I CHOOSE JOY… FIRST STEP
What is the first step in finding more joy? Is gratitude step one, and does it lead us to joy? Or is joy first to make it easier to have gratitude?
It’s like the chicken and the egg question…which came first?
The egg question even stumped ancient philosophers such as Aristotle. Scientists such as Stephen Hawking say it’s the egg. They say a close relative of the chicken laid an egg that had a mutation…thus the chicken was born. Based on their theory, our modern chicken came from red and grey jungle fowl.
I have my own opinion…the chicken came first because God created it. Or perhaps He created the jungle fowl that laid an egg with a genetic mutation.
Joy or Gratitude…Which Comes First?
You can’t lose either way! Both joy and gratitude are crucial to living with purpose and promise!
We must strive to practice both, and the more we practice, the more fruitful we become.
“For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” David Steindl-Rast
You can find this quote on facebook, google, etc. Many have written blogs explaining why they agree that gratitude leads to joy.
Is gratefulness a switch we turn on so that joy and peace will follow?
- How can we feel grateful when someone we love has died?
- Or when we have a serious or terminal illness?
- Or when we find ourselves in financial trouble?
- Or when a relationship ends
Yes, gratitude helps us recognize and appreciate our blessings, but how do we generate joy?
I say…joy comes before gratitude
What if joy precedes gratitude? Not just any kind of joy, but the kind that comes from knowing Jesus and spending time with Him and with others who love Him.
Here is another quote I truly believe in!
“No one can get Joy by merely asking for it. It is one of the ripest fruits of the Christian life, and, like all fruits, must be grown.”—Henry Drummond
Step 1: Where to find JOY
If, like Henry Drummond says, joy is a fruit which must be grown…
Where do we find it? How does it grow?
Our faith in Christ and our openness to the Holy Spirit working in our lives are the seeds that start our eternal JOY tree growing. The more we learn from the Word, and the more we choose to live with joy, the deeper the roots grow and the more fruits we can “pluck” and share with others!
In the previous blog article, How to Choose Joy, we read that sometimes (especially when things are not going well), we must consciously choose joy and how to do that.
So, where do we find JOY?
- In our faith in Christ
- In our openness to the Holy Spirit
- In the Bible
- In our prayer time
How Does Joy Grow?
- The more we PRAY
- The more we learn from God’s Word
- The more we choose JOY
- The more we share with others
When we are having trouble finding joy, let’s look in God’s Word for reasons to be joyful!
Here are 6 reasons to be joyful
- We are made by God
- We are fearfully and wonderfully made
- God has a purpose for me
- God promises never to leave me
- God promises to fill me with His Holy Spirit
- The Holy Spirit fills me with JOY
1. We Are Made by God
God created and designed each one unique for a purpose. Doesn’t this cause us to be in awe, wonder, and praise? Being in a state of awe, wonder, and praise opens the floodgates of JOY.
In Psalm 139:13-14, David gives reasons why God deserves our awe, wonder, and praise.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)
2. We Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. (NIV)
What does it mean to be “fearfully” made?
One of the definitions from Webster’s American Dictionary is:
**In a manner to impress admiration and astonishment.**
**I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Ps. 139.**
God made us to impress (stir) admiration and respect!!! WOW!
3. God Has A Purpose For Me
**11**For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
4. God Promises Never to Leave me
**8**The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV
5. God Promises To Fill Me With His Holy Spirit
When we believe that Jesus is God in the flesh and that He died for our sins and shortcomings, the Holy Spirit fills us with joy, gratitude, and peace.
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. John 14:15-16 (NIV)
DID YOU KNOW?
“Advocate is from the Greek word paraklētos, which means “one who helps or enables another person”
Various translations render this word “Helper” (nkjv), “Counselor” (niv), “Comforter” (kjv), and “Friend” (the message).”
“There are two different Greek words for “another”: heteros, which connotes another of a different kind; and allos, which means another of the same kind. Allos is the word used in John 14:16. When the Father sent the Spirit, He sent an equal—a personal representative (v. 26), not an inferior or subordinate substitute.“
You can read the entire devotional here: https://odb.org/2019/05/28/never-alone-5/#
The night before his death, Jesus was comforting his disciples at the Last Supper because he knew he would physically leave them. He told them the Holy Spirit would come to teach them, and that they would never be alone!
**26**But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14:26 (NKJV)
6. The Holy Spirit Fills Me With Joy
**22**But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,**23**gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)
In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul encourages Christians who had not been believers for very long. They were being influenced by false teachers. Because of this, he wanted them to continue to worship the Lord and to grow in their faith because of the hope of Christ’s return.
**6**You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-7 (NIV)
In conclusion, joy that is not dependent on happiness begins with my faith. Next, gratitude is born out of my joy for life and for my Savior. I must continue to learn ways to consciously choose JOY and express my gratitude.
- JOY comes from faith in God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit
- The Holy Spirit fuels my joy and peace (the kind that does not depend on happiness)
- The return of Christ motivates me to grow my spiritual roots and gives me hope
- My gratitude grows out of my JOY and is an act of worship
TAKE ACTION STEPS: How to Grow My Joy
HERE IS YOUR FREE SCRIPTURE CARD DOWNLOAD!
HOW TO USE THE DOWNLOAD
- Tip 1: Click on this link to download the JOY SCRIPTURE CARDS
- Tip 2: Print the sheet and put the list of verses where you can see it daily
- Tip 3: Print AND cut out the “cards.” Read one out loud each day and pray about what it means to YOU
- Share the cards with friends and family
- If you don’t want to use too much color ink, print in black and white. You can always color them to make them more personal!!
- I keep scripture cards with my greeting cards. When the need arises, I slip one into the card before mailing.
I LOVE YOUR INPUT!
Please share your thoughts and ideas on joy and gratitude…remember, the ideas in this article are my thoughts (except for the cited sources). Thanks!
Please let me know if you found the scripture cards useful!