Monday, November 9, 2015

6 Ways to Find and Keep Joy in Your Life




            In this post, we’re still shouting and celebrating in joy, so let’s continue the hunt through the Old Testament for verses to encourage us in the search! We’ll uncover 6 ways to ensure you find and keep joy in your life.

            There are many passages in Proverbs that indicate God wants us to be happy and joyful, and they also give us tips for achieving those sometimes-illusive emotions. Proverbs 3:13 is a good place to start.


Happy is the man who finds
            wisdom,
And the man who gains
            understanding.

           
            This happy is a happy or blessed emotion. Like an interjection: Happy! Real happy. Ecstatic! And the cause of that kind of happiness is finding and gaining wisdom and understanding. Don’t you like learning something, understanding it and being able to use it? Wisdom by which to order your life? Wisdom of God. Understanding about what decisions to make. It make life smoother and more enjoyable. Not always easier, but better, fuller, richer.

            The next two passages from Proverbs also use happy in the same way.

Proverbs 14:21:


But he who has mercy on the poor,
            happy is he.

           
            A merciful heart and actions of mercy make your heart happy. Our actions do indeed affect our demeanor. How are your actions today affecting your mood, attitude and countenance?


Proverbs 29:18


Where there is no revelation, the
            people cast off restraint;
But happy is he who keeps the law.

           
            Here’s a passage many won’t warm up to, because they want to be the captain of their own ships. They want to “live life on their own terms.” It brings to mind a young man I heard on the radio the other day. He’s an atheist, and he said that being an atheist is “kind of freeing.” Essentially, he felt free having no rules, no moral obligations, nothing to bog down his lifestyle; nothing over which to feel guilty or encumbered. I’m sure he would consider himself a moral person, but then you’d have to swing back to asking him on what he bases his morality, and that would lead you into a discussion of “the law”. For without the law, there really is no concept of morality, truth, or justice. And I’m quite sure he considers atheism “truth.”  
           
            What I found most interesting, though, is that I consider being a Christian— believing in God and being saved by a Savior who loves me unconditionally—the most freeing thing in the world! When I was living as though I rejected it, I felt more chained-up and burdened than I ever feel now. Whatever burdens I have now are most often of my own or someone else’s creation. While we no longer live under the law, knowing the law and God’s word, and then knowing what we’ve been saved from and saved for is freeing beyond comprehension. That knowledge makes me happy, Happy, HAPPY!


Proverbs 12:20 takes us back to being of joy.


Deceit is in the heart of those who
            devise evil,
But counselors of peace have joy.

           
            Down with deception, scheming and revenge, and up with being counselors of peace! Put away the devising of nasty, sharp retorts and get-even plans. Inasmuch as it is possible for you, live in peace with everyone. Do not repay evil for evil, but repay evil with good. (One of the hardest instructions in the Bible, I think.) Don’t think about it in your mind or plan it in your heart. Don’t let such schemes or actions steal your joy!

           
            Our final passages today will be from the Book of Ecclesiastes, both of which have a fullness of joy concept.
           

First we’ll look at Ecclesiastes 9:7.

Go eat your bread with joy,
And drink your wine with a merry
            heart;
For God has already accepted your
            works.

           
            This passage is an encouragement to people to enjoy the fruits of their labors, no matter how meager or bountiful they might be. Be happy. Be cheerful. Rejoice over your blessings. Give thanks to God, the One who provides them. He’s happy with you!

            Finally, I’d like to back-up in Ecclesiastes and finish today’s post with Chapter 5, verses 19-20.


“As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.”

           
            The King James Version renders “dwell unduly” as “not much remember”. And The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language states the two verses this way (I’ll start at verse 18):


“After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.”

           
            Our joy should be wrapped up in God and the gifts He gives us: the ability to labor, the bounty of our labor, the delight of being able to labor! Having joy also means focusing on the present, not the past and not the future. Not expanding energy wastefully or needlessly.

           
            So what are the take-aways from this study?

1) Hunt for and gain wisdom. (The first place to start is God’s word!)
2) Be and act merciful to others. (Love truth and seek mercy.)
3) Study, know and follow God’s word, to order and enrich your life.
4) Let peace reign in your heart, and be a promoter of peace.
5) Be fruitful in your labors and then enjoy that fruit.
6) Don’t spend too much time worrying about or pondering over your life and the days you (might) have on Earth. Enjoy today by:
           
            ~ Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally so you can labor.
            ~ Enjoying the fruits of that labor.
            ~ Making the most of whatever job you have for as long as you have it.


Next week, we’ll dive into New Testament joy!

So, until then,

Thanks for joining me!

Blessings,

Andrea


photo credit: Andrea Arthur Owan 2015