Archive for October 19th, 2015

Continual joy

From JO’s sermon tonight:

we all face difficulties in life: challenges at work, people that are hard to get along with, stress, traffic, disappointments. if we’re not careful, we’ll let the pressures of life weigh us down.  it’s easy to complain, talk about our problems, become negative, discouraged, but we weren’t created to endure life, we were created to enjoy life. we can’t control what happens on the outside, but we can control what happens on the inside. happiness, for a lot of people, is based on their circumstances: “it’s the weekend, I’m happy. my spouse is treating me better, I’m happy. traffic wasn’t too bad, I’m happy.” but joy is not dependent on what’s happening around you; joy is deep down within you. that doesn’t mean we’ll be jumping up and down every day, but there’s a calm delight, you’re content, at peace, you know God’s fighting your battles. you could be upset, but you have a smile on your face. things are tough, but you’re not complaining; your attitude is, “life is good. I’m thankful to be alive.”  when you live like that, you’re tapping into the joy that’s on the inside. Jesus said to the woman at the well:

John 4:10-14 (NIV)

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”… 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst 

he described the living water in verse 14. it says:

John 4:14 (AMPC)

14 … the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life. 

there is a well of joy in you right now, a spring that’s supposed to bubble up and continually flow; why don’t we all have joy? there’s something we have to do:

Ephesians 5:18 (AMPC)

18 … ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit.

notice, you don’t get filled one time and then you’re done, it says “be ever filled.” this means, on a regular basis, we have to keep filling ourselves up. how do we do it? the next verse says:

Ephesians 5:19-20 (NKJV)

19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

the way to have continual joy is to keep a song of praise in your heart. all through the day, on the inside, we should be singing. this means, in our attitude we’re grateful, in our thoughts we’re always thinking about God’s goodness. cooking dinner, you’re humming the tune to a song. mowing the lawn, you’re whistling as you go along. driving to work, “this is going to be a great day. Lord, I’m excited about my future.” in some way, you’re always making melody in your heart, thinking about God’s goodness, thanking Him for your life, family, job. every time you do this, something is happening; you’re not just being positive, just having a good attitude, you’re been filled back up. God is pouring into you peace, strength, favor, victory.

see, life takes things out of us: stress, disappointments, traffic. we have to develop this habit of being ever-filled. “I went to church on Sunday, I got filled up for the week”; that’s good, but one time is not going to last all week. when you get stuck in traffic on Monday morning, a coworker aggravates you Monday afternoon, your child gets on your nerves Monday evening, all that was poured into you on Sunday is going to be used up. if you’re not making melody in your heart throughout the day, keeping this song of praise on the inside, then the pressures of life are going to push you down, steal your joy. it’s like a helium balloon; if you ever got one for your birthday, the first few days the balloons flies high, goes to the end of the string, if you went outside and let it go it would go way up in the air. but in a few days, the balloon starts to sink down a little, get a little smaller. day after day, it goes lower and lower; eventually, it’s on the ground, it won’t rise at all. there’s nothing wrong with the balloon, it’s just out of helium. if you were to refill it, it would be just as good as it was when it was new. 

in the same way, every time we complain, get stressed out, worry, we’re leaking. before long, we have no joy, no passion; that’s why we have to become ever-filled. next time you get stuck in traffic, try a new approach; instead of complaining, “Lord, I want to thank You that You’re directing my steps. I believe I’m at the right place at the right time.” instead of leaking, you just got filled back up, you got stronger. maybe your child is causing you trouble; instead of worrying, thinking about how it’s never going to work out, all through the day, “Lord, thank You; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  Lord, You said, the seed of the righteous, my children, will be mighty in the land.” what could deflate you instead will inflate you. 

perhaps the medical report wasn’t good; you could easily be depressed, live in self-pity, but instead, in your thoughts, you’re constantly thinking, “Lord, You are good. thank You that You’re my healer, that nothing can snatch me out of Your hands.” because you’re making melody in your heart, you’re going to stay encouraged; that well of joy will keep bubbling up, giving you the strength to fight the good fight of faith.  but too many people have developed a habit of being negative, seeing the worst, worrying;  you can develop this new habit of keeping a song in your heart.

you have to look for ways you can be grateful: in your everyday life, brushing your teeth in the morning; “Lord, thank you for this day.” getting dressed for work; “Lord, thank You that I’m healthy.” cooking breakfast; “Lord, thank you for my children.” driving to work; “Lord, thank You that I have a job.” in your thoughts, you’re always meditating on God’s goodness. it’s easy to do just the opposite, focus on what’s wrong; it doesn’t take much effort to go toward the negative. “I don’t like my job, these people get on my nerves, traffic was terrible today, I don’t feel like cooking dinner for my family, nobody appreciates me, all I do is work around here.” you’re making yourself miserable, deflating your own balloon. turn it around, and start making melody in your heart.  you may not like your job, but why don’t you thank God that at least you have a job? if you’ll be grateful where you are, God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.

you may have some big obstacles, people, circumstances, coming against you, but you don’t have to live upset, worried; you can thank God that He’s fighting your battles, making your crooked places straight. you can go through the day with expectancy, saying, “I don’t see a way, but God, I know You have a way. You’ve done it for me in the past; I know You’ll do it for me again.” this is how you have continual joy; when you have joy, you have the strength you need to overcome the obstacle, outlast the attack, accomplish your dreams.  vacuuming the house; you can do it thinking, “I can’t stand to clean this place,” or, you can do it humming the tune to “I Am a Friend of God.” going to the grocery store, you can dread it, go there sour, or you can go there whistling, with a song of praise in your heart.

I wonder how much more we’d enjoy life, how much longer and healthier we would live, if we would keep that song of praise on the inside. I’m not talking about being musical, I’m talking about a lifestyle of being thankful, seeing the best, always thinking about what God has done, how blessed we are, how good things are in store. even in difficulties, we’re not complaining; we’re thanking God that He’s bigger than our problem, that what He started, He’ll finish in our lives. if we were birds, we would think, “It’s sprinkling today, I’m taking the day off; no singing for me. my nest got a little wet; I’m out for three months, cover for me.” we need to learn a lesson from the birds; don’t complain when it storms, don’t be sour when things don’t go your way, just keep singing, making melody, being grateful. it may be rough on the outside, but stay full of joy on the inside, keep that song of praise in your heart. Paul said:

Philippians 2:14 (NKJV)

14 Do all things without complaining

that means, do the dishes, drive in traffic, sit where the ushers ask you to sit, without complaining. sometimes, we complain about the very thing that we asked God for, and he gave it to us: you prayed for that bigger house; don’t complain that you have more to clean. you prayed for that wife; don’t complain that you have to work seven jobs to afford her. you prayed for that baby; don’t complain that you have to get up sometimes in the middle of the night. it’s easy to complain; there’s always some reason to be sour, upset, complain about the traffic, city, church, “I didn’t get anything out of that message today.” we complain about a message on complaining. here’s a good phrase to remember: “when you complain, you remain, but when you praise, you’ll be raised.” when you have that song in your heart, you’re always thinking about God’s goodness, you’re going to rise higher, see more of God’s favor. we create much of our own unhappiness; how we respond to negative things, how we approach life. when you develop this habit of seeing the good, meditating on God’s goodness, making melody, life goes so much better.  that’s how you have continual joy, joy despite what’s happening around you.  Jesus said:

John 16:22 (NLV)

22 … No one can take your joy from you

no storm, traffic, bad break, disappointment; there is a well in you that will never run dry. when you keep this song of praise, making melody, focusing on what’s right, that well of joy is going to keep bubbling up, keeping you strong, encouraged, moving forward. the scripture says:

Ephesians 5:19 (KJV)

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord

you have to talk to yourself the right way. there’s an internal dialogue taking place in you all through the day;  you can’t have a negative mentality and expect to live in victory.  “I can’t believe I had this bad break.  I’ll never get out of this problem. what if the medical report is not good?”  that’s letting yourself talk to you;  you need to start talking to yourself. you have to take control of your thought life. every morning when you wake up; “this is going to be a great day. I have the favor of God.  no weapon formed against me will prosper. I’m strong, healthy, blessed.” every time you do that, you’re getting filled back up. if you’ll keep speaking to yourself the right way, you’ll tap into that well of joy, peace, favor, victory that God put in you. 

David did this. in the scripture one time, he was very depressed, discouraged, he didn’t think he could go on. at one point, he realized that nothing was going to change until he did his part. he said:

Psalm 42:5 (ESV)

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,

    and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

    my salvation

he said to himself, “David, get your hopes up.  get your dreams back. start believing again. get your joy back.”  when he started talking to himself the right way, that’s when things began to turn around. sometimes, we’re going along great in life, everything is fine, but then we hit some turmoil, go through a disappointment, a friend betrays us, the medical report wasn’t good; we get sucked down. thankfully, we make it out. but too often, we lose our joy, passion, we’re not pursuing our dreams, making the most of each day; we’re just enduring life, going through the motions. that well of joy that’s supposed to be bubbling up, keeping us ever filled, has become clogged up with disappointments, discouragement, stress, self-pity. but God did not bring you this far to leave you; you have to get your song back.  if one dream dies, dream another dream.  if life knocks the wind out of you, don’t stay down; get back up and go again. it may not have been fair, but God is fair.  He’s a God of justice. He knows how to take what was meant for harm and use it to your advantage. if you’ll get your song back, God will make the rest of your life better than it would’ve been had that not happened.  David said:

Psalm 40:2 (NLT)

2 He lifted me out of the pit

he was saying, “He put a new song in my heart.” not a song of defeat, “you won’t believe what I’ve been through, I’ve had so much heartache,” no, He put a song of praise and thanksgiving in my heart.”  you may have gone through difficulties, but that well is still in you. God has a new song, but it’s not going to do any good if you go around dwelling on your disappointments, negative, complaining; you have to start making melody in your heart. quit thinking about what you lost, and start thanking God for what you have left. start thanking him for the new doors that are going to open, for beauty for ashes, that your best days are still ahead. when you get your song back, you’ll feel the joy start to bubble up, your dreams will come back to life, your passion will be restored. that’s when God can pay you back for the negative things that have happened. 

this is what Habakkuk did in the scripture; he said: 

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (AMPC)

17 Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines… 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!

he was saying, “my crops have dried up, my business has gone down;  in the natural, there’s no reason to be happy, to make melody in my heart. nothing is going my way.” he could’ve lived depressed, bitter, but he understood this principle of having continual joy. he said, “all these things have come against me, yet will I rejoice in the Lord.” he was saying, “when I look at my circumstances, there’s no reason to rejoice, so I’m going to rejoice in the Lord.”  I can hear him all through the day;  “Lord, You are good. God, I praise You for your greatness.  I know You’re bigger than this financial difficulty, bigger than this cancer, bigger than this problem. I rejoice in the God of my salvation.” in the midst of his trouble, in the midst of the struggle, he wasn’t complaining, talking about his problems; he had a song of praise on the inside. that’s what not only keeps us ever-filled, strong, and full of faith; that’s what allows God to turn things around.

you may have gone through disappointments, maybe you’re in a tough time right now; I’m asking you to get your song back.  if you can’t find any reason to be grateful, do like Habakkuk, and rejoice in the God of your salvation. go through the day thanking God for who He is;  “Lord, thank you that you’re my savior, healer, restorer, deliverer, provider, protector, way-maker.” He’s called “the great I am.” He is whatever we need. 

friends, life is too short to go through it negative, worried, weighed down, pressured. there’s a well on the inside of you; it’s supposed to be bubbling up, continually flowing. all through the day, make sure you keep the song of praise in your heart.  remember, it’s not enough to do it one time; you have to be ever-filled. if you’ll develop this habit of making melody in your heart, your well is going to keep bubbling up with joy, peace, strength, favor, healing.  you will overcome every obstacle, defeat every enemy, and become everything you were created to be.

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