Encouragement from the Word

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth"
III John 1:4

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Choose Joy!

People say I have a positive attitude about life. I would agree with that...I do tend to see the glass as half full, so to speak. My husband, on the other hand, tends to see the glass as half empty at times. I've learned over the years that there is a distinct difference in our outlooks and I'm sure it irritates him to no end that I usually look for the best in people and anticipate the best outcome in any circumstance. My friends have often commented on this, as well, sometimes calling me "Rose-colored Rhonda" or "Pollyanna". (With friends like that, who needs enemies, right?)

 The thing that they may not completely understand is that I choose to be joyful and positive. As far as I can tell, God's Word mandates positivity and joy. In Philippians 4:4, it says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" And in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we see, "Be joyful always; pray continually;give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I'm sure the early Christians that Paul was addressing here did not feel like being joyful. After all, they were being persecuted regularly for their faith and many of their group had even been killed.

 If you search the Bible further, you will see things like: love your enemies, be kind and compassionate to one another, do not treat others as better than yourself, seek peace and pursue it, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. It is full of admonitions to be positive. I believe that my positivity emanates from a heart of thankfulness for the grace, mercy and forgiveness that God has poured out to me over my lifetime...although I have failed him in so many ways, he has remained faithful to me and never forsaken me.

 And what about the hope I have in Him! As a child of God, I know how this story is going to end. God wins! And I will have the joy of seeing Him face to face in heaven some day! No more suffering, pain, sadness, anxiety, stress, etc. After Jesus comes again, I will live in unimaginable beauty on the pristine new earth with him for eternity! Heaven is going to be a glorious place of beauty and joy. What is there to be negative about? If you haven't read much about what heaven will be like, read the Bible and find out. Also, there is an exciting book called Heaven by Randy Alcorn that I would recommend. He paints a beautiful word picture of the new earth and the life to come. Remember, as Christians, this world is not our home...we are only passing through. Our life will truly begin when we arrive in heaven to begin our eternity with Jesus.

 The next time you are confronted with a person who has done you wrong or whose personality just rubs you the wrong way, try to see them through God's eyes...  as a sinner, just like you, who will never be perfect this side of heaven...a soul dearly loved by God. So loved, that he gave his only Son to die for them. Show them a little grace and mercy...and patience. God is not through with them yet, just as he is not through with you.

And when you come upon a difficult circumstance in life, whether it's related to health, finances, relationships or anything else, realize that God's Word says we can be joyful regardless of our circumstances. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." We will face trails and difficult times in this world but it's God's way of making us more like him. In James 1:2-4 it says, "Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Lastly, positivity is not naivete. Being positive does not mean I am "clueless". I choose to be positive even when I know the whole story or when I have seen the person at their worst. Or even when the circumstances look very dire. It's not that I'm only positive because I don't know the whole story.

 A joyful, positive attitude is pleasing to the Lord and can be encouraging to others around you. Let's remember that we are to be "salt and light" to the world. When I was teaching young children, we would sing a song about joy. It went like this: "A joyful heart is good medicine...but a broken spirit dries up the bones"! It came from the book of Proverbs. Keep that in mind as you determine to "Choose Joy" this week.

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