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We live in a country fascinated with happiness. Who doesn’t want to be happy? We all do. In 1776 the writers of our Declaration of Independence wrote, “God has given us three inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
And pursue it we do! Many surveys have asked Americans, “What is it you want most in life?” And the overwhelming majority of Americans answer: “I want to be happy.” Listen for it. It comes up in our conversations all the time.
• Struggling in marriage – I deserve to be happy
• I just want my kids to be happy
• This job doesn’t make me happy
Paul writes a letter to the church in Philippi. The church is in the same city where Paul was stripped, beaten, and thrown into prison. You might think he has some bad memories about Philippi, but listen to what he says…
Philippians 1:3 – “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy…”
The difference between happiness and joy:
Joy in the Biblical context, is not an emotion. Joy is an attitude of the heart. It is not necessarily based on something positive happening. Joy is something that lasts; happiness is something that is temporary. When happiness fades away, joy remains. Joy is something God deposits into us through the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote in Galatians 5 that joy is one of the fruit of the Spirit.
It’s been said that happiness is like a thermometer that changes based on the environment that surrounds it. Joy is thermostat that we can learn to set and will affect the environment around it.
Definition by Kay Warren - “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
Joy is a benefit of salvation. It is God given. Does every Christian live with joy? No. Why? They choose not to. “I can’t have joy because…” You misunderstand joy. It’s not conditional. It’s God given.
Happiness is rooted in where you are in your circumstance: physically, relationally, financially, vocationally. Joy is rooted in where you are spiritually.
Someone here today needs to be reminded that Jesus is for you and he’s working in you. He’s going before you. He’s watching over you. He has your back. He is in your heart and by your side. You may be in trouble, in debt, in prison, homeless, suffering, in a hospital bed, but if you are in Christ Jesus, you can still have joy.
Joy is not a feeling. Joy is not the same as being in a good mood. The Bible never actually says “Be in a good mood.” Joy is rest. Joy is contentment. Joy is trust and confidence. Joy is the ability to rejoice in any situation.
Today’s Challenge is very simple: Choose joy. No matter your circumstance, no matter your health, no matter your relationships, no matter what is happening in our country, you and I can choose to live in the joy of the Lord.
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