you dominate and send you into a downward spiral. Replace them with something that you are grateful for.
4) Take some time in your day to do things you love and are passionate about and allocate even 15 minutes to them such as reading a book or walking for a half an hour.
5) Try to do something out of your comfort zone. Set a goal to achieve it that will bring you joy.
6) Instead of constant planning or dwelling on the past just enjoy the present and give thanks for it.
7) Seek out positive people and spend some time with them.
Worrying is one of the biggies when it comes to things that combat joy.
LAB says: "Imagine never worrying about anything! It seems like an impossibility. We all have worries on the job, in our homes, at school. But Paul's advice is to turn our worries into prayers. Do you want to worry less? Then pray more! Whenever you start to worry, stop and pray."
Have a joyful day!
Prayer: Lord help us to seek your joy each day. It is a gift we can treasure. Amen!